T.S. Eliot action hero? The mysterious Eliot Waterstone and his connection to Rand O’Neal

eliot progOne of my favorite introductory scenes in Alexandria Reborn is when Rand O’Neal meets Eliot Waterstone in The Library.

“I want to see you in the light,” the voice said.  “Just there. I want to see who’ve you become or, rather, who you are. The seed of The O’Neal’s.” 

As the voice spoke, a figure emerged from the shadows. A tall wispy man whose carriage was held up by a silver cane, the handle of it in the shape of a greyhound. The man’s body was not bony, but thin, whispery, almost like a wraith. He walked forwards, one hand on the cane, the other held above his head as if he was shielding off a drizzle of rain or blocking the sun.

Throughout the book, Eliot quotes lines from T.S. Eliot’s poems. A bit of ‘The Love  Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ here, The Wasteland there. It was intentional, of course. I joked with my wife as I wrote it that I was creating T.S. Eliot Action Hero. It was only a half-joke joke, because I wanted the wizard archetype in the shadows, the elegant assasin, the mage inside his self built cage.

Eliot’s past is mysterious. We know he knew Rand’s father and grandfather. We know he tutored the villainous Kent St. James at one point. But what else? A clue. If you have read the short fiction piece – free at this link – you will see that Waterstone has more than a passing connection. If you like Eliot, here are two spoiler free teases: Eliot will appear in a prequel set in 1983 with Mary Celest and Winston.

More importantly, he will appear in Alexandra Redeemed: Book 3 coming in March 2018.

Interconnectivity, symbolism and numerology in Alexandria Rising

Fabricius-Fludd-Natura-widescreen-occult-wallpaper-q85-1280x800

Someone asked me the other day about how much symbolism I crammed into ‘Alexandria Rising. Well, the answer is pretty straightforward: As much as I possibly could. Why do this in an action adventure novel? Well, I figured if I was going to write a novel, I might as well have some fun with it. Example? Okay, no spoiler here, but a character in the book takes Train 42. The number ‘42’ is widespread in the works of author Lewis Carroll who was also an avid numerologist. The number is especially present in Alice in Wonderland where it is used several times directly or indirectly. If I was going to give the number/name of a train, etc. I wanted to convey a message. I am very much inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Dante’s Inferno. While I would not put my work on a literary level with those two brilliant pieces, I do love how those works contain mass amounts of allusions, symbolism and interconnectivity. Writing ‘Alexandria Rising’ gave me an opportunity to create my own little world using those devices. Bonus? I have a section on this site ‘engage with the appendices’ which provides the reader with links from The Appendices which lead to video, images or research associated with names, places and numerals throughout the book.

What’s in a name? Meet Kennon

I was unlocking my door on Fifth Floor at Berry College’s Dana Hall in the fall of 1993. I caught a peripheral glance out of the corner of my eye of another student doing the same a few doors down. We met each other’s eyes.

Recognition?

Shock?

Rejoicing.

I couldn’t believe it.

It was Kennon Brooks.

Kennon and I had previously attended  Brevard College at the  same time and, then, unbeknownst to either of us, had both transferred to Berry.

There was a joyous exclamation along with high fives, hellos and probably even a hug when we saw each other that day.

Kennon had been one of the kind souls on my hall at Brevard College who not only tolerated, but encouraged me and my mischievous roommate Jeremy in our shenanigans. He was also gregarious and kind. Though a star on our basketball team, he would be the guy who wouldn’t knock on your door if you were playing guitar too late, but might join in the fun, especially on the weekends.

It was great to see a familiar face at Berry where I first arrived.

30121897_10213767619537427_535738007_o
Kennon, present day.

Thought Kennon and I lived in different orbits those final years at Berry – basketball team and English majors don’t cross paths by nature – we always enjoyed seeing each other and hanging out.

Of course, life happens and, well, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

I hadn’t heard from Kennon in almost two decades when ye olde facebook linked us.

When Alexandria Rising was published, he bought it. And loved it. It was a great encouragement when he posted a photo of the book on his fb page. After I named a character after our mutual friend Spota, he quipped that I should name a character after him. So, of course I did. Here is one of the scenes where Kennon Brooks – chief of security at Lux Engineering – is featured.

The static of a walkie talkie buzzed in the room.

“One second, Rand,” Eliot said, then reaching under one of the legal pads he pulled out the device. The long fingers liver spotted and delicate clicked it on.

“Eliot here.”

“Sir, we’ve found a device sir.” A rich Scottish brogue, only intensified by the hum of the static. “On Dr. Lightfoot, she – ”

“Slow down. A device?” curiosity ringed Eliot’s voice. Rand’s brow furrowed.

“Yes. She had a device. A tracking device. Implanted in her. Very well done, sir, exceptionally small, excellent insertion and activation according to the doctors. Only perceptible when we were scanning her for broken bones or other physical ailments as part of our heath check in –”

“She’s not one of them,” Rand said, his voice rising as he half rose in his chair “She’s not!”

Eliot motioned him to sit down with a slight lift of the hand.

“Sorry Kennon. Just one of our team. Please continue.”

“Ah, aye, sir. We don’t think she was aware of this. Like I said, it was a plant.”

Thanks to Kennon and all of those for being part of the journey. 

 

Independent Author of The Year Finalist

finalist.1

The Independent Author Network announced their 2017 winners today and I am pleased to announce that Alexandria Rising was named a finalist in the Action-Adventure category. As an independent author, these are the types of honors that keep us going against the odds. Big ups to all of y’all for your encouragement, purchases and support.

Meet Winston Worsley…

One of everybody’s favorite new characters in Alexandria Reborn is Winston, the ‘old cowboy’ as he calls himself who hails from west Texas. This is one of my favorite scenes when he first meets Rand and Rand discovers the other side of those who work with The Slendoc Meridian. (And, yes, a spin off book on his adventures is in the works)

“All right now, son,” Winston said. “You’ve heard enough of my story. Tell me yours. I have a feeling I might need this,” he lifted his glass in a silent toast.
“I don’t drink liquor.”
“No problem, chief ” he said as he grabbed Rand’s glass, tilted it and consumed it in a single swallow. “Ah, just the stuff. Now, get started.”
“Here’s the Cliff Notes version. My grandfather left me a map to destroy. I got chased. I got kidnapped. I was taken to The Castle. They found some of the Meridian through the map, then –”
“Slow down. Slow down. Slow down. Damn son.” Winston lifted a hand to his temple, closed his eyes. “Okay, start over. Your grandfather? What was his name?”
Rand hesitated.
“Come on. I’m all you got to trust right now. Are you just going to sit there like a stubborn mule all night? Shit, I’ve got a couple of guns down here. You want them as insurance? Would that make you feel better talking to me?” The man gave a chuckle. “I’m too old for this. Kidnapped? Chased? Austria? Just start over. Slowly. Who was your grandfather?”
“Henry O’Neal.”
The man sat there staring at Rand. His eyes slowly moving over his face. Studying him. Trying to peer into him, Rand thought, wanting to see if he was true. If his words were real.
“I’ll be damned,” a low whisper escaped from the man’s throat. “What? Did you know him?” Rand asked.
The man dropped his head, stared at the table. Twisted his lips
in a look of resolve. Locked his eyes on Rand. “So you’d be Andrew and Madeline’s boy?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Son of a bitch. Small world.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Looks like we have a lot of talking to do.”

The trilogy is complete: Enter Alexandria Redeemed

You followed him across four countries where he discovered humanity’s biggest secret. Now, with the truth of his family revealed and Hope Lightfoot found, Rand O’Neal is looking forward to a life of peace and anonymity. But instead of solace and detachment, a new enemy with a familiar name emerges and he is forced to confront the forces behind the Slendoc Meridian a final time. Purchase it here. 

‘This would make a cool movie’ – P.S. I Love That Book

Thanks to Lithuanian book review site P.S. I Love That Book for the review of Alexandria Reborn!  Reviewer Martyna gave the book four hearts – their version of four stars – and wrote – as many of you have said of both books, “I actually think this would make a cool movie.” One issue raised by Martyna was wanting more detail on characters, especially: “I liked Winston, but I wanted to know more about him.”  Well, fear not, good readers, I began a short fiction piece on Winston a few months ago. I will not get into the details of it, but will tell you it takes place in the early 1980s and features a few of the other characters as younger versions of themselves. It is slated for release late this year or early 2019, but, first we’ve got Alexandria Redeemed up coming later this winter.

blogbanner2

 

Interview in Blue Mountain Review

Big ups and a major thanks to The Blue Mountain Review for interviewing me in the latest issue of that gorgeous magazine. You can check out the entire issue here which is chock full of prime prose, poetry, interviews and art.

As a former journalist, I must say it was different, yet pleasant, being on the other side of the table. I’ve been interviewed prior on subjects ranging from “The Screwtape Letters” to advocacy for the disabled, but never been asked so many in-depth questions about my own writing, inspirations and my life the way Brooks pitched them. It was fun, though sometimes in my own head, I saw myself as Jimmy Rabbitte from the movie and book, ‘The Commitments’ as he interviews himself throughout that great Roddy Doyle creation.

committ

By no means, take any disrespect from old Jimmy in the bathtub, but humor and self-depreciation have always been my go-to defense mechanisms.

All that said, it was dad gum fun. The interview was part of the magazine’s member spotlight series where they profile new members of The Southern Collective Experience of which the magazine is affiliated with. I was recently accepted into the collective and am honored by be a part of a group of fine individuals.

I encourage you to read not only the interview, but the entire magazine. Brooks, who operates the magazine as part of collective, is a luminary for Southern culture and makes a point to provide art that is not only good, but also accessible.

Thanks to all for being part of the journey.

Farewell J.P. Donleavy: God have mercy on the wild Ginger Man

The great J.P. Donleavy has died at the ripe old age of 91. I’ve been a Donleavy fan since my senior year in college when I discovered his work while studying in Ireland. Donleavy is the King of The Tragicomedy. “The Ginger Man,” in particular, his first novel exemplifies that concept and the main character, Sebastian Dangerfield, weaves his way through life in a forays of mischief, alcohol, mastery of a silver tongue and general shenanigans. Though Dangerfield is not a gent to be sure – an understatement many would say –  his wit and charm win over the reader.

Dangerfield defines many of Donleavy’s characters who are far from moral heroes, but likeable and enjoyable to read because of Donleavy’s grand writing style.

In, “The Ginger Man,” Donleavy weaves together a stream-of-conciousness narrative that alternates between first and third person – somewhat Joycean –  but with stronger word choice. He also ends every chapter with a poem, generally three of four lines and rarely rhyming, but a gorgeous literary device that works to sum up the state of mind in the character’s life quite well at the point. Here is an example:

All I want
Is one break
Which is not
My neck.

God knows, I’ve uttered that phrase many times on this orb.

9780140027051-uk

To say I’ve been influenced by Donleavy would be an understatement. I haven’t totally immersed myself in his writing style, but do use his techniques of shifting between third and first person, though on a much smaller and tamed basis. I also find his use of humor and wit unrivalled in many aspects.

While I find certain parts of “The Ginger Man” a bit uncomfortable reading it many years after I first read it, I still do praise Donleavy’s style of writing. Perhaps, most of all,  I believe that perhaps alongside Pat Conroy, he is the greatest describer of nature I have read, particularly in “The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman.” And I believe that gift of his is greatly overlooked. For example, take this passage from one of his books.

“The sun of Sunday morning up out of the sleepless sea from black Liverpool. Sitting on the rocks over the water with a jug of coffee. Down there along the harbor pier, trippers in bright colors. Sails moving out to sea. Young couples climbing the Balscaddoon Road to the top of Kilrock to search out grass and lie between the furze. A cold green sea breaking whitely along the granite coast. A day on which all things are born, like uncovered stars.”

And this:

“Come here till I tell you. Where is the sea high and the winds soft and moist and warm, sometimes stained with sun, with peace so wild for wishing where all is told and telling.”

Simply gorgeous.

Godspeed to Donleavy. I end this with the great last line from ‘The Ginger Man” which serves as a fitting eulogy.

“On a winter night I heard horses on a country road, beating sparks out of the stones. I knew they were running away and would be crossing the fields where the pounding would come up into my ears. And I said they are running out to death which is with some soul and their eyes are mad and teeth out.

God’s mercy
On the wild
Ginger Man.”

%d bloggers like this: