The Hour of Daydreams – Bookish: Author Interview

Renee M RutledgeMs. Rutledge, thank you so very much for taking the time for this interview. When I finished The Hour of Daydreams, I had questions about the context around the book which I did not quite know how to seek out an answer to, so I was delighted when you agreed to talk with me. I have since searched through your website and discovered a few other Q&As in which you talk about the folk tale this book is a retelling of, but for my readers that have not seen those interviews,

1) do you mind sharing again the name and details for that folk tale? What was it about this folk tale that inspired you to write a novel based on it?

See below.

2) In your interview on What the Log had to Say, you state that you gave the character, Tala, agency in her story. Why did you make that choice? Is it important to you for female characters to have agency?

In the folktale, a man falls in love with a star maiden. His father plots a way to entrap her. The man steals her wings and hides them. She moves into their home and becomes his bride. Through this, her side of the story is left unspoken. It’s taken for granted that she’s passive, a prize, an object. I couldn’t trust such a story as complete. My novel turns those assumptions on their head. Tala is in more control over the turn of events than the man who stole from her. To me, the maiden in the story is a main character, a powerful but vulnerable being, but not someone whose destiny is solely in the hands of the men around her. At the same time, the men in the folktale felt one-dimensional too. Manolo is much more conflicted. One could even say his love is genuine.

3) I am still fascinated by this idea that a folk tale could be based on real people. I saw the creation of the folk tale as a way for the characters to cope with a painful truth, about Tala’s background as well as her departure. In The Hour of Daydreams, the truth and the folk tale are so seamlessly interwoven, I felt the book spoke to a larger philosophical topic on the concept of reality – this question of where is the line between truth and tale. Was the book intended to speak to the concept of reality as shifting? What are your thoughts on reality and that line between truth and tale?

Truth is always changing and revealing itself. One person’s truth may be different from another’s. And even our own truths, about others, about ourselves, can fluctuate and deepen over time. The folktale reveals a snapshot of one truth. It is limited and designed to close the story, as if the one truth is all there is to tell.

I recreated the river scene in the folktale to show simultaneous truths from each character experiencing that moment in their own way. From the river scene, the novel branches off from the folktale to explore my unanswered questions about this marriage on new ground. Because of the nature of truth, learning about the characters’ past requires detective work. History is dependent on the historian. This is why both Manolo, and then Malaya, must seek out the answers about Tala for themselves.

4) What role do folk tales play in Filipino culture? Is there any truth to the idea that those folk tales could be based on real people?

5) Why did you choose the setting of the Philippines and use one of its folk tales? Is it important for you to share Filipino culture with an American English speaking audience? Is there anything you hope the readers gain from reading The Hour of Daydreams?

I chose to base the novel in the Philippines because that is where the folktale, The Star Maidens, comes from. However, there are many different versions of a similar folktale from other cultures. I’ve read one from Africa, where sky women come down from the sky via a rope that a man cuts in order to keep one of them grounded. And an Incan version where a sun goddess loses her golden dress so she cannot fly, and marries the man who hid it from her. These many shared tales suggest a link between cultures; there are universal themes that we are all invested in. More often than not, however, someone else’s version of a story is told. It means a lot to me that more people are seeking to learn about The Star Maidens and Filipino books/culture as a result of reading The Hour of Daydreams.

6) For me, this story was lyrical, poetic, magical, mystical, and vague. Even the setting felt a bit surreal. The truth was not laid out in a clear way and I am not certain I fully understand the truth of Tala. Was this intentional and if so, to what purpose? Why leave the truth a bit unresolved and hard to grasp?

The novel tells two parallel stories. Because of this, some people interpret the novel as saying that two things are always happening at once, both in the story, and in life; that the real world has a magical parallel. However, it was not possible for me to write two stories and make them both true. Early on, I had to decide which story I believed in order to continue the book. In other words, one of the plots is false. This was a great challenge, so to me, one of the greatest testaments to the novel’s success is the fact many readers have made far different conclusions from my own.

7) Would you say this book falls within modern Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, or does it defy such categories? For readers of the The Hour of Daydreams who want to read more Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, and/ or #ownvoices stories, do you have recommendations of fiction and/or nonfiction authors?

I’m proud to be an author, period. It’s a tough industry. I don’t know what category the book falls under, I myself am a Filipino American. I recently did the keynote speech for an awards ceremony honoring outstanding Filipino students in my community, and it was a privilege to learn how proud the students and their parents were to have me as a role model. While there are few nationally published authors in my city, there are even fewer of Filipino descent. I think the same can be said of most places. I’m happy I was able to write a book based on my own vision; not that of an editor or publisher who has their idea of what a book by a Filipino author should look like. I’d like to hope industry standards are changing; that publishers are responding to readers who seek authenticity in diverse stories.

Thank you so much for the questions, for reading and for connecting. I highly recommend Deceit and Other Possibilities, by Vanessa Hua;Monstress, by Lysley Tenorio; Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi; Queen of Spades, by Michael Shum; A Cup of Water Under My Bed, by Daisy Hernandez; and Marriage of a Thousand Lies, by SJ Sindu. I’m currently reading Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, and have Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizers and Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness waiting on my nightstand.

8) Do you plan to write more folk tale retellings? Retellings is a particular favorite genre of mine.

More and more, I feel another folktale retelling will happen. I’m getting excited for that time to come, when I’ve wrapped up my current projects. This is a matter of years from now; if you have the same email address then I’ll be sure to get in touch!

For more author interviews, press releases, and book reviews, check out: https://www.reneerutledge.com/

Rapid Fire Book Tag – Bookish

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Photo credit: I Love to Read | Carlos Porto | CC 2.0

Dani from Mousai Books posted this book tag a couple days ago and I really enjoyed reading her answers. I thought that my readers might enjoy learning a bit about my bookish style as well! Definitely go check out Mousai books as it’s one of my favorite book review blogs and Dani is the best! This tag was originally created by Girl Reading and she answered the questions without much thought. I answered in the same vein.

  1. E-book or Physical book? Physical Book
  2. Paperback or Hardcover? Paperback – I find hardcover annoying and heavy
  3. Online or In-store book shopping? In-Store!!! I love the smell of books! But to be fair, I buy nearly all my books online – I just start by shopping in the store and then try to find them used or a deal online.
  4. Trilogies or Series? Trilogies as I have no interest in reading a series that never ends
  5. Heroes or Villains? Is grey characters an option? No? Then heroes
  6. A book you want everyone to read? The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. It is one of my favorite books and she is my favorite author and I want everyone to experience the beauty of her writing
  7. Recommend an underrated book. The Hour of Daydreams – seriously, it is super rare that an unknown book is amazing, but this one is and I want everyone to read it!
  8. Last book you finished? The Shadow of the Wind – I have mixed feelings on this book, but a review is forthcoming.
  9. The last book(s) you bought? I went on a mini book buying spree the other day, so there’s a few: Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, Delicious Foods, Brown Girl in the Ring, and The Fisherman (I love Kindle deals combined with Amazon no rush shipping digital credits!)
  10. Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark? I typically use bookmarks – well actually my favorite is bookjig which isn’t exactly a standard bookmark. Anyway, back to the question, the weirdest thing is probably a receipt or a blanket – whatever is nearby that I can quickly use to mark a page. With crochet books when I end up marking a few pages until I decide on a pattern, I have used other books as bookmarks, but it kind of worries me. I care a lot about the appearance of my books.
  11. Used books: yes or no? Yes…if they are in like new condition
  12. Top Three Favorite Genres: Literary Fiction, General Fiction, and Fantasy – really, I just love really amazing writing in nearly any genre.
  13. Borrow or Buy? Both equally. I used to dream of having a massive library one day, but now I dream of a more minimalist life, so I try to only buy print books I really love or expect to love. I also currently am only buying new books by diverse authors as part of a broader social movement. I greatly enjoy both the act of buying and the act of borrowing from a library. I don’t really feel complete without both.
  14. Characters or Plot? Characters. I care much more about the depth of the characters and how they emotionally impact me than I do about specific plot points. I can enjoy a book that seems to have no point as long as I love learning about the characters. Great, in-depth characters are why I read.
  15. Long or Short books? Is average book length an option? No, then long. I’m not a big fan of short stories and novellas tend to fall too close to that category
  16. Long or Short chapters? I don’t think I have a preference here, but if I lean one way, it’s probably toward long chapters. I don’t like choppy books with super short chapters.
  17. Name the first three books you think of: The Fifth Season, The Shadowed Sun, and The Shadow of the Wind
  18. Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry? Books that make me cry
  19. Our world or Fictional world? I don’t have a strong preference here, though I tend to read more books in the real world than in the fictional world. But I’m not a big fan of them overlapping, with the exception of dystopian/ future setting books.
  20. Audiobooks: yes or no? I really enjoy nonfiction audiobooks and it’s about the only way I will read nonfiction books these days, but otherwise, I strongly prefer printed books. With reading books, the worlds transports me more than listening to them and I live for that.
  21. Do you ever judge a book by its cover? I do and it does cause me to out of hand dismiss some books or to decide to pick up a book I’m unfamiliar with, but it is only a small part of my decision to read a book or not.
  22. Book to movie or Book to TV adaptations? Book to TV adaptations as I generally prefer TV to movies, in part because TV can do more with character development.
  23. A movie or TV show you preferred to its book? I rarely consume both medium, but I loved the movie Lincoln and couldn’t get through the first 50 pages of the book it was based off of. I’d probably say on the whole that I prefer the movie version of nonfiction books, especially for genres like memoirs or biographies.
  24. Series or Standalone? Standalone. There are popular books I haven’t read and probably won’t because I don’t want to deal with reading a whole series. I only consider reading complete series.

I tag FNM over at NZFNM blog, Delphine at Delphine the Babbler, and Harini at Books and Readers. I’d love to hear some of your answers in the comments, or better yet, as a post on your blog! So if I did not tag you and you wish to do this, please consider yourself tagged and definitely let me know if you do the tag. Otherwise, please answer one or two questions below! I’d love to get to know my readers a bit better!

July Reads and an Update – Bookish

Now that July has come to a close, I thought I would share with you what I read in July. Overall, I read 13 books, including 4 audiobooks, 3 children’s books, 3 young adult books, 3 eARCs, and 3 nonfiction books. Overall, I’m satisfied with this month of reading. (Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for an update!)

dreadnoughtThe first book I finished in July was Dreadnought, which I rated 4/ 5 stars. If you read my reflection, you’ll know that I requested the eARC of its sequel Sovereign before having read Dreadnought. It was a bit of a mad dash to read Dreadnought and Sovereign before Sovereign’s release date, but I’m so glad I took on the challenge!

 

tom sawyer coverI also finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in July and it was a 4/ 5 stars for me. It turns out that while I had read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a child, I had not read Tom Sawyer. Audible channels, which are free for Audible or Prime members, had an audiobook version of Tom Sawyer narrated by Nick Offerman and I knew I had to listen to it. Offerman’s performance was great and I’m so glad I let him read me this classic. The review will not be published on this blog, but you can find it on my other social media sites, namely Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter. If you want to see ALL of my reviews for all the books I read, I very much recommend you follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, or both!

year of yes coverNext I started and finished Year of Yes in July and it was a 5 star read and made my favorites list, a pretty exclusive list for me. It will be reviewed on this blog at some point in the near future (see below for information on that). I borrowed the audiobook version from the library and Shonda Rhimes narrates it. Her narration is incredible and really made the book stick with me. This is a book I plan to reread and when I do, I will do so through audio again. I think it’s the only way to read this book.

the hour of daydreamsI then finished the eARC The Hour of Daydreams, a 4 star read whose review will publish next Monday. I also hope to have an author interview with Renee Rutledge about her book to post on Friday. This book was a wonderful read and I’m so grateful I was given a review copy. I hope you will check out my posts around this book next week!

 

the gifts of imperfection coverIt was time to switch it up with a bit of nonfiction. I read I Thought it was Just Me and it was the first Brene Brown book I did not rate 5 stars. I eventually settled on 4 stars, though I initially gave it 3 stars. But after realizing I was partly downgrading the book because it forced me to look at myself in a way I was not thrilled about, I decided to not take it out on the book. It is a good book, but I did have real criticisms about it. It was essentially her first book and I’m glad to see that her follow-up books have been excellent reads. This book will not be reviewed on this site, but you can see my review for it on Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

echo coverI came across Echo in a sale Audible was having on its children’s books and saw that it had won an Audie. I very much wanted to read it, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and was not disappointed with the quality of the audiobook. It was great how each story within the larger novel was narrated by a difference actor. In addition, the music the book referenced was played in the audiobook, which made it a much richer experience. I am glad I choose the audiobook over the print version. This was a 4 star read for me and its review will post on this blog soon (again, see below for more detail).

monkey mind coverThen came my first bad read, Monkey Mind. I had first rated it 2 stars, but upon further reflection, one particular scene greatly bothered me and I had to downgrade it to a 1 star rating. It’s not a book I recommend for anyone. If you want to see the review of it, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

 

sovereignThankfully, my next read, which was an eARC, was great! As you already know, Sovereign was a 4 star read for me. While it started out slow for me, by the end, I was just as hooked as I was with Dreadnought and was just as happy with the overall quality. This is a great series and I hope it continues to deliver.

 

 

the lord of the fliesEvery month, my library does a theme and displays books around that theme near the front of the library. For several months now, I have read a selection from each month. I’m not sure why I started doing this, but I really enjoy doing it. This month’s selection was The Lord of the Flies based on their lakeside theme. I think the connection to the theme was a bit of a stretch, but I knew I needed a short read and was happy to pick up this classic. Overall, I gave it a 3 star review, but I would like to read it again at some point. I was not in the headspace to read a book with such heavy symbolism and I would like to read it again when I can devote more energy to the symbolism and see if I gain anything from such a thorough reread. It may move up to a 4 star read if I do. If you are interested in the review, check out Facebook or Goodreads or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the other einstein coverThen I read a book I’m still on the fence about its rating. The Other Einstein was a book that drew me in because it was about Albert Einstein’s first wife, who was also a physicist. The book claims there is much controversy around whether or not Mrs. Einstein played a significant role in some of Einstein’s most famous early work. After reading the book, I did some research and there is greater consensus about the lack of her contributions than the book blurb implied. I still debate whether I should rate the book at 2 stars or 3 stars as I solidly rated it at 2.5 stars. Some days, I think the great liberties the book takes with a historical figure are serious enough to push the review to 2 stars and other days, I remember that I could not put the book down and read it in a day and end up keeping it at 3 stars. I suspect I will never feel completely comfortable with my rating on Goodreads, unless they decide to allow readers to give half stars. If you’d like to see the review, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the little queen coverI then read an eARC of an adorable children’s book entitled, The Little Queen. It was a fun, whimsical story that had sage advice for adults. The review will post on this blog in a few weeks and I hope you will check it out!

 

 

the underground railroad coverNext, I read The Underground Railroad which was a 4 star read for me as the detached narration pulled me a bit too much out of the story. But the writing was fantastic and hope to read more of Colson Whitehead in the future. This review will post on this blog in the near future (see below for further details).

 

the hate u give coverLastly, I read all but 15, maybe 20 pages of The Hate U Give in July. For a book which is almost 450 pages, I devoured it in record time. Whenever I put it down, my mind was constantly drawn back to the book and I found myself picking it up as soon as possible. This was a 5 star read for me and landed on my favorites list, which is a hard list to make. The review for this book will post on this blog in the near future (see below for more details).

Lastly, an update:

As you can see, I have been reading more books than I can review with only doing one review a week. Thus, I have decided to move to two reviews and reflections a week, with reviews on Mondays and Wednesdays and their respective reflections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will stay bookish days. The reviews on Monday will be ARCs or eARCs, typically reviewed around their date of release. The reviews on Wednesdays will be of older books either from my personal collection of books or from the library. Of course, since I cannot control how often I am approved for ARCs or eARCs, reviews on Monday may sometimes not be ARCs or eARCs, but since I have ARC and eARC reviews planned through the end of October, I suspect this will not be an issue anytime soon. I hope to make the change next week, but currently, the biggest impediment is my health which has not be great lately. While I keep up with reviews for the most part, the reflections can be much for challenging and demanding and thus are not always something I can tackle in poor health. I will make an announcement this weekend if I feel sufficiently ahead of the game to start posting two reviews and reflections a week. Thank you all for your support! If there wasn’t so much interest in this blog, I wouldn’t be upping my reviews and reflections. I am grateful to each and everyone of my followers!

The Awesome Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for an award and I’m blushing with excitement! I never expected for my blog to take off so quickly. I’m over the moon!!!

I was nominated by Harini over at Books and Readers and she is my favorite book blogger right now. Not only is her blog amazing, but also she has shown me great kindness and support from the very beginning. If I could nominate her again, I absolutely would. Definitely check out her blog – it’s wonderful!

awesome-blogger-award1.jpg(I stole this image from Harini who stole it from Des!)

The award was created by Maggie at Dreaming of Guatemala who stated:

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

Rules :

1.Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Include the reason behind the award.
3. Include the banner in your post.
4. Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
5. Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
6. Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
7. Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
8. Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

My Answers to Harini

What’s ‘peace’ according to you?

Man, starting with the hard questions! I feel like there are two ways I could go – the world peace way or the inner peace way. Since I’ve been focusing a lot on my inner peace lately, I will focus on that in my response. Peace for me is stillness, strength, and quiet no matter what is happening outside of me. It is this beautiful cave I retreat to.

What’s the one book everyone loves but you absolutely hate?

Anything by Jane Austen, but particularly Pride and Prejudice. It may have been the first book I bailed on and it was required reading in high school. I couldn’t even stand the movie. It was a rough few weeks in that English class.

Dream Destination?

When I was younger, it was always Hawaii, though I’m not sure why as I don’t really like the beach. Now, I really want to travel to Turkey or somewhere similar. I feel in love with Arabic and Moorish architecture in Spain and would love to see so much more of it.

One mistake that you regret so much?

Leaving the PhD program, though I’m much more compassionate toward myself about why I did.

Favorite subject at High school?

Statistics. I was really weird. English was a close second. And if we are including non-formal/ non-required subjects, than band was my ultimate favorite followed by pottery.

The one thing you want to change about yourself?

Currently, I’d like to improve my health enough to return to work, or really, just any level of improvement would be greatly welcomed.

The person you can’t imagine being without?

My sister. She’s a huge piece of me and I need her. She’s quite often the first person I turn to.

Favorite pet ever?

Nica, who is the cute pup in my profile pic!

Book People Vs Real People – Who do you prefer?

There are definitely times in my life when I would have said book people, but after falling ill and finding a large community of people supporting me, who are all my extended family now, I have to say real people. Real people are actually there when things are hard. ❤

One thing about the world that you hate?

Hatred itself, especially that which is based on shallow qualities like race, sex, or sexual orientation

Thanks again, Harini!

My nominees:

JD at Studious Creatives
FNM at NZFNM blog
Alyssa at Book Huntress’ World
Elin at Book Owlie
TJL at Books & Other Pursuits

My Questions:

Which book “changed your life”?
What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
Would you rather be a bookstore owner or an author?
Where’s your favorite place to visit?
What is something you really, really like?
Outside of reading, what’s a favorite activity?
What’s your favorite ice cream?
Would you rather have dinner with current famous people or dead/historical famous people (you get to pick who you invite)?
What’s a nonfiction topic/ genre you enjoy?
Do you hope to still be blogging in 5 years?

For those tagged, I completely understand if you cannot get to this right now. Just know that I enjoy your blogs!

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions as well! Comment below with your thoughts!