Featured Interview With Frank Prem
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised in the little town of Beechworth, in Victoria (Australia) in the 1960s and 70s. Like so many Small Town Kids I hightailed it out of there as soon as I could, only to find myself drawn back by the tug that little towns everywhere seem to hold. They don’t let go of their young very easily.
Actually, I found that by the time I had small children of my own, the entire childhood that I’d enjoyed and remembered as freedoms that were only natural for a child to have, had disappeared. The change seemed profound enough to me to prompt me to write a memoir of some of my growing up experiences. That resulted in my first free verse poetry collection (released in December 2018) called Small Town Kid. Bonfire nights and blowing up school teachers letterboxes with crackers, riding a bicycle for 14 miles just to see a girl. All those things that had disappeared by the mid 1990s, it seemed to me.
I don’t have any pets now, but I’m a dog person. I have two dogs I remember with especial fondness – An apricot coloured Standard Poodle named Sparky; and a black and white Border Collie named Leelu. Wonderful dogs that I still miss, from time to time, years later.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
Oh, I started reading very young. I was one of those kids that ended up with their own allocated reading space because I was a devourer of books. I started writing early, too. I was just fascinated with stories and enjoyed writing essays at school.
I discovered poetry by chance, really. As I recall, I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to submit a full length essay on some subject or other (Autumn, I think the theme was), so I whipped up a free verse poem that took no time at all.
I was amazed to get a good mark for my effort and so I did more (and more, and more . . .) until, over time, writing stories in free verse poetry has become something I now associate with sense of self. I AM a free verse poet.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
These days, I’m quite taken with Speculative fiction – also known as ‘what if . . .’ fiction. What if we went to the stars? What if we survived a World War 3? What if Gandalf was alive, and Elves roamed the earth?
Some of my favorite authors include: Robin Hobb (The Farseer books); Ursula Le Guin (Earthsea books and science fiction); Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games).
I’ve been inspired in my writing by short story authors such as H. E. Bates, and Damon Runyan (both largely forgotten, now), and in recent times by a French Philosopher named Gaston Bachelard who wrote about poetry and poetics and used imagery in his work that i found extraordinarily inspiring and ended writing some 800 pieces of work in response. I hope to publish this work in book form one day.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book is Devil In The Wind. This is a free verse poetry collection of the voices of survivors and victims of our catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
The events and the stories of survivors haunted me for a long time, and there are still a lot of folk that have been traumatised by those fires. So I wrote them down, and now a decade later, I’ve put them into a book that I’m quite proud of.
Some of the stories show how a fire can be like a living thing with a mind of its own. Others speak of the ultimate futility of good fire plans, when the fire doesn’t obey the old rules. Hiding in a dam with the ducks; using the Army Reserve to find suspicious mounds left behind in the rubble.
It is very powerful reading, particularly as wildfires feature more and more frequently in all parts of the world.
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