Richard Tillotson has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Borneo, a playwright in New York, a copywriter in Hawaii, and is a relative of an English Lord, all of which helped him write Acts of God While on Vacation, a National Semi-Finalist for the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and named “Hawaii’s best fiction book of 2011” by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He works in Honolulu and vacations in Washington DC.
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Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it.
The novel begins with a death threat received by a philandering general manager of a lavish Hawaii resort, jumps to an anthropologist researching headhunters in the jungles of Borneo, then to a demonic, scandal-mongering paparazzo in New York, and on to a gorgeous, party-loving English aristocrat in London. The characters are all drawn to Waikiki, where their arrival coincides with an international conference on shamanism and a catastrophic, force-five hurricane. I only discovered what was to become of these people while I was writing (and reading) about them, and I found their various adventures alternately desperate, thought-provoking, and hilarious. I hope readers will be able to take away a smile and some new ideas.
Who are your favorite characters in the story?
This of course is like asking a mother or father which one of her/his children she/he loves most, which is an impossible question. The best answer I ever heard to that question was by a mother who said “The one who hurts or who needs me the most.” For an author — at least this one — it is the character someone is asking me about. In the last few days, I’ve received several questions about Kip Stallybrass, the character who is a graduate student anthropologist researching the spiritual beliefs of the Iban, one of the indigenous peoples on the island of Borneo. In decades past the Iban were known as headhunters. I know something about all this because I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo and worked with the Iban myself. (Doesn’t mean that Kip is me, however.) I have also received several questions about Glynis Mortimer, another character in the novel. She’s a remarkably competent Englishwoman, known in her circle as “the world’s foremost executive secretary.” (I’m not her either.)