It’s been years since I attended a large gathering of the faithful, and like any outsider I walked through the doors of the Toronto Congress Centre with a wobbly uncertainty. I felt goddamned ashamed. After decades of self-improvement, I still felt like that kid on the playground, the one that doesn’t look right and probably never will.
Maybe it was my blue suede high-heeled cowboy boots that held me back. Somewhere in my feckless psyche, I had decided on my birthday that half-century feet sautéing in Uggs could be teased back.
I mopped my sloppy brow. Now measuring in at 5’11,” I remembered that I’d forgotten to take my hormone pill before I left the house. I dreaded the shvitz that would surely come.
A Doug Ford campaign staffer with fabulous accessories and terrific elocution skills approached with a tablet to steer me in the direction of Registration. There, my name, email address, postal code and degree of commitment was recorded digitally.
Fantastic! With what would amount to a crowd of anywhere between 1500 to 2000 depending on who you asked, this campaign would lead off strong with busy hands in every sphere.
I remember when we did this on paper and by rotary dial telephone alone!
To say that Doug Ford’s candidacy for Premier of Ontario is well-organized is not to gloss it. I saw it with my own eyes. From the jammed media riser to the wet bars in every corner, everything and everyone was in its proper place waiting for the man of the hour.
For American readers, let me tell you that Doug Ford is not new to the scene. He has had his fingers in politics and business for years, not unlike his predecessor, who was very ceremoniously dumped for social and possible financial wrong-doing just weeks ago.
That Doug’s team hit the ground, boots on, just days after his election as party leader speaks volumes to how badly they want it. But who was there to give it to them?
Bloggers and op edders agree that Doug is a menace. He’s privileged. He’s wealthy. He’s pale-faced. And he’s a dude. Who in their right mind outside of the faithful would vote for him? And wouldn’t the faithful look exactly like him?
Breaking a sweat under the bright lights, I retreated with aching feet to the shadows to get a better look.
Seems the Ford people don’t all look like him. In fact, I noted as many Benz and Audi in the parking lot as half-ton pick-ups. Nobody wore fur, and nobody carried truncheons. And nobody seemed to be overly concerned about my lack of Ford decoration, as if they knew that everyone there, press included, would behave, and would give the man of the hour a chance to speak.
The platform party was pleasingly representative of Ontario’s diversity—people with youth, people with age, people with history, people with enthusiasm. More like them filled the hall. They are believers.
As the candidate mounted the platform, he was taken up in embrace by the three female candidates he defeated at the convention. Swearing solidarity, they are also promising to stick around, stick their necks out and actually run. I can’t fault anybody for having the courage to do that.
Mr. Ford spoke for about ten minutes and about the only thing I can remember is that “we are in a mess” and he will “clean up the mess.” If that’s what his communications director wanted to get across, congrats. It worked.
I’m on the floor now, my heels telling me that it is time. From this vantage, I can only see shoes—Dockers, Skechers, Vans, Steve Madden, Nine West—and some stroller wheels. What I don’t see are a rush of youthful feet, what we used to call (and what is probably still called) the Wedge, young Progressive Conservative Youth rushing the stage enthusiastically with lollipop signs. About the youngest I see here are late twenties but mostly early thirties, the new twenty. They cheer, they clap, but they are also composed and earnest.
I also do not see or, more correctly from the floor, “hear” the hecklers. Not even one. Do they only appear on-line or do they reserve their right to free speech for those in power? I guess I’ll find out when I visit the Preem, who’s currently busy answering questions about the Throne Speech.
The party is over, and Doug has left the stage. I’m still on the ground with my sore feet. I’m in a terrible mess. What shall I do?
I don’t have to wait long. A nice chap from Ford Nation offers a hand. He picks me up.
Slaving away over edits hasn’t taken me completely out of the loop, although a double-whammy Easter certainly did. Picture two belief systems coinciding on the same day, and then add food and drink and what do you get? Enough food energy to power fresh writing and a restless muse.
Which brings me to the whole ‘getting out and about’ thing that many folks ‘in the know’ insist every writer must pursue. I tend to agree. Getting out can’t hurt, especially when I bring to mind a Hollywood wonk who, many years ago, spoke unkindly of an accomplished character actor whom, he believed, would “go to the opening of an envelope” if there was any appreciable benefit to be derived.
Benefit? Let’s see: the actor is still working and the wonk is long gone. I can’t even put a name to the quip.
Leaving the house, aka pushing away from the keyboard, helps my edits because I get the benefit of distance: what’s in front of my face, and, so, gets over-looked because of it, hits me like Thor’s hammer after a few hours off.
So, I’m going out Thursday night, not only to get some distance, but to also check out a singly fascinating criminal defense lawyer named Jill Presser. Jill not only educates, but she INSPIRES by putting her arguments out front and up top in front of the Supreme Court of Canada no less.
As a writer, it makes sense to me to ferret out arcs, plot and character in unlikely places if only to knock loose that most elusive of creatures: the impish muse. And so, it was to that end that I began binging in earnest eclectic series on Netflix, Crave and the now defunct and sorely-missed Shomi platforms.
What an odyssey! Binging not only allowed this student to pick out problems with continuity, pacing, character cred and sagging middles (season four of almost anything) to name a few, but it also sling-shotted back the fixes that, I think, really make a story groove.
It is to this point that I’m delighted to highlight a story-telling gem that I cannot get enough of, the incomparable Turkish period soap MAGNIFICENT CENTURY (available on Netflix Canada and other adventurous steaming outlets). Debuting in 2011, this 16th century historical romance details the triumphs and travails of Crimean-born Alexandra aka Roxelana aka Hürrem Sultan who turned the house of Sultan Suleiman upside down at a time when Ottoman rule was mounting an ambitious and often ill-fated sweep into Europe.
Maybe it’s a visual thing?
Sold into the harem by her Tatar kidnappers, 15-year-old Alexandra not only wins the favor of the Sultan (after much soul searching—she is the daughter of an Orthodox priest) but goes on to marry and live with her volatile spouse for the entire span of her life.
Those who know a little about Ottoman history know how uncommon a move like this actually was, given that sultans typically packed off their concubines with the princes they produced once the ‘young lions’ turned 16 and were deemed old enough to govern a principality of their own.
Hürrem, famously captured by the artist Titian (another first), took no prisoners when it came to protecting herself, her off-spring and even her sultan. Against tradition, she became the legal wife of a king in a royal house that did not have queens, bore five sons and a daughter against the one son per concubine policy, and was laid to rest in a tomb far grander than her spouse’s and immediately adjacent to him in the Süleymaniye Mosque.
A reinterpretation of history for art’s sake? No.
That this ‘character’ was actually real and pulled these rabbits out of her magical hat will be the subject of further personal study.
History, without question, drew me to this story. But what keeps me there (humorous subtitles notwithstanding) is the inane and highly unusual circumstances major and minor characters alike find themselves in. What, for example, distinguishes a major execution from a minor one? How far can second concubine push her agenda when the Haseki (1st concubine) and Valide (sultan’s mom) precede her and really, really don’t like her? And how does one remove a greedy grand vizier from the picture when his friendship with the sultan borders on a bromance to end all others?
The show runners of HBO’s excellent ROME series remind us that a lot of what the characters feel and do in this type of genre is governed by a culture and belief system that so totally predate everything we know in the current CE that we at times question the credulity of the plot. We shouldn’t. Duking it out over who sits under the canopy is normal. Hürrem Sultan would rather commit suicide than allow a new Russian concubine into the harem and tells her sultan so with flourishing soundtrack to back her up. And she’d do it were it not for the fact that she knows him so well!
Melodrama at its best!
With the soap genre allowing for glacial pacing (finding the stolen ring happened over a three-episode arc) the story still grooves, thanks to ambitious characters, raucous political and personal agendas, and costuming that, frankly, thrills.
The art direction, too, is luxe and adventurous, at times using painted murals (a la the old Sinbad movies of the Sixties) and digital gaming CGI that we know is ‘fake’ but is no less satisfying and entertaining. (Note: watch for the same flying bird patterns over the Vatican, the Buda palace of King Louis of Hungary and the Topkapi palace in Constantinople.)
Over the top and fast forward, even at snail’s pace, may not be new, but if MAGNIFICENT CENTURY is any indication, it somehow works and might be a grand fix for many things writerly.
What I could do if I could bring kitsch und vroom to the page. Maybe I’ll give it a try.
With just two chapters — that’s right — TWO chapters — left on the WIP, I though it was time to come out of #amwriting hiding to fire up the blog.
So much has happened since the start of the year, beginning with the home stretch gallop for SHELL GAME, my third in the Unapologetic Lives Series. What began as a reaction to an aggressive letter from city hall has turned into a novel journey that examines relationships through the eyes of a feral tabby cat.
Equal parts dark and humorous, SHELL GAME didn’t reveal it’s true self until the tag lines started teasing their way off of the pages.
It’s to all those amazing Twitter hashtag games geared to writers that I owe a debt for knocking the subtext loose:
#amwriting Psycho-social #cat #dramady with death and laughs #Thurds Words #ShareWrit
#SHELLGAME This time, the cat wins #2bitTues
A pastoral community tweaks when it crosses the black #cat #humor #wip #wipjoy #GuessWrite
This proves again what I have always known about art: ready or not, it finds you. And in this vein, I’m pleased to share two things, beginning with this chestnut:
Writing is one part of the author journey. Getting up and performing is another.
There’s no way to sugar coat performance: it’s tough. Even the most accomplished veterans, the late Sir Laurence Olivier most famously, suffered from mighty stage fright. Canada’s own Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, I recently learned, is another. But reading the work is critical to getting the word out that writers are alive and well and writing. Believe me, the reading out loud gets easier with practice, and I proved it again just the other night.
Back in 2013, a group of crime-loving authors came together and launched NOIR AT THE BAR, an event that has spread across the country and south of the border too. The February 16 event in Toronto provided a golden opportunity to get up and read from the WIP. Was I nervous? You bet! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Writers Rob Brunet, Jennifer Soosar, Tanis Mallow, Hope Thompson, Ian Hamilton, and Howard Shrier shared their dark work with aplomb, along with Noir Founding Father Peter Rozovsky, who came all the way up from Philly to do so.
That I found myself in such august company was in large part due to hard work (the writing) but also finding the wherewithall to bravely get out to as many events as I could so that I could talk up what I was getting up to (the writing). The invitation to read at Noir followed.
Which leads to the second chestnut:
Talking about your work is well and good as long as you pass on the good karma by talking about the work of others.
The incredible power of the Twitter hashtag game cannot be stressed enough. For while the Twitterverse is huge, it lends itself to lasting relationships forged through shares, one line at a time.
Case in point: A group of us recently got together and pooled our hashtag games under the umbrella of #GuessWrite. Each month, game hosts like yours truly, offer up a different theme that acts as a clue to a single, larger #GuessWrite theme. The lucky participant(s) that guess the theme share in a prize pack offered up by the hosts. It is through this that I am able to share this space with February 2017 #GuessWrite winner Tanya Chris. Tanya and I have crossed paths many times through #2bitTues #1lineWed #ThruLineThurs, #Thurds Words and many, many more. Yet it is through the shared resources of participating writer gamers that I have the honor to feature her work here.
I can feel the good Karma, already. Can you?
And so it is, without further ado, that I sign off here and get to work on Tanya’s feature post, which will go live later today.
It was my great honor recently to address the Sisters in Crime – Toronto Chapter at their monthly meeting this past April. Not only did the experience tease me out of the relative safety of my writing vault, but it also, as a newcomer to the mystery scene, afforded me the opportunity to examine the challenges faced by funeral directors like me who endeavor to write.
It’s an exciting time for funeral directors in Ontario. Legislative changes in force since July 1, 2012 continue to filter through the industry; the most recent realized April 1 with the creation of the new Bereavement Authority of Ontario. What this new body will mean for service providers and the client families they serve can only be determined through anecdotal experience. Let these be positive as the spirit behind the changes intend. What it means for me—a purveyor of gonzo, paranormal, mortuary, fiction—is how important it is to tell the story of the industry in a way that is accessible without compromising my duty to protect the deceased person and family he/she leaves behind.
A lot of what a funeral director sees and, indeed, does remains confidential for obvious reasons. Human beings do not stop being human beings with the cessation of breath. In fact, their humanity is heightened, given that their ability to protect themselves from harm is now taken from them. Dignity, privacy and integrity of the individual falls under the purview of the funeral service professionals charged with their care. This is the funeral director’s oath and the writer’s oath as well.
It is not surprising then that confidentiality as a mainstay of funeral service lends itself to broad artistic interpretation. As I revealed at the April 21 Sisters in Crime meeting, it is easy to lampoon/throw rocks at something that cannot defend itself. And yet, examination from unusual quarters can only strengthen the dialogue. There’s a lot of fine satire out there to drive the discussion; some older, but classic pieces like Evelyn Waugh’s THE LOVED ONE and the newer gothic horror AFTER.LIFE whet the public’s appetite to ‘know’ what really goes on.
Which is why I turned to gonzo as my genre vehicle of choice when I chose to weigh in not as expose—because I love my industry—but as a spotlight to inform and, yes, entertain those who rarely, if ever, set foot inside a funeral establishment.
Gonzo, as I’ve said before in previous articles, is a kind of first person journalism created and perfected by the late great Hunter S. Thompson of ROLLING STONE fame. Taken off road into fiction, it is both a humorous and slightly subversive means of drawing attention to difficult subjects and making them whole.
Later this month, I will attend professional development seminars at my alma mater. There, I will be brought up to date on the latest innovations in an industry undergoing constant change. I’m looking forward to it. Where there is education, there is dialogue; where there is discussion, there is growth.
Such is the stuff of the journey in both life and art.
It’s with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to another NaNoWriMo season. On the one hand, I’m delighted to have (realistically) come out of it with about twenty five thousand usable words to build on when edits begin; on the other hand, the intensive energy that went into their creation has spilled over into other WIPs that now SCREAM for attention.
It is a happy problem to have. Subjectively, I’m delighted that the muse is so strong; objectively, I’m torn between following them (yes, there is more than one) or putting a lid on it all so that I may clean my house (not pretty after a month of creative).
In a previous article punched out on the eve of this year’s effort, I talked about finding inciting incidents—the ones that make us BURN—and following them to a fiery NaNo conclusion. In every sense, this is what happened in 2015, but with one amazing difference: as SHELL GAME began to take shape, kernels of competing ideas—pop scenes—inured to places of NaNo’s past.
My sparkling diamonds—pop scenes—invaded mid sentence, forcing open new pages and a flurry of keystrokes. In one instance, an entire scene written in just twenty minutes became the ending without a middle fully realized. Relieved to know where my gem was going, I was interrupted by a pop meme that reminded me of my mandate as both a funeral director and purveyor of fiction. That meme, both bon mot and bête noire, took me to a darker manuscript begun in 2010 that had posed many problems in the ensuing years. Thanks to NaNo, I suddenly (and very unexpectedly) had an answer to questions both structurally and tonally. I can’t wait to get back to it.
But wait! After another shining moment sparked by a week-long stay in a gorgeous part of the country, I found myself smack in the middle of a conundrum. Isolated, without internet connection, devoid of fire pallets (burning stuff helps), and only a large hunting dog for a bed mate (Ah Choo) I had another soul saving 15,000 words to add, but for ANOTHER NaNo, this time begun in 2014.
WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?
As much as I can tell, I have a few options before me: 1) finish the NaNo 2015 project at the expense of all others; 2) put this NaNo on the shelf and follow the meme’s and landscapes that call me to NaNo’s past and previous; or, 3) shut this damn laptop down and get some sleep…
It was with unparalleled delight that I met some chapter members at the WCDR Bookapalooza event on November 21st. I say unparalleled for two reasons: one; the engaging ladies I refer to could not stop grinning at me, which told me I was doing something very right; and two: they somehow saw through my gonzo humor enough to invite me to join the most excellent Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter.
What is gonzo and what does that have to do with crime? I’ll tell you. Gonzo is a kind of subversive social commentary created and promoted by the late Hunter S. Thompson (He of ROLLING STONE fame). Geared at shining a light on things we hold dear (and don’t), gonzo’s operate under a basic tenet: characters can say and do things we cannot do in a civilized society AND get away with it!
I am the author of two published works, both of which touch on the things I know best: funeral directing and sausage making. As a funeral director that both embalms the dead and assists the living in funeral planning, I have been honored to glimpse a world that very few ever see. Thanks to my immigrant background, I am imbued with a sense of irony that I fiercely hold on to as it is the wellspring for my fiction. I grew up in a household that made bratwurst FROM SCRATCH and favored long ARMED walks in the woods, not because we sought protection from animals, but rather from the hoomans that aspire to behave like animals when not under the watchful eyes of others.
Given my history and the imagination it feeds, it came as a logical step that my characters would, at times, do strange things, including engaging in criminal acts, all in the name of what they saw as ‘righteous’ or ‘fitting’.
Can anyone really get away with murder anymore? I don’t think so. The scope of forensics being what it is makes it impossible for even the craftiest humans to dispose of evidence completely. The second and most compelling reason, I think, is human nature and its fundamental frailty in the need to confide. We absolutely cannot keep our mouths shut; believing that sharing will somehow justify or at least ameliorate the consequences of our actions.
Which is why crime fiction is so much fun! Pair suspension of disbelief with the author’s own commitment to the character on the page and a murder undetected becomes wholly possible.
Can a funeral director get away with murder? They’ve tried, and they always get caught. When I meet everyone at the next meeting, I’ll tell you why…
A story about identity, finding your place in society, and treating your fellow man with dignity…and GONZO!
Begun during NaNoWriMo 2013, SCOOTER NATION is the second in the series UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES…
Aging managing director Charlie Forsythe begins his work day with a phone call to Jocasta Binns, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Weibigand Funeral Home founder Karl-Heinz Sr. Alma Wurtz, a scooter bound sextenarian, community activist, and neighborhood pain in the ass, is emptying her piss bucket into the flower beds, killing the petunias. Jocasta cuts him off, reminding him that a staff meeting has been called. Charlie, silenced, is taken aback: he has had no prior input into the meeting and that, on its own, makes it sinister.
The Series is called Unapologetic Lives for the reason that I wanted to see grown-ups careening out of control with little or no concern toward limited liability, torts, class action lawsuits or political correctness. They’re of age, and they have one crack at this life. SCOOTER is completely different in tone from the first novel HEUER LOST AND FOUND. Set two years after HEUER in the same funeral parlor, it focuses on Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue. Both are funeral directors, and both have critical walk-ons in the first novel. This time, they take centre stage as they battle conflicting values, draconian city by-laws, a mendacious neighborhood gang bent on havoc, and a fitness guru whose presence shines an unwanted light on their quiet Michigan neighborhood.
Now entering fourth draft, I hope to have SCOOTER READY for publication in 2016.
To learn more, check out #1lineWed on Twitter for weekly Wednesday SCOOTER blasts and THIS PAGE.
Last month, I had the privilege of answering interview questions for Eclipse Reviews, a cool blogspot for paranormal, romance, sci fi and fantasy writers. Still early into the blog tour, I didn’t know what to expect and so it was refreshing to field questions about my background not just in writing but in the workplace. When I put everything side by side — looked at all the things I have done and muse on the things I’ve yet to do — I found myself saying: “Well done” and “No wonder you’re always tired.” Lol. It’s a good kind of tired. Here’s the interview:
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Writing never crossed my mind even though the bulk of my early work years focused on correspondence, press releases and even speech writing. (laughs) I guess I was prepping for this and didn’t know it. When I was young, I wanted to marry Prince Andrew, command armies or become the Prime Minister of Canada. After graduating school, I took my place behind a reception desk—the first of many.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
When I gave my first reading at an open mic nite. It was in a bar and the audience was full of authors, many already published. When they laughed at the right moments and for the right reasons, that told me that I was on to something. That’s when I felt ‘real.’
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Not long. Fate kinda intervened. I had four manuscripts under my belt and that’s when a friend put me on to #pitmad on Twitter. I got hits right away, and through these initial contacts I was compelled to hone my synopsis, elevator pitch and query letter. By the third pitch party, I had over thirty tags and log lines. Solstice Publishing found me soon after.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I’m a licensed funeral director which means I arrange and take out funerals. I’m an embalmer as well. Two years ago, with the support of my family, I took a break from full-time work to concentrate on my writing. That really paid off. I maintain my license and am on call.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
HEUER LOST AND FOUND is my debut and is the first in a six volume series. The elevator pitch is as follows: Dead cooze hound lawyer trapped in a funeral parlor relies on boozy undertaker and wise cracking spirit guide to set him free.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I’m with Summer Solstice, a division of Solstice Publishing out of Farmington, Missouri.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
The first book took thirty years. That is to say it’s the sum total of life experience and a ton of observations. The writing, learning, editing, honing took five years and is on going. For the subsequent three manuscripts, it took about a year for each of them to get to a cogent first draft. I really have my groove on, you might say.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My tastes range from campy to philosophical to romantic to paranormal. I also have a taste for classic cars so it’s not unusual to find a car character or two in my work, and it’s amazing how technical jargon can be adapted to comedy. My next three years will be devoted to readying the following three manuscripts in the series: SCOOTER NATION, THE HEUER EFFECT, and POOR UNDERTAKER. Each on its own is meritoriously direct in conveying a number of my favorite themes all within the framework of the funeral parlor, which changes hands as the decades pass and in one instance, actually becomes a Euro style resto bar and grille. The cool thing for me as the writer is that there’s some overlapping which I really love. A character that dies at the end of book three is born on page two of book four. For that, I have Quentin Tarantino to thank: PULP FICTION taught me that I don’t have to stay linear.
What genre would you place your books into?
I describe them as adult, paranormal, contemporary fiction with a hint of gonzo. Amazon has placed HEUER under Occult, Horror and Humorous Fiction which also works.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I like to blame it on the characters, but in truth, I think the comedic elements were a response to a need to give the reader a break from some of the tougher scenes. The protagonists coming to grips with their life situations, I’m told, could be quite visceral and I must have felt that while I was writing it. Death and mourning are serious subjects, but I didn’t want the story to weigh the reader down with every chapter. There had to be a lightness to it to let the reader know that something was going to give.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I love them all, but my villains seem to demand the bulk of my attention. One, for example, got her own book because the beta readers insisted on it. Why is she this way? What happened to her to make her such? It was amazing the through this exploration, she went from a cartoon to a flesh and blood human being capable of commanding sympathy and understanding.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing fiction for a little over five years now and I have to give the credit for inspiration to trial and error and having the courage to put a foot out the door every day. I’ve failed at many things, but I’ve had a few successes too. The best way to make sense of it was to put it into words and have those words spoken through the mouths of fictional characters. I’m grateful to them for that!
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I can work practically anywhere, but what I do is dictated by the time of year. Since breaking from full time work, I treat writing like a day job. I have two teenagers, so once they’re out the door in the morning, I’m at my desk. A work day runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with breaks (dentist appointments, cutting the grass) Monday to Friday. Whether I’m blogging, tweeting, editing, promoting myself or others, I’m always writing. Summer months and NaNoWriMo are dedicated to NEW projects.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Title comes first. It usually appears during edits on the previous work. Next come pop scenes and a lot of mulling before I lay down the first draft during NaNo.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I apply the theory of good band names: take two unrelated things and put them together; or I’ll grab from a character trait. For example, a character who reads classical literature is bound to wind up with a name from that historical era – Jocasta, Socrates, Hephaestion are good ones.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
After. They name themselves.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
As I go along. They evolve, just as we do as flesh and blood human beings.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of “The moral of this story is..”)
Absolutely. There’s a point to everything.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
No preference. A book’s a book.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. I never laughed so hard at irony in my whole life.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
It depends on the director, casting, and SCRIPT. I thought The English Patient was an absolute marvel.
My friend the scientist could talk for hours with future guy Frederick Crook. Dark themes, distant places, bad guys and star ships, he goes places we dare to follow, if only for the measure of hope he offers: ‘when there’s nothing to lose, there’s everything to give.’ I like that and so might you. Hello, Frederick Crook.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederick was born in Chicago in 1970 and now lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three miniature dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school, earned an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Electronics in 1994 and the Bachelor of Science in Technical Management from DeVry University in 2005.
In 2009, Frederick began writing his first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, which was self-published in late 2010. This was followed up with another novel, The Pirates of Exodus in 2012.
Throughout that year and early 2013, he continued writing and published four short stories in eBook form for Kindle and Nook. All of these stories share the same premise, but all are independent from one another, though the short eBook, Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair and his third novel, published by Solstice Publishing, Campanelli: Sentinel, share the same main characters.
Minuteman Merlin was released for the Kindle by Solstice Publishing, March 1st of 2015.
He loves writing and enjoys meeting and talking to readers at book signing events.
It is 2110 and migration to the colony planet, Alethea, has depleted Earth of billions of people. As a result, migration has been declared illegal by all world governments. Human trafficking becomes highly profitable for organized crime and their influence reaches beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Many starships returning from Alethea are diverted from the scrapping process and secretly refurbished, allowing the population to shrink further.
Frank Campanelli is a blind Chicago Police detective who depends on his fully functional bio-electronic implants to see and do his job. After assisting on a botched infiltration of a top human trafficking network, he and his partner, Marcus Williams, are transferred into the CPD’s Organized Crime Division to head the newly formed Sentinel group and bring down the Ignatola family business.
Cover art by Arvin Candelaria & Velvet Lyght of “Stories by CL”.
Nebraska, 2121. A widower by the name of Merlin lives in his converted Minuteman-3 missile silo with his Black Lab, Chief. Suffering from stomach cancer, Minuteman Merlin is under the care of Doctor Larry Hammonds. On this post-Great Exodus Earth, the cure has left for the stars along with the vast majority of Mankind, so the doctor must treat him with the long-outdated methods of chemotherapy and radiation.
In the small town where he receives this medical treatment and trades goods, Merlin confronts a child abuser. The situation goes horribly wrong, resulting in the death of the victim’s father and the destruction of Doctor Hammond’s office. To make amends, he opens his home, giving the physician a place to practice medicine and the boy a place to live.
A man with nothing left to lose has everything left to give.
What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?
I’ve never had one specific muse. I am inspired mostly by the old men of science fiction. Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. I’ve also been influenced by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The ideas that came to me after I wrote my first novel, The Dregs of Exodus seem to just occur to me. “Dregs” was an interesting scenario about a dystopian future given the right circumstances. I’ve been working backwards for the most part, writing about the experiences of other characters in other times and locations. Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?
Well, that depends on the characters, of course and the nature of the story. Starved enough, I suppose, you have a villain on your hands. Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?
Not with everything, that’s for sure. There are stories that I’ve written with indisputably positive endings. The rest tend to end on a mixture that I feel makes for a realistic outcome. What would you like to be remembered for?
I want readers to remember me as an author of dystopian sci-fi stories that did not rely on a disaster to create them. I think many people are turned off by dystopian adventures because of the massive deaths that go along with a 2012 or a Deep Impact scenario. I wanted my work to have a positive back story: The vast majority of Mankind is making a new home on the colony planet, Alethea. If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d have to say Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I’d like to know what it was like to be pulling the strings behind
the scenes of the world’s biggest conflict. Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?
I’m in the past for the most part. I really enjoyed the music of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, and I really enjoyed the way of life back then quite a bit more than these days. All the gadgets that we live with on a daily basis are intrusive in many ways and not necessarily helpful. The reliability of something like the provider of our internet, TV and phone is often subpar because they try to stuff too much capability into it. In the ‘80’s, I had my music on LP’s and cassettes, 40-ish channels on the cable television, and we had a landline phone. It was so quiet and pleasant back then. What informs your writing most?
I have to have music running, especially lately. My mind is like an old tube-amplified AM radio. It drifts without any outside influences. I can’t even begin to list what I listen to, but you can bet it’s from the ‘70’s or ‘80’s. I like some new stuff, don’t get me wrong, but in a world where a Tom Petty rip-off wins a Grammy for the best song of the year it’s hard to find stuff that I like. Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?
In the ‘70’s, I was attending a Catholic school in Cicero that, fortunately, no longer exists. Thought was not encouraged in any form, let alone actions derived from such behavior. While I tend to mind my own business when it comes to most things, I do recycle and think I do a lot to minimalize my negative impact on the Earth, though I think she’s a lot tougher than us and will be glad when we’re off her back. Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?
Pretzels in white chocolate are awesome. A Maker’s Mark cigar with its tip soaked in its namesake is bliss. Sneaking a beer before noon is as cool as it sounds. Your greatest victory?
I hope I haven’t experienced it yet, though the day I left a mind-numbing office job a few years ago without being jailed for assault has to be it. I lost the job but I regained my true self and no one had to get hurt. Setting myself free that day felt better than achieving my degrees. Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.
Actually, anything that I’ve gone for and failed at has turned out for the better. I’ve tried for that automobile that I knew I couldn’t afford and was pissed off when the financing companies denied me, but looking back at it, I know it would have ruined me. I’ve tried for that house that I knew I couldn’t swing and was shot down by the mortgage companies. I’m happy about that, too. I’ve pursued some women in my time and I can’t say that there are any that I regret not catching. There’s a saying that I like to keep in mind about such things in life. I don’t know who said it and I can’t even remember when I heard it, but it’s this: “Never pursue a woman or money. Both will leave you in the dust.”
What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?
I think that readers should understand that things that change our world are not always for the better. There is a negative aspect to everything we achieve, no matter how small. For instance, the “Great Exodus” that I feature in all of my works is a beneficial event for most of Mankind, except for the people that remain on Earth. Things will happen in our reality that may seem all good for us, but the experience will always produce some sort of negative cost. Most of the time, the bad side of something is a trade that we can live with, but sometimes it’s not. It’s as important to not be naïve as it is to not be jaded. Who do you admire and why?
I admire men and women of the arts that have become internationally recognized and are genuinely happy. I think Stephen King, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are prime examples of that. There are musicians that put that feeing across as well. Now, perhaps these are merely facades of contentment, but who is to say other than they? Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?
I don’t think anyone is a fully formed work. We’re all works in progress because we as people are always changing as we get older and experience the world. It’s important to keep evolving and working toward our goals, changing things when we find the need. If we don’t keep changing, then our art will be stagnate and forgettable.
Thank you Frederick Crook for you insights. Be sure and check out F.C.’s YouTube channel. He has a je ne sais quoi for book trailers!
TOMORROW: Baseball aficionade. writer and all round New Yorker Ralph Peluso
Bewitching Book Tours is geared towards the new author, the ebook author, the small and independent press author, and the mid-list author- the author who doesn’t have a huge marketing budget but wants the most bang for their promotional buck.
Bewitching Book Tours aims to offer just that by pairing authors and their books with targeted book bloggers and readers who enjoy the types of books the authors write.
Bewitching Book Tours specializes in paranormal romance, urban fantasy and paranormal erotica book tours though we tour almost all fiction genres including horror, YA, NA, and all the romance sub-genres (contemporary, historical, thriller, suspense, etc).
Bewitching for Readers
Bewitching Book Tours offers readers the chance to discover new books while getting behind the scenes information about authors, books and characters.
Join us for a virtual book tour -you can read author guest blogs, interviews & book reviews and exclusive excerpts, listen to radio interviews, and participate in chats with the authors- all from the comfort of your home.
And there are always chances for readers to win prizes; free books, gift cards, prize packs, Kindles and more. New tours start every Monday. http://www.bewitchingbooktours.com/
Monthly Festival : Turn your book into a movie and get it seen by 1000s of people. Or garner FULL FEEDBACK from publishers on your novel and help your next draft. Or get a transcript video of your novel performed by professional actors.