Author: Scot Gardner
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Release: August 1st 2012 (first published on May 1st 2011. AU)
Buy the Book at: Amazon / Kindle Edition / Indigo
You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, “Steady. We’re here to help.” Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.Hi my dear readers and fellow bloggers!
Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up. A potent, intense psychodrama that will keep you gripped to the very last page.
Today I have the pleasure to share with you a Q&A with Scot Gardner! He was very kind to answer my questions about his dark, touching and highly meaningful novel, The Dead I Know ~ which I loved!!
But first, here is some information about our dear author :)
Scot Gardner has written several critically acclaimed novels for young adults. His debut novel, One Dead Seagull, was followed by White Ute Dreaming, a powerful story of first love, mates, and a yellow dog. His third novel, Burning Eddy, was shortlisted for the CBC Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adults. Gravity was also shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award in 2007. The Dead I Know was published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 2011; it is the first Scot Gardner novel to be published in Canada.
Q&A with Scot Gardner
1. Aaron is one of the most lonely characters I have come across and it was really sad and heartbreaking to see the world through his eyes. Was it hard to write from such complex character's pov? How was your experience while doing so?
Writing Aaron took me to some dark places, for sure. There were days when I had to come up for air, breathe in the summer and remember that he was an imaginary friend, not a real one. I think we all have a sombre element to our personalities—even the bubbliest of bubbly—but bringing that part out to play rarely wins us friends. We politely soldier on. Aaron was at breaking point and could no longer hide the fact that his world was falling apart. The story is about him finding the courage to go against his fear of intimacy long enough to ask for help.
2. John's profession is certainly one that many people may consider unpleasant. Yet, in The Dead I Know, you portray it with so much emotion and respect that I think it's eye-opening to read this novel. How was your research about this subject? And while doing your research, did anything change in the way you see or feel about this profession?
My godparents run a funeral home in Portland, Victoria (Australia) and I have been allowed behind the scenes in the funeral industry since I was a teenager. Kevin, my godfather, is a consummate storyteller and my brothers and I would pump him for gory tales whenever we were together, so I guess I’ve spent my life researching the industry. Prior to starting The Dead I Know, I worked with Kevin and helped care for other people’s dead. I discovered the first-hand knowledge I’d been craving—that death can be a beautiful thing and that a funeral director needs to be the embodiment of grace under fire. In some places, the dead are pumped with chemicals and made up to within an inch of life. In others—like JKB funerals—they go easy on the makeup and treat the dead with a natural dignity. Kevin and John Barton would have been strong friends.
3. Why did Mam always buy dishwashing and toilet paper? Do these two elements mean something in particular?
My wife’s mother was in decline with dementia as I wrote The Dead I Know and she had fixations with the strangest things. Mam’s obsession with dishwashing liquid was a result of me opening the cupboard to put away the dishwashing liquid I’d just bought and finding four unopened bottles already there. I wondered if I was going crazy. You don’t need to buy your own toilet paper when you live in the caravan park, but if you were losing your mind you might suddenly realise you don’t have any. Nothing deep and mysterious, I’m afraid, just practical observations about a mind in decline.
4. By the end of the novel, it is clear why John decided to become a funeral director. But why did you decided to write a novel where death is constantly present?
The young man who inspired Aaron was in my care in the early nineties when I was a youth worker. He’d lost everything and everybody he’d loved, but still managed to be a loving and caring guy. That always seemed like a miracle to me. Death needed to be constantly present for Aaron so that we realised that there are even more powerful and life-changing forces at play (like resilience and love). Death is inevitable, love is a luxury.
5. How was your research for the character of Aaron? He has disturbing nightmares, he is also a sleepwalker and he keeps most of his thoughts to himself. Needless to mention that he has a very perturbing past that has caused PTSD.
Good diagnosis, doctor! Indeed, Aaron carries many of the hallmarks of someone suffering post-traumatic stress. Is it any wonder? His nightmares and somnambulism were inspired by my youngest daughter who would wake in fright most summer nights, but not really wake. She’d run screaming from imaginary beasts and occasionally slip though the door and into the night. I found her in her underwear in the middle of the road one night. She didn’t remember a thing in the morning.
6. The name of the book (The Dead I Know) gave me chills when I first picked it up. But when I found out what the name of the book really meant, I was so moved. Truth be told, I never thought I would feel so many heartwarming feelings while reading The Dead I Know. It was so beautiful and I loved it! So, what would you say to people who may be a little bit scare to read The Dead I Know because of its dark name and premise?
Thank you. I’m glad you got over your chills. Well, the book is dark, but life can be from time to time. The working title was The Swing (a reference to Aaron’s motion between his white-fanged past and his hopeful future as a funeral director). My Australian publishers thought it was a little obscure, considering the subject matter, so we developed the current title, however they baulked at putting funeral references on the cover for the Australian edition. The courageous Canadians have dug me a grave and lowered a coffin inside. It’s set amongst the business of death, but it’s a story about hope.
❤ Thank you so much to Scot Gardner for stopping by Dazzling Reads! it's been a pleasure to have you here! ❤
A Dark and Beautiful Story
This novel's intriguing premise gave me an idea of what I would find in its pages, yet I never though I'd find such unique story with so much emotional weight. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner is definitely a poignant story that delivers a heartbreaking amount of sadness as well as a touching amount of hope and goodness.
The story starts with Aaron applying for a job as a funeral director. There, he meets his boss John, who plays an important emotional support in Aaron's life. However, Aaron is a very disturbed kid. He keeps almost all of his thoughts to himself, which makes him very lonely. In fact, the only person in his life is Mam, who at the beginning of the story we could guess is his mom since they live together at the caravan park. But unfortunately, Mam has a mental condition that makes Aaron's life emotionally very exhausting.
If there was no one to remember us or to care for us, then we are as well as dead. Aaron struggles with this issue every day of his life and Mam is the only person anchoring him to his life, but unfortunately her dementia keeps Aaron on the edge and afraid to loose everyone in his life. Yet, for Aaron, Mam is reason enough to wake up every morning and go to work. Unfortunately, Aaron also struggles with poor living conditions, PTSD, severe sleepwalking and disturbing nightmares that have a strong hold on Aaron's life.
Aaron is a very special and unique character that I grew to love, care and sympathize with him over the course of the story. I haven't read such a lonely character in a while, and it's extremely touching to see the world through his eyes. He is under a lot of stress, specially because of Mam's condition. Yet, his new job and the new people around him, comes like a balm into his life. John is such a strong pillar on this novel. I love the paternal figure John displays and how understanding and kind he is to Aaron. No need to mention that John has made from his particular career (funeral director) a highly admirable way of life.
The Dead I Know is a touching story where people deal with death in different ways -or in the best way they can. Scot Gardner has certainly written a dark (even creepy) yet beautiful novel that I will always remember and keep in a special spot of my heart. Highly recommended!
❤Thank you so much to Penguin Canada for providing a copy of this book for review❤
Visit the author's website at http://www.scotgardner.com