– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Deprivation’ blogtour, organised by Meerkat Press.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Roy Freirich leads multiple lives as a writer. He adapted his novel Winged Creatures for the film Fragments, and has written screenplays for Fox Searchlight, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, and Sony. His lyrics have been sung by legends Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and Patti Labelle, among many others. He lives with his wife, ever-patient editor and frequent cowriter, Debrah, in Malibu, California.
A gripping psychological thriller from the author of Winged Creatures.
August, Carratuck Island, New York: a silent child is found abandoned on the beach clutching a handheld video game, and residents and tourists alike find themselves stricken by relentless insomnia. Denied the outlet of dreams—fears, guilt, and primal urges find other ways to surface. A teenage girl competes in an online game: who can stay awake longest? The bleary police chief struggles to keep order. The local doctor battles the ghosts of his past to find the cause and a cure for the epidemic, and face down the violent mob that blames the child. Cut off from the mainland, the island plunges into chaos, murder, and suicide.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I began writing as a self-pitying, pretentious 11-year-old “poet” inspired by Simon and Garfunkle.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
The early books I was taught stuck with me: Call of the Wild, Mice and Men, A Farewell to Arms. My touchstones turned to poetry early on, with poems I certainly couldn’t comprehend but which for some reason moved me deeply: The Waste Land, Four Quartets, poems by Wallace Stevens. I still revisit them, but when I began writing fiction I explored authors whose writing made me most envious: Lie Down in Darkness, As I Lay Dying, Tender is the Night. Lately, Enchanted by Rene Denfeld, the Rabbit books by John Updike, H is for Hawk, by Helen McDonald, Jazz by Toni Morrison, everything by Colum McCann, Cormac McCarthy. Everything by Keith Rosson.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
William Styron, whose poetic prose is unmatched for exquisite lyricism that never strays from serving the moment.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d invite Dr. Sam Carlson from DEPRIVATION, if only to try to save him from himself.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I bite my nails and sigh.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
I start with the vaguest sense of a truth I want to tell, reaching for a theme — though this will hopefully deepen and become truer as I excavate through layers of resistant substrata — facile formulations, cliche, etc.
I don’t consciously borrow anything from those I know. And if I do, unwittingly, I suffer from a surfeit of compassion for my characters. No one will be merely villainous. (Well, except for that one, maybe.)
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I outline, and it’s always the first casualty of writing.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Spend weeks if not months writing every possible thought about your idea; do not edit any of it. The ghost of an organizing principle may emerge, and from there, an outline, perhaps a character. But the initial inchoate document is your chance to be out of your own way and simply explore.
What are your future plans as an author?
A vacation, first. Then back hard at my next novel, Bright Noise.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
One of my main characters, Cort, has been competing on Twitter: who can stay awake the longest? After receiving increasingly unhinged Tweets from her friends, she seeks them out…
Past the worn boardwalk steps that climb the last dune to the beach, Cort recognizes Sioux’s gray cedar and glass beachfront house where they all took X last year and ended up huddled in Sioux’s bedroom laughing and crying until finally they crashed, thank God, sprawled across each other with sweaty hair and blotchy skin and sour breath from the awful speed rush of it.
Cort crosses the lane and heads up the wooden steps to the landing by the glass front door. She peers through the sidelight at the skylit foyer, past the broad stretch of light wood floor to the kitchen where she remembers everything possible was made of stainless steel, like a chem lab or a slaughterhouse.
Halfway down the gallery, it looks like a painting has fallen from the wall, one of those big rectangles of solid color that cost more than Cort’s whole house. Cort drops her gaze to the door in front of her and sees now it’s actually open a few inches.
“Hellloo?” she calls out, nudging it open a few more inches.
A whisper, a giggle, like children hiding.
Cort steps carefully inside, wary.
Sioux Klein and Madison Schone are standing on the granite kitchen island counter in their underwear, toes painted alike with dumb glitter polish, giggling hysterically, dirty hair hanging in their faces. Their bodies look loose and blotchy beneath orangey tans. On the floor, a bottle of vodka lies spilt sideways, a puddle shining.
Cort slows, finally seeing the single clothesline they have draped over an overhead beam, the ends tied into rough nooses around their necks.
“Hey, what are—let me—” Cort rushes forward, but Madison stops giggling long enough to slur:
“No, we’re doing this. Get away!”
Sioux fights a blurt of giddy laughter, loses. She sways, her shoulders shaking, straightens, sways again, the rope tightening with a faint creak, the flesh on the side of her neck bulging around it, reddening.
“Owwww,” Madison whines, clawing at the rope around her neck, the slack gone as Sioux staggers. “Wait . . .”
Cort’s already clambering up the counter, grabbing Sioux by the waist: “Wait, stop. Let me, okay? And then, you know what? We just leave.”
Sioux tries to pull away, tightening the rope around Madison’s neck again. “There’s no ferry!” Her voice is a shrill, wet sob.
Cort shakes her head, tightening her grip. “There will be.”
“It’ll be too late! It’s already too late! We stopped the game, but we can’t sleep. We can’t!” Her mouth twists into an ugly smile as tears begin to stream.
Cort counters, “What about the boats, the marina? Somebody will give us a ride.”
“To where, somewhere we aren’t? Where is that place? To someplace, but why, when we would be there, just the same, with this light. This noise. With my stupid fucking brain frying!”
Madison shouts, “Shut up! Jump! Now! Or I will!”
Sioux twists out of Cort’s grip and simply steps off the countertop. How can she be so heavy that she falls so impossibly quickly, like some huge, invisible thing has smashed her downward from above?
On the countertop beside Cort, Madison gasps and sputters, arching up on her tiptoes as Sioux’s counterweight pulls the rope taut. Her hands scrabble at the noose that has become too tight around her neck for her clumsy fingers to grab. Her nails claw at her skin, streaks of blood appearing as she sputters, eyes bulging.
Where is—something—anything—to cut the line? Cort’s eyes dart over the cabinet faces, drawer fronts, countertops. There! A wooden knife block offers up black handles. Cort leaps down and pulls one, which turns out to be a bread knife, but there’s no time to turn back for another. She rounds the island and grits her teeth and stands on her tiptoes to reach above Sioux and saw at the rope—some kind of boat rope, thick and braided, it turns out, not clothesline—and slick and waxy enough for the blade at first to skid rather than bite.
Seconds are all. How many does anyone have without breathing?
But even with the rope laid out like a loaf on a cutting board it would take a good minute to saw through with a bread knife, and meanwhile Sioux’s feet have begun to kick against Cort’s shins, heels hard, searching for purchase. One of her hands claws Cort’s hair and face, the other stabs at the air like a terrified blind girl’s. Cort dares to look upward, and Sioux’s swollen face is a light purplish color, her lips white.
Cort drops the knife with a sob to grab Sioux around her waist again, trying to lift her to create some slack, but there is none, by a missing foot or so of clothesline, there is none.
The sound that comes from Cort is lower than a scream, a long senseless shout that begs and denies and climbs as she struggles to lift Sioux higher into the impossible air.
They embrace, slow dancing. Sioux’s feet never touch the ground, kicking at nothing, and her hands find a will of their own to grasp trembling at the clothesline choking the life from them.
Hold her, Cort thinks. Just hold her up. Just long enough for her to get her fingers under the noose.
Behind them, above, Madison has grabbed the line just above her noose and has pulled herself upward, like climbing rope hand over hand in gym class, but without the wrap and belay around the leg. Her toes dangle just above the counter; slack sags the line between her grip and the noose, and she lets out a startled grunt, as if at her own good idea.
But then her arms begin to quiver and twitch against failure, failure surely killing her a fraction of an inch at a time as gravity wins and she drops slowly back, the rope tightening again.
Cort has Sioux in an upward bearhug, like a clumsy skater’s lift, but Cort’s arms, too, begin to shudder until the taut desperate urging of Sioux’s body against hers stops, and a new unmovable heaviness prevails.
Behind her, toes skimming the countertop, Madison makes a last sound like a thick, wet sigh, and dangles limply to one side, turning ever so slightly, one eye still seeming to gaze at some distant point, the other simply empty.
Cort’s arms give way now, too, and Sioux’s feet ghost the floor, one foot sideways, the other straight and so lightly barely touching down just ahead of her, a marionette’s.
Cort stays bent, squeezing her eyes shut.
Now, this is the time to finally wake. With a start, gasping to catch your breath while everything returns to the way it was before.
She opens her eyes.
Sunlight makes a shadow of a leaning girl across the floor.
A faint sound like creaking begins and stops. Begins again.
A thin smell like ammonia floats in the air.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Roy Freirich.
$150 Book Shopping Spree!
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!