Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Mr. Burke's novels aren't books read and set aside. They are centerpieces of home libraries patiently waiting to be enjoyed again and again. I proffer "Heaven's Prisoners" as one such example. This novel is one of three turned into movies. Though published in 1988, this spellbinding story remains on the tips of tongues in readers' circles, commanding attention. "Heaven's Prisoners" has conquered the test of time.
Mr. Burke's latest release, "The Glass Rainbow," is on a path to ascend beyond the popularity of any in the Dave Robicheaux series.
The sequel to "Rain Gods," featuring Sheriff Hackberry Holland, is scheduled for a 2011 release.
Though a multi-award winning and Pulitzer Prize nominated author, Mr. Burke remains a grounded gentleman. He readily avails himself to fans through his web site's forum where he personally comments and answers questions. http://www.jamesleeburke.com/
Q) You and your wife are nearing fifty years of marriage – congratulations by the way. How has she enabled you to pursue your writing career?
A) Pearl always stuck with me through the hard years. She and I literally lived and worked everywhere from one coast to the other and did every kind of dirty job in between. We lived in trailers and Okie motels and she waited on tables and I worked on a pipeline and in the oil field and drove trucks and worked as a social worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles and so forth. The real credit for my career goes to my wife and children. They always believed in me and stayed the course.
Q) The Los Angeles Times referred to you as a "prose stylist." How did you develop your unique form of written expression?
Q) You have provided us with captivating tales for over forty-five years. What do you think is the key ingredient that keeps readers coming back for more?
A) My most successful work has been written in the first person by a protagonist based on the everyman figure in medieval drama.
Q) What inspired you to write your first story?
A) My cousin Andre Dubus won first place in the Louisiana College Writing Contest of 1955. In '56 I decided to have a run at it. I won an honorable mention and have been at it ever since.
Q) I want to share that a James Lee Burke fan drove a number of miles to come to my home, deliver one of your books, and ask me to request an interview with you. How does it feel knowing you have such devoted readers, and is there a message you would like to leave them?
A) It's a great compliment. That's why being an artist is such a wonderful life. You meet the best and most interesting people on earth.
As Gerald Manley Hopkins says, "Blessed be God for all dappled things."
Sunday, December 19, 2010
They could all be writer and author Tony Schaab. Okay. They are all Tony Schaab. Early on, Tony developed a gift to look at the world through eyes that peel away the outer layers and see what many of us miss – the natural humor we were all born with and carry with us throughout life.
But Tony, for whatever reason, also discovered humor in… zombies.
And that unique combination has magnetized him to undead lovers around the world. His humor-laden, tongue-in-cheek reviews are so sought after, he has taken a step I'm sure other critics are soon to follow. He compiled 50 favorites into the recently released book, "The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 1".
Tony's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, New Line Press contracted him for a stand-alone original story, and this multi-talented man has two novels on the brink of publication. Not to mention his short story, "On Ramp," was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. And, Tony's sci-fi/horror novella, "The Eagle Has Reanimated," was just this week nominated for the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award.
Q) Your innate humor permeates all you do. To what or whom do you attribute your comedic talent?
A) I'd have to say that my wit comes from a couple of primary sources. First, I have to thank my seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Hilker, for providing my younger self with his copy of the novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by the late British author Douglas Adams. The book is a very satirical look at some of the things we as a society do that are pretty silly, even if we don't see it as such; it's written from the perspective of aliens that visit Earth, so it also heavily influenced my enjoyment of science fiction as well. The story really gave me my first exposure to satire and how comedy can be intellectually subtle yet effective at the same time. Another huge source of comedic inspiration is the great Mel Brooks; I grew up watching his hilarious movies, especially "Spaceballs," my all-time favorite film. An interesting side-note is that, now that I am a zombie and horror author, my connection with Mel Brooks has come full-circle, since his son Max Brooks wrote the popular and entertaining novels "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z."
Q) Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter. How do you think she's going to affect your life and writing? Children have a habit of altering our "set" course.
A) Thank you! Since she was just born on Valentine's Day 2010, I fortunately have some time until she's old enough to read anything that I write, which means I can keep working on horror stuff for a while until I have to worry about explaining some of it to her. Of course, you're right, children definitely throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans; I've seen the free time I have available to devote to writing decrease dramatically this year, not that I'm complaining of course. I just have to plan my time more effectively now; I do a lot of early-morning and late-night writing these days! As for my writings that she could read: I actually have an idea kicking around in my head for a childrens/young-adult book series that would combine sci-fi with a good dose of multi-level Disney/Pixar-ish humor, so hopefully that project can come to fruition and she could read that before digging in to any of the horror stuff.
Q) Horror in literature is on the rise. What do you think has rekindled growing interest in this genre?
A) I think it's a combination of a few different factors, but the biggest reason is most likely the increase we've seen in horror stories that cross over into other genres - comedy, drama, romance, and the like. Series like "Twilight" and "The Walking Dead" show readers that stories can effectively utilize horror elements and character types while having them do more than just "be scary" - there are many well-written stories that portray vampires, zombies, and all sorts of monsters having relationships, problems, etc., and these characters are really humanized quite effectively. I'm trying to follow this approach in the story I'm writing for New Line Press that will be released in early 2011: there will definitely be horror-related themes and tones, but at the same time I'm going to have the story focus on romance and intrigue as well, because I feel that it makes for a very unique reading experience, and I think that's what a lot of readers have gravitated to recently.
A) I knew that when I first decided to start writing reviews, I definitely wanted to avoid being just another guy with a blog throwing his opinions around to anyone who would listen. So I thought to myself, “Self, why not create an objective system to rate the reviewed items in categories that fans would actually want to know about?” I sat down and made a list of the different types of things in horror stories that I, as a fan, liked to see and would enjoy having a bit of advance information about before I bought a movie/book/etc. Through good karma and a little bit of luck, the areas of focus resolved themselves into a nice little acronym, G.O.R.E.: “G”eneral entertainment, “O”riginal content, “R”ealism, and “E”ffects and editing. I still have some of my own subjective rhetoric mixed into each review, of course, but on the whole I think the rating system really helps my reviews stand apart as a great source of insight and information.
Q) Though gifted with humor, you remain seriously devoted to what you do. Where would you like your career to be in ten years?
A) Like most writers, I would love to be able to devote even more time to my creative projects, so being able to make the transition into writing full-time sometime in the next decade would be ideal. In addition to keeping The G.O.R.E. Score going strong with zombie reviews, I think the system could be extrapolated to general-horror and some other genres as well, so that's a passion I will continue to pursue and attempt to grow. I would also like to expand my repertoire of fiction writing as well; since I made the commitment to professional writing a little under 18 months ago, I've had 15 short stories published in various genres and anthologies, and my plans for the immediate future are to focus on producing a few full-length fiction novels. The first, "Zombies Can't Dance," is already in progress and will hopefully be released sometime in 2011, and I have two more ideas in my head for horror novels that are, in my humble opinion, very exciting and original. If I could look back in a decade, I'd like to have made my mark in a variety of ways - short stories, novels, mazaginze columnist, perhaps even screenwriter - my mind is full of great ideas waiting for me to find the time to make them happen!
Friday, December 10, 2010
"Son of Scarface" is a book about healing and the tribulations of one man's lifelong struggle to identify the past and heritage hidden from and denied him.
William Knight, Chris' father, lived a life of assumed identity using a fraudulent birth certificate. While stories of William's life surrounded the young child, all Chris cared about was the love his father showered on him. When William died, a not-so-random comment at the funeral sparked the desire in Chris to learn just who William Knight was.
Merely thirteen years old, Chris took the first steps toward what would become a seemingly never-ending quest to know who he is. Decades and numerous private investigators later, Chris, and the documentation he possesses, hold little doubt William Knight was a son of Alphonse Capone.
But the reader needs to remember, this story is about the child molded in to the man he is through a father's love and a mother's abuse. Today, Chris remains a resolute advocate for the welfare of children. He has personally raised thousands of dollars for organizations helping children, and a portion of every book he sells goes to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Q) The first question has to be the obvious one. Why did you write "Son of Scarface"?
A) As my sister would sum it up for our childhood friends, my brother needed to get this off his chest. I used my 30's to focus on putting the pieces of the puzzle together of my father. I knew he was a Capone but I had to find the pieces of the puzzle so we could see the whole picture. The puzzle is nearly complete and what we see is an amazing story of shame, pain and tragedy for the Capone Family especially my father and his mother. Writing Son of Scarface was my way of keeping my father close to my heart, and also a way to share my story of courage, hopefully people will read and learn or change from it. Our life is about our memories, good or bad. The question I have always had is, How Can I make a difference. I have promised myself that I will not share my father's story unless its going to help raise awareness around child abuse and the effects of it on young adults.
Q) I am aware that little by little over the years, you and your mother have built a shaky bridge in an attempt to resolve the issues between you. Where does your relationship stand today?
A) My mother didn't read my memoir until 9 months after it was released. Apparently she went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy and read it. I wasn't aware of this until she called me one day, we talked about the usual things, and then she asked me, Would you really pull the plug on me if I where in the hospital? My mother initially told me I would go to hell for writing this book, and she has stated to me that my father would not be proud of me for writing in detail about the abuse and neglect my sister experienced as children. Basically my mother isn't happy that I have revealed her Mommie Dearest Tendencies. My mother is almost 70 now, she says that she is sorry I have had to go through all of this, she worries about my safety and has said, she is proud of me for telling the story. She says Thank God For You !! We have you to tell Bill's secret.
A) Writing and publishing my book was one thing, rehashing the trauma has caused me and my sister to relive our trauma as children and now I believe with new revealed information from another family member in a recently released Book Get Capone by Jonathan Eig.., I fear that I might be causing additional trauma within other peoples lives. I never wanted to be the one to come out and share my father's secret with people. And quite frankly the emotions encountered with members of the Capone Family have really made me think more then 1000 times Why am I doing this? I remind myself, every time of the life I lived as a child, it was very traumatic, very tragic, and very painful to put behind myself without letting it out in a healthy way. I am done with my search and I do not want to cause anymore trauma then what I already have lived through. Now I am focusing my life on my life.
Q) How has your sister handled the furor around your efforts to identify your legacy? And how supportive has she been?
A) While writing my memoir, my sister and I would collaborate a great deal on our life experiences as children. We also collaborated a great deal on what our father told us about his life when he was a child, when he lived with his parents at the Capone Estate in Miami Beach. Our father would talk quite often to us children about his life as a child, describing in detail his home in florida, the power of his family, the pain, the shame, and he would always use humor in telling us these stories, like for example, I could tell you who I am, but If I did I could really make your heads spin.
My Sister and I live with a hole in our heart as a result of our traumatic upbringing. Not a day goes by where we don't think about our beloved father. The impact he had our on our lives when we were children. He was a good man, a good father and a hard worker. He was a very sick man, with severe arthritis, heart problems, blood clots, fevers. constant coughing, ear infections, my father would tell us that he nearly died as a child from an ear infection. He was a VERY SICK MAN, and we as children had to watch him work, hard as a truck driver. Driving 2000 miles a week back and forth, crisscrossing the country in his rig that had 1000000 miles on it. This is an example of how strong my father was. Shortly before my father died, he had two strokes in Pennsylvania, he knew us kids wanted to go on our yearly family vacation, well, he gathered his strength and drove us to NJ, picked us up and took us down to Seaside Heights, he died right in my arms right when we entered the motel room. My father wanted to die with us and he did... God Rest his soul.
After my book was published my sister was put in the hospital for nearly two months, the anxiety, the flashbacks, and trauma revisited as a result of my book being published sent my sister into a place of great vulnerability. My sister needed to let out her pain and her trauma, and I think this book and journey I have undertaken since the day my father died has helped her overcome alot and has helped her become a stronger mother and has made her feel more confident about who she is. Before My sister was ashamed of who we were, I think this book has helped her share our traumatic childhood with her friends and family. I pray she keeps the strength and continues to work with me in raising awareness around childabuse and the affects of it on young adults.
Q) The vast majority of us cannot imagine the hole in your life you are trying to fill. What is the one real message you would like to leave with people from your experience?
A) Life is not Fair, You never know what you can expect, never assume, just be real and always respect the people who cross your path in life. If you have children, please be careful what you tell your children, what you talk about in front of your children, and please do not abuse your child, physically, emotionally or any other way. Remember to teach your child what you really need to be a a healthy positive person, teach your children the basics about life. And I would like to say you must believe in yourself if you want to accomplish a goal or dream you have set out to achieve. Stick to you heart, Stick to the Truth and Stick to the Dream.. Never Give Up !! We are Human, at death we are stripped of everything but our dignity and the memories we leave for our loved ones to remember us by. This I feel is what life is all about. This is something my father taught me and this is message I am sending to my readers.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Ms. Osborn has melded her varied interests into a YA (Young Adult) series of historical novels revolving around a book of mysteries. The first of the four part series, "Nonna's Book of Mysteries" hasn't just captured hearts and fans. "Nonna's Book of Mysteries" was the Grand Prize Winner at the 2010 Paris Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival Best Teen Book of 2010, and recognized by the American Library Association for their 2011 list of Best Feminist Books (the Amelia Bloomer Project). Not a bad debut for an author.
This enchanting tale set in Florence during the Renaissance, is about a young woman who seeks her destiny in defiance of a time and convention when women were not welcomed in the arts.
The second in the series, "Alchemy's Daughter," is scheduled for release in 2012.
And if you get hungry waiting for Lake Street Press to put that next volume on the shelves of your local bookstore, try one of Mary's Renaissance-inspired recipes posted on her web site.
Q) You're a nurse, work with teens, and a single mother. You're the woman next door forced to fit 28 hours into a 24-hour day. Still, you find time to write. How?
A) True, it’s not easy to find time to write! However, when you have a real passion for something, you steal time for it, and sometimes you have to be willing to disappoint others by making this choice. I’ve forgone more than one Saturday night out in favor of writing. During the week, I might not get to my desk until 9 or 10 at night. Though I might feel weary when I sit down, I’m eventually drawn into the process. I once heard someone ask Joyce Carol Oates how she found time to write, and I remember her replying, “Sometimes I sit down to write when my soul is as thin as a playing card.” If you truly want to write, you find a way.
Q) I understand the setting for the book of mysteries series sprang from a trip to Tuscany. But where did the desire to write the series come from? Thousands visit Tuscany without writing a novel about a young woman fighting the odds.
I started slipping bits about alchemy into my writing, but an astute mentor who offered a critique of my work suggested that the alchemical content might fit better in a historical setting. I laughed and said I had no idea how to write a historical! But when I gave it a shot, my writing began to click. Meanwhile in Florence, I visited the magnificent churches and viewed the Renaissance masterpieces. Here, I began to see that the Alchemy Series would be the story of an ancient book of wisdom traveling through Italy across the centuries, providing spiritual guidance to those who discovered it.
Q) Following the death of your husband, you drew strength from the lessons and wisdom of your mother. How much of her is in your writing?
A) "Nonna’s Book of Mysteries" is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Loretta Bloom Bohaty. She was a gifted artist, a student of the Cape School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. She painted throughout her entire lifetime. Growing up, I’d often return home from school to find her at her easel, hard at work on a new painting. At our house, television was dismissed—there was just an old black and white set, much to my chagrin. My mother encouraged me by her example to use my time creatively. As a woman married to a fairly chauvinistic man (my beloved father), she faced some of the same challenges encountered by my heroine, Emilia Serafini, who was not allowed a painter’s apprenticeship because she was a girl.
Q) What do you and your son like to do to together when you need "alone time"?
A) As a typical fourteen year-old with interests of his own, my son does not generally seek out “alone time” with his mother! However, I manage to weave a good amount of one on one time into every day. We talk about the day ahead as I drive him to school in the morning; I’m there for him after school (a good part of my nursing job is done from home, via remote desktop access); we share a family dinner together most nights. In the summer we enjoy biking along Chicago’s gorgeous lakefront.
Q) You have your own dreams of being a successful author. To do that requires more than the book of mysteries series. What else is in the works? What's churning in Mary Osborne's mind, demanding to be written?
A) It’s going to take several more years for me to complete the Alchemy Series. Beyond this, I’ve always been fascinated by playwriting and would love to pursue this craft as well. Eventually, I think I will return to the first, still unpublished book I wrote, which was based on the experience of my late-husband’s death. I drew inspiration from A Grief Observed—C. S. Lewis’s moving account of the loss of his wife. I was too close to my own grief experience when I began writing my book. With the passing of many years, I’ll have enough distance from the experience to write a truer interpretation of this life-changing event.