Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: This month sees the sequel release to Black Sand Beach! What do readers have in story when returning to the adventures of Dash and his friends?
Richard Fairgray: This volume really ramps things up, both in terms of the mystery and horror, but also with the more complex character relationships. At the end of the first book, Dash finds out from an old journal that he’d been at Black Sand Beach last summer but doesn’t remember it. Reading fragments of the journal (A sheep steals it so he can only get back bits of spit covered pages.), he uncovers a huge backstory of creepy stuff that went on last year, but also a really tragic story about why his stepmother is so cold toward him now. That bit was my favorite part of the story, because I’d deliberately made her almost a caricature in book one with how stand offish she is towards Dash and the others.
BD: When working with the same characters and larger world within Black Sand Beach, do you find that there’s a creative shorthand in crafting their dialogue and illustrations - as if it’s become second nature?
RF: The way I work is so intensive that it becomes second nature to me. When I’m scripting this series, I shut myself off completely for several days and think about nothing but the inner lives of these weird kids. Plus, one thing I did before I even started book one was make a firm list of goals for each character, so no matter what was going on in the story, I knew that there were other things they wanted. Sometimes, that’s as simple as "Andy really wants to fly," so whenever he’s not doing anything else, he can be attempting to get higher in the background of the scene. Sometimes, it’s just a reminder that Eleanor has been through some really dark stuff that won’t come out until much later, but I need to make sure something is weighing on her whenever it gets too dark or too loud.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Dash’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
RF: There’s a couple of reasons. At its core this is a book about trauma and resilience. Dash has literally repressed his memory of an entire summer and now the fallout from that is effecting every part of his life. But also I have a bigger goal and that’s to up end the assumption that Dash is the main character. All the evil at Black Sand Beach, all the darkness creeping in is literally fueled by old ideas of power and the wrong stories being told and retold, which is why the main villain of the book just assumes the young white male protagonist is going to be the key to it all. That’s a hard balance to find, though, because in order to subvert that I have to first establish it and who knows how many people will only see the first book or two in the series.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
RF: The first book in the Cardboardia series by Lucy Campagnolo and I is coming out in September. It skews a little younger than Black Sand Beach, but it’s just as fun and dense and again it’s all about confident, adventure-seeking kids. The series follows Pokey, Mac, Bird, and Maisie as they discover a way to travel back and forth between our real world and a place made entirely of cardboard, where power literally comes from creative potential.
I have a plethora of other projects on the go, but none that are officially announced yet. I’m also going to have short pieces in a bunch of anthologies over the next couple of years; my story about a corn cob holder in the book Nightmare Theater might be the most horrifying thing I have written so far.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Black Sand Beach: Do You Remember the Summer Before and your other work?
RF: Follow my Instagram (@richardfairgrayauthor), check out my site at richardfairgray.com, and help me achieve the impossible of getting more than 3 likes on a tweet (@richardfairgray).