Filtering by Tag: Anesthetize

Year in Review: books, music, movies

Let's talk books, music, and movies ...

First, let's get the shameless self promotion out of the way first with my two 2017 releases as an author: releasing a new novel is a big deal for an author. Heck, I consider myself a professional author (meaning I make a small, viable living from sales), and this year I only released my fourth novel in ten years (that's considered a small amount by industry standards) titled Moonlight City Drive. However, it was the first time where I had a proper book release party (in Cleveland at the Agora Ballroom during the big Dog Fashion Disco weekend) and the first time a book of mine came with merchandise (a campfire mug, a shot glass, and two matchbooks). It seems each book release becomes more and more of a spectacle, and initial sales (first 30 days of release) exponentially have grown with each release. I also had my third published short story of my career, "Anesthetize (or A Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys)," become available to the world in the anthology A Haunting of Words.

Now that I've plugged my own material, let's move on to what I thought were the #1 best releases in books, music, and movies this year.

Music - Hands down, the best album of 2017 for me was Roger Waters' Is This the Life We Really Want? This is one of those picks where I did NOT choose just because I am obsessed with Waters and biased and worship every note and lyric he writes ... in fact, just the opposite. I am such a Pink Floyd and Waters solo fan that I was truly terrified for months (yes, months. I even laid in bed some night petrified that the album wasn't going to be up my standards in what I love about his music: the tyrannical lyrics, the militant musicianship, the layers of samples and overdub vocals etc ...) about listening to this album. I even had convinced myself at one point, while I drove around listening to Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking, Radio KAOS, and Amused to Death, that the new album was going to fall so short from what I loved about those album that I would despise it and my whole 35-year fandom of Waters' music would come crashing down with a single collection of songs. Heck, it had been 25 years since his last proper album (not including the random song here and there he has released over the past two decades). I got myself so worked up and nervous about this new album that on midnight of June 2 (release day) when the album was automatically (through pre-order) downloaded to my iTunes and I placed my headphones over my ears and pressed Play, I burst into tears within the first 90 seconds of the start of the album. It was like waiting 25 years to meet someone for the first time that you idolized but were convinced meting them in person was going to disappoint you. Sure of it, even. This album not only blew me away, but met all my high expectations ... and then some. Not only was it not a let down (which I had SO convinced myself it was going to be), but it even ranks higher in my personal favorite Waters album list than some of his "classic" albums. Sounding like a cross between Pink Floyd's Animals, Wish You Were Here, and The Final Cut along with his own Amused to Death album, this is why it's the best album of 2017.

Book - The best book I read this year was published in 2004 (unfortunately, I did not read anything that came out in 2017; I spent the year reading older books I had always wanted to read). It's that often that book gives me a sick feeling in my stomach and NEVER has a book left me with emotional PTSD, but Generation Kill by Evan Wright wormed its way so far into my psyche while I was reading it that I started having terrible nightmares and spent moments during the day reflecting on some of the passages I had read. This went so far as me needing to discuss the book with Stephanie because I felt if I couldn't talk about how I was feeling about it, I might just breakdown and cry. Generation Kill really got under my skin, laid eggs, and hatched a new breed of distress for me that I don't remember having while reading a book before. The atrocities of war, told in first person POV, about the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 was made more real due to the fact that the reader starts to feel like they know these marines personally, well enough to start calling them friends. So when the shit hits the fan, you literally feel like you are reading a letter written TO YOU from a family member about these events as if they are happening RIGHT NOW (not to complete strangers, fifteen years ago.)

Movie - Star Wars is my favorite movie(s) of all time, and Stephen King is my favorite author of all time, so you'd think at least one movie between The Last Jedi or the slew of King movies that came out this year: The Dark Tower, It, Gerald's Game etc would be #1. But honestly, I have to say Wonder Woman was my favorite film of the year. Don't get me wrong, I loved The Last Jedi and I thought It and The Dark Tower were absolutely fantastic, but Wonder Woman worked on so many different levels. I've been a WW fan since I was a kid with the old TV show so I feel like I have been waiting for a proper Hollywood blockbuster all my life. And the script and special effects were brilliantly done. The action sequences rivaled anything in the Marvel universe (I'm not a big Marvel fan) and sitting next to Analise in the theater and watching her eyes grow big as she saw a female lead superhero on the screen was magical for me as a father. I even got a WW umbrella for Father's Day this year, and I will protect myself from falling precipitation with pride when that logo is fully extended over my head.

First interview for my new novel, "Moonlight City Drive."

Pumkin Escobar interviewed me yesterday about my upcoming novel, "Moonlight City Drive," (first official interview about the new book) for the official Dog Fashion Disco Facebook fan group:

As a writer;

What was the first song/album that made you think of becoming a rock-fiction writer?

-      It was 1991. I was on a Billy Joel kick and was overdosing on "Piano Man." To the point where I was listening to just that song upwards of 10 times a day. Just obsessing over the lyrics and the characters he sings about. I had been writing short stories for 3 years at this point (not a single one having anything to do with music, just random horror, drama, and sci-fi short stories to amuse myself and friends.) I was lying in bed one night in '91 and thinking about the people in "Piano Man" and wondering if any of them had a backstory, or if any of them had a future story past that night in the bar. I decided it was time to try to write my first novel, and I was going to base it off "Piano Man." I was going to congregate all these random people in a bar and just see what happens. Basically wanting the bar itself to be the main character of the book, and the people all secondary. Coincidentally, my stepfather came home late that very night I had gotten inspired to write this rock-fiction novel (this type of writing didn't even have a name yet) and I heard my mother ask him why he was late. He told her that there had been a bad accident in front of the bar Sneakers (a real bar in my hometown.) As soon as I heard the name of the bar, I immediately knew I had to put some Piano Man-like characters in there and just let them... exist. And see what kind of stories they had. So I started writing (at the time the novel was called "A Bar Called Sneakers") in 1991 what would eventually become my second published novel in 2010: "Welcome to Parkview." Obviously, if you have read the book, you'll know the bar (even though makes an appearance in multiple chapters) takes a backseat and the city of Parkview became the main character (hence why the name change of the novel when I was finished with it.) But I did stay true to my idea of all the residents of the town staying secondary characters. Once I realized I was writing a novel version of "Piano Man," I knew there would have to be more songs to adapt, in order to move my characters around the town and create conflict and an actual story arc. So I was organically being inspired by different songs by different bands throughout the writing of the novel, finding songs that would lead my characters through their journeys and expand upon the building of their town. If you pick any song that is on the list of songs that were adapted for the novel, I could tell you exactly which chapter was spawned from that song. As "Piano Man" was the original catalyst to springboard the book from the speakers to the page overall (and I guess is the ground-zero song for me becoming a rock fiction author), the other songs that are credited for the creation of the novel were used to dictate very specific moments or conflicts for the characters. I started the book in 1991 and finished in 2009, coming in at 246k words. I hired 3 different professional editors and in 2010 we had it whittled down to a neat and concise 88k words. It was published in July, 2010 (19 years after that night when I decided to write my first novel based off a Billy Joel song.)


Did you ever "get it wrong" interpreting an album?

-      “Moonlight City Drive” will be 6th published rock-fiction adaptation (that includes short stories), and I really hope I didn’t get ANY of them wrong. That would not only be a great disservice to the band themselves, but to all their fans. However, I was outlining Genesis’ song “Supper’s Ready” to be a short story back in 2015, and I realized I didn’t have a good enough grasp on the song yet to be able to do it justice. So instead, I turned Jethro Tull’s album, “Rock Island” into a story, which became “The Whaler’s Dues” and was published in 2016. Maybe one day I’ll try to tackle “Supper’s Ready” again.


Just as actors need to prepare for a roll and stay in character, did any of your work take you to a good or bad place (mentally)? Did it leave a lasting impression on you?

-      Wow… well all 4 of my novels took me, emotionally, into a dark place. In “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts,” the day I found out David had died was rough to write (and I wound up drinking WAY too much). In “Welcome to Parkview,” there is a revenge/murder scene that I really let my demons come out to write, and it’s probably one of the most brutal things I’ve ever written. In “Yours Truly, 2095,” I had a hard time writing the scene where the main character finds half his daughter on a factory table, and in “Moonlight City Drive…” let’s just say there’s a scene with a lot of fire that, while I was writing, I had to sit back and ask myself if I had finally gone too far. (no spoilers)


How involved are the artists on your novels, if at all? (do you need permission for all novels?)

-      I don’t need permission to write/publish the novels / stories, but I DO need permission if I am to have any of the lyrics of the album/song that I am adapting in the novel/story. So far, I have only received permission twice of my seven-published works: God Lives Underwater (for “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts”) and Dog Fashion Disco (for “Moonlight City Drive). The other 2 novels and my 3 short stories, I just made sure I didn’t use ANY lyrics from the albums/songs.


For the Adultery/Moonlight City Drive Novel;

Is this the quickest novel you've written?

-      Absolutely. This book took me just shy of 4 months to write. “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts” took me 20 months to write, “Welcome to Parkview” took me 19 years (from inception to publication), and “Yours Truly, 2095” took me 36 months to write.


How do you feel about it now that you are done?

-      After getting it back from my editor (and all her positive praise of the novel) and the mass amounts rewrites in the 3rd draft, I am totally in love with it.


I know you had started the process around May when we all met in Baltimore. Had you been plotting this book for a long time? If not, how easy/difficult was it to create the story line?

-      I always thought the album would make a great movie or graphic novel when it came out. It was never really on my radar for ME to adapt into a rock-fiction novel. In fact, when the album came out in April, 2006, I wasn’t even a published author yet. Then when I got into rock-fiction, I had some other albums that I felt I needed to write first to get out of my system before I could tackle this story. Also, the previous works helped me improve as a writer, so when it came time to novelize “Adultery,” I had sharpened my chops and could due the album better justice. To be honest, the lyrics of “Adultery” are approximately 2,000 words total, and more than half of the time are really ambiguous. So, to turn a 2k word piece of source material into a 77k word novel took a lot of creative liberties on my part, to fill in all the “empty space” of the lyrics and storyline. That was the most daunting task for me; to color in the blank spaces in-between the colors that were the lyrics.


You really seemed to enjoy working with the Facebook group on this novel. Did it help the process? Would you consider this on future novels with other groups?

-      Yes. The Moonlight City Drive Facebook group was fantastic to have. When I needed help with a certain model of a vehicle, you guys had a plethora of suggestions. When I needed help flushing out certain lyrics, everyone came together and spitballed their interpretations with me, which really helped steer the ship. I would absolutely so another group like that one for future novels.


Given that this book is about a detective and a private investigator hunting a killer, how did your "day job' as a police officer help develop those characters? Did anything in the writing process open your eyes to any open cases?  Assuming you are "beat cop” (if that is the correct slang term:) has this made you want to become a detective or private investigator?

-      It really didn’t. I am a patrolman, which means I don’t do in-depth detective work. And to be honest, policing and detective work has changed so much from 1947 (when the book takes place) to 2017. There is very little focus on the “policing” side of the detective character, and more on the “private” investigator angle of the main character. I had a chance to take the detective test at my police department in 2009 and I choose not to. I love being a “beat cop.”


Silly time;

How much coffee do you drink to function???

-      3 cups a day


Favorite curse word?

-      Fuck         


Boxers or Briefs?

-      Yes


Tits or ass?

-      Ass


 Mayo or Miracle Whip?

-      A1 sauce


Toilet Paper-over/under?

-      over

Author Interview: Sunanda J Chatterjee and her "A Haunting of Words" story.

Today author Sunanda J. Chatterjee takes over my page with a discussion about her short story, "Jimmy's Shadow," appearing in the anthology A Haunting of Words, which also includes my brand new short story, "Anesthetize (or A Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys"):

Blurb: Jimmy’s Shadow is the story of a young mother, guilt-ridden from the death of her four-year old son who drowned in the family pool on her watch, but who has now has returned to haunt her.

What inspired you to write this story?: In this story, the imagery of the house, the backyard, the lawn, and the pool is from my own home. When I moved in fifteen years ago, I was always anxious with my two-year-old daughter playing in the backyard right beside the pool. I don’t write in the horror genre; I write about love, family relationships, and motherhood. Something about a mother’s love for her child, a visceral, elemental emotion that triumphs all else, haunts me. My bestselling novel is about a mother fighting for her child’s life, and I wondered about a world where she didn’t succeed. The haunting in this story is not horror, per se, but more filled with angst, regret, and guilt, and how a mother processes her feelings when faced with the memory of her lost son.  

How long have you been writing?: I’ve been writing for thirty years, but only in the past ten did I start to send stories and novels out for publication. I finally started publishing three years ago.

What genres do you most associate with in your writing?: I write women’s fiction and romance, including romantic suspense. My characters are often multiracial, and many are from India, where I was born.

What are you working on right now?: I am working on a series right now, called The Wellington Estate Series, based in southern California. They are romantic suspense (with more romance than suspense), filled with family secrets, romantic love, and scandals, but are ultimately about female empowerment and friendships. I’m done with the first two of the series, which are now with the editor. I will start on the third book soon.

What else do you have available/published?: I have four stand-alone novels: Shadowed Promise, Fighting for Tara, The Vision, and The Blue House in Bishop.

A novelette: Maggie’s Farm, which first appeared in Cupid’s Bow Anthology and now is published separately. The other novelette Lost and Found, from Cupid’s Bow is based on characters from my novel, The Vision and will be published soon. Several short stories: A White Christmas and Letters from Carmen in Holiday Heartwarmers Collection; and a few short stories in

What advice do you give to new writers?
1. Write what you love and what you love to read. You don’t realize the nuances you’ll pick up from just reading a lot on your genre: about character arcs, plot structure, dialogue and themes. Because you may write for yourself, but if you want to make it your livelihood, you must bow to reader expectations.
2. Read about how to write, take a writing course, join writer’s groups or critique groups to solidify your basics, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time re-editing. I know this from experience, because it took me ten years and eight full edits before publishing my first book, The Vision.
3. No matter how well you write, get an editor regardless of whether you want to go the indie publishing route or traditional publishing. You know your story too well and won’t find plot holes, but an outside look by an impartial editor will help strengthen your story.

List links where people can find your work:

You can purchase A Haunting of Words (available in paperback and eBook) through the Scout Media online store at: and get an exclusive companion soundtrack CD, or through Barnes & Nobles, Target, Books-a-Million, and Amazon.

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