– ‘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 ‘In The Beasts Cage’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
I am a Risk Management executive and Investor in Texas but I moonlight as a writer, short-film maker, musician, composer and world traveller (or, I was a world traveller in the pre-COVID days). In music, I have released 2 full-length albums (one of which is still available) and 2 E.P.s. I have published one humor book entitled 101 TIPS AND REVELATIONS FROM A MODERN DAY CYNIC (Black Rose Writing, 2017). IN THE BEAST’S CAGE is my first novel, but I have a second already in progress and no plans of slowing down. I have also written countless blogs, poems, short stories, essays and movie scripts in addition to my more sprawling fiction projects. Because of my work in the Risk Management industry, I spend a great deal of time in London working closely with Lloyd’s and can be found in that country often as a result. I have a wife (Alejandra) and two children, a 3-year-old daughter (Sophia) and a 1-year-old son (Otto) who was born in the midst of this pandemic. My wife is a dual-citizen of Mexico and Spain and had been living in London for 2 years prior to us meeting.
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Harbouring a dark secret from his past, immortal Lord Blake from medieval England arrives mysteriously in a sleepy coastal town in Georgia, USA. There he meets Hugo Wegener, an ex-doctor who is burdened with his own dark secret, and life-long resident Ginny Harrison, who is involved in her aging father’s absurd dream of refurbishing and reopening the town’s long-defunct zoo. As Blake’s relationship with Ginny blooms, he finds himself involved in the insane zoo project and, when Bruce Kelly, an exotic game smuggler from South Africa, arrives in town on the eve of the grand reopening with a plan to rid the zoo of its valuable animal species, it is up to Blake, Hugo, and the old man to stop him, without revealing the terrible secrets of their pasts.
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 my writing journey at an extremely young age as a poet. Poetry was my first muse, as they say. As I grew, I began to fancy myself a musician, though I could play no instruments. I used to carry around a little black notebook full of poems I’d written, which I, as a musician, incorrectly referred to as songs. Fairly soon, I began to record the “songs”, which were really spoken word poems since, again, there was no music accompanying it. As I continued to get older, however, I did learn to play instruments and my focus from then on centred on legitimate song-writing. I wrote and recorded music for many years, writing the occasional blog or poem, here or there, but had no real ambition to do anything else. It wasn’t until my early 30s that I began writing fiction with any level of seriousness, Nowadays, while I still love to play music, I know my true love to be writing novels, and I have no plan of slowing down anytime soon.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I grew up absolutely loving To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I have reread it more than I have any other book. It is a constant and loved companion throughout my life and always has been. I also loved The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein growing up. I read it to my own children now and it still makes me tear up every time.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
It would have to be Dickens. This is not because he penned my favourite book of all time, certainly not, but because he has penned more of the books that I love than any other writer. This is owing to his enormous body of work, and the quality present throughout the whole of it that is never lacking. Many authors can write a single great book, but it takes a true master to write many great books. Dickens was a unique success in this, and so he must be allowed the honour of being the author whose brain I’d most like to pick. Of his work, my choice for the best would be Great Expectations.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Albus Dumbledore. Let’s face it, at this point I’ve read the Harry Potter series so many times that I’m aware of countless reasons why maybe this is not the best choice, however, his genius, charm, and eccentricity simply make him an irresistible prospect to me. And I stand by my choice.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
As a father of two small children with a very demanding full-time job, I do not really have the luxury of strictly observing any ritual without fail. Adaptation is a skill a father learns quickly. The only two that are practiced with any degree of stability are the classical music playing in the background, and the fact that I always swap out my desk chair for a large inflatable ball on which I sit to write. I do not know why I do this latter bit, other than that I used to sit on it to improve my posture, wrote my very first legitimate fiction projects while mounted on top of it, and for whatever reason still feel compelled to remain sitting on it while I write today. Now, of course, this ritual is more in observance of the pre-established custom than of any legitimate effort for me to improve my hopeless posture.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Well, as mentioned, a dream served as the initial spark that was eventually to become In the Beast’s Cage. Other stories occur to me randomly, often late at night when I am wallowing in a state somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. I find my mind to be most active in this twilight period, so much so that it often prevents sleep altogether. In the early morning, I can often achieve a similar level of mindfulness during which I enjoy my most vivid dreams (like the above mentioned). As far as characters go, if they are based on real people from my life then I’m not sure I’d be able to tell you whom. I know my characters are patchwork creations encompassing traits from numerous people in my real life, however, I cannot place them with any degree of specificity. They are each in themselves a study of humanity at large, and none are based squarely upon some individual from my life. They may have your smile, or laugh, but they are also imbued with another’s will, determination, or talent, and still another’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. They are all of you.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I am a combination of the two, otherwise known as a “planter”. This basically means that very little is planned out beforehand, but some certainly is. That is to say, I am not flying totally blind as might a true panster. I typically do a short 1–2-page outline consisting of bullet points that serves as a general overview and direction for the story, as well as laying out where I ultimately want it to end up. Each bullet point typically lends itself to a full chapter in the text itself. How it gets from A to B, however, is ultimately as surprising to me as it would be to the reader.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
It probably sounds cliché at this point, but don’t lose faith in your own ability or the quality of your work, and in this you will surely be tested. Rejection is a big part of this process, and it will make you question the value of what you have written. Believe in yourself, and keep going. Everyone gets rejected (a lot) when they start out, beyond what is humane. The decision to publish takes extraordinary determination and a strong constitution. It is certainly not for everyone.
What are your futureplans as an author?
While I always have a few projects on the back-burner, I am currently allocating the bulk of my energy to the completion of a new novel. At the time of this writing, I am about 45K words into a Science Fiction Satire that I am very excited about. Perhaps the publishing adventure I am on now will serve to pave an easier path for this next project. I suppose only time will tell!
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Far in the distance, but steadily growing larger, were hundreds of disembodied, dancing flames, flickering and bouncing from side to side. What the flames connected to remained obscured by darkness, but Blake knew with certainty that the flames belonged to torches, and that the carriers of those torches were not likely to be on a mission of peace. The innumerable shining orbs were so vast that they looked like stars painted against the blackness of the horizon, extending the reach of heaven deep into the realm of man so that the division between the two spheres could no longer be perceived. Blake knew that the torch-bearing men likely believed themselves to be doing the work of God and smiled cynically, recognizing the irony and preparing himself to meet them in peace, if possible. Colin, seeing the advancing torches, gasped in fear and retreated back into the house. The other staff, more desirous of witnessing something novel and potentially tragic than of ensuring their own safety, remained rooted to the spot at the back of their master.
When the silhouettes of those bearing the torches finally gained a true form through the darkness, Blake called out, “Who goes there? You are trespassing on my lands and I demand an explanation. This is not the conduct of civilized men to storm the house of a noble with undeclared intentions in the dead of night.”
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Mac Altgelt.
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!