Author Interview with F. W. Brooks

8 03 2013

Hello readers!

This week we are interviewing F. W. Brooks about his  novel The Tithes of March. The Tithes of March follows a wrongfully fired teacher uncover a scandal about a preacher at a local parish. Does he go to the police and report the scandal or blackmail the corrupt preacher? You’ll have to buy The Tithes of March to find out!

What makes a good story?

I feel a good story must have an interesting or likeable protagonist, one in which the reader feels a connection with.  Once the reader has a vested interest in the main character, a good story evolves when the protagonist is faced with some type of desperate or problematic situation that turns his or her world upside down.  Usually when a person is placed in such a situation, they are forced to either act or react – sometimes uncharacteristically.  As a result, often times their ethics and morals are tested.  I feel a good story shows the protagonist succeeding in the end, and in doing so, the character grows and changes for the better.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, I like to watch reality tv shows.  Many of them have quite a few eccentric, off-the-wall characters that have me either laughing out loud or shaking my head in disbelief.  In fact, some of the characters in my forthcoming projects were inspired by reality tv personalities.   I also like attending my kids’ sporting events with my wife.

Was Mr. Holloway based on a real person?

Yes and no.  Mr. Holloway is a fictional character, but his appearance, physique, and some of his ways of thinking are based on me.  In fact, I lived vicariously through Mr. Holloway.  In many of the situations he found himself in, he reacted in ways I would have liked to have reacted if I were in his shoes.

You portray Christianity as corrupt and manipulative in your book.  Does this reflect your views on the religion, or is it pure fiction?

The Tithes of March is pure fiction.  It does not at all reflect my views on religion or Christianity.  In response to your statement that my novel portrays Christianity as corrupt and manipulative, I respectfully disagree.  It by no means portrays Christianity or religion as corrupt and manipulative.  It simply portrays certain individuals, so-called Christians if you will, as being corrupt and manipulative.  The religion itself is not corrupt or manipulative – at least I don’t feel it is.

One reason why I wrote The Tithes of March was to bring light to a lot of things that take place in a Baptist church.  I wanted my story to be humorous, yet eye-opening.  I wanted the reader to realize that preachers are human beings just like everyone else.  Just because the sharply dressed man behind the pulpit is charismatic and articulate, does not necessarily mean he can always be trusted.

Which character was the most fun to write?

By far, I had the most fun writing about Reverend Ronald E. Revenue.  The reason being – he was not at all the person most people perceived him to be.  Instead of him being a holy figure people can trust and depend upon, he was the exact opposite.  In fact, it was very easy to write about him because he was so corrupt, for the most part there were no boundaries or limitations.  With him, anything goes – and his ability to get away with a lot of his shenanigans made him even more fun to write about.

Which chapter was the most difficult to write?

The final chapter was the most difficult to write.  As I tied up all loose ends and brought the story to an end, it was bitter sweet.  It was the final chapter of a project I had worked so hard on for so long.  I was glad to finally complete it, but at the same time, as strange as it may sound, I felt like I was closing the coffin on some of my characters.  On a brighter note, I have so many other interesting characters bouncing around in my head, I can’t wait to begin writing their stories.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Creating the book cover was a team effort.  I knew I wanted the image to be a pile of money because it’s simple and it symbolizes the main topic of the book.  I also came up with the idea of using money-green lettering for the title, along with using the cents symbol (¢) in the word “Mar¢h” and the dollar symbol ($) in the word “TITHE$”.  My design team did the rest.  They came up with the concept of using the same font as the font used on paper currency.  To be consistent with that, they also came up with the idea of bordering the cover the same way a dollar bill is bordered.  I was very pleased with the final outcome.

Is there anything that you learned about publishing a book that you wish you knew when you started writing your book?

Not really.  I guess it was because I thoroughly did my homework and did a lot of reading about the publishing industry and what to expect.  In fact, I think I may have over prepared because the publishing process was much smoother than I had anticipated.  I owe a big “thank you” to my publishing team at BookBaby.  Regardless of how demanding I was, they were very patient and supportive throughout the process.  I couldn’t be happier with the final product.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am currently working on my second book, which also involves a struggling math teacher.  However, I have yet to come up with a title.  A few of the characters from The Tithes of March are in this new book, but Mr. Holloway and Reverend Revenue did not make the cut.  Although I am very proud of The Tithes of March, as I write my second book, my mindset is – the best novel has yet to be written.

Where can my readers buy your book?

If you wish to purchase an e-book, The Tithes of March can be purchased through the following venues:

  • Apple iBookstore (for iPad)
  • Amazon (for Kindle)
  • Barnes & Noble (for Nook)
  • Reader Store (for Sony Reader)
  • Kobo
  • Copia
  • Gardners
  • Baker & Taylor
  • eBookPie
  • eSentral
  • Scribe

If you wish to purchase a paperback edition, send a check in the amount of $12.00 (includes shipping) to my agent:

J.L. Harris

7818 N. Teutonia Avenue

Brown Deer, WI 53209.

Be sure to include your name and the address to where the book should be sent.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Learn more about the author, F. W. Brooks, on his websites : or Follow F. W. Brooks on Twitter                                                 @BooksFromBrooks on learn more about his work on Facebook by searching  F.W. Brooks


Unreliable Narrator

6 01 2013

An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The term was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction.  This narrative mode is one that can be developed by an author for a number of reasons, usually to deceive the reader or audience. Most often unreliable narrators are first-person narrators, but sometimes third-person narrators can also be unreliable.

The nature of the narrator is sometimes immediately clear. For instance, a story may open with the narrator making a plainly false or delusional claim or admitting to being severely mentally ill, or the story itself may have a frame in which the narrator appears as a character, with clues to his or her unreliability. A more dramatic use of the device delays the revelation until near the story’s end. This twist ending forces readers to reconsider their point of view and experience of the story. In some cases the narrator’s unreliability is never fully revealed but only hinted at, leaving readers to wonder how much the narrator should be trusted and how the story should be interpreted.

An exception is an event that did not or could not happen, told within the fictionalized historical novelsspeculative fiction, or clearly delineated dream sequences. Narrators describing them are not being considered unreliable.

Attempts have been made at a classification of unreliable narrators William Riggan analysed in his study discernible types of unreliable narrators, focusing on the first-person narrator as this is the most common kind of unreliable narration. Adapted from his findings is the following list:

  • The Pícaro: a narrator who is characterized by exaggeration and bragging, the first example probably being the soldier in Plautus’s comedy Miles Gloriosus. Examples in modern literature are Moll FlandersSimplicius Simplicissimus or Felix Krull.
  • The Madman: A narrator who has severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or paranoia. Examples include Poe’s Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado, Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal, or Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
  • The Clown: A narrator who does not take narrations seriously and consciously plays with conventions, truth and the reader’s expectations. Examples of the type include Tristram Shandy.
  • The Naíf: A narrator whose perception is immature or limited through their point of view. Examples include Huckleberry Finn or Holden Caulfield
  • The Liar: A mature narrator of sound cognition who deliberately misrepresents himself, often to obscure his unseemly or discreditable past conduct. John Dowell in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier exemplifies this kind of narrator, as does Stevens in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.

This typology is surely not exhaustive and cannot claim to cover the whole spectrum of unreliable narration in its entirety or even only the first-person narrator. Further research in this area has been called for. A so-called “tough” (cynical) narrator and his self-talk – in which he is unreliably describing his own emotions – is characteristic of Noir fiction and Hardboiled fiction.

It also still remains a matter of debate whether and how a non first-person narrator can be unreliable.

Wayne C. Booth was the earliest who formulated a reader-centered approach to unreliable narration and distinguished between a reliable and unreliable narrator on the grounds of whether the narrator’s speech violates or conforms with general norms and values. “I have called a narrator reliable when he speaks for or acts in accordance with the norms of the work (which is to say the implied author’s norms), unreliable when he does not.” Peter J. Rabinowitz criticized Booth’s definition for relying too much on the extradiegetic facts such as norms and ethics, which must necessarily be tainted by personal opinion. He consequently modified the approach to unreliable narration.

There are unreliable narrators (c.f. Booth). An unreliable narrator however, is not simply a narrator who ‘does not tell the truth’ – what fictional narrator ever tells the literal truth? Rather an unreliable narrator is one who tells lies, conceals information, misjudges with respect to the narrative audience – that is, one whose statements are untrue not by the standards of the real world or of the authorial audience but by the standards of his own narrative audience. […] In other words, all fictional narrators are false in that they are imitations. But some are imitations who tell the truth, some of people who lie.[6]

Rabinowitz’ main focus is the status of fictional discourse in opposition to factuality. He debates the issues of truth in fiction, bringing forward four types of audience who serve as receptors of any given literary work:

  1. “Actual audience” (= the flesh-and-blood people who read the book)
  2. “Authorial audience” (= hypothetical audience to whom the author addresses their text)
  3. “Narrative audience” (= imitation audience which also possesses particular knowledge)
  4. “Ideal narrative audience” (= uncritical audience who accepts what the author is saying)

Rabinowitz suggests that “In the proper reading of a novel, then, events which are portrayed must be treated as both ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ at the same time. Although there are many ways to understand this duality, I propose to analyze the four audiences which it generates.”[7] Similarly, Tamar Yacobi has proposed a model of five criteria (‘integrating mechanisms’) which determine if a narrator is unreliable.[8] Instead of relying on the device of the implied author and a text-centered analysis of unreliable narration, Ansgar Nünning gives evidence that narrative unreliability can be reconceptualized in the context of frame theory and of readers’ cognitive strategies.

[…] to determine a narrator’s unreliability one need not rely merely on intuitive judgments. It is neither the reader’s intuitions nor the implied author’s norms and values that provide the clue to a narrator’s unreliability, but a broad range of definable signals. These include both textual data and the reader’s preexisting conceptual knowledge of the world. In sum whether a narrator is called unreliable or not does not depend on the distance between the norms and values of the narrator and those of the implied author but between the distance that separates the narrator’s view of the world from the reader’s world-model and standards of normality.

Unreliable Narration in this view becomes purely a reader’s strategy of making sense of a text, i.e. of reconciling discrepancies in the narrator’s account (cf. signals of unreliable narration). Nünning thus effectively eliminates the reliance on value judgments and moral codes which are always tainted by personal outlook and taste.

Greta Olson recently debated both Nünning’s and Booth’s models, revealing discrepancies in their respective views.

[…] Booth’s text-immanent model of narrator unreliability has been criticized by Ansgar Nünning for disregarding the reader’s role in the perception of reliability and for relying on the insufficiently defined concept of the implied author. Nünning updates Booth’s work with a cognitive theory of unreliability that rests on the reader’s values and her sense that a discrepancy exists between the narrator’s statements and perceptions and other information given by the text.

and offers “[…] an update of Booth’s model by making his implicit differentiation between fallible and untrustworthy narrators explicit.”

Olson then argues “[…] that these two types of narrators elicit different responses in readers and are best described using scales for fallibility and untrustworthiness.” She proffers that all fictional texts that employ the device of unreliability can best be considered along a spectrum of fallibility that begins with trustworthiness and ends with unreliability. This model allows for all shades of grey in between the poles of trustworthiness and unreliability. It is consequently up to each individual reader to determine the credibility of a narrator in a fictional text.

Whichever definition of unreliability one follows, there are a number of signs that constitute or at least hint at a narrator’s unreliability. Nünning has suggested to divide these signals into three broad categories.

  • Intratextual signs such as the narrator contradicting himself, having gaps in memory, or lying to other characters
  • Extratextual signs such as contradicting the reader’s general world knowledge or impossibilities (within the parameters of logic)
  • Reader’s Literary Competence. This includes the reader’s knowledge about literary types (e.g. stock characters that reappear over centuries), knowledge about literary genres and its conventions or stylistic devices

One of the earliest uses of unreliability in literature is Plautus‘ comedy Miles Gloriosus (2–3 century BC), which features a soldier who constantly embellishes his accomplishments. The literary device of the “unreliable narrator” was used in several medieval fictional Arabic tales of the One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights. In one tale, “The Seven Viziers”, a courtesanaccuses a king’s son of having assaulted her, when in reality she had failed to seduce him (inspired by the Biblical/Qur’anic story of Yusuf/Joseph). Seven viziers attempt to save his life by narrating seven stories to prove the unreliability of the courtesan, and the courtesan responds by narrating a story to prove the unreliability of the viziers. The unreliable narrator device is also used to generate suspense in another Arabian Nights tale, “The Three Apples“, an early murder mystery. At one point of the story, two men claim to be the murderer, one of whom is revealed to be lying. At another point in the story, in a flashback showing the reasons for the murder, it is revealed that an unreliable narrator convinced the man of his wife’s infidelity, thus leading to her murder.

Another early example of unreliable narration is Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales. In “The Merchant’s Tale” for example, the narrator, being unhappy in his marriage, allows his misogynistic bias to slant much of his tale. In “The Wife of Bath“, the Wife often makes inaccurate quotations and incorrectly remembers stories.

Wilkie Collins‘ early detective story The Moonstone (1868) is an early example of the unreliable narrator in crime fiction. The plot of the novel unfolds through several narratives by different characters, which contradict each other and reveal the biases of the narrators. A controversial example of an unreliable narrator occurs in Agatha Christie‘s novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where the narrator hides essential truths in the text (mainly through evasion, omission, and obfuscation) without ever overtly lying. Many readers at the time felt that the plot twist at the climax of the novel was nevertheless unfair. Christie used the concept again in her 1967 novel Endless Night.

Many novels are narrated by children, whose inexperience can impair their judgment and make them unreliable. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Huck‘s innocence leads him to make overly charitable judgments about the characters in the novel.

Ken Kesey‘s two most famous novels feature unreliable narrators. “Chief” Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest suffers from schizophrenia, and his telling of the events often includes things such as people growing or shrinking, walls oozing with slime, or the orderlies kidnapping and “curing” Santa Claus. Narration in Sometimes a Great Notion switches between several of the main characters, whose bias tends to switch the reader’s sympathies from one person to another, especially in the rivalry between main character Leland and Hank Stamper. Many of Susan Howatch‘s novels similarly use this technique; each chapter is narrated by a different character, and only after reading chapters by each of the narrators does the reader realize each of the narrators has biases and “blind spots” that cause them to perceive shared experiences differently.

Humbert Humbert, the main character and narrator of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita, often tells the story in such a way as to justify his pedophilic fixation on young girls, in particular his sexual relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter. Similarly, the narrator of A. M. Homes‘ The End of Alice deliberately withholds the full story of the crime that put him in prison – the rape of a young girl, and subsequent murder of a man – until the end of the novel.

In some instances, unreliable narration can bring about the fantastic in works of fiction. In Kingsley Amis‘ The Green Man, for example, the unreliability of the narrator Maurice Allington destabilizes the boundaries between reality and the fantastic. The same applies to Nigel Williams’s WitchcraftAn Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears also employs several points of view from narrators whose accounts are found to be unreliable and in conflict with each other.

Mike Engleby, the narrator of Sebastian Faulks‘ Engleby, leads the reader to believe a version of events of his life that is shown to be increasingly at odds with reality.

Zeno Cosini, the narrator of Italo Svevo‘s Zeno’s Conscience, is a typical example of unreliable narrator: in fact the novel is presented as a diary of Zeno himself, who unintentionally distorts the facts to justify his faults. His psychiatrist, who publishes the diary, claims in the introduction that it’s a mix of truths and lies.

In Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Jokethe Joker, who is the anti-hero of the story, reflects on the pitiful life that transformed him into a psychotic murderer. Although the Joker’s version of the story is not implausible given overall Joker storyline in the Batman comics, the Joker admits at the end of The Killing Joke that he himself is uncertain if it is true.

Between his first appearance in 2008 and 2010, the human identity of Red Hulk, a tactically intelligent version of the Hulk, was a source of mystery. In the 2010 book Fall of the Hulks: Gamma, Red Hulk is depicted in flashback to have killed General Thunderbolt Ross at the behest of Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s human identity), with whom he has formed an alliance. However, in the 2010 “World War Hulks” storyline that flashback is revealed to have been false when, during a battle with Red She-Hulk, the Red Hulk reverts to human form, and is revealed to be General Thunderbolt Ross himself.

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27 12 2012

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First Person POV

9 12 2012

First Person POV

In a first-person narrative the story is relayed by a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character as “I” (or, when plural, “we”). Oftentimes, the first-person narrative is used as a way to directly convey the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the narrator. Frequently, the narrator’s story revolves around him-/herself as the protagonist and allows this protagonist/narrator character’s inner thoughts to be conveyed openly to the audience, even if not to any of the other characters. It also allows that character to be further developed through his/her own style in telling the story. First-person narrations may be told like third-person  ones, in the guise of a person experiencing the events in the story without being aware of conveying that experience to an audience; on the other hand, the narrator may be conscious of telling the story to a given audience, perhaps at a given place and time, for a given reason. In extreme cases, the first-person narration may be told as a story within a story, with the narrator appearing as a character in the story. The first-person narrator also may or may not be the focal character.

The first-person narrator is always a character within his/her own story (whether the protagonist or not). This viewpoint character takes actions, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not always allowing the audience to be able to comprehend some of the other characters’ thoughts, feelings, or perceptions as much as the narrator’s own. We become aware of the events and characters of story through the narrator’s views and knowledge.

In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on his/her own viewing of events. It is an important task for the reader to determine as much as possible about the character of the narrator in order to decide what “really” happens. Example:


The narrator can be the protagonist or someone very close to him who is privy to his thoughts and actions or an ancillary character who has little to do with the action of the story. Narrators can report others’ narratives at one or more removes. These are called ‘frame narrators’

In autobiographical fiction, the first person narrator is the character of the author (with varying degrees of accuracy). The narrator is still distinct from the author and must behave like any other character and any other first person narrator. In some cases, the narrator is writing a book — “the book in your hands” — therefore it has most of the powers and knowledge of the author.

A rare form of first person is the first person omniscient, in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. It can seem like third person omniscient at times. The narrator restricts the events relayed in the narrative to those that it could reasonably have knowledge of.


Cristina Martin: Author Interview

30 11 2012

Hello, readers!

This week Charles Henry Editing is interviewing Cristina Martin, author of The Automat.

What inspired you to write your first book?

When I was a teenager, I had three goals for my life: move out of Miami, show my art in a gallery, and write a book. I wrote a lot of poetry as a teenager, but I wanted to write an entire story. I have always been fascinated by the history of automats, so I wanted to incorporate one into a book. I started writing “The Automat” when I was living in New York, and a lot of the descriptions of the fictional city backdrop were from my own personal experiences walking around New York. New York, in and of itself, was very inspirational to me.

Do you have a writing routine?

I like to be comfortable when I write, so I do most of my writing in bed on my laptop. It doesn’t hurt to have some wine beforehand. It’s important to have an environment that is conducive to the flow of your story. The Automat has dark undertones to it, and I wrote it in the dark for the most part. I also prefer to have music on when I write. Sometimes I listen to movie soundtracks such as “Atonement” or “There Will Be Blood” to aid a certain scene in a chapter, other times I’m listening to artists like Jason Molina or Ryan Adams. Their lyrics may inspire me to write a certain sentence or two. I give a literary head nod to Jason Molina’s song, “Coxcomb Red” in my first chapter where I describe Horace living in a pale world.

Can you give a brief overview of what The Automat is about for my readers?

The Automat is a story of a man named Horace Gray, who lives his life according to a strict routine. Part of that routine is going to an automat before work. One day, he takes notice of a mysterious set of eyes that stare at him from behind the automat wall. Horace sets out on his own adventure to meet the woman (Millicent) behind the automat wall, and ultimately understand her motives. He finds himself obsessed with Millicent, and everything else around him becomes inconsequential. The story is a psychological thriller, mixed with romance and crime.

What drives Horace’s obsession to understand Millicent?

Horace represents those people who become trapped in their daily routines. Sometimes we don’t even notice that our lives become so repetitive and dull. The introduction of Millicent in Horace’s life is symbolic of that change in our lives that we secretly desire. Horace is faced with following his heart or remaining stagnant. Some people choose to avoid change because they’re afraid, but others take the risk and adventure into things that are unknown. The fact that he becomes obsessive helps the reader to show how truly deprived of love he was.

Is Millicent obsessed with Horace or does she just enjoy playing with him?

Without giving away too much of the story, I think she enjoyed playing with him at first, but  her actions caused unintended consequences, which changed her perception at the end.

Did you do a lot of research to write the character, Detective Bones?

Not much. I work as an investigator for a university, and I have spent the last 10 or so years working closely with LAPD and NYPD detectives on certain cases. When I first started my career, I was taught investigative techniques by a retired NYPD detective who I worked with.

Which character was the most fun to write?

I would probably have to say Horace, only because I modeled him after Crispin Glover’s character in the film, Willard. I’m a huge Crispin Glover fan, so when I wrote about Horace, I had Crispin Glover in my imagination, playing him in my mind’s film adaptation.

Several other reviewers have commented that your work is “Kafkaesque.” Is Kafka an author you like?

The last time I read Kafka was in high school, but I do remember enjoying his works. I didn’t intend to make my story “Kafkaesque,” but I can see how Horace could be a character in one of his stories. He’s alienated, has Kafka’s boring day job at an insurance company, is a psychological masochist, and eventually transforms. I seem to like authors who have main characters who are literary underdogs such as Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” or Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Horace, Werther, or Gatsby are characters that may be hard to love at first, but after you get to know them, you want them to succeed.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am working on two books. The first one is titled “A Face for Reuben Hill” which is based on a dream I had about a man who was born without a face. Long story short, he finds a doctor who creates a mechanical façade for him in order for him to woo a girl. The story centers on how we tend to want to change ourselves for others, but should focus on accepting ourselves for who/what we are.

The second book I am writing is a departure from the dark literary fiction I’ve written. Instead, it’s an autobiographical piece interlaced with humor. It’s called “Life with Alvy: Memoirs of a Real Life Annie Hall.” It chronicles my time dating a man in NYC who was an avid Woody Allen fan. Our relationship closely resembled the film, “Annie Hall.” Every time I start writing a new chapter, I find myself laughing at my laptop and copy/pasting paragraphs on my tumblr blog. Even though my book is humor-based, it is still difficult to re-live a past relationship. I’m lucky to have a husband who sees what my book is about and who gets my sarcastic sense of humor.

Where can my readers buy The Automat?

Amazon for Kindle and paperback. (paperback)

Barnes and Nobles for Nook

Sony eReader


Apple Bookstore

You can also download it directly from

Want to learn more about Cristina Martin and The Automat



Twitter: hornandhardart



Correction Line: A Book Review.

24 11 2012

Charles Henry Editing has started a weekly book review and the debut novel Correction Line has started us off strong.

I’ll admit it; I do not like most books. As a professional editor reading for enjoyment is difficult because it is my job to pick apart a book and correct the flaws. Correction Line quickly ameliorated my fears and took me on a wild ride across the American west to find what connected a duo of hit men, a spiritual hippie, and a traveling book salesman as they crisscrossed the barren recesses of the American landscape. The book was gritty and violent without being crass. The rugged, craggy nature of the landscape was realistic and beautiful. The characters were lovable in their loneliness and I couldn’t help but want to follow their respective journeys to the end.

This book is about enjoying the many disparate journeys’ converging after many missed connections. So, if you want to know to always know where you’re headed and what is happening Correction Line will be difficult to digest. Half the time, I could not easy identify how things were going to work out; and was continually disappointed when the characters didn’t connect in the way I had thought they woul

What made me keep reading? The beauty of the writing.  Underlying the violent, lonely images is an undercurrent of romanticism. Like when watching a Clint Eastwood movie, you come to watch the violence; you stay to watch whether the hero will get the girl. In this case, I was curious to watch the intimate relationship between Lucy and Roy unfolds. I was drawn to the charismatic, dangerous and oddly soothing personality of the primary antagonist, Dave. I wanted to understand what was happening just like the characters did and that is the most brilliant element of Correction Line.  Craig Terlson’s genius is that the reader is a character in the book- we get to go on a journey, we get to try to figure it out what is going on, and we get to feel the disappointment of a missed connection, and the triumph when things finally work out the way we wanted.

Is the story perfect? No, just like any road trip there are confusing moments, stretches of narration that are long and arduous, and there is always the nagging feeling of wanting to get to the destination. Sometimes the reader is left wondering ‘what is the point of the story?’ If you can suspend your desire to know the destination and just resign yourself to enjoy the ride, this is one road trip you won’t want to miss.

Interview with Wodke Hawkinson.

23 11 2012

Hello, Readers!

This week the dynamic writing duo: Karen Wodke and PJ Hawkinson,  have met with me to discuss their books Zeke and Tangerine. You can read more about these books in my promotional post:

How did the collaboration known as Wodke Hawkinson start?

K & P– We have known each other for years. In high school we wrote some silly stories, but that’s about it. In 2009, we were each laid off from our jobs. It was then we began writing together in a serious way. We decided to put our last names together for our pen name. Since we live in different towns, we do a lot of our collaboration via phone and email.

How does your collaborative writing work? Does each of you have separate tasks in bringing a book to fruition?

K &P– We start off with a plan and then one of us writes the first chapter or so. Then we send it to the other for review and revision. Then we move on to the next chapter. Sometimes we do assign certain parts of the plot, but we both add to what the other has written. We don’t always agree either, which leads to compromise. Sometimes one of us will take a revision we may not especially like in return for getting a revision or element in another part of the book. It works out pretty well most of the time.

In your book, Zeke, the main character, Zeke is dangerous and disturbing was he as difficult to write as he is to read?

K &P– The book started out as an entirely different story and then we chose to make a genre change. Even so, he was very difficult to write, so much so that we often procrastinated and put off working on the book because we disliked him so much. He is truly despicable and maddening. Fortunately, once we finally got going, the writing went much easier and we finished in good time.

 What motivates Zeke to be evil and does he have any redeeming qualities?

K & P– Zeke is purely a sociopath. He has no redeeming qualities. Anything good that he might do is only to advance his own best interests.

 Why does Susan stay in a relationship with Zeke?

K & P– Sue is lacking in self-esteem and Zeke is well aware of the fact. He plays her along slowly, fulfills many of her needs, and gets her hooked before he shows his true colors. She deludes herself a lot, at least until it’s not possible anymore. By that time, she feels she has no choice but to remain with him. It’s a question all people ask about anyone who stays with an abuser. The answers probably vary a bit from one person to the next, but we think at the heart of it is the victim’s continual hope that things will get better. Or they convince themselves that if they leave they’ll be tracked down and killed. Though in a lot of the cases, if they stay they will also be killed. It’s often a no-win situation.

Do you look up to any psychological thriller writers ?

K &P– We appreciate the work of all good writers. Our reading interests stretch across genres.

Your most recent work, Tangerine came out last month! Tell us about it.

K &P– Ava Majestic is a biologist with advanced degrees in the sciences. When her parents are killed, she takes a job analyzing planets for possible habitation. Around the same time, she inherits a mysterious device and in doing so, gains an adversary, a wealthy collector (Agnotico) who intends to get the device from her, one way or another. Since Ava’s job puts her in space, the collector hires someone to tail her, a finder named Needle. The story is about Ava’s struggles with grief, her growing feelings for Needle and the sense of betrayal when she discovers he’s been working for her enemy. She also must learn to use the device she’s inherited, all the while being pursued by Agnotico’s men. Along the way, her job takes her to intriguing places. The fun of writing Tangerine was deciding what the future would look like, coming up with interesting aliens and worlds, and outlining the rules of using the device she inherited.

 What makes Dr. Ava Majestic such a powerful and compelling heroine?

K &P– Ava is pretty much a regular woman to begin with (although she does have an unusual heritage), but life forces her to undergo the transition to a stronger self after having to deal with tragedies in her life and the relentless pursuit of the sinister collector who is determined to obtain her treasure.

Why do you classify Tangerine as light Science Fiction? Is there another genre that you see it as being?

K &P- Tangerine is mainly a character-based story. It doesn’t have the techno-edge of hard sci-fi. It’s a tale that just happens to be set in the future where space travel is an ordinary part of society.

Even though Tangerine is set in a future, fantasy world are there elements of the story that are based on things in your present lives?

K &P–  Maybe a few. For one thing, we love cats. So we made Ava’s companion, Pisk, a small feline-like character. The other elements are the questions we probably all have about how we might change our past, if we could, and speculating on the “butterfly effect” and similar dilemmas inherent in time travel.

Your collection of short stories, Blue was my favorite book I read by Wodke Hawkinson because of the hauntingly beautiful setting. Out of all the books you have written together can you tell me which one you each like best and why?

K– I’ve enjoyed writing each one, with the possible exception of Zeke’s character because he’s so twisted. But I would have to say Betrayed is still my favorite. I really like the characters of Lance and Brooklyn.

P– My favorite short story would be Callie’s Fiddle in Catch Her in the Rye. It is a touching story of a family that is being forced from their home in order to create a lake. The family is so believable you feel you are there with them, and the little girl and her fiddle are entrancing.

My favorite novel would have to be Tangerine. All the characters were fun to develop and building a world was awesome.

Can you tell us about any upcoming works from Wodke Hawkinson?

K &P– We are currently writing two books: a fantasy set on another planet and a sequel to Zeke. Many readers have expressed their desire to see Zeke come to a bad end. He certainly deserves it, but as the story is still unwinding, we don’t even know how Zeke will fare.

 Both of you also write solo projects can you tell the readers about recent or upcoming titles?

K– I wrote a book for young readers entitled James Willis Makes a Million. It’s a story for all ages really, about a boy in the 70’s who is tired of being poor and takes matters into his own hands. I have a few other projects started, but none of them are really ready for any kind of reveal just yet. It’s so much better working with a co-author that I tend to concentrate more on the books PJ and I are writing. Someday I’ll get around to finishing my solo projects.

P – Teenager Trudy Purdy, a self-described plain Jane, is ecstatic when football player Tray Farquar asks her to be his girl. Not only is Tray handsome, but his father is the most distinguished man in town. Trudy realizes she’s made a terrible mistake when Tray lures her to a deserted beach where he and three buddies rape and beat her.

When she awakes uninjured in her home, she initially remembers nothing of the horrifying assault. But as days pass , her mind flashes back to the night on the beach, and she begins to feel a new power within herself. Trudy uses her new-found strength-gained by drinking the blood of others-to plot the “accidental” deaths of the boys who brutalized her.

As Trudy exacts revenge, she realizes she is changing in a big way and seeks answers to the unsettling questions about her new powers. She wonders what she is changing into and how it will affect the rest of her life.

I am actually in the process of rewriting this novel and hope to release the new version early in 2013.

 You have a website, a blog, and another website called ‘Find a Good Book to Read’ can you tell the readers what they can expect to find at each website?

K- is a place to showcase not only our books and writing, but those of other indie authors as well. This blog features Our Books, Short Stories, an Online Store, Fiction and Nonfiction Book lists, Poetry Book List,  and Flash Fiction., is strictly for our books and writing and has a link to This blog features Our Books, Flash Fiction and Poetry, Stories and Articles, Rumination on Words, and Fake Phony News.

 Where can my readers buy your books?

K &P– Our books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook outlets.

If you want to  learn more about Wodke Hawkinson go to their website: or check out their blog:

To read their writing and connect with other indie writers go to:

Find A Good Book To Read:


To buy one of their fabulous books, go to:


Barnes & Noble:




Barnes & Noble

(Coming soon to Amazon & paperback)

Connect with Wodke Hawkinson:

Twitter ID is @WodkeHawkinson:


Many thanks to Karen and PJ for doing this author interview! If you are interested in being interviewed please visit the ‘Other Services’ tab of this blog to learn more about giving an author interview and then email Carolyn Elias at Please note the earliest available week to do an interview is Friday, December 28th.

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