Nate Monk is Kieran's father. He's a single parent of a 'differently wired' child, a talented musician who once stood on the cusp of success and a man resigned to a pragmatic life of responsibility over opportunity. Both share the scarred aftermath of the Infernal Day.
On a perfect autumn April noon five-and-a-half years before, wife and mother Felicity died saving her only child from a raging house fire. Although Kieran's inadvertent hand was complicit in the tragedy, Nate refused to apportion blame. The tragic circumstances of the blaze, however, constituted a secret that a fearful father dared not share with his 'different' son. But now, as the burning forests of nearby Pendarra Hill fill the sky with smoke and the TV screen with concern, Kieran will discover the devastating truth. And driven by a desire to make amends for the 'stupid little kid' of half a decade before, he will disappear into the night.
Darren Groth is an Australian author, speaker and mentor now living in Canada. His novel, MVP - Most Valuable Potential, was shortlisted for Best Young Adult Book at the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and selected for the Books From Our Backyard: 100 Must-Read Books From Queensland list. His most recent novel, The Umbilical Word, was published in 2008 by Interactive Publications.
Author: Darren Groth
Interview with Darren Groth
How did you come up with the idea of Kindling?
Darren Groth: 'Kindling' was the result of a few different ideas coming together. I had wanted to do a story about a young autistic boy and his father for a while, as it was territory I knew personally and wanted to explore creatively. Also familiar was the potential for an autistic kid to run away from home. Although my son has never gone 'walkabout' like Kieran, there are many autism parents who live and cope with an absconding child on a constant basis. Lastly, the idea of having fire central to the story began with a real blaze I witnessed from afar when living in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. It was never dangerous to us or our house, but it certainly sparked more than a few 'what-if's. A number of those 'what-if's became reality for Nate and Kieran and Felicity.
How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Darren Groth: Quite a lot. And a good portion of that 'real life' is mine; the relationships and the experiences the world throws my way. Giving of yourself like that, I find, provides the story heart and truth and helps the reader experience a meaningful connection. Also, I'm not the sort of author who will research something to death in order to write about it. I strive to be authentic without straying into the pedantic.
What is the best thing about creating a character like Nate?
Darren Groth: I think the best thing about Nate was that he allowed me to imagine a father's courageous response to two unfathomable tragedies - the loss of a wife and a child gone missing - without actually having to experience them myself.
Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Darren Groth: The characters aren't replicas of real people around me, but they do have "borrowed" bits and pieces. Some examples - Nate plays guitar like my brother, Simon. Felicity read some of the same articles and books on autism that my wife read. She also wore my wife's Pearl Jam t-shirt. Kieran eats Pizza Shapes like my son. There are numerous little life factoids I thieved and gave to the cast of 'Kindling'
Finish this sentence; The best thing about books is . . .
Darren Groth: writing them :)