Today I am interviewing Rush Leaming, author of the new New Adult Fiction novel, The Whole of the Moon.
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DJ: Hi Rush! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Rush Leaming: Sure. I’ve been a professional gypsy. Done many things and had many types of varied (and sometimes weird) experiences. But the short version of a long story is I spent over fifteen years in film/video production working on such projects as “The Lord of the Rings” films. I was also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina for 7.5 years. I started writing short stories as soon as I could physically write at age 5. In 2016, I published my first novel “Don’t Go, Ramanya” a political thriller set in Thailand. I’ve lived all around the world. I currently live in South Carolina.
DJ: What is The Whole of the Moon about?
Rush: Set in 1988, near the end of the Cold War, it’s about a group of young Americans working for an international aid organization who plunge into the beautiful, fascinating, yet dangerous world of Zaire, Africa. Ambitious, if a bit naïve, they must overcome hardship and tragedy, pushing themselves to their personal limits, while forging strong bonds among themselves and the local villagers they’ve come there to help.
I liked the way one of the beta readers described it: “Completely unique–Part adventure, part mystery, part travelogue, part romance, part coming of age tale.”
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Whole of the Moon?
Rush: It’s a variation on the classic tale “Flight of Icarus”, but other stories I think it shares some DNA with are “Birdy” by William Wharton; “The Year of Living Dangerously” by Christopher Koch; “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green; and, as it is set in the Congo, “The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Rush: Yes they are all early twenties, fresh out of college, and suddenly plunge into this amazing new strange world and culture of Zaire/The Congo. The narrator, Michael Shaw, is overwhelmed at first and has a series of panic attacks. He becomes friends with Gabriel Moss who kind of takes him under his wings and helps Michael through the arduous training process. The story centers on their friendship and how they develop over the course of a year in the country.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Whole of the Moon like?
Rush: It’s the Congo, late 1980’s, No internet or cell phones, no landlines. Where the characters end up living is a very rural isolated area of no roads, or electricity, or running water. They live in mud huts with the local villagers. Snakes, crocodiles, hippos, and disease are constant threats. But at the same time, it’s stunningly beautiful country with warm, inviting people.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Whole of the Moon?
Rush: It’s loosely based on personal experience, so plunging myself back into that time and place. Really digging into the main characters and finding the humor and lighter moments.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Rush: I think they will come away from it feeling like they truly just lived through those experiences the characters had. They will probably want to go online and book a flight to some far flung country and start their own new adventures!
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Whole of the Moon? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Rush: I think the term “New Adult Fiction” works well for this book. It’s about that time in life right after college, when people are first entering the real world and trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do, but these characters, because of where they go, have a very extreme version of this. Overall it’s a story about friendship, how we meet people and often create lasting impacts that stretch entire lives, often without even realizing it.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Whole of the Moon that you can share with us?
Rush: “There are certain people who sizzle and burn. Gabriel was one of them.”
“Fax machine? What’s a fax machine? Does anyone know what a fax machine is?”
“Did they eat people? Do people here eat people?”
DJ: Now that The Whole of the Moon is released, what is next for you?
Rush: I’ve started writing a crime trilogy set in Charleston, South Carolina entitled “Dead Tree Tales”. I’ll also probably soon release a collection of short stories entitled “The Man Who Screams at Nightfall”.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KVWEKCA
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Whole of the Moon that we haven’t talked about yet?
Rush: Well, you know the old cliche: “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry”, right? It applies well here. There are some funny, warm moments set against some very dark and tragic ones.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add? (Or add your own question).
Rush: I wrote most of the book on my iPhone!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** The Whole of the Moon is published by Bridgewood and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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From Rush Leaming comes the stunning prequel to the #1 bestseller DON’T GO, RAMANYA.
In 1988, near the end of the Cold War, a group of young Americans working for an international aid organization plunge into the beautiful, fascinating, yet dangerous world of Zaire, Africa. Ambitious, if a bit naïve, they must overcome hardship and tragedy, pushing themselves to their personal limits, while forging strong bonds among themselves and the local villagers they’ve come there to help.
A thrilling adventure–romantic, lyrical and deeply heartfelt–THE WHOLE OF THE MOON explores the power of friendship and the struggles and triumphs of living as a stranger in a very strange land.
About the Author:
RUSH LEAMING lives in the Southeastern United States. He has done many things and lived in many places.
At various times in his life he has been a/an: car wash attendant, bartender, dishwasher, Adjunct Professor, lab rat decapitator, shoe salesman, fish pond builder, a monster in a low-budget horror movie, music video director, refugee camp volunteer, film production manager, ESL teacher, star of a country music video, newspaper delivery person, Chinese wok assembler, night time hotel desk clerk, cement mixer, ballet manager, waiter, internet teacher, screenwriter, short film director, Cuban cigar mule, auctioneer, pre-med student, traffic pattern analyzer, photographer, landscaper, homeless, Academic Director, shepherd, lifeguard, audio-visual coordinator, recruiter for a prestigious government agency, and single dad.