Linus Treefoot Author Interview
It is my pleasure to introduce Linus Treefoot, the debut author of Bright Moon Ridge. The book is a 2017 Apple Summer e-book Award winner: runner-up in the Historical Fiction category. Linus was born in the United States, but has lived most of his adult life in New Zealand. He has a fascinating life journey in which he has extensively researched and traveled to China in preparation for his debut novel.
Linus Treefoot graciously accepted my invitation to interview. Below is his biography, responses to my interview questions, and ways you can contact him. Click on the book cover below to purchase his book at Amazon.
Linus Treefoot is an American who has lived in New Zealand for 47 years. He graduated from Stanford University in 1968, then spent about 10 years doing carpentry and farm work, traveling and having a good time. For many years he was a part time entertainer, playing guitar and singing solo or in bands. He has been a primary school and English (ESOL) teacher for about 35 years. He is married to a Chinese woman who grew up in the People’s Republic of China. They have two adult children. When he doesn’t have to work, his interests are music, reading, learning Chinese, swimming and hiking.
Interview Linus Treefoot
Would you provide an overview of the newest book that you have released in 2017?
Bright Moon Ridge is the story of a 19-year-old male, Johnny Bartooth, who is given a journal which was written by his father many years before. His father went to China in 1980 to find his mother, marry her and bring her to the USA. No one whom Johnny knows ever heard from either of them since.
Johnny’s curiosity is ignited and he resolves to go to China to search for his mother and father. Most of the book is about this search for a family he never had.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
No person in particular. From high school on, I enjoyed expressing myself through writing – at first through poetry and songs more than any other genre.
What inspired you to write Bright Moon Ridge about a young man’s search for his missing parents in China?
My first motivation was to record and fictionalize my life as a hippy in the hills of California and in the backwaters of New Zealand in the 1970s – some outrageous stories and eccentric characters. The germ of the story of Bright Moon Ridge came when in 1990 I met a guy who had just returned from China; he told me that he had had a stealthy affair with a married woman doctor. I expanded on his story in my imagination and intertwined it with those stories I had been considering for years based on my wild life as a hippy. Through many stages of rewriting and editing, the hippy stories were deleted in order to have a more cohesive novel.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
In 1990 also I met and married my lovely wife, Ma Yue Ying, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution; tales from her own and her family’s history were put into the mix. I developed a strong interest in Chinese history and culture, and began to blend political and historical elements into the story. I did a considerable amount of research through reading and through travelling in China, including two trips to Hainan Island. My wife helped a great deal in translating conversations and some books written in Chinese. Writing this novel was an obsessively absorbing task for me.
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
They don’t usually act outside of what I consider their temperament and personality, but sometimes do uncharacteristic things. For example, gentle Mei, when attacked by her fellow prisoners, eventually strikes out in a surprisingly violent way
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
The reviews have been consistently very positive, which has been an encouraging and pleasant result.
Do you have any other books planned? If so, would you give an overview of what the book(s) are about?
In the short term, no. But I think I have at least one more novel in me. There is all the material that I deleted from my original drafts of the novel.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Probably being chosen to work as an English teacher in Massey University. It was a major goal of mine for more than 10 years previous. That was the best job I ever had; I worked there for more than 15 years.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Kindness is to me the most valued trait. I also highly appreciate a good sense of humour (translated: someone who laughs at my jokes) and I appreciate someone who can converse about politics and literature.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
Being able to play the piano very skillfully.
What might we be surprised to learn about you?
I left the USA when I was 24 in protest over the Vietnam war and the way the government worked. I was almost ecstatic to arrive in relatively backward New Zealand where – without having any friends or acquaintances — I enthusiastically began a new life.
What makes you laugh?
A punch line that is completely different from what you’d expect, e.g. “If you give a man a fish, he will escape hunger for one day. But if you teach a man how to fish, he will sit in a boat all day and drink beer.” Or alternatively, a joke or story in which the teller pretends to be exceedingly stupid, e.g. “Do you know about the tick inspector? If a man comes to your door and says he is a tick inspector and asks you to take off all your clothes and turn around and around, don’t do it! He’s not the real Tick Inspector…. I only wish someone had told me before.”
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
Walking through the bush and looking at the trees and patterns of sun and shade.