Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How the Water Falls by K.P. Kollenborn Interview & Giveaway


About the Book

On the fringes of a civil war arise a kaleidoscope of stories of abuse, power, betrayal, sex, love, and absolution, all united by the failings of a dying government. Set in the backdrop during the last years of South Africa's apartheid, How the Water Falls is a psychological thriller that unfolds the truth and deception of the system’s victims, perpetrators, and unlikely heroes.

The two main characters, one white, Joanne– a reporter, the other black, Lena– a banned activist, have their lives continuously overlap through the people they know during a thirteen-year period and eventually become friends as a result of their interviews together. Joanne personifies the need to question and investigate apartheid’s corruption from a white person’s perspective. Although her intentions begin with idealism, no matter how na├»ve, as the years pass while the system is failing, she crosses the threshold of what it means to be caught up inside the belly of the beast, especially after crossing paths with the Borghost brothers. Lena, who is inspired by her predecessors, such as Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela, is among the minority of black women to peacefully battle for equality, even if her struggle is indicative of sacrificing her health and safety. Hans Borghost is Johannesburg’s commissioner of police who, like all those before, had a military background before pursuing a law enforcement career. Violent, manipulative, and controlling, he incarnates the image of South Africa’s perpetrators. Jared Borghost is the younger brother of Hans and, like his brother, has a military background, but unlike Hans, he internally combats between his sense of duty and morality. His inconsistency indicates a conscience that leaves one to ponder whether Jared is either a perpetrator, victim, or both. As his surname suggests, Bor-GHOST represents the “ghosts” that haunt the family’s past. Many other characters play the roles of spies, freedom fighters, lovers, adversaries, and supporters.

This novel is as complex as apartheid was itself, unlacing fabrics of each character’s life to merge into a catalyst downfall. The question of who will survive this downfall will suffice in the courts of truth and reconciliation and whether love is strong enough to preserve peace.



Where to purchase How the Water Falls






The Author

K.P.'s Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Although I've been writing since childhood, I have a BA in history. I love studying history as much as wanting to evoke stories. I like to believe that after decades worth of introspection we have learned to value our lessons, and the best way to recite our lessons are through storytelling. That's why I love history: To learn. To question. To redeem our humanity. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, our society's past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

I am fortunate to have been trained by one the top ten writing teachers in the US, the late Leonard Bishop, and author of 'Dare to be a Great Writer.' I owe my love of writing to him. In addition to writing, I draw, paint, create graphic design, and am an amateur photographer.


Interview:
Where are you from?
Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard.

Tell us your latest news?
I just recently published my second novel, How the Water Falls.  Set in the backdrop during the last years of South Africa's apartheid, it’s a psychological thriller that unfolds the truth and deception of the system’s victims, perpetrators, and unlikely heroes. This novel is as complex as apartheid was itself, unlacing fabrics of each character’s life to merge into a catalyst downfall. The question of who will survive this downfall will suffice in the courts of truth and reconciliation and whether love is strong enough to preserve peace. Here’s the website: http://howthewaterfalls.com

When and why did you begin writing?
It was a gradual evolution.  Initially I wanted to be an artist- mainly focusing on drawing and painting, and I do have a graphics art degree.  Because I’m dyslexic, reading and writing came to me slowly as a child, and I somehow compensated by memorizing the structure of words.  I used to tell stories to my sisters as children, but later in school, when I felt forced to write stories as part of our English and grammar training, teachers would compliment my storylines. I began to have awareness that not only I could create something in which people liked. And I kinda liked it, too.  The biggest influence in school was my 8th grade English teacher who read four of my stories out loud to the class. That was the same year I wanted to write about the Japanese-American experiences. Up until I was a teenager, I didn’t believe I had any other talent.  After college, I was very lucky in finding a mentor, Leonard Bishop, who had taught writing at Columbia and Berkeley. (I should be thankful he married a Kansas gal which was the reason he would even live in Kansas!) It has taken me some time to find courage to pursue a writer’s career.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In high school when I began to write a series of short stories and poems. It was at this point I began to write with historical themes, whether about the Japanese American internment, the American Civil War, the Sante Fe Trail, the relationship between Native Americans and the military,or early Twenty Century Ozarks. I meshed history with the art of storytelling.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel, Eyes Behind Belligerence at http://eyesbehindbelligerence.com is a historical drama about two Japanese American families surviving war, racism, and the harsh environment of internment camps. At the age of fourteen I came across book, Kim/Kimi, about a young girl searching for her real father, who was Japanese-American, only to discover he had been imprisoned in an American internment camp during WWII. I had never heard of these camps up to that point in my life. In Europe, yes, but not here. Not in America. That was it. I wanted to understand a hell of a lot more!

Do you have a specific writing style?
I like mixing realism with symbolism.  I love stories that deal with struggle for freedom, searching for identity and purpose, and have some sort of message that forces you to contemplate.

How did you come up with the title?
I wish to have a symbolic connection with the titles to the meaning of my stories. For instance, Eyes Behind Belligerence is meant to witnessing a hostile world during WWII. How the Water Falls is meant to represent the ideology of power and corruption through the structure of waterfalls, and how a system can fall by the pressure of united power.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have several messages for How the Water Falls, revolving around empowerment of common people, endurance, and forgiveness, but the main one is hope.  Despite the brutal and depressing circumstances of apartheid, hope is the destination for change. I have this philosophy: Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

How much of the book is realistic?
I aspire to preserve realism as much as possible to uphold the integrity of history.  Many of the characters are inspired by a mesh of real people of that time period as well as using several historical events as part of the plot. I’ve put together a short video explaining my inspiration for my novel: http://ow.ly/ApDiP

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The experiences I draw from, despite the historical and cultural differences, are the personal relationships from people in my life.  The bonding factor of my stories begin from the friendships I’ve had or continue to preserve, or from some of the discrimination I’ve encountered for being female, or from people who consider me odd. I know everyone on this planet has experienced hurt, rejection, and discrimination at some point in one’s life, so it’s not all that difficult to make that connection, that bond, really.

What books have most influenced your life most?
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are still inside my head. He mixes literary prose and realism with such grit and fortitude that I'm charmed by his depressing and enriching style.  I love how F. Scott Fitzgerald used The Great Gatsby used cultural references of that time period to preserve the essence of the Roaring Twenties. I've also been inspired by G.J Ballard's Empire of the Sun, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians when dealing with war, prejudices, and violent interactions between people under stressful circumstances.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Leonard Bishop. I'm honored to say I knew a great writer. And a teacher of writing. As he inscribed in one of his prefaces: "I believe that if a writer can return to the world more than what the world has given him, then he has earned his keep, not only as a writer, but also as a human being. I also believe that whatever saves my life must be good. I have lived a God-blessed life, and I want to pass it on." I wrote a blog post about him: http://kpkollenborn.blogspot.com/2009/04/dollar-in-jar-tribute-to-leonard-bishop.html

What book are you reading now?
Chinese Girl in the Ghetto by Ying Ma, an indie author.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Kinda new.  I've enjoyed how integrating the art of storytelling with historical research have succeeded beyond a marginalized audience such as Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, and Kathryn Stockett's The Help.

What are your current projects?
I have two.  One, as I’ve already mentioned, How the Water Falls, which is available on Amazon now, http://ow.ly/ApCCE, and another beginning in September of 2014, Two Dairy Goats' Journey, will be published as a Pictorial Ballad with the topics of spirituality and the desire to search for the meaning of life. Here’s the link to this one: http://kpkollenborn.blogspot.com/p/pictorial-ballad.html

What would you like my readers to know?
I chose the names for my characters based on both the way it sounds and what it represents. Because my novels tend to be researched inspired, I often abstract names from books I’ve read to uphold authenticity. For my South African novel, I have a link of my characters here with descriptions of their purpose to the story and photos of how I think they should look like: http://howthewaterfalls.com/characters.htm

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