Today’s author discusses Lon Chaney, Jr., Animal from The Muppets (a personal fav), Keith Moon, and how he’s unsure if he scarred his daughter for life more by letting her watch an alien abduction movie or sending her to school with a new haircut by a untrained stylist (himself). Welcome Chris Bauer!
Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?
Always liked Lon Chaney Jr., the first film werewolf I can remember (The Wolf Man, then he reprised this role in two succeeding movies). He, and werewolves in general, suit me more because they are chaos personified, and I find them more sympathetic as characters. I suppose I’ve missed the boat about liking vampires, probably because there’s more romance and sexual tension with them that uses up story space that IMO could be better utilized with raw animal power, and their mayhem is more controlled than a werewolf’s. I suppose I prefer brute force to finesse in my writing as well as my reading. Think of Animal, Jim Henson’s wild Muppet rock drummer: absolute chaos, barely controlled. When my bad guy and gal antiheroes go bad (Randall Burton of BINGE KILLER; Larinda “Church Hammer” Jordan of JANE’S BABY, others) I want them to go berserk, and they do. I’ll throw in another drummer reference: the (very) late rocker Keith Moon of The Who, dead at 32 in 1978. He would have made a great werewolf based on his drumming style—a whirlwind of mayhem—and could well have been Jim Henson’s model for Animal. Just listen to Moon’s performance on “My Generation,” a 60s hit with an incredibly bombastic drum solo as a climax for the song. He was the personification of the raw animal energy that oozed from his arms, hands, and fingertips, shredding his drums just like a werewolf shredding a victim in the forest. (I dunno where this drummer shit came from either, but that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)
Would you rather be abducted by aliens or a serial killer?
Serial Killer. Those aliens and their prober thingees scare me more than serial killers. Assuming I would get the choice of what kind of serial killer, as in someone who is not into torture, a serial killer will simply kill you and move on to his/her next victim. The act of killing, it seems to me, is what drives them, not torture, in real life and in my fiction, with them wanting to see the life drain from their victims before their very eyes. But aliens… let me tell you a true story about aliens (yeah, I know that sounds kind of off). Fire in the Sky, a 1993 movie about the “true” 1975 alien abduction of Travis Walton, an Arizona logger, was a movie I really wanted to see. PG13 rating. I made the mistake of letting my daughter, age 11, watch the at-home movie rental with me. There’s a (spoiler alert) very intense alien probing scenes at the end. Cringe-worthy, don’t-stick-that-thing-in-there kind of stuff. When she asked me if this had really happened, I went with the answer “Well, I don’t know, the person who was abducted thought it happened to him…” Wrong answer, oh misguided father. TO THIS DAY she says seeing that movie scarred her. Such a parenting fail. Another fail: Cutting my 3-year-old daughter’s hair with a pair of craft scissors just before taking her to nursery school. That, too, was a sad, sad day…
Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?
Loved Ghostbusters, but I’m not-not afraid of no ghosts, and I do so want to know “what’s out there” even at the risk of getting probed, so the X-Files team is a better choice. I mean, c’mon, people, in all those billion-trillion-gazillion years of time before us, in all those solar systems, to think that nothing biological ever lived, like, anywhere, at any time during that time, do you think that’s reasonable? That’s not working for me. Let’s go find ’em and let’s probe ’em, ’cause they been doing the same to us for eons and eons, or so said Travis Walton, right? Frankly, the single most devastating, and liberating, news story of all time would be the discovery of life, past or present, on another planet. It would obsolete so much of the ongoing discourse about country, culture, crime, religion, politics, military, etc., that make our headlines daily. Besides, I think naming a character “Fox” was a bold statement when you created that team, you hear me, producer Chris Carter?
“Fox.” I might try to get that scarred-for-life daughter of mine to name our newest grandchild after him, due date October 31.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Complementing the four published novels and a fifth due for publication 2020, I have two completed novels that are unpublished. One is the first novel I wrote, with no training wheels, no short stories under my belt, no experience, all guts, no skills, and ultimately no sale. THE RABBIT, STILLED will probably never see the light of day because it needs a massive rewrite. It’s a contemporary novel dealing with the home and work family dynamics of a hostile corporate takeover, and the potential of a coast-to-coast relocation. I have trouble fitting it into a genre; maybe contemporary suspense? The suspense comes from the questions will they or won’t they, and how do powerless employees manage to retain some control over their lives when they clearly have very little control over their shorter-term futures. Maybe one day I’ll take another look at it; it’s been twenty years since I competed it. The second is a horror novel titled HOP, SKIP, JUMP that I will shop again at some point. It’s a horrific yet touching, redemptive tale of reincarnation, channeling, and what might happen if a person returned to a place and time where she was needed the most. I love the novel because it was cathartic for me to write it, modeling one character after my wife, who never knew her mother because she died in an auto accident when my wife was an infant. It is a classic supernatural horror novel, but it did this body good to take these characters through this heartache while the horror unfolds.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
All of it is difficult. As a male author I need to pretend that I know how female characters, either as protagonists or acquaintances, think, act, love, hate, fight, emote, react, and even do basic things like eat, drink, and toilet. So how do I handle this? I use what I’ve learned from living with six females over the years (wife, two daughters, four female doggies), which means I’m pretty much only slightly less clueless than a guy who’s been single his whole life. So after I frequently embarrass myself on the page, I do have beta readers and peers tell me where I did hit the mark versus where I shit the bed. Trust me, I need to change the sheets a lot. As if that’s not enough punishment, to ratchet up the challenge I’m also transcending all barriers by trying to capture what it is like to be a transsexual character in the novel I will be looking to place next year. In AMERICA IS A GUN I have a prominent character who is female but identifies as male and starts the physical transition, which is interrupted when he’s convicted of multiple murders by a DA with political ambitions in a trumped-up case, which sends him to a women’s prison. After many years of incarceration that include large chunks of solitary confinement the guilty verdict is overturned, he’s freed, and he wants revenge against the people who put him there, so he goes about the business of acquiring guns toward that end. In this case it will be absolutely necessary for me to utilize sensitivity readers, considering I plan, and need, to show this character in a sympathetic yet compromised light, such that there won’t be any piling on against this already marginalized group of people.
What are you working on now?
Two WIP novels. HER TWELVE LETTER ALPHABET (a work in progress title, strong possibility it will change) is due for submission 2/1/20 to Severn River Publishing and will be published mid-to-late 2020. It’s the second Philo Trout thriller in my Blessid Trauma crime scene cleaners series following HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, released May 2019. The title refers to the twelve-letter native Hawai‘ian language alphabet, and it takes place, where else, on the Hawai‘ian Islands. Organ trafficking, bare knuckles boxing, crime scenes with gore: all will make it into the new novel similar to what was in the first in the series, plus visits to an island that is stuck in the nineteenth century, for better or worse, because of its private citizen ownership since 1864. Its present day setting is based on the real life Hawai‘ian island of Ni‘ihau, which, while not widely known, played a prominent and amazing yet infamous role in WWII.
The second WIP novel, AMERICA IS A GUN, another crime thriller, follows behind JANE’S BABY, my political crime thriller about a present day assault on the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, released June 2018, the audiobook released August 2019. My protagonists from JANE’S BABY are back to deal with the sensitive topic of gun control and gun rights organizations. I might need to go to an overseas publisher for this one, considering how sensitive this topic is in the US, but it’s a novel I really want to get out there. So far one Australian publisher with a US reach said they’d give it a read when it’s complete in late 2020, no guarantee of publication, of course. (I wish more US publishers would take more chances. Large pubbers or Indies, if you have an interest, let me know.) As you might know, Australia has a very robust gun control policy. Readers should know that the novel does have a bias, but it is not against gun ownership or the Second Amendment, it’s a push for more reasonable gun ownership laws, and my gun-owner protagonists have a unique way of addressing the issue.
Okay, that does it for me. Thanks, everybody. Enjoy your Halloween.
A female bounty hunter tracks a maniacal killer to a town in rural Pennsylvania.
A town with its own dark secret…
A NEO-NOIR THRILLER FILLED WITH CRIME, DRAMA, AND SPRINKLES OF DARK COMEDY. FOR FANS OF FARGO AND BREAKING BAD.
Counsel Fungo is a unique woman. An experienced bounty hunter, she’s very good at her job. You don’t have to ask. She’ll tell you. Officially, her two canine companions are her therapy dogs. Unofficially, she considers them to be her partners. Counsel has suffered intense loss and was once the victim of a horrible crime. But now these experiences drive her unquenchable thirst for justice. And she’ll do anything to stop criminals from preying on the vulnerable.
Randall Burton is a serial killer and a rapist. Diagnosed with a terminal disease, he has jumped bail and intends to go out in a blaze of glory. He heads to sleepy Rancor, Pennsylvania, named one of the “Safest Towns in America,” for one last, depraved, hurrah. A quiet town tucked away in the Poconos, its citizens are mostly widowers, bowlers, and bingo players. Mostly.
There’s a reason no one in Rancor has reported a major crime in the past 50 years. And neither Counsel nor the killer are quite ready for what this town has in store…
BINGE KILLER: https://tinyurl.com/BINGE-KILLER
HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, a Blessid Trauma Thriller: https://amzn.to/2IQ15JE
JANE’S BABY: http://amzn.to/2FUKT5j
SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD: https://tinyurl.com/SOTFOG
“The thing I write will be the thing I write.”
Chris is a brute force novelist (BINGE KILLER, HIDING AMONG THE DEAD, JANE’S BABY, SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD) who wouldn’t trade his northeast Philly upbringing of street sports played on blacktop and concrete, fistfights, brick and stone row houses, and twelve years of well-intentioned Catholic school discipline for a Philadelphia minute (think New York minute but more fickle and less forgiving). Chris has had some lengthy stops as an adult in Michigan and Connecticut, now lives in Doylestown, PA, and he thinks Pittsburgh is a great city even though some of his fictional characters do not. He still does most of his own stunts, and he once passed for Chip Douglas of My Three Sons TV fame on a Wildwood, NJ boardwalk. He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, and his work has been recognized by the National Writers Association, the Writers Room of Bucks County (PA), and the Maryland Writers Association. Oh, and he likes the pie more than the turkey.