21st Century Knight
Posted by Literary Titan
Waiting ‘Round to Die follows a man who is facing an existential crisis and embarks on a journey to find meaning. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Life. My life. Other people’s lives. All the people in the Target by my house buying things they probably don’t need. I was living this life, surrounded by the trappings of ‘success,’ and I just kept asking myself—what’s the point? Was the point to fill my 2,000-square foot suburban home with Restoration Hardware furniture? Because I did! Do I win now? Do I get an award? Is this the legacy I am going to leave for my child? And, honestly, I wanted to flee the life I’d built for myself, but my familial obligations kept me anchored in place. So I fled in my head. And when I fled, I took my dead uncle with me, because I knew deep down inside that things would be better if he was there.
Glen Grant was a fairly famous writer in his own right. You should look him and his Obake tales up. Once I had Glen and the narrator on the road, I sent them off to find the meaning of something. I guess it’s at least alluded to that the narrator wants to find the meaning of life, but I feel like he really just wants to find meaning in life. He got no meaning from being a husband. No meaning from being a suburbanite. No meaning from his money. He had some meaning from being a father, but his child no longer needed him. So, he’s out there looking for that meaning in the kind of life he dreamed of living, not the one he just sort of fell into.
The protagonist is an interesting character with unique dimensions to him. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?
When I was a kid, I watched the movie version of the musical Camelot a lot. Like, basically any time I possibly could, I would watch Camelot. And when I watched Camelot, I dreamed of being Lancelot—I think a lot of kids could identify with that. Lancelot was the best. He had the shiniest armor. He was played by Franco Nero, who was a very handsome man. Arthur was great, but Arthur was flawed. Arthur lost his woman. Yes, Lancelot took his woman, and in doing so Lancelot quit being perfect, but he was still the most badass knight in all of Camelot. Just watch the scene where he flees the castle after Mordred catches him with Guinevere—he basically takes out the entire castle guard by himself!
Why do I mention this? It’s because Lancelot had purpose. The narrator in my book has no purpose until he takes to the road, and I guess that’s the driving ideal, if you will. That search for purpose. The guy wants to find something to hold onto. A reason to keep on going. So he goes out looking for it. And I think that’s what makes him relatable. If you just take a cursory look at the narrator then maybe you won’t like him. After all, this is a guy who leaves what seems to be a perfectly fine life to go out and essentially ‘party’ his way across the country. But if you take a deeper look, that’s not really the case. The guy is basically a 21st-century knight errant on a quest. While he doesn’t necessarily have to physically fight—I mean, there are a couple fights, but they’re basically things he tries to flee—he is still roaming, searching for something else. Something more. That longing is what the character was built on and it is the foundation for everything that comes after.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The major themes were purpose and meaning, but there was another one that was very important and that was love. For all intents and purposes the narrator is in a loveless marriage. He’s not getting anything from his wife, so that’s not the love story. Somewhere deep down inside he does still love Claire, even though he hasn’t seen her in two decades. But that’s not the love story either. The love story is the love between the narrator and his dead uncle.
Obviously this is not a romantic love, but I don’t think that renders it any less important. Glen was this guy’s mentor, his confidant. In a lot of ways Glen was his best friend. The narrator can only assume that, had Glen still been alive, he would not find himself in the place he ended up. But, as is usually the case, life had other ideas and it took Glen away from him. But it gave him back! And the story culminates with the two men standing on the beach at the end of their trip and the narrator finally telling his uncle he loves him. Soon after, he disappears. My actual Uncle Glen, the notable writer, died in a hospital bed in Honolulu in 2003 and I don’t know that I ever really got the chance to tell him just how important he was to me. I was thankful to sort of have the chance to say it in this book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I actually have a collection of short stories I am hoping to have published before the end of the year. One of them is kind of an outtake from when I was writing Waiting ‘Round to Die. It was just something I started writing while I was writing the novel, and it didn’t really fit into the story I told with the book, but it definitely has the same tone and feel to it. The other stories are a little older, and perhaps a little less longing, but they tie in nicely with the new story, so I would love to get those out there as soon as possible.
I’m also working on a longer piece of fiction called Summer of ’85. I like to call it my ‘80s movie because I feel like the plot would work really well in a John Hughes movie. It’s about a kid growing up in a small lumber town in Oregon who somehow discovers rap music, before it really became mainstream. I’m about 2/3 done with the first draft. Hopefully it will be available sometime towards the end of next year.
Author Links: Goodreads
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Posted on September 30, 2022, in Interviews and tagged author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Chris Grant, contemporary literature, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, travelogue, Waiting Round To Die, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
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