Unglued: The Book of Strafe is an entertaining and sometimes humorous look at a young man who’s trying to make his way through life. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?
Unglued: The Book of Strafe is a fictionalized version of my experiences as a young man. I worked in a New Jersey chemical factory, in the glue department, each summer while in college and graduate school. Many of the events that happen in the book actually occurred in real life. I would work midnight shift in the factory then go home and sleep during the day. In the afternoon I’d get up and write crazy stories before heading back to the factory.
I enjoyed Peter Strafe’s character and how he continued to develop throughout the story. What were some driving motivations behind his character creation?
I actually created Strafe as a character while writing my first novel in college. The story was basically unreadable, but Strafe was meant to be a “wise fool”, the character who moves foolishly through an absurd world but somehow retains his child-like innocence. When I started writing Unglued, I decided to make it the story of Strafe who I’d first written about in 1975.
Peter utilizes Zen Buddhism to help him throughout his life. Why was this and important idea to include in your story?
I started reading about Zen while I was working in the glue department. Like Strafe, I’d sit up on the tank trucks and meditate while they were loading with glue. I had no idea what I was meditating for, to, or from, but none of that seemed to matter. I was determined to understand the real meaning of “one hand clapping” and become enlightened, dammit! Today, I’m not religious in the sense that I practice or follow any religious traditions, but I try to practice mindfulness in my affairs, and I wanted to have Strafe make small steps in the arenas of mindfulness and right living, too.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a sequel to my first novel, The Autobiography of Charlie Lord. The book’s working title is The Apocalypse of Charlie Lord, and takes place in California against a backdrop of pandemic, fire, and other environmental catastrophes. It’s a comedy. Publication date late 2020.
Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads
It’s 1978, and for recent college graduate Peter Strafe, the path to enlightenment zigzags absurdly through his mother’s basement, a disaster-prone New Jersey glue factory, the Coconuts strip club, a sports arena that offers ten-cent beer night, dog ownership, the Museum of Modern Art, his girlfriend’s bedroom, a tornado, and (of course) California. In an attempt to make sense of the absurdity around him Strafe begins studying Zen Buddhism and practicing meditation atop tank trucks as they fill with glue. His foray into the world of Zen leads him to discover his inner writer. He writes poetic Zen gems like “We be” and “I shy” before moving on to wonderfully bizarre short stories and epic genre-bending novels that span continents and solar systems. Of course, all this growth has Strafe headed straight for a crossroads– company man for the American Starch and Adhesive factory or Zen Master writer?
The Bit Dance follows a teen genius who must outwit an ex-KGB agent who uses a cutting edge toy for nefarious purposes. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I have spent 30 years as an IT professional. That provided the technical facet to the story. The fascination with bees and their built-in intelligence comes from my uncle, Fred Ingram. He kept bees to support his fruit trees. He knew a lot about bees and spent time talking to me about them. That has always been in the back of my mind stewing among my technology-oriented thoughts. It all kind of emerged as a complete stew in this book.
Kayla is a intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided her development?
Thank you for the kind words about Kayla. I lean hard on my characters to drive my stories. They are of utmost importance and their internal drive, motives, and personalities have to take precedence over my own. Sometimes, that ends up in an argument inside my head. It’s one I have to let the character win. Kayla started out in early drafts as a male of the same age. I have two daughters, both older than Kayla. The struggles I have had trying to drive my girls to be the most they can be in a world that isn’t always easy for females while simultaneously being a loving father that allows them to be themselves drove me to change that character to a female. The whole father-daughter challenge is complex and can be even more so if a father is a driven personality and the daughter has skills of her own that may lead her in multiple directions. I think it added a lot to the story.
I enjoyed the technological explanations you provided for the eBots. What kind of research did you undertake for this book to get these as accurate as possible?
I did a lot of reading about the Bees Algorithm to understand how it is being used for real-life applications today. I also had to dig into a lot about how communication technologies like Bluetooth work. Other things like the technology borrowed from robotic vacuum cleaners and file-sharing technology used by social media is pretty easy to research, but it does take time to get it right. I also made sure that the history around the KGB and other Soviet-era topics was right. Koslov’s back-story had to be convincing. The car he drove is real. The explosives he used were thoroughly researched. The history of the KGB and the crumbling of the old Soviet Union is all accurate. The sniper rifle mentioned in the story is real and accurately described as well. When you write stories that might attract sci-fi fans, you have to realize that they are picky people when it comes to realism – or at least the suspension of disbelief.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a young adult-oriented fantasy novel set in 1976. The protagonists are 11-year-olds (a boy and a girl). It centers around the concept of multiple universes and a means to travel between them. It’s slow going because my day job still dominates my life. If I could earn enough from writing to pay the bills, I could change all of that. That story is probably around 40% of the way to first draft. I’m hoping to have it out before the end of this year. The working title is Talisgate. I wrote one book before The Bit Dance. It’s called Motes. It’s a first-contact kind of story with an unusual twist. You can find it on Amazon.
What happens when millions of tiny minds find a way to work together? At what point do they become one? At what point are they no longer merely machinery, but actually alive? Kayla Henry is a genius. She has a grasp of technology that far surpasses that of people three times her tender age of fourteen. She has mastered every skill she has attempted to acquire – except the ability to impress her father and appease his overbearing perfectionism. The eBot is the newest offering from her father’s employer that will set the company’s course for as much as a decade. It is a revolutionary toy endowed with groundbreaking technology and an online community that will encourage consumers to share their experiences. Kayla is fascinated by it and longs to be a part of it in any way she can. When an ex-KGB officer appropriates the technology for his own nefarious purposes, it responds in ways no one could predict – or even imagine.
A Literary Smorgasbord: Memoir, Fiction, and Poetry, by Migel Jayasinghe, is a unique collection of largely autobiographical shorts juxtaposed with fictional short stories, poetry, and a drama. Jayasinghe, well-traveled and a virtual genius in his own right, provides readers with a smattering of brief excerpts from his own life while also offering a nice selection of stories of varying genres. To read Jayasinghe’s work is to take a peek inside his mind.
Jayasinghe’s autobiographical excerpts, presented throughout the book in no certain order, allow readers to venture alongside him through trips abroad, on a special visit to see one of his former teachers, to meeting and marrying his wife. We, as readers, are not often afforded the opportunity to truly get to know the author as we pore over his/her work. Jayasinghe is changing all of that for us. Interspersed throughout this short read, we get to visit with him and his family before being dropped quickly back into one of his short stories and glimpsing his imagination at work.
I am not an avid fan of poetry, but there is something different and captivating about Jayasinghe’s poems. Having the generally more serious tone of the fiction short stories, some of the poems included in Jayasinghe’s book do venture a bit away from the somber side. Not one to chuckle aloud when reading, I have to admit that Jayasinghe’s “Halloween Day” gave me cause to laugh out loud. Each poem brings something new to the table and shines a light on a different aspect of the author’s life in Spain.
Readers will easily relate to the play, “Market Forces: A One Act Play.” Timeshares are a thorn in the side for far too many people. Following along as the main characters are subjected to a wordy presentation while they want nothing more than to claim their promised prize, readers will shake their heads knowingly, groan along with them, and cringe at the pressure they experience. The drama is an overall fun read and different from any of the author’s other writing.
I enjoyed guessing where each of the author’s shorts would take me. Jayasinghe, without a doubt, is comfortable with all genres and hands readers a wonderful mixture of texts. Readers will appreciate the personal peek into the author’s life as they absorb the uniqueness of his writing.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B07QY7L1TJ
The Blood of the Nephilim follows a man who’s never been sick and a billionaire that wants to profit off of it. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?
The idea started as I was researching blood types, as I have the rarest blood type AB-, and I wanted to know where the blood types originated from. What I found out was that the Rh- factor is only found in a very small percentage of the population worldwide. There are theories that it was a mutation somewhere during the evolution of mankind but there is no definitive proof of that. And the one ancient alien theory states that it comes from aliens breeding with humans. The story started out with the young boy never getting sick and how he had a passion for archaeology and eventually searching those sites mentioned by ancient alien theorists. As I began getting into the background I thought how interesting it would be if a billionaire found out about this person and decided he wanted his blood to create a serum for all of the wealthy people so they never have to worry about ever getting sick.
I enjoyed the interplay between science and religion in this book. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this story?
I wanted to focus on themes that are present in society today. One is how people perceive the wealthy as having so much power to do anything that they want by generally using their wealth to influence the laws, property values and politicians and never feeling any repercussions. So I imagined how one wealthy person would use his money and influence to create a serum from a person’s blood so that he would never get sick again. Of course by saying he would help all mankind everyone trusted him.
Another theme I wanted to focus on was the ancient alien theme. If you look back at many of the religious writings many can be interpreted in ways of showing that aliens did come to this planet and interacted with mankind. For example the book of Enoch talks about fallen angels interacting with man and taking wives as well as in the book of Gensis. The Nephilim were known as fallen angels or spirits in the bible and in Arabic they are called Jinn. The offspring of the Nephilim and the human wives they took were said to be giants. Of course this one of many theories about them.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
One of my goals was to have people who read the book see that things are not always as they seem. Perhaps the things we read in the ancient texts could have been about aliens who came to help mankind. How did the Rh- negative factor actually come about? There are theories but no definitive proof of how such a small percentage of the population has it. What I want is for people to look at the world and not take what someone says as truth but to do their own research and come to their own conclusion. Many people take what the so called talking heads say as truth when in fact many of them are paid entertainers.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few ideas that I am working on right now but I believe the next one will be a mystery that revolves around an author. I hope to start outlining it soon and having it down in the fall of this year.
A scientist investigates archaeological sites that could have been built by aliens. No one knows why he has never been sick a day in his life. A billionaire believes his blood is the secret to perfect health. And, he wants it.
Posted in Interviews
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Too Deep In With The Auditor is an exciting story that turns an otherwise mundane job into a steamy romance novel? What was the inspiration for the setup to this provocative story?
I have been working for 20 years in the audit industry and had a passion for writing (there are other, non-fiction, books available from me) all the time. Now after 20 years I thought that it was the time to free from dust the profession of auditors. While some actions in the book are – naturally – a bit exaggerated, there are always true storys behind, that gave me the ideas.
I enjoyed the relationship between Martin and Ellis. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with their relationship?
I can let the cat out of the bag here: I have already laid the foundation for further books to come. I hope I can explore this relationship later on an make references to it.
You’re an Audit Director for a large auditing company. How has your professional experience informed your writing?
I am able to look back at all I have experienced and can use this to write Martin Muller’s story. I have so many ideas at the moment, which makes it – at least from that point of view – really easy to continue with the series.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
If all goes well, it will be the next Martin Muller Audit. As I had another idea in the meantime I combined audit & steampunk & cruise and wrote a short story “A Steamy Steampunk Cruise” which tells about Monica Jackson, an auditor working on an audit assignment on a cruise ship. So, if you like Martin, she will definitely shorten the time until the next Martin Muller audit appears. This should happen this summer.
Martin Muller is an Audit Manager working with one of the big auditing firms. On a newly assigned auditing engagement, he is challenged by fulfilling the demands of his boss as well as coping with deadlines. And then there is the attractive mid-forty female CEO of the small regional bank he is auditing this week. As the door of the vault of the bank closes unexpectedly and both of them are locked in it gets hot down there…
Quando Dormo (When I Sleep) by Edward Izzi is a suspenseful thriller about Dr. David Fazio, a pro-life obstetrician, divorced twice, and as handsome as he is philanderous. Dr. Fazio is not shy of flaws, personal and otherwise, with an army of scorned women in his past and severe insomnia while also being known as a sleepwalker. At a time where multiple family planning clinics are being burned to the ground, Dr. Fazio’s pro-life views and unknown night-time sleepwalks catches up to him as authorities are determined to find this “Abortion Arsonist”. It especially does not help when he wakes up with burns on his hands one morning. Quando Dormo is a well-written and enticing novel with in-depth characters and intertwining relationships.
One of the most interesting parts in this novel was the relationships between the myriad of characters that appear throughout the novel. At least fifteen characters are introduced and even though that may sound overwhelming, Izzi masterfully crafts these delicate intertwining relationships between each one of them. These relationships that have been created at first seem disconnected but as the novel moves on, it is revealed how everyone relates to each other in some way or the other. This ultimately leads to the mystery aspect of the story and gives readers a satisfying feeling once everything is understood.
Quando Dormo is set in modern-day Chicago, there is not a lot of setting description which can be considered a downside, but Izzi finds a way to compensate for this. Mainly, through his characters, the way they speak to each other, and the few different cultures that appear throughout which is true to real world Chicago. Speaking of which, Italian culture is explored authentically and amusingly through the main character, Dr. Fazio’s heavily Italian family. Dr. David Fazio may not be an extremely likable character as he is a known womanizer and the story delves into some of his previous girlfriend’s lives and their, not so favorable, feelings toward him. However, we do see his positive traits and fascinating character growth throughout the novel.
A fair warning should be given before people go into this compelling novel. There are many contrasting and controversial opinions on pro-life and pro-choice from different characters. And the actions that some of these characters take are extreme which can be unpleasant to some readers. But if this doesn’t bother you then you are in for an entertainingly provocative tale.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B085XQY8XX
Mirrors of Life vividly explores contemporary experiences of black people in America through the emotional tale of a mother and her children. Yvonne is a single mother who is stuck between tragedy and poverty. She finds a release for her pain through her religion and focus on her children. Yvonne’s children are all motivated individuals, though each in their own direction. Each blaze their own path in life, but Derrick is the one that seeks economic equality for his community and finds opposition coming from surprising places. Can Derrick overcome these challenges and change the social and economic fabric of a community set in their ways?
What I found most striking about this novel was the unique way in which it broached sadly common economic and educational deficiencies in minority groups and their communities. Derrick seeks substantial change to address racial inequalities and social justice and does so through his own drive and faith. In a time where black men are killed regularly at the hands of law enforcement, and vigilantes, this novel speaks volumes in its ability to keep the conversation on these topics civil and focused on human experiences.
Derrick, I think, is the main focus of this story. He’s a character that was slow to build but was well developed and stirring. The challenges he faces, they are numerous and varied, and the way he handles them, propels this novel forward at a delightful pace. His mother, Yvonne, is an equally captivating character that I wanted to learn more about. She could have easily had her own novel.
This is a thought-provoking novel that uses compelling characters to bring life to an otherwise familiar story. Mirrors of Life explores themes of family, faith, and love while waxing philosophical, occasionally, on a few topics. If your looking for an intriguing contemporary urban fiction story that addresses many societal issues in a heart-felt yet engaging way then Neal Owens has a novel for you. Mirrors of Life: What is your life in the mirror? is an inspirational novel that made me smarter, if not more aware.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07VGLQKTS
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Testosterone Dublin 8 follows a man that uses testosterone to escape his unhappy life and in the process gets caught up with Dublin’s criminals. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
A doctor suggested I start taking testosterone, and that prompted my interest in the hormone. As I observed changes in my own mind and body, and read more about it, I realized it could provide the foundation for a very interesting book.
Most people associate the hormone with sex and athletics, but it influences so much more, particularly mood, ambition, drive and confidence. That makes it a very interesting issue to write about, but I could find no other novel about it.
There was a time when only elite athletes took anabolic steroids (which means testosterone), but now millions of ordinary men (and some women) around the world are juicing. There are myriad advantages and dangers to this.
In addition, I live in a part of the Irish capital called Dublin 8, which is going through the gentrification process – just like other cities throughout the world such as San Francisco where I used to live.
Gentrification provides a very interesting energy in a place as ‘old’ and ‘new’ residents live side-by-side, usually together, but separate. Occasionally hostile. I wanted to comment on this in a book. A law-abiding man who suddenly becomes a drug dealer was the vehicle to do this. He had felt a little superior to his new neighborhood, but as time goes by, it’s clear he isn’t that much different from the people he lives among.
Jimmy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that drove his character development?
He is disappointed in his life. He was from a middle-class family and middle-class community, but didn’t achieve this in his adult life. Losing his job is confirmation of this. Frequently he feels the judgement of his late father, who reminds him of his failings during his lowest points. He is ashamed, angry and suicidal.
Jimmy’s enhanced manliness leads to a drug-dealing business, and his pride is gradually restored. But when the money starts rolling in, what is his ambition for it? To move to a middle-class area; to finally be the person his late father wanted him to be.
The story takes place in Dublin. Why was this time and place important to your story?
Dublin has a gangland problem and there have been many murders in the Dublin 8 area that is described in the book.
In addition, this area is changing as new people who have middle-class aspirations arrive, displacing lower-class families who have been there for generations.
So the time and the place are important because they generate a natural environment for stories like mine to emerge. The reason Jimmy is living there is because of gentrification. The reason he can get involved in the drugs business is because that business is all around him.
More generally, Dublin is celebrated in many novels, and is most famously linked to works that were published 100 years ago. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to describe the Dublin of here and now.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am not working any but have several in mind involving the characters of Testosterone, Dublin 8.
TV producer Jimmy Fyffe starts taking anabolic steroids to restore the ‘manliness’ he has lost in a high-pressure career and unhappy marriage. His plan works – a little too well. Soon he is a cocaine dealer, carving out a market in Dublin’s more affluent suburbs. This draws him into conflict with two established drugs gangs. He is kidnapped, beaten and terrorised, and is linked to the killing of a drugs-lord and two Gardaí.
Is Jimmy next to die, or will the same newfound machismo that landed him in trouble also help him escape it? Things get worse before they get better. The extra testosterone in his system hardens him both mentally and physically, but he also becomes reckless and arrogant. Ultimately, redemption is found during an ayahuasca ceremony in the Wicklow mountains, when Jimmy confronts his past through a conversation with his dead father.
Testosterone, Dublin 8 describes the effect of the ‘male hormone’ on an individual, and on wider society. It is told against the backdrop of a gentrifying Dublin, where the two main tribes – locals and blow-ins – live side by side. It is a moral tale wrapped in a classic thriller that gets to the heart – and veins – of modern Ireland.
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