Letters to Leonardo sat on my desk for a week. I wanted to read it in one long session not the snatches and patches that form my usual child-interrupted (Muuuuum), work-interrupted (ring, ring) reading pattern. I knew I had a long bus trip coming up, an hour each way, so I saved it for then.
It was hard putting it aside between arrival and departure but I was mentally prepared for that. Two chapters from the end as the bus began its windy descent down Macquarie Pass, my stomach overruled my head and I was forced to put my book away. I was not happy. I didn't get back to those last few chapters until 12 hours later. And boy was I glad it worked out that way after all. I am an avid reader who has reached the point where it's not often an ending totally surprises me. I usually pick up most of the clues and make good guesses. But this ending hit me with all the force of an armed ambush. Without giving anything thing away - it's incredibly confronting. But it's totally appropriate. Read it for yourself and see what I mean.
Today it is my pleasure to be a blogstop on Dee White's cyber tour and to interview both Dee and Matt, whose story Letters to Leonardo tells.
Now Matt, I happen to know you're artistic and talented - quite handy with a paintbrush and a spray can. Could you describe yourself, your dad and your mum in three words each. Me: introspective, artistic, serious. Dad: self-help guru (could I please have an extra word? Just used up all three in one go and I don’t want everyone to totally get the wrong idea. Dad’s okay really) He cares about me – and he’s mostly genuine – apart from that one huge lie he told me for the last ten years. And I guess that all this means that I need another word or two to describe me – a rule breaker.
Mum: talented, off centre, unpredictable
After all that has happened, do you trust your father? I’m learning to trust him again.
How has your recent experience affected your art? It’s added depth and layers. I used to think life was straightforward but now I realise there are so many colours and shades to everything.
Did you have any qualms about handing in the assignment or did you leave out the more personal letters? In the end, I thought what the heck – and handed them all over.
How do you feel about your mother now? I’m not really sure. She’s still my Mum. Do you want to see her again? Maybe one day, but not yet – not till I know I’ll be okay – that I’ll be strong enough to handle it.
Bi-polar disorder has a strong genetic association. Do you worry about that? It used to worry me, but the more I got to know about it the more I realised, I’m not like her. My reality is completely different from Mum’s.
Matt is an incredibly real character. I was intrigued to know where he came from. So I asked Dee a few questions too.
Do you know anyone who suffers from bi-polar disorder? Yes, a close relative of one of my best friends.
Are you, or is anyone you know, an artist? I think I have an artist’s soul and a writer’s hands. I can feel and visualise what I’d like to put on the canvas, but the brush seems to take me in a different direction. I guess I try and paint with words instead. I know a few really good artists, and I really admire what they do.
Is Matt based on, or partially based on, anyone you know? Matt is not really based on anyone – he’s a combination of people – I think his serious side and introspection probably comes from me.
How much of the narrative is based on real life incidences? Some of the incidences really happened, but sorry, I’m not going to tell you which ones.
Thanks for having us Sandy. We’ve enjoyed being here haven’t we Matt? (Picture Matt nodding). Matt is pretty shy, and was really worried about appearing in public on tour, but I think he recognises your artistic soul – and that you understand him and empathise with what he has gone through. (Matt nods again).
Can’t wait for you to visit my blog http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com in August Sandy with your new book Monkey Fist.
Bye for now.
Dee and Matt