Monday, February 29, 2016

Interview with Thomas Barr Jr., author of Risen

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I’m fond of reading biographies of the lives of people.  I came across a biography about the life of Yahweh Ben Yahweh and fond it intriguing.  I felt that it would be a more compelling story if it was told in a fiction based novel.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I found the story interesting so it was not hard at all.  I would suggest to individuals to right about something you’re passionate of.  That’s what makes the work easy.   

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish? 

My publisher is Printhouse Books.  I researched the company and submitted a sample of my work and they liked it.   

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes, the process is very time consuming.  It took almost a year for my first book to actually come out in print.

What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published? 

I’m currently working on Boobie Boy, an urban fiction to be released in 2017.

What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I would say twitter is my spot.

Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Learn from reading.  There is knowledge in anything you read. 
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Go out and purchase the book.  It’s an enthralling tale!

Inside the Book:

Title: Risen
Author: Thomas Barr Jr.
Publisher: Printhouse Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2016
Pages: 188
ISBN: 978-0997001624
Genre: Urban Fiction

Book Description:

The growth of "Mega churches" has risen considerably in the 21st century as compared to the past. Miami Urban Chronicles Volume I: Risen, seeks to set forth a fictional biopic of the rise of spiritual leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh of the Liberty City based movement the Nation of Yahweh, "Ben Yahweh's."

Chauncey Miller, the main character in the story is determined to be a success. He uses his natural skills of cultivating relationships and influence to draw his followers. Despite his meager rural southern background he dreams big and takes risks head-on in realization of his goals. It is significant in modern 21st century times that individuals take control of their life's path. The urban youth particularly need to realize by making deliberate decisions concerning their life they can live their dreams.

Chauncey meets a mentor whom cultivates his ideology and sharpens his mediation skills in working with people. He harnesses his skills by working with the youth ministry of a local church. As he attends college he learns the basics of economics and administration in his courses. He understands education is just one tool that can help him along his path. Individuals must utilize opportunities as they present themselves along life's path. The main character seizes upon this truth and follows it down the rabbit hole in a manner of speaking.

In most communities the Church is a place of worship, fellowship, family, communal meetings and refuge. Individuals seek comfort in its walls and the main character leverages this in amassing followers. Modern successful pastors have PhD's and fancy seminary school training. The main character can be viewed as the progenitor to the modern "Mega church" system. He is of the conviction that god must call a person to preach which is a spiritual mission.

The main character takes this mission on as any other profession and is determined to be a success as a spiritual leader, messenger of god, as well as a successful business entrepreneur. The main character goes from city to city while growing his followership and refining his professional talents. In addition his studies have led to him evolving his religious convictions.

The story enthralls with the turmoil of power, beliefs, sex, control, and all the human pitfalls that too often affect successful professionals. In desiring success and wealth upon any career path it is important to maintain composure. Chauncey, although a spiritual leader, is in realization of this truth.
In paralleling the lifestyles of the larger community many individuals become disillusioned and pigeonhole themselves. Only in selflessness can individuals walk a blemish-less path. Particularly urban youth must learn the lesson in traversing modern life goal paths in reaching their dreams.

This chronicle wraps with Chauncey answering to the communal guidelines of this prescribed society. All must answer to the allegations of their fellow community members and none is an exception to this rule. In acquisition of success and goal setting humility can be a lifesaver.

Book Excerpt:

Chauncey Miller was a Carolina native that grew up in the south and knew the hard work of the tobacco fields.  Raised in a Christian household he was fascinated with the bible and studied religion with a fervor.  Little did his contemporaries know that he would rise to the level of a spiritual leader commanding a multi-million dollar enterprise.  They surely wouldn’t realize that he was a megalomaniac capable of manipulating a band of killers.
It’s a sunny afternoon in 1976 and Chauncey was on the corner of 125th Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.  He had a stack of paper leaflets, as he is approached by pedestrians he offered a flyer to a man dressed in a black suit.  The man took the flyer and read it, mouthed the words soundlessly.        
“Do you believe in god,” asked the man in black.
“Surely I do,” responded Chauncey sternly. 
The man continued to look at the flyer; he wore iron rimmed glasses and had shiny black shoes. 
“I’m a history professor at the local community college and would like to have you join one of my focus group,” he asked. 
The man stood and looked Chauncey in the face awaiting an answer to his inquiry.  Chauncey had not expected such an immediate attention to himself and paused in response noting the man’s patient nature.
“I’m not sure what focus groups do but if you give me the address I’ll check it out,” said Chauncey.
The man pulled a business card from his blazer and handed it to Chauncey as pedestrians ushered pass them on the street.  No one seemed to notice the exchange between the two men and was oblivious of them obstructing the walk way as they chatted. 
“Don’t worry you’ll find out when you show,” the man replied. 
He placed the flyer Chauncey had been passing to people on the street in his coat and continued on his way.  Chauncey looked down at the flyers he had been passing out for the street team company. He had been working for the company weekends and at afterhours bar locations.  Exhausted he read it. It said, let me tell you why the white man is the devil.  Come hear CL Cayman speak truth to power at White Hall located on Jackie Robinson Avenue.   
Chauncey never took notice of the leaflets he passed along to pedestrians and this one had a very inquisitive message.  He wondered about the thoughts of the gentleman in which he had just met, had the message affected him so profoundly?  He took the business card from his pocket looked at the address and contemplated the location.  He had seen the address before on something he read at home and could not recall it do to his momentary failing memory.    
The stack of leaflets sat on the sidewalk near a lamp post.  A gust of wind arose that blew some of the top flyers into the street.  The sudden barrage of papers broke his thoughts and he scrambled to grab them as people continued to bustle past.
“Get out the street,” yelled a disgruntled driver.
            He blew his horn as he drove past and Chauncey continued to pick up the flyers ignoring the outburst.  Chauncey had hardened his feelings to ridicule and he believed with his ability to project an icy persona could ward off potential personal threats.  He had developed this ability while in grade school and used it throughout his young adult life as he entered his college years.  As a youth he had dealt with bullies and experienced being singled out for jokes among friends in the neighborhood.
            He decided he would attend the focus group the following day after his last class on campus and find out more about the strange gentleman that intrigued him on their meet.
Claude Donors was a tall wiry light skinned complexioned man with green eyes in his sixties and did social research on religions in historical contexts.  He was an eccentric man with a direct nature.  Chauncey’s curiosity of the gentleman had led him to the campus upon the issued invitation.  Chauncey entered his office at the university and was immediately stopped at the door by Donor’s secretary. 
“I’m sorry sir do you have an appointment?”  She inquired. 
The young woman was very pretty and Chauncey noticed that she had a curvy figure.  He could see that she was highly educated by the way she addressed him.  She was smartly dressed in a business suit.  She smelled of light perfume and mints.  Her hair was penned up into a bun and she sat positioned at her office desk.  He quickly handed over the business card given him and she looked at the back of the card for a moment.
“Have a seat Dr. Donors will be with you in a minute,” said the young lady. 
Chauncey took back the card he had given the girl and looked on the back of it as she did, his curiosity peeked.  Let this man pass, it said written in a very legible hand written signature.  He had not noticed it the entire time he had possession of the card and was surprised at himself for not realizing that fact.                
    As he sat awaiting Dr. Donors he noticed the office was cozy and decorated with plaques along the light blue colored walls.  The carpet smelled as if it was freshly vacuumed and it being in the late evening not much pedestrian traffic came in or out.  He noticed the young lady pick up the phone a number of times and she talked for just a few minutes on each instance.  He assumed it was Donors and thought if he made the right decision in coming.  Just as the thought popped in his head Donors brushed by him.
“Let’s go young man, we’re late.” He said. 
Chauncey was out of his chair and behind Donors as he strode down the hallway taking giant steps to quickly reach his desired location. 
“My focus group is designed to record the assumptions, thoughts and impressions of religion on the average working class individual,” he said as they walked. 
“By the way what’s your name?” he asked turning to look at Chauncey. 
“Chauncey Miller,” Chauncey replied.
“Well Mr. Miller you should find this to be very interesting,” he said as they entered a room with about seven people sitting around a circular table.  Upon introduction by the four males and three females it was noted two were teachers, one was a factory worker, two were students, one was a paramedic and one was a shop keeper.  The questions posed to the group were designed to elicit discussion and all responses were recorded by the professor.
The first question posed was do you believe in god followed up with what do you think about religion.  All the participants believed in god but it was interesting to see their apparent ambiguity in the actual practice of religion.  As the professor guided the group’s discussion a light bulb went off in Chauncey’s head.  He had wondered throughout his life what his purpose was in this world.  He had attended college and taken on various odd jobs to support himself in the city.  He’d bounced around in search of a career interest to no avail.  He was articulate and well regarded for his ability to persuade others.  In observing the professor’s research he saw a need and an opportunity that could possibly be exploited.  He decided from that instance he wanted to know more about the professor and the purpose for his work. 
The session ended after about an hour of discussion and all the participants departed leaving Chauncey along with the professor in the room.  As the professor put the finishing touches on the session notes Chauncey broke the silence which permeated the room after the last departed guest.

For More Information:
Risen is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Goodreads
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Meet the Author

Born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  I was the grandson of a share cropper whom taught me about hard work and education.  At age 17 I began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college I was inspired to write when I read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  I began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  I Entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military I went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  I began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.   I currently work for the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.
See website for more details.

For More Information:

Virtual Book Tour

Dark Money Book Blast!

We're thrilled to be hosting Larry D. Thompson's DARK MONEY Book Blast today!  Pick up your copy!

Title: DARK MONEY           
Author: Larry D. Thompson
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Pages: 420
Genre: Legal Thriller
DARK MONEY is a thriller, a mystery and an expose’ of the corruption of money in politics.

Jackson Bryant, the millionaire plaintiff lawyer who turned to pro bono work in Dead Peasants, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy, Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation’s richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.

Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fund raiser dressed as a cat burglar---wounds the governor and murders the host’s brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.
Jack is appointed special prosecutor and must call on the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack the Alamo Defenders’ compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt’s father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case---but Jack knows better. The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fund raiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, New York and New Orleans to track the real killer and absolve his friend and the Protective Detail of responsibility for the massacre.

For More Information

  • Dark Money is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:

Jack Bryant turned his old red Dodge Ram pickup into the driveway of the Greek revival mansion at the end of the cul-de-sac in Westover Hills, an exclusive neighborhood in Fort Worth. He was amused to see Halloween ghosts and goblins hanging from the two enormous live oaks that fronted the house. The driveway led to wrought iron gates that permitted entry to the back. A heavy set Hispanic man with a Poncho Villa mustache in a security guard uniform stood beside the driveway near the gates, clipboard in hand. He was unarmed.

Jack stopped beside him and lowered his window. “Afternoon, officer. Fine autumn day, isn’t it?”

The guard sized up the old pick-up and the man wearing jeans and a white T-shirt. “You here to make a delivery?”

Jack reached into his left rear pocket and retrieved his wallet from which he extracted a laminated card. “No, sir. Name’s Jackson Douglas Bryant. I’m a lawyer and a Tarrant County Reserve Deputy. My friend, Walter Frazier, is part of the Governor’s Protective Detail. Said Governor Lardner is attending some big shindig here tomorrow night and asked me to lend a hand in checking the place out before he hits town. My name
should be on that clipboard.”

The guard took the card, studied it closely and handed it back to Jack. He flipped to the second page. “There it is. Let me open the gates. Park down at the end of the driveway. You’ll see another wall with a gate. Walk on through and you’ll find your way to the ballroom where the party’s being held tomorrow. I’ll radio Sergeant Frazier to let him know you’re on your way.”

The gates silently opened, and Jack drove slowly to the back, admiring the house and grounds. The house had to be half a football field in length. Giant arched windows were spaced every ten feet with smaller ones above, apparently illuminating the second floor. To Jack’s right was an eight foot wall. First security issue. Not very hard to figure out a way to scale it. Fortunately, cameras and lights were mounted on fifteen foot poles that appeared to blanket the area.

Jack parked where he was directed and climbed from his truck. Before shutting the door, he took his cane from behind the driver’s seat. He flexed his left knee. It felt pretty good. He might not even need the cane. Still, he usually carried it since he never knew when he might take a step and have it buckle under him. Better to carry the cane than to fall on his ass.

He found himself in front of another wall. He was studying it when Walt came through the gate. Walt was ten years his junior, six feet, two inches of solid muscle. He bounded across the driveway to greet Jack. They first shook hands and then bear-hugged
each other like the old army buddies that they were.

Walt pulled back and looked at Jack. “Damn, it’s good to see you. Been, what, about three years since you were in Austin for some lawyer meeting?”

“Could have been four. I think I was practicing in Beaumont then.”

“Still carrying the cane. That injury at the barracks causing you more problems?”

“No worse, not any better. Every once in a while the damn knee gives out with no warning. I may have to put an artificial one in some day. Meantime, the cane does just fine. I’ve got a collection of about twenty of them in an old whiskey barrel beside the back door of my house. This one is my Bubba Stick. Picked it up at a service station a while back.”

Walt’s voice dropped to just above a whisper. “Follow me into the garden. There are some tables there. We can sit for a few minutes while I explain what’s coming down.”
They walked through the gate. Beyond it was a garden, obviously tended by loving hands. Cobblestone paths wound their way through fall plantings of Yellow Copper Canyon Daises, Fall Aster, Apricot-colored Angel’s Trumpet, Mexican Marigold and
the like. Walt led the way to a wrought iron table beside a fish pond with a fountain in the middle, spraying water from the mouth of a cherub’s statue. The two friends settled into chairs, facing the pond.

“This is what the help call the little garden. In a minute we’ll go around the house to the big garden and pool that fronts the ballroom. You know whose house this is?”

“No idea.”

“Belongs to Oscar Hale. He and his brother, Edward, are the two richest men in Fort Worth. Their daddy was one of the old Texas wildcatters. The two brothers were worth a few hundred million each, mainly from some old oil holdings down in South Texas and out around Midland. Life must have been pretty good.

Then it got better about ten years ago when the oil boys started fracking and horizontal drilling. Counting proven reserves still in the ground, word is they’re worth eighty billion, well, maybe just a little less now that we have an oil glut.”

“Edward still around?”

One of the servers in the kitchen had seen the two men and brought two bottles of water on a silver tray.

“Thanks…Sorry, I forgot your name.”

“Sarah Jane, Walt. My pleasure. Let me know if you need anything else.”

Walt took a sip from his bottle as Sarah Jane returned to the house. “Yeah. His legal residence is still in Fort Worth, and I understand he and his wife vote in this precinct, only they really live in New York City. He always kept an apartment there. When the oil money started gushing, he upgraded to a twenty room penthouse that I hear overlooks Central Park. He’s big in the arts scene up there, opera, ballet, you name it. He’s also building the Hale Museum of Fine Art here in Fort Worth.”

Jack nodded his head. “Okay, I know who you’re talking about. My girlfriend is thrilled about another museum in Fort Worth. She’s into that kind of thing. When I moved here, she took me to every damn one of them. The western art in the Amon Carter museum was really all that interested me. So, the Hales play with the big boys, and the governor’s coming. From what I read, Governor Lardner travels all over the world. Never seems to have a problem. What’s the big deal here?”

About the Author

Larry D. Thompson was first a trial lawyer. He tried more than 300 cases throughout Texas, winning in excess of 95% of them. When his youngest son graduated from college, he decided to write his first novel. Since his mother was an English teacher and his brother, Thomas Thompson, had been a best-selling author, it seemed the natural thing to do.

Larry writes about what he knows best…lawyers, courtrooms and trials. The legal thriller is his genre. DARK MONEY is his fifth story and the second in the Jack Bryant series.
Larry and his wife, Vicki, call Houston home and spend their summers on a mountain top in Vail, Colorado. He has two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren.
For More Information

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Interview with Raymond Mendoza, author of Pickle

Inside the Book

Title: Pickles
Author: Raymond Mendoza
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: General Fiction
Format: Ebook

 The most deadly of enemies are often those we cannot see. The greatest battles are not the ones written on the scrolls of history but plague the battlefields of our hearts. We all encounter grief, pain, and loss. Sadly, many do not survive their struggle. In author Raymond Mendoza’s Pickles, Michael Harvey is lost in a stormy sea of hopelessness. He is trying to find himself again after his wife and their unborn child are killed by a drunk driver. Grief holds him captive as he tries to continue maintaining his art gallery with his father after the devastating loss. However, as Michael begins to realize, there are things that are solely constructed by His hand. As Michael struggles with the unseen battle, signs begin to appear through a newly discovered journal. While it seems like there is no hope for a man who is like a lost ship at sea, the glow from the lighthouse seemingly guides him back to the shores of loving again. And sometimes it comes from unexpected sources, like a dog named Pickles. Pickles is an emotional journey that portrays the power of true love as it is lost and then found once more. No matter how bad things may seem, through God’s power and love, one can be restored.

The Interview

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Pickles is a story of a man named Michael Harvey, who has lost the love of his life... He goes through this very difficult time trying to found out how he will live without her, but ultimately he finds a new light within himself, though the help of God and a dog named Pickles.  I wrote my book to be an inspiration to people who have lost someone and to encourage them to be willing to love again.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

One of the biggest challenges is knowing that writing a book is a marathon, not a race. Sometimes you grow impatient, but you have to keep a steady pace... Working when you can, not worrying when you can’t.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Possibly... I have yet to decide.

When and why did you begin writing?

I believe God gave me a passion for writing. He place good inspiring people in my path who gave me the courage to give it a try.

What is your greatest strength as an author?

My ability to never quit. You need that in writing a book.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

Yes. I learned that sometimes you can surprise yourself, if you’re willing to try something new.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interview with Gudrun Mouw, author of 'From Ashes Into Light'

Gudrun Mouw was born in East Prussia (formerly part of Germany) in 1944. At the age of 7, she arrived in the United States as a displaced person. Mouw moved many times in the US before ending up in California in the 60s. There she studied at San Jose State University, receiving her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1969. Mouw has worked as a college English teacher, a Stanford librarian, a columnist, a California poet-in-the-school, as well as a yoga and meditation teacher. She lives in Santa Barbara County, California and has for over thirty years.

Mouw wrote From Ashes Into Light beginning with a research trip to various locations in Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria and Switzerland (in the 1990s). Her research took her places like Dachau, the concentration camp, a Jewish graveyard in Prague, and the streets of Salzburg.

Mouw is a prolific and award-winning poet and her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Praire Schooner, Practical Mystic, The Chariton Review and others. Her collection of poetry called Wife of the House was published in April 2014. Mouw won first place in a short fiction contest at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 1992. From Ashes into Light will be her first published novel.

For More Information

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Because of my background as a “displaced person,” whose German family belonged to a persecuted religion (Seventh-Day Adventist), I have always been fascinated by the subjects of tolerance, broad-mindedness and acceptance. I asked myself, what would be the impact if, as human beings, we knew ourselves to have lived before, in very different lives from our current situation. So the question of reincarnation began my journey to write From Ashes Into Light.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It took a long time to finish this book, so my main advice is to be persistent and patient. When  a writer is deeply committed to a project, it’s helpful to have a universal vision in order to sustain effort for the long haul. Blunt comments the director of a writer’s conference once made to me, over 20 years ago, was to become curiously comforting. He advised, “You may be another Virginia Woolf  but don’t count on commercial success. Have a source of income for at least the next 15 years.” And it did take more than 15 years to publish.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Raincloud Press. My daughter founded Raincloud Press in 2014. She has always been an avid reader who had periodically helped me over the years—editing manuscripts and query letters, and giving advice on marketing. Several years ago, I mentioned that I’d given up publishing a book in my lifetime. She called me a few months later and said she would help me self-publish a book of poetry. I agreed.

Only, the more my daughter researched the field, the more she she decided to become an independent publisher herself. She now has two other authors besides myself and more in negotiations. I feel very lucky to have a publisher who respects my work and who gives me feedback in an honest yet kind manner. She’s a great publisher—the kind who stands up for work she believes deserves a broader readership.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was surprised by the intensity of response to my first book (a collection of poetry called Wife of the House). I gave a reading after it was published, which was quite an inspiring experience. I did not expect that.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have several writing projects—another novel (a sequel to From Ashes Into Light), a collection of poetry, a non-fiction work. My publisher has not yet decided on a specific publishing date, or which project she will focus on next.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Facebook and Goodreads

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

Reading, or reviewing the day’s events with my partner.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I wish to celebrate the human capacity for transcending suffering and healing.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience. I have been someone who has not  spoken much being a writer but, nevertheless, have felt compelled to write.

About the Book:

Title: From Ashes Into Light
Author: Gudrun Mouw
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary/Visionary Fiction
Publisher: Raincloud Press

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancĂ©’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

For More Information

  • From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Writing Life with Literary Author Rocco Lo Bosco

A writer for over three decades, Rocco Lo Bosco has published poetry, short stories and two novels. His first novel, Buddha Wept (Greycore Press, 2003), about a spiritually gifted matriarch’s experience of the Cambodian genocide, received good reviews (e.g., Publishers Weekly) and much praise from readers, many of whom called it “life changing.”  His current novel, Ninety Nine, is published by LettersAt3amPress. Lo Bosco also has a nonfiction book in press with Routledge (2016), co-authored with Dr. Danielle Knafo, a practicing psychoanalyst, entitled Love Machines: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Age of Techno-perversion. He is currently working on his third novel, Midnight at the Red Flamingo. Additionally, he has edited papers in the fields of psychoanalysis and the philosophy of science and has also worked as a ghost writer.
Connect with Rocco on the web:

What’s inside the mind of a literary author?

It depends on the particular author, but surely there’s overlap among minds with similar concerns. If one is writing a novel, the characters are probably knocking around in the author’s brain, arguing with each other and the author about what’s going to happen next. Some narrative trajectories may light the inner sky of mind and trail off in a fizzle. Others will burn brightly against the darkness until they assume a power that’s irresistible.  Additionally, the ruthless eye of the author is always taking in real events happening around him or her––good, bad, funny, poignant, tender, shocking, horrific, and so forth––with greedy intent to mine them for a story.

What is so great about being an author?

Being an author provides the means to shape the messy tragedy of human existence into something that sings. In this sense it elevates the author, and this elevation has little to do with whether he or she is published or has even written something good. No, this elevation refers to an embodied perspective that demands a gesture of transcendence. That is, the story must, by structural necessity, assume an ontological position. The attempt to write a story with literary value expresses a unique and particular relationship with and position within the fact of being alive and embedded in history.

When do you hate it?

I don’t.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

It’s like any other day because I write almost every day. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s very hard. It doesn’t matter. I always put the time in, usually in the morning.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?

What is a big ego? An exaggerated sense of self-importance? Assuming we define it that way, then how would such an exaggeration be properly gauged? It would always be a matter of a presupposed standard underlying someone’s opinion—either the opinion of the one possessing the “big ego” or the opinion of others who know that one. So essentially we are speaking of masks and mirrors––the masks we assume in social situations and their reflective quality, the ongoing evolution of projection, the fictive quality of our assessment of others. I do not know if I have “a big ego.” I believe some who know me would say “yes,” and others would say “no.” Perhaps their answers would have much to do with the “size” of their own egos––whatever that might mean. 

How do you handle negative reviews?

I look to see if I agree with any of what is said by the reviewer. That’s easy to know because it hurts, and the hurt feels right. As the pain fades, I then try to incorporate a correction of insight into my future work. If I do not agree––that is, if what the reviewer says does not resonate with me––I am not affected by the review at all. 

How do you handle positive reviews?

After I finish stroking myself over the good review, I reread it and turn it inside out. That is, I read it with an eye to errors in judgement made by the reviewer. If, indeed, I then feel damned by some aspect of the reviewer’s praise, I do exactly the same thing I do with a bad review that I feel has some validity: I attempt to incorporate a correction of insight into my future work.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

I hardly ever do this, even when I am sometimes asked what I do. When I do tell someone I write, the person’s reaction can range from complete indifference to avid interest. Sometimes I will enjoy telling someone about what I’m working on, but mostly I do not. What does it matter what people think about my working as an author?  I have no interest in that. I’m concerned with their work as readers––what they think of my writing and the writing of others.   

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

When I don’t feel like writing, I write anyway. There’s no force or breaks involved. 

Any writing quirks?

Yes. I have my ritual before I begin. This is it:

1.  Walk around the apartment for 5-10 minutes, musing about this and that and looking out various windows.
2.  Make a cup of coffee.
3.  Muse while waiting for the coffee to brew.
4.  Take coffee to writing station.
5.  Look out window by writing station one more time.
6.  Sit down, open computer and GET TO IT.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or if they saw it as a hobby?

It was that way for the first ten years I wrote. It did not make a difference to me. During that time a friend once referred to my writing as a hobby. After I belly laughed for a full minute, I wiped the tears from my eyes and said, “Yeah, but it’s surely an important hobby. Only one thing I do comes second to it.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Living,” I answered.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship with writing. Can you relate? 

Yes and no. My relationship to writing is somewhat like my relationship with myself.  I must exist to know I exist; if I am, I know I am, and because I know I exist, I must write. Writing is a response to my own existence. Now, I believe love and hate are felt in response to anything (or anyone) of central importance to a person. Why is this? Because there is both love and hate already in and for one’s self-existence, if for no other reason than the awful burden of mortality and the toll it takes on human sanity.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

No.  In this way I am at complete odds with my culture, which embodies the command that what doesn’t make money shall have no value.

What has writing taught you?

It has taught me to write. It has aided my ability to think critically. It has made me examine what I feel in a more nuanced way. It has caused me to recollect my life in much greater detail than I would have if I did not write. It has inspired my imagination. It has made me read more and always with the eye to how a work of literature (or philosophy or science) is constructed. It has provided a platform of transcendence by which the tragic aspect of life can be viewed with humor and wit and embraced more openly. Lastly, it has taught me to happily keep my own company. 

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Wisdom is found more in the questions we ask then the answers we give.

Title: Ninety Nine
Genre: Literary Novel
Author: Rocco Lo Bosco
Publisher: Letters at 3am Press
Purchase on Amazon

During the summer of 1963 in Brooklyn, Dante’s family falls into financial ruin after his stepfather borrows money from loan sharks to start his own trucking business. Young Dante has his first love affair, with an older woman, while his stepbrother Bo struggles with murderous impulses over his mother’s abandonment. The brothers become part of the Decatur Street Angels, a wolf pack led by their brilliant cousin who engages them in progressively more dangerous thrills. Four event streams—the problem with the loan sharks, Dante’s affair, Bo’s quest for closure, and the daring exploits of the Angels—converge at summer’s end and result in a haunting tragedy.

Ninety Nine is a fierce coming-of-age story, with tight plotting, interesting characters, and the timeless ingredients of any good piece of fiction—the anguish of change, the agony and ambivalence of love, the exuberance and craziness of youth, and a tragic ending with the whisper of redemption.