Beyond the Books

Home » Articles posted by thedarkphantom

Author Archives: thedarkphantom

Advertisements

The Story Behind ‘Traveling High and Tripping Hard’ by Joseph Davida

THTH_final_4.jpg

Some folks might sa-ay that I’m no good

That I wouldn’t settle down if I could

But when that open ro-oad starts to callin’ me

There’s somethin’ o’er the hill that I gotta see

-Hank Williams,

Ramblin’ Man (1951)

I always knew I wanted to travel and see the world. My first “real” trip abroad was to Italy in 1988, when I was 12 years old. We were mainly there to visit my family’s villa in Sorrento, but first, we had to fly in to Rome. It was my first glimpse of the ancient world, and after seeing things like the catacombs, the Colosseum, and the Sistine Chapel—I was absolutely blown away. Aside from some of the amazing artifacts at the Met and Museum of Natural History, nothing that old existed anywhere near where I grew up in New York, or even in North America for that matter. And while I loved taking class trips and seeing all the antiquities at the museums, it couldn’t compare with actually standing inside an arena where gladiators fought to the death.

It wasn’t just the monuments that made Rome different…it was the food, the language, and even the pornography! On one of the first nights there, my mother tried to save a few bucks on a hotel and decided we would stay at a local convent. Earlier in the day, I picked up a copy of some weird Italian nudie mag, and hid it under my mattress before going to bed. The next morning, one of the nuns who made up the rooms found it and started screaming at me in Italian. Although I was definitely embarrassed and in fear of my life…I quickly realized that this was what traveling was all about! There was something about getting into trouble in a foreign place that made things more fun…and somehow the memories that got made became that much more vivid.

And that’s why I wrote Traveling High and Tripping Hard…to try and share some of my adventures from around the world before I forget them all. And while I might not get the chance to trot around the planet the same way that I used to, there are still plenty of things over the hill that I gotta see. If all goes well, maybe I’ll write a sequel in another thirty years: “Traveling with a Walker and Tripping Harder”.

Because ultimately, no matter how old you get…it’s never too late to jump on a plane and find some trouble, and hopefully get yelled at in a language you don’t understand.

Pixel Egypt Dave

Joseph Davida is the pen name of a successful Nashville- based entrepreneur, former rock musician, and New York native.  He is currently at work on his next book, as yet untitled. Connect with him on the web:

www.josephdavida.com

https://www.facebook.com/Joseph-Davida-1434314893350886/

http://josephdavida.com/blog/

Advertisements

Character Interview: Olivia Becouche-Albukerk from M. J. Joseph’s novel, The Lübecker

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Olivia Becouche-Albukerk from M. J. Joseph’s new novel, The Lübecker.  Olivia is her merchant family’s 23 year-old emissary to the political and social milieu of pre-World War I Constantinople, Turkey. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Olivia.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

9781614935247-JacketGray_Lubecker COVER.inddI believe that my younger life and my family’s history should have been more thoroughly presented, but I have to give Mr. Joseph the benefit of the doubt, now that he has admitted to me that The Lübecker represents Book I of The Lübecker saga. He refuses, however, to tell me if I will have my own book, like the character whose name he deliberately allowed me to see him write next to “Book II”.  He’s so, how do the English put it, dreadfully cheeky?

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I believe Mr. Joseph produced a careful, perhaps, hesitant, rendering of my character for Book I, while strongly suggesting deep mystery and an almost unearthly sensuousness, if you’ll forgive my presumption.  I believe that I know what he’s up to, especially since he calls me Esther sometimes or admits to calling me Justine when he’s dreaming about me.   

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

The projection of my intelligence, undiminished by my incredible beauty. What? Should I just say, “my good looks?”

Worse trait?

Spitting pistachio shells at Old Benetar.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Easy! Gal Gadot, but with enhanced eyes and lips, of course.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, and that’s all you get from me.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I took to the wine-dark sea.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Charlotte Meckler, because she hadn’t the power to see her wishes fulfilled.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I am grateful. For now.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

I must suffer, slightly like Durrell’s Justine.

Thank you for this interview, Olivia.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I can’t be avoided.  Thank you; this was fun.

View More: http://aislinnkate.pass.us/joejoseph-miniBorn and raised in Florida, M.J. Joseph maintains membership in the English Goethe Society, the Siegfried Sassoon Society and other literary associations. He is a supporter-member of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, as well as an Associate of Lincoln Cathedral. Prior to retiring, Joseph enjoyed a lengthy and rewarding career with an industrial firm where he served as CEO and managed the company’s merger with a larger international corporation. He divides his time between Europe and his home on Florida’s northern coast. M.J. Joseph and his wife Ann have two children and reside in Florida.

Character Interview: Sam Grist from Jody Gehrman’s psychological suspense novel, ‘Watch Me’

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Sam Grist, from Jody Gehrman’s new psychological suspense novel, Watch Me. Sam is a twenty-two-year-old student living in Blackwood, Ohio. It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Sam.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

A lot of readers will no doubt write me off as a sociopathic stalker. Ladies and gentlemen of the book-reading jury, answer me this: Was Romeo a stalker? He hung out around Juliet’s balcony, watching her from the shadows. Did that relegate him to the category of literary scum? Not at all. It elevated him to the highest order of romantics. That’s me. I’m passionate. I have single-minded focus when it comes to getting what I want. If that’s a crime, so be it. I’m a criminal for love.

Watch Me CoverDo you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

She did okay. I feel for the poor thing; I’m not an easy guy to capture.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My commitment to the moment.

Worse trait?

My commitment to the moment.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

A young Wes Bentley (circa American Beauty).

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Kate Youngblood. She’s my professor, my obsession, my world.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Pretty much page one.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Kate goes out with this guy a couple times, Raul. He’s unworthy of her. Things don’t go well for Raul; let’s keep it at that.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Disaster is its own reward.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Forget it.

Thank you for this interview, (name of character).  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I’m a star burning bright and hot that will not come again.

IMG_0408

About the Author:

Jody Gehrman has authored eleven published novels and numerous plays for stage and screen. Her Young Adult novel, Babe in Boyland, won the International Reading Association’s Teen Choice Award and was optioned by the Disney Channel. Jody’s plays have been produced or had staged readings in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. Her newest full-length, Tribal Life in America, won the Ebell Playwrights Prize and will receive a staged reading at the historic Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She holds a Masters Degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a professor of Communications at Mendocino College in Northern California. Watch Me is Jody Gehrman’s debut suspense novel

www.jodygehrman.com

https://www.facebook.com/jody.gehrman

https://twitter.com/jodygehrman

https://www.youtube.com/user/jodygehrman

https://www.jodygehrman.com/blog

Meet Gabriel Valjan, Author of ‘The Good Man’

Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Files from Winter Goose Publishing as well as numerous short stories. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen. You can visit him at his website. He’s here today to talk about his new suspense series.
Thanks for this interview, Gabriel. Tell us about yourself.
I hide my love of dogs from my cats. English was not my first language, and I read fiction in more than one language. I was a sponsored triathlete. Cancer survivor. I weighed one pound at birth. Hearing-impaired. Ambidextrous. I went to school with Peter Dinklage.
Have you always been creative? When did you start writing fiction?
As a writer, no. I drew and painted at a young age. I read voraciously as a child, but when I did take an interest in creative writing, it was poetry. My first publication was a poem in 1989.
In this your new series, The Company Files, you move from the present Rome of your Roma Series to historical post-war Vienna. Why did you choose this particular time period?
I should state up front that I wrote The Good Man before I wrote Roma, Underground. To answer your question…History interests me. For those who don’t know, Vienna was divided into four zones, the American, the British, the French, and the Russians after World War II. Vienna would become, for a brief time, a Wild West.
It’s not the first time a city or country had been divided after a conflict. Vienna, however, bears a crucial distinction in that it became the crucible for the Cold War and the birthplace for the post-war intelligence community. Modern nation states in Europe then were designated as either friendly to US-led Western Bloc or to Soviet-led Eastern Bloc countries. There is, of course, the fun of researching the social mores of the era. Leslie in The Good Man and Bianca in The Roma Series are a half-century apart, and yet confront similar issues of survival in a man’s world.
The book is described as historical noir. For readers who aren’t familiar with this genre, can you tell us about it?
First, noir is a cinematic term. Film noir is, in my opinion, a visual display of Existentialist philosophy. The prevailing undercurrent to film noir and the crime fiction it inspired is that the Average Joe is doomed no matter what he does. He’ll make one bad decision after another, whether it’s planning a heist that goes wrong, keeping found money and unwittingly inviting the bad guys into his life, or lusting after the wrong woman. His life is a blues song. If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

Historical noir, as I use the phrase to describe The Good Man, is when characters make decisions within a certain context. The world is still morally compromised and fatalistic. The historical circumstances offer both flavour and plot device. The reader has the advantage of hindsight. November 22, 1963, for example, has only one inevitable conclusion. Genre sets the expectation, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether I abide by or violate those rules. Is there justice in the end? Does the guy get the girl?

Like in your Roma Series, you pay particular attention to team work among your characters. What draws you to this quality?
The Good Man is the result of my love for what I call the middle period of noir fiction, the 1940s. I’m not hard-boiled as Hammett’s Continental Op and Sam Spade from the 1920s, nor as violent as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in the 1950s. I envisioned a softer cynicism found in Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe.
In reading contemporary crime fiction, which I think harkens back to hard-boiled, I can appreciate the antihero and the protagonist who can’t catch a break, but I find most of it too nihilistic. While I don’t believe that Good always triumphs in real life, I found myself asking: Are we so cynical as to find value in the bleak and ultra-violent stories? Does it take visiting the darkest depths to feel better about our own lives?
Don’t get me wrong about violence and profanity. Mexican cartels are violent, but the Average Joe criminal is not that sadistic. My complaint is that there’s no glimmer of hope in a lot of contemporary crime fiction, unless it’s the razor blade on the sidewalk. Algren, Bukowski, and Fante wrote to show how the other half lived, but so did Upton Sinclair and Steinbeck. What is the point, if there’s nothing positive in the universe?
Writers have to compete with movies, with visual media, so why not work the vein of human relationships in close quarters? I’m not saying people can’t be flawed. The series Breaking Bad is a perfect example. People pushed to extremes are forced to work and trust each other, to some degree. In The Good Man, there is a triangle of characters who entrust their lives to each other. Jack, Walker, and Whittaker have a foundation – their shared war experiences – for trusting each other. Another triangle in the story is Leslie, Sheldon, and Tania: they have to prove themselves. There is history, camaraderie and debts, recognized and repaid.
Tell us about your protagonists and what makes them stand out.
Jack Marshall is the leader, principled but agile. Walker is the romantic, the fellow caught up in history’s current and unsure of his abilities. Whittaker is the doer, which doesn’t always require brains. Each man makes questionable decisions. Leslie is a woman with skills in an unappreciative world and she’s acutely aware of it. Sheldon is savvy, almost suicidal. Tania is precocious, another survivor, and a damaged soul.
Jack and Walker fought in the war together, depended on each other and owed each other something. In a life and death situation, would they choose friendship over duty?
Jack and Walker have a moment in The Good Man where they question Whittaker’s loyalty, but they extend the benefit of the doubt. Political pressure is hammering both men. Friendship and duty coexist and are in conflict with each other. The question is how long can they hold out. Jack and Walker choose Loyalty because of what they’ve experienced together. Few would understand it.
I found Walker and Leslie’s relationship sad. Does love have a place in their dangerous professions?
Their story continues in the sequels, The Naming Game and Diminished Fifth. My take on their relationship is that Leslie realizes times are changing and she is trying to hold onto her independence. The social mores of the day were especially hard on women. Women during the war years experienced a few years of financial freedom before the country asked them to return to the kitchen and home.
Leslie knows she has the credibility for a career in intelligence, but how much of that can she keep or maintain if she is perceived as ‘attached’ or ‘compromised’? I also believe Leslie is better grounded than Walker. He is trying to find his place in the world. I’m not sure Leslie can wait for him, or sacrifice what she has accomplished on her own. Their profession adds the complication that their lives are shrouded in secrecy and they must be ciphers to most people around them.
There are a number of intriguing secondary characters, like Sheldon and Tania. Were they difficult to write about? What challenges did you face getting into the mind of a vigilante and a 13-year-old Lolita-type character?
They weren’t difficult since I didn’t have to venture far to create them. As I mention in the Afterword, there were Jewish concentration camp survivors who were incensed that known war criminals were evading justice, so they became ‘vigilantes’ and hunted them down. Sheldon is a complex character and his “activities” are ambiguous, depending on your moral compass. The late Simon Wiesenthal hunted down former Nazis to have them arrested or exposed because so many escaped the courtrooms.
My opinion is that justice was selective and in the hands of the dominant player after World War II, the United States. There were businessmen and companies who benefitted from Nazi labor camps. Have a look at the I.G. Farben Trials, and note that none of the defendants was American, though Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM benefitted from their dark alliances with Hitler’s Third Reich.

The plot for The Good Man revolves around Operation Paperclip, where the U.S. collaborated with allies to shield former Nazis. The physicist Wernher von Braun is a notorious example. His work accelerated the U.S.’s space program. Reinhard Gehlen, another example, traded in his Nazi Army shoulder boards to become a Communist hunter. Eichmann’s whereabouts were not a complete mystery to U.S. intelligence, but it took the Israeli Mossad to defy both the U.S. and international laws to kidnap him from his apartment in Buenos Aires in order to bring him to Jerusalem to stand trial.

Tania was a wonderful creation. She’s flirtatious and, like most victims of sexual abuse, she acts precocious and manipulative. Her pedigree as a victim, however, runs deeper. As a Slav, she had dodged the Nazis, who would’ve worked her to death in the camps; had she presented herself as a refugee seeking asylum in Vienna, the Americans would’ve seen her as a Communist. There is also her ideological heritage: her father was a casualty of a Stalinist purge. She is a young girl without a country.
Were you thinking of Sheldon when you came up with the title?
Yes, but I think the question, “Are you a good man?” can be put to Jack, Walker, and Whittaker, too.
Post-war Vienna came alive for me in the story. Tell us about the importance of settings.
Context and circumstances are everything. I tried to develop the noirish aspect of time and place. I mentioned earlier that Vienna was a unique historical situation. Vienna was a playground for intrigues and for the Cold War, the silent world war. Whereas Berlin had a literal wall to divide antagonistic ideologies, hotels and landmarks designated the governing powers in Vienna.
With the War over, the Americans and British were now uneasy allies. Russia, an ally for the Americans, was now the new enemy. The bad guys, the Nazis with special insider information, became tentative allies. That the entire drama plays out in a German-speaking Austria was not lost on me. Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, while German speaking, is not Teutonic in the sense that it’s Protestant and its division into Bundesländer, or city-states, came after the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.
In the café scenes, I tried to capture this sense of a world that had fallen away from what Stefan Zweig called The World of Yesterday. Walker is out of his depth in not knowing the German language and Austrian culture well, and both he and Jack are also caught up in the clashes of American and European, and West with East, when they encounter Sheldon and Tania. 
What appeals to you about European settings? Have you been in the places that appear in your books?
Differences in perception and outlook. Travel and living abroad have educated me. My use of settings is more than just ‘colour’ in my novels. While I have not been to Vienna, I’ve visited Austria. I’ve travelled around Great Britain (attended graduate school there), been to France, Germany, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia. I try to illustrate and incorporate cultural differences; how people interact with each other and relate to authority. In the Roma Series, I explore the unresolved North and South divide in Italy, among other sensitive issues.
I witnessed a balance between Work and Life in Europe that does not exist in America, whether it was Ferragosto in Italy, or strikes in France by all workers to protest raising student fees in France. Americans work longer and harder and our health suffers for it. If American education and healthcare were run according to the business model of rewarding performance, then there would be true reform.
I find it morally reprehensible that, for a country of such wealth and resources, the U.S. has the worst rate for maternal deaths in the Developed World, with 26 deaths per 100,000 live births. Sense of perspective: The World Health Organization tracks 180 countries and the US ranks 137 on that list for maternal deaths. Other findings are sobering and irrefutable. Will McAvoy, a character on Aaron Sorkin’s The News Room, summarized it in his answer to the question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” You can find the clip on youtube.com
Experiencing Europe, I realized that Americans and European society are socially engineered around a different definition of ‘citizen.’ I’m not naïve: Europe is a tiered society and mobility is limited, but I think it’s disingenuous to think America doesn’t have a class society. I’m not blind to disconcerting parallels between the U.S. and Europe, such as the uncanny similarities between Berlusconi and Trump.
Americans, however, have drunk the ideological Kool-Aid and I’m afraid we are losing our standing in the world. I cited ‘citizen’ as an example, so let me provide an example of distorted logic. There were protests against Obamacare. The idea of national healthcare is still derided as ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism.’ Protestors claimed that in other systems, a patient died waiting for care.
There is no such evidence. President Obama himself said he watched his mother worry not about the ovarian cancer that would claim her life, but rather how she would pay for healthcare. I’ll set aside the obvious ignorance that Socialism and Communism are apples and oranges, but nobody has considered the European view that healthcare is a citizen’s right, and that healthy citizens are an investment in Society.
For this book, how much and what type of research did you have to do?
With any topic that is not native to your experience, research is required; it’s a matter of ethics. I had to read history books and memoirs about the period covered in The Good Man. I cited some of them in my Afterword. With respect to people who lived during that time, those I knew are dead now. I am aware that with people I knew, the material is anecdotal and subjective, the lens of history made hazy.
The Good Man tries to show decent people in terrible situations. Mistakes were made, people fooled, and terrible compromises made. There was also a consolidation of extraordinary power in individuals such as the Dulles brothers at the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. The United States would see a similar nexus of power again with the Kennedy brothers.
I do believe that the CIA was founded on the noble (and necessary) premise of national security, but the nature of spy craft and politics is such that it’s a losing proposition. When governments resort to secret agencies or programs, or leverage the methods of their former enemies Hermann Göring’s propaganda and Stasi surveillance methods are alive and well then what do we have? Enemies yesterday, friends today; and friends today, enemies tomorrow. Case in point: President Reagan continued Operation Cyclone to counter the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, funding mujahedeen leaders who would later become the founding members of the extremist al-Qaeda.
In general, what do you struggle with as an author?
Visibility. It’s a struggle because there are so many books out each month.
What is a regular day like for you? Do you set yourself a minimum amount of words or hours on a daily or weekly basis?
I write in the mornings. I find that my mind is clearer and focused then. While I understand setting goals as a form of discipline, Word Counts mean nothing to me. I don’t lack discipline. The way my imagination works is that I envision a scene and I write until it is done, whether that takes one day or several days. I see writers posting daily Word Counts, and I don’t know what to make of it. Quantity over Quality? A form of humblebrag? Jack Torrance sat every day at his typewriter and typed, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy …” and look how that turned out for him.
How do you set yourself challenges and grow as an author with each new book? For example, what lessons did you learn with your first series that you now implement in this new series?  What are you discovering about yourself as a writer while writing these new series?
I challenge myself by writing in different genres. Horror. Crime fiction. Cozy mystery. Genre gets bashed as low-brow, and not as “Literary Fiction,” which I think is nonsense. Genre is like poetry. You have to know the rules, the meter, and the expectation. Break the rules after you’ve mastered them, but learn them first and appreciate their inherent challenges. The same approach applies to reading in and out of your comfort zones. I mentioned earlier that I read foreign literature. Translators have made other writers available. Read a French ‘polar’ and ‘policier’ and observe the space dedicated to describing violence and exposition. As with any foreign culture, note workplace hierarchy and formalities.
What can readers look forward to in the sequel? When is the next book coming out?
The Naming Game delivers more of the Walker and Leslie relationship. Readers will become acquainted with the turf war between the nascent CIA and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI during the Red Scare in Los Angeles.
What do you look forward to as an author in 2018?  
I look forward to reading more of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. I hope to meet readers at conferences such as Malice Domestic, and New England Crimebake. I have not made a decision about attending Bouchercon in Florida.
What else would you like to tell readers?
If you are at a conference and know that I am there, please stop me and say hello.

REVIEW: The Company Files: A Good Man, by Gabriel Valjan

the-good-man-by-gabriel-valjan_1Title: The Company Files: The Good Man

Author: Gabriel Valjan

Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

Release date: December 2017

Pages: 251

Genre: suspense/espionage

Find out more on Amazon

It’s 1948, post-war Vienna. In this tale of international espionage, friends and ex-army buddies Jack Marshall and Walker are trying to gather intelligence for the Company in a time when Americans are ruthlessly trying to keep ahead of the Russians. To do so, they must sort Nazis out and question them. But a vigilante with a vendetta against former Nazis is getting to them first. Can Jack and Walker trust a vigilante killer to help them, and if yes, at what price? Add to the mix a beautiful Company analyst as well as a young Russian refugee girl who happens to be under the care of the vigilante. And at the core of it all, a rare priceless coin. As tension escalates one of them must become bait in order to unmask the traitor amongst them.

In a world of intelligence and counter-intelligence where an ally can turn into an enemy—and vice versa—at the flip of a coin, who can you trust? The Americans, the Russians, the British? Who is working for whom in this ruthless race for power?

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical noire. Valjan’s skillful and often witty prose flows elegantly through the pages. The setting is excellent and post-war Vienna comes to life during winter, especially the refugee areas with their gritty bleak streets, run-down cafes and dark cold rooms. There’s an array of interesting and well-crafted characters and the mystery accelerates at a steady pace until the very satisfying ending. In sum, I recommend this read for lovers of spy and international intrigue novels a la James Bond.

 

The Company Files: A Good Man is book one in Valjan’s new Company Files series. He also has another series of international suspense set in the present titled The Roma series. Check his Amazon author page to learn more.

Character Interview: James Coppi from AA Freda’s coming of age military romance ‘A Police Action’

A Police Action Cover jpegWe’re thrilled to have here today James Coppi from AA Freda new coming of age Vietnam era love story, A Police Action.  is a 21-year-old soldier originally from New York City, New York now serving in the U.S. Army

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, James Coppi.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

There is nothing to set straight. I believe the author captured accurately both my personal thoughts and the events that occurred during my Vietnam tour of duty.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I was a confused young man at the start of this story. Wandering aimlessly through life. As many young people were in the late 1960’s. There was a sense of duty but also for the first time, a distrust of the government officials running this country. The author captured my confusion as I tried to sort these new norms. Being poor and an immigrant further added to my tangled state of mind.

Meeting a beautiful young lady from Texas, who is just as confused and mixed-up as I am added to my morass. It forced me to come to terms with growing up and facing the reality of life.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

The ability to handle any problem that comes my way.

Worse trait?

The destructive nature of my personality. Leading me to drop out of school and doing drugs.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)? Hmm, a good question. Maybe a young Tom Cruise.

Do you have a love interest in the book? Samantha Powers from Lorenzo Texas. A mixed-up and beautiful nineteen-year-old who had the unfortunate luck of getting pregnant on the first time she had sex. Not my child, incidentally.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

On the flight home from Vietnam. It appeared to me that I was headed right back to New York City to my aimless and shiftless lifestyle. There appeared to be no future in my life.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Sergeant Camby. He epitomizes everything I despise in life. A fool who really doesn’t know how stupid he is. Life is only about himself. Couldn’t care less about anyone else.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

The ending came out perfect. I finally was able to settle down my inner demons and face life. Living finally made sense to me.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Make sure that I turn out the way you imagined I was when you left off in this book. Don’t let me regress back to where I was at the start of the saga.

Thank you for this interview, James Coppi. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Yes, I’m told that there are at least two sequels.

//////////////////////////////////

AA Freda is an award-winning author. He’s written several novels with a third to be released in the first half of 2018. His first novel, Goodbye Rudy Kazoody, an award winner, is a coming of age work about a group of teenagers growing up in a New York City neighborhood during the early 1960’s was acclaimed by the critics. His second piece and just released, A Police Action is another coming of age story about two confused young adults caught up during the free love and Vietnam era of the late 1960’s. The inspiration for his books are always his lifelong experiences and people he’s met along the way.

angelo-photo_2Freda was born in Italy but grew up in New York City and now resides in Easton, CT, a suburb of New York City that offers him a tranquil environment that allows him to keep his finger on the pulse of the city he loves so much. A graduate of Bernard Baruch College at the City University in New York, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Freda also served in Vietnam the subject matter of A Police Action. In addition to writing, in his spare time, Freda enjoys fishing, hiking, climbing and shooting pool.

Review: Mama Graciela’s Secret

Urban Book Reviews

Synopsis:

Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that MamA secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, MamA must come up with a plan to save it–and all of the animals she loves.

Rating: 5-stars
Review:
Mama Graciela’s Secret by Maya Calvani is a beautiful engaging story. The pages are wonderfully illustrated to match every scene. This is definitely a story for children and adults alike. Animal lovers will love Mama Graciela and her effort to save the cats that come to her restaurant. I found entertaining, sweet, and educational.


View original post

%d bloggers like this: