I TAKE THE PROUSTIAN QUESTIONNAIRE

Visitors to the blog know that I’ve put about a dozen author colleagues under the magnifying glass with a Proustian-like questionnaire penned by yours truly. Designed to go behind the words and into the writer’s mind, the questionnaire was embraced with thoughtful answers as the amazing end result.

What is a Proustian questionnaire? Well, Wikipedia and on-line dictionaries define Proustian as anything remotely to do with Marcel Proust, a “French novelist whose long novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (1913–27) deals with the relationship of the narrator to themes such as art, time, memory, and society.”

Yep. So anything to do with what surrounds you is…Proustian. I think.

–ABF

New Funkhauser Shot

What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

muses

Muses are mythical, compelling creatures credited with facilitating masterworks that otherwise would have never been.  Alma Mahler and Helga Testorf come to mind along with that whole thing George Sand and Chopin had going on. I have to say that the Heuer character is richer because of a couple of guy buddies who endured my pestering to look over scenes and dialogue for male “authenticity”. They had plenty to say: “guys don’t think like that” “guys don’t care about that” etc. I took about half of their suggestions; the rest is creative license. Heuer is complicated, so the reactions he got from my muses told me that I had something very interesting.

Your characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?

Hmmm. Heuer is a child of the Cold War and a baby boomer, which means his views are very out of step with the current times. In the Eighties, he obsessively reads Ayn Rand, votes Republican and walks around wearing a button that says “Cruise On” in support of cruise missile testing. He does this not out of any enduring belief, but out of a need to enrage. He is rocking his own version of what a “bad guy” is. And it works: women are curious about him, but don’t venture near very often, and he’s fine with that. He sees ‘love’ as a commodity that can be traded up or down. And he can leave relationships behind as long as he has a photo trophy or two to mull over. It’s baggage, I guess. That’s what empties the glass.

Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

I certainly like definitive conclusions. Cliff hangers and Whaaa Happened? doesn’t really do it for me and so I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone good enough to read my stuff. So I’m in the business of delivering endings that hopefully make the reader happy, even if, by pure definition, the plot circumstance is not.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Epithets? Wow. I want to be remembered for being kind. It’s a quality that doesn’t always come easily, but I consciously work at it and am getting better for it.

If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?

Simcoe

The Actor

Real Simcoe

The Real Thing

This changes year to year. Currently, I’d have to go with John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and scourge of Long Island during the Revolutionary War. I love AMC and their current historical drama TURN: Washington’s Spies. It’s a potboiler. Simcoe is not only bad, he’s vile; yet he’s staunchly committed. A Royalist defending his country against republican marauders, he puts everything second to that first. He’s a bad, bad guy, and I can’t take my eyes off of him. I’d love to know how he lives with himself and then probably give him a good kick in the a**.

Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?

When I was young, I fell victim to the romantic past. I came of age in the Eighties, so naturally I believed that the Sixties had to be the be all and end all. Like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris protagonist, I believed that satisfaction rested in what had already passed. Now at the half century (gawd that sounds old) I have fully come to my senses. The Eighties hold a lot of fond memories for me, but I have no desire to revisit them. The best time of my life is NOW and the next thing coming…whatever that is.

What informs your writing most?

Music! Music affects me a lot. I have the radio going morning till night and I’ll listen to anything from alt to classical to jazz to rock to pop to hip hop. I’ll actually pick my music depending on where I am in the story. If it’s an angry point, I might put on Slipknot or Rammstein.

Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

Sure. I try to keep current and it amazes me how major issues disappear when someone in Hollywood gets married or divorced. But that’s always been a condition of pop culture. I mull things. I try to be thoughtful. Some of it actually makes it into the mouths of my characters which is great. If there’s to be controversy, let it come from them.

Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

Frat boy comedies. DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR is a favorite along with ANIMAL HOUSE and anything coming from camp Apatow.

Your greatest victory?

Going back to school at age 39 and graduating third in the class. *yah!*

Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.

It was a car. A real beauty and a classic. But I didn’t have the money to buy her, so I made her a character instead.

What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

I’m always rocking nostalgia, but not in the way some might expect. I like memories as much as anyone else, but I don’t live in them, so a number one theme in Heuer is that nostalgia hurts more than it helps. Another one, and this really is a pet peeve, is that prying into someone’s business really is a lousy thing to do. The business of suspicious spouses cum private eyes appears routinely in advice columns where they ask permission from the columnist to break into their loved ones email. I can’t abide that. As far as I know it’s still a punishable offense to read someone’s snail mail, so why should electronic communications be any different? The mortician character Enid wrestles with this in HEUER LOST AND FOUND. She doesn’t break into his computer, but she does go through his things, and she feels terrible about it. Which brings me to my final theme: some questions don’t need answers. Enid is committed to finding out what happened to him, but does she really need to know in order to love him? That one has to be my all time fave.

Who do you admire and why?

Anyone who can take on a task and finish it. That’s commitment. That’s saying something about what a person is and what they can be.

Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

Hee hee.

‏book signing

THE FUNKHAUSER ROADSHOW CONTINUES MAY 14 WITH SHYLA WOLFF’S THOUGHTS

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

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TAKING CHARGE: AUTHOR JOHN DEBOER

The Authors John DeBoerThe page welcomes John DeBoer, our first guest in a spotlight series that will cover the site in tandem with the Blog Tour. Today, John offers up two selections from his authorial archive and boldly tries on the site’s Proustian questionnaire. Eureka! Thank you, John.

THE BOOKS…

Get the Picture

Get the pictureJack Lansing, M.D. is a widower who’s now ready to get on with his life when a chance meeting with a beautiful young woman changes everything – but not in the way he hopes. After a one-night tryst with the enticing vixen, the unsuspecting surgeon finds himself the target of a powerful U.S. senator, organized crime, and a figure from his past he’d long forgotten – all because he succumbs to the charms of a woman he can’t resist, despite the predicament she has put him in. Beginning in Jack’s once-peaceful beach town, a deadly game of sex, money, and retribution plays out to a thrilling conclusion.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

The Sincerest Form of FlatteryFormer surgeon Jack Lansing, M.D. has become a bestselling mystery writer. At a book-signing event he meets an old colleague who, unbeknownst to Jack, has carried a grudge against him for thirty years. Then murders start popping up in and around Jack’s peaceful beach town – murders that mimic the plots in his books and make him a suspect. Jack must convince the police and the FBI of his innocence while trying to solve the mystery himself. Because, realizes, he and his wife could be the killer’s final victims. It is a chilling tale of twists and turns worthy of Jack’s imagination. But this time he doesn’t know how it will end.

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

Q: What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

A: I hesitate to invoke Greek mythology to explain what overcomes my “thinking blocks,” but perhaps there is a Muse-like feature we all carry in our brains. All I know is that when stuck thinking of an idea for my next book, or trying to figure out what my character will do next in the one I’m working on, I always manage, though it might take days or even weeks, to have that Eureka! moment. So far.

Q: Characters have a great capacity for love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and real life?

A: Love makes the world go around, as they say. Some have it, others don’t but want it. It’s the human condition. I’ve written novels in which the journey to attain love is part and parcel of the story, but in other novels of mine, an abiding love is already present and provides the foundation, the support, for the protagonist’s struggle with conflict. So I don’t think a character, or a real person, for that matter, needs to be always searching for it.

Q: Without giving specifics, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

A: Yup. That’s me. My story conflicts all get resolved in favor of the good guys.

Q: What would you like to be remembered for?

A: Irrespective of career accomplishments, I’d like to be remembered as a good person.

Q: If you could dine with any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A:  I’d like to have dinner with Yogi Berra. His unintentional wit has always amused me, and he seems like a genuinely funny guy. I think our senses of humor are compatible. And I love Italian food!

Q: Past, present, or future? Where does your mind dwell?

A: Well, I have a long past, the results of which, especially my family growing up and aging, I continue to see in the present. And this naturally leads to musings about what the future has in store for them. I suppose I dwell in the present – have to write and promote those books! – but I can’t escape thinking of what preceded the now and what lies ahead.

Q: What informs your writing most?

A: Reading . I’m a voracious reader of books in my genre, and seeing what works in them and what doesn’t makes me a better writer for it.

Q: Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

A: I assume this question is meant to inquire whether global events affect what I do in my home town. Two of my novels – one published, the other being written – have international aspects, and attendant author points of view, but other than that, I don’t think I’m in the position to respond in a meaningful way to foreign situations. All I can do is use the power of persuasion to sway votes for those who do have the power to effect change in the world for the good.

Q: Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

A: Junk food. Not the sugary, dessert-like goodies, but those other snacks that go very nicely with an adult beverage. I’ve never met a chip I didn’t like!

Q: Your greatest victory?

A: Getting my wife to marry me!

Q: Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place, or thing.

A: Linda Anderson. I was smitten with her in junior high school. Alas, it was unrequited puppy love, and I never got the chance to see if it would bloom, because my family moved away, and I never saw her again. Are you still out there, Linda?

Q: What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

A: I try to have different themes in my novels, but the overriding driver in my stories is what is common to all thrillers – the triumph of the good guys against sinister forces.

Q: Who do you admire and why?

A:  Professionally speaking, I, of course, admire the stars of my genre – DeMille, Connelly, Iles, Crais, Child, etc. But I don’t know them as people; I’m not even on their Christmas card lists. The one person I admire the most, and forgive me for getting a little mushy here, is my wife. Not only has she put up with me all these years, her constant effort to do the right thing and her innate ability to put all those she meets at ease, not to mention her work ethic, are what I find most admirable.

Q: Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

A: Ha! I can only speak for myself, but my experiences with other writers, and learning about the early struggles of those writers now at the top of their profession, leads me to the conclusion that we’re all works in progress!

THE BIOGRAPHY

After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed a surgical residency in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer.

When not creating new plot lines for his novels, Dr. DeBoer pursues his interests in cooking, films and film history,  politics, and the amazing cosmos.  Though he’s an avid tennis player, his yet-to-be-fulfilled goal is to achieve a level of mediocrity in the frustrating game of golf.

The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.

 LINKS

http://www.amazon.ca/Sincerest-Form-Flattery-John-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00W23X3CK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530507&sr=8-2&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.ca/Get-Picture-John-L-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00VKYI2VY/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429530586&sr=1-3&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Picture-John-L-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00VKYI2VY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530682&sr=8-2&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.com/Sincerest-Form-Flattery-John-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00W23X3CK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530682&sr=8-3&keywords=John+DeBoer

Thanks for taking the chair, John. Tomorrow: Romance author Marie Lavender talks SECOND NATURE, BLOOD AT FIRST SIGHT, Book 1 in a series. 

Mariepic2

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