Daily Archives: July 28, 2015

Interview With… Duncan Ralston

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Hi folks. Today I am joined by Duncan Ralston. Duncan was a guest a few days ago with the release of his ne book, Gristle & Bone.

Duncan, thanks for being here today. Tell us about you –
I’m 38. I grew up half in Toronto, and half in a small town. I currently live in Toronto with my girlfriend and our dog, where I’ve worked behind the scenes in television for the past ten years.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Gotta get working! Write, write, write. It doesn’t hurt that my dog is probably panting heavily to wake me up for his walk.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d love to pick Stephen King’s brain for a day. Could it be ‘80s King, though? Is time-travel an option?

What’s the story behind your latest book?
I wanted to write a collection of horror stories because I love writing characters. With short stories, I could write as many as were necessary and take them all to their breaking points. I suppose that makes me a bit of a sadist. I also wanted to give potential readers a good idea of my writing style, and with Gristle & Bone, I was able to write in multiple styles and voices within the same book. I’ve always felt the style should fit the story, and I hope Gristle & Bone reflects that.

Tell us your writing process.
I try to clear out the day’s business first. That includes: Facebooking, tweets, emails, etc. Then I’m free to lose myself in the writing for a bit. Usually I read over whatever I’ve worked on the previous day, then get right into it. I break here and there for snacks and messing around with the dog. I don’t worry about writing every day or word counts (they’re a distraction), but when I do sit down to write, I try to make a day of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers how they can get the word out about their book? 
I spend a fair amount of time promoting, sometimes too much. What I’ve noticed is that “Buy my book” tends to annoy people more than it sells books. Connect with people. Discuss shared interests. Avoid paying for Facebook Page “Like” ads, as the people who end up liking your page rarely if ever interact. They may mostly be bots.
Also, be courteous to bloggers/reviewers. Be respectful of their rules. Seriously. They may be your biggest allies in the industry.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since age 15 or so, but I didn’t think it might be a viable option until about 2010, when I won a pitch contest for a TV pilot I was working on, essentially a short story about the series. After that, I wrote a novel, some pilot and spec scripts, and then the stories collected in Gristle & Bone. People seemed to respond to them when I self-published it last year, so I started reaching out to reviewers and publishers. I was pretty ecstatic when Booktrope’s Forsaken horror imprint picked it up in the winter for republishing, and their input has been invaluable.

Tell us about your main character.
As there are many main characters in Gristle & Bone, I’ll stick with one: In “Viral,” Tara Maxwell is a music journalist who’d always wanted to be an investigative reporter. She’s tenacious, and has the chops for it, but for one reason or another she’s stuck in her current gig.
When she sees a viral video of a depressed teen girl who disappears on camera, it strikes a chord. She’s worried about disappearing into obscurity herself, metaphorically, of leaving nothing of her behind, so she decides to find out if it’s real or a very good hoax. If it is real, what happened to the girl? We discover she has very personal reasons for looking into the girl’s story the closer she gets to the truth.

What are you working on next?
My “first” novel, Salvage, is due out this fall. Here’s the official blurb:
When his sister drowns, Owen Saddler follows in her footsteps, determined to uncover the circumstances surrounding her death by diving into the murky waters of Chapel Lake.
30 years ago, the town of Peace Falls was flooded for a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below. The disappearance of the church’s Pastor and parishioners still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake, but does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts, or has he succumbed to the depths of madness?

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I can identify pretty much any song I’ve heard a couple of times within about two seconds.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Hike, travel, read, walk the dog, and when I get a chance, hang out with the family and friends.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Beyond Salvage, I’ve got several novels/novellas/short stories on the go, along with a screenplay or two. I’m very excited about the ideas I’ve got percolating. Unfortunately they’re top secret at the moment, but I’m itching to tell someone!

Where can people find you on the web?
You can find me at my website, The Fold (www.duncanralston.com).
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/duncanralstonfiction.
On Twitter @userbits.

Any final thoughts?
Thanks for having me. And Keep it Creepy!

EXCERPT

Excerpt of “Viral” from Gristle & Bone
“You are looking into the Walker disappearance, is that correct?” Constable Nadeau dropped into the chair behind her desk with a squeak. She spoke with a heavy Quebecois accent, the English slightly stilted; th becoming t or d, depending; lone hs dropped; emphases in all the wrong places.
“Yes, that’s right,” Tara said. “Do you mind if I record this?”
Nadeau waved the question away.
“How long has she been missing?”
“Two week,” Nadeau said. “The Bamber girl reported she had not seen her the afternoon Daria made her video.”
“Nor her parents.”
Nadeau wore mysterious smile as she shook her head. “Oh no. MacKenzie was supposed to meet Daria to work on a video project for school. I suspect it was this video you see on the internet, which she had uploaded later that day.”
“You think these kids worked on it together. That it’s just special effects.”
“Oh, I have no doubt, Ms. Maxwell.” She folded her hands over the desk, leaning forward on her elbows, reminding Tara of Hal Waterman. “And you? Surely you don’t think it’s real?”
“Of course not.” Her indignation seemed forced even to herself. “Why did you smile when I asked about her parents? Did they—?”
“Greta and Anson Walker are… unique.”
“Unique? How so?”
Nadeau raised her sharp eyebrows. “Let us just say, it’s no wonder to me why Daria Walker disappeared,” the detective said, then frowned a little at the unintentional implication, and corrected herself: “Went missing. The girl’s father didn’t even remember what she was wearing that day, not that it would have helped one way or the other.”
De udder was how it sounded in Nadeau’s accent, and Tara couldn’t help but grin. “Why not?”
“The thing is, Daria left a pile of clothes in front of the computer before she slipped out of her bedroom window. The hoodie, her jogging pant, a pair of socks and underwear. All the things she wore in the video. There was even an earring and a little beaded bracelet—”
Tara seized on it: “A friendship bracelet?” Left her clothes. Left her bracelet, and her jewelry… everything she couldn’t take with her to the Great Beyond.
“Maybe.” Nadeau shrugged. “She’d just left it there on the carpet beside her desk chair. Like she want us to believe she literally disappeared…”

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Book Tour – Lucien and I by Danny Wynn

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Book Genre: literary fiction
Publisher: Bright Lights Big City
Release Date: Late August 1994
Buy: Amazon

Book Description:

Be Careful What You Wish For…

What if you had the chance to relive your twenties the way you really wanted them to be?

Thirty-nine-year-old David is presented with that opportunity by Lucien, a charismatic young Englishman. Ranging from downtown Manhattan to Istanbul, Majorca, and the Hamptons, the two of them live a life of excess—drugs, beautiful women, and adventure—and forge a strange but great friendship.

But with every journey, there comes a price; and in every paradise there lurks a temptress. For David, will his quest for excitement lead him to betrayal and loss?

“Wynn immerses readers in psychologically rich studies of his characters and their quiet but fraught interactions. The prose is subtle but vivid, intellectually engaged but never arid, as the author provides readers with a flurry of glittering snapshots that gradually coalesce into a picture of tarnished longings. An engrossing and vibrant…meditation on friendship and the deep currents that run beneath its surface.”

—Kirkus Review


Author BioPicture

Danny Wynn is a full-time fiction writer, and before that, he was an executive in the record industry and part-time fiction writer. He has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and London, and now makes his home in the West Village with his wife and two children. His other favorite place in the world (after the West Village) is the island of Mallorca, Spain

He is currently finishing two novels.

Danny describes himself as a creature in search of exaltation. In addition to attending the original Woodstock Music Festival, some of the other great concerts he’s been to include: Roxy Music on the Avalon Tour at Radio City, Bon Iver at Town Hall and subsequently at Radio City, The National at BAM and later at The Beacon, and The Waterboys at the Hammersmith Palais, Bruce on his solo tour, U2 on Zooropa and later tours, Dylan on the right night, and Van on the right night.

Among his favorite movies are: Performance, Bad Timing, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Withnail and I. His favorite novels include: The New Confessions by William Boyd; A Flag For Sunrise and Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone; The Magus by John Fowles; Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison; andThe Comedians and The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

He derives enormous sustenance from his close friends.

Excerpt

Drop ’em, blossom. Show us yer growler.”

Mock Cockney accent, exaggerated deep voice, cartoon lasciviousness. Signature Lucien. Lines that caught his ear, phrases, often said apropos of nothing, no context. Sometimes staying with him for a few days, sometimes woven in and out of his conversation for years. Absorbed into his persona, like the flaws in fine linen, a natural quality of the fabric, as fashionistas are fond of saying. He always seemed half-aware that his persona was on display, but was relaxed and natural at the same time. He was a performer. Mephisto. Gollum.

That particular line—“Drop ’em, blossom…”—Lucien picked up from a scoundrel named Bobby Stevens toward the tail end of his days at public school. Bobby S was an older guy, mid-twenties, local, a bit dodgy. Sold hash and other drugs. His crude personality had a curious appeal, especially for the aristobrats at the school, always on the lookout for a bit of the debauch.

One night, Lucien and a couple of friends went out with Bobby S to the new nightclub in town. It had been promoted as having a spectacular state-of-the-art laser show. They stood around in the flashing darkness, drinking pints and gin and tonics. Before long, Bobby S pronounced in his coarse lowlife manner, which Lucien later came to mimic so well, “This is crap! I’ve seen better light shows in the cancer ward at the Children’s Hospital.”

Yeah, I know—vile and disgusting, not remotely funny to most people. But the over-the-top outrageous­ness made it humorous to the young lads. And even many years later, when Lucien related the incident to me and we were both supposedly mature adults, the same atrocious quality made us laugh. We cringed at how out of order it was, but all the same we laughed. That’s what we were like.


Author Interview

Danny, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you.….
I am at long last a real writer who writes good books, and I got there through a very large number of tiny incremental improvements. I am sometimes very unhappy, but I do my very best to enjoy life. I love my wife and kids and friends.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?  
First, my wife and kids. And second, to write novels that speak to people so they are touched and moved.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why? 
Bob Dylan because he is the greatest musical and lyrical artist of all time. Or Bill Murray because I think his company would among the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
It is the story of a strange but great friendship between a very charismatic young man and a middle-aged man trying to re-live his young adulthood, and it takes place predominantly in the nightlife of Istanbul and downtown Manhattan, all of which is captured with great realism that the reader can see, hear and experience for himself or herself. The story is truly shown, not told.

Tell us your writing process. 
I try to have a complete story before I start, especially an effective ending. Then I figure out how to show the story rather than tell it. Then I build it in layers via numerous drafts in which I gradually find ways to make my writing as alive and precise as possible, and add telling details and characteristics that add to the realism and the interestingness of the work.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 7 or 8.

Tell us about your main character:   
My main character in “Lucien And I” is the first person narrator, David Burden, and he feels that he was born at 29 years old, and is on a quest for excitement and capture the young adulthood he didn’t have. He is not a good person, but he is an extremely honest narrator. And in the course of his quest, he does an enormously bad thing and deeply regrets it.

What are you working on next? 
A highly compelling, page-turning thinking man’s adventure story that takes place in the Greek islands, and has three uniquely interesting well-drawn characters. It is going to be by far the best novel I’ve ever written. It is very exciting to write. I feel like I have electricity in my veins.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
No, but I write very well.

Who are your favorite authors?  
Graham Greene, Robert Stone, William Boyd, John Fowles, Jim Harrison, Somerset Maugham, Pete Dexter and Paul Theroux.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Read, listen to live and recorded music, travel, and spend time with the people I’m close to, sometimes combined with a fine meal.

 

Any final thoughts? 
The subject of all my novels is ultimately the human condition. If that subject interests anybody reading this, they should read my novels.

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