Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CS DeWildt's LOVE YOU TO A PULP's Three Elements: The Literary, The Crime Noir, and The Love Story

Christal Cooper

The Severed Ear In The Lawn

Love You to a Pulp by CS DeWildt is one strange trip through the Kentucky countryside with a glue-sniffing, skull-cracking, squirrel-hunting private detective by the name of Neil Chambers. When Chambers is approached by a father (Mr. Jenkins the pharmacist) who wants his grown daughter (Helen Jenkins) away from the lowlife (Hoon) she's shacking up with, he takes the skeptic's view of the case. But he has no idea the chaotic fever dream that he's about to stumble into. Vicious rednecks, more vicious rich people, crooked sheriffs-Neil will fight them all. This isn't a case. It's survival.

       On February 15, 2015 All Due Respect Books published Love You To A Pulp, the fourth book by CS DeWildt:

       CS DeWIldt’s other books include:  Candy And Cigarettes by Vagabondage Press.

Dead Animals by Martian Lit

The Louisville Problem by Bartleby Snopes Press

       CS DeWildt, 37, described his childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan similar to Love You To A Pulp’s Neil Chambers in Brownsville, Kentucky in one way:  both were shy boys living in a sitcom.
       “I was a nervous, shy kid, with a gift for cracking jokes and faking confidence.  It (my childhood) was sometimes like growing up in a sitcom David Lynch would produce for Nickelodeon:  seemingly innocuous, safe, but if you looked closely, you might just find a severed ear on the lawn.”

       DeWildt’s severed ear in his lawn was his imagination – which eventually created the crime noir novel Love You To A Pulp, where protagonist Neil Chambers is a lonely man who suffers from a broken heart over his first love Rinthy, and is on the most dangerous assignment he’s ever encountered as a private investigator.

       DeWildt always had a creative, powerful, and compelling imagination and knew he wanted to be a writer by age six.
       “I was in first grade when I wrote and illustrated my first title, “The Cat Who Loved to Play”—edgy, I know.
 In second grade I wrote “The Traveling Seed” and managed to win the class Young Authors competition, which included a trip to a regional conference. It was an early highlight in my academic career for sure. That was when the bug really bit.

I would write every chance I got, preferring writing assignments in school when given the choice.  It never felt like work, and it was always fun for me.” 
DeWildt had hopes of becoming a screenwriter and studied film production at Grand Valley State University.  During this time he wrote two novels, which he described as “garbage” only to become frustrated when he couldn’t get them published.

  He then married in July 2003 and he and Sarah moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2003 where he earned a graduate degree in biology in 2007 from Western Kentucky University. 
“I was trying to expand my horizons a bit, not knowing that I was really preparing myself for my future as an author. Writing my cave beetle thesis was a tremendous grammar and style boot camp. Additionally, the time away from writing fiction, working outside myself, allowed me to develop my skills as an observer, which is the first thing a writer needs to be in my opinion.”

Love You To A Pulp’s atmosphere is based on fact: the descriptions are from the Mammoth Cave National Park, and its surrounding woods and caves that DeWildt explored extensively and collected ecological data from as an intern for the Park Service.
“The town of Brownsville is a real place too, although my version is completely fictional with the exception of the Porky Pig Diner, a few landmarks, and the scene in which my protagonist pulls a swollen tick from his scrotum, an equally disconcerting version of that happened to me, just another hazard of spending all hours in the woods.”
DeWildt did not begin writing Love You To A Pulp until 2011, after he and his wife moved to Tucson, Arizona and had their first two children.

“I began writing about the father-son experience, and these stories were set in rural Kentucky. The parent-child theme of Love You to a Pulp was born from those stories. As I wrote the main narrative, I decided I also wanted to explore my protagonist’s past. Initially it was just to create some sympathy for a character that was fun to write, but not particularly likeable. As I continued exploring, I stumbled on the parallel narrative that eventually tied into the main plot, which occurs twenty years later.  I didn’t intend initially anyway for the two narratives to merge the way they did, I thought I was connecting them in theme only, and their purpose beyond that was to create sympathy for my pretty unsympathetic protagonist. But then suddenly, it just clicked for me how these past events were truly connected and the story took on a new dimension.”

       He finally found a publisher and the final edits for Love You To A Pulp were completed toward the end of 2014.
       “I had two different publication deals fall apart before finally connecting with the guys at All Due Respect Books. They’re wonderful and I highly recommend crime/noir writers submit their manuscript to them.” 
       The books that influenced DeWildt the most in writing Love You To A Pulp are the crime fiction novels by Jim Thompson and Cormac McCarthy.

       “Rinthy is a name I lifted from Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark.  Both Thompson and McCarthy have this amazing ability to present the darkest events and themes with beautiful prose.  I wanted to combine the storytelling of Thompson with my attempt at language in the vein of McCarthy, that was the plan anyway.

       I’m also influenced by the cinema. Chinatown was a huge influence on the story I wanted to tell. 

And the initial inspiration for Neil was the Bud White character from the film adaptation of James Ellroy’s, L.A. Confidential.”

       The end result is a realistic novel with three elements  - that of the literary, the crime noir, and a love story – that is superbly written and requires more than one reading to fully understand the novel’s full meaning.
       The novel alternates between chapters focused on present life of Neil Chambers and his life as a young teenager.

       Work was all that kept him going, but the work had dried up. That was a symptom of being a snoop in a small town like Brownsville:  alienation, enemies.  Neil figured he made two enemies for every client he served.  People don’t appreciate being checked on.  They don’t forget.

Excerpt, Page 7

       Neil is a 13 year old who lives with an alcoholic suicidal father and a mother who is a whore.  Neil is also a punching bag for his father – he participates in cockfights, in which Neil normally wins, bringing home up to $3,000 per fight.

       The thing Neil remembered most about his mama was the coming and going of men.  Daddy would sit perched in the arm chair in front of the TV with his beer and shotgun, playing sentry while the men pulled up to the house, one after another in turn.  It was Neil’s job to see the door, let the men in and point them to the back room

Excerpt, Page 13

       When money got tight, which was often, Neil’s daddy fought him like a man fights his dog or game cock.  Full of Maker’s Mark he’d grab Neil by the scruff and throw him into the Cutlass.
       “Ye gonna win, Neily?” his daddy would say.  Neil would nod, thinking about the bleeding and the swelling and the recovery.  If they’d manage to scrape any change together, they’d hit the drive through for a breakfast sandwich or a hamburger.  When they pulled into the restaurant, Neil would think about jumping out of the car in protest, running, or at least refusing to eat the food.  But the smell of the meal would make his mouth water and he couldn’t stop himself ripping away the wrapping and eating the food in a few chocking bites, then with his belly full, it was hard to deny his daddy anything.  Neil’s daddy would watch him out the corner of his eye, bottle to lips, smiling, drops of brown whisky running down his chin.
       “If ye win, we’ll be back on track and we won’t have to do this no more.”
       Neil had lived that sentiment many times, through the wins and losses they always ended up at the same place eventually, his daddy broke financially, and Neil just broke.  It was a cycle as regular as the Kentucky seasons.

Excerpt, pages 18-19    
       Love You To A Pulp is also a psycho analysis of Neil – a heartbroken revengeful youth still in love with his first love Rinthy trapped in the middle aged man’s body – a body that is addicted to porn, violence, and glue inhalation.
       “Rinthy is literally the only positive thing in young Neil’s life. We see her through Neil’s eyes and the fact that he has nothing else, combined with the fact that young love and lust can be blindingly intense, we don’t pick up on Rinthy’s flaws. There is one line of dialogue that exposes a darker side to her, but it’s subtle and only becomes clear later in the book when we learn about Rinthy’s home life.”

       he had to look and there she was,  ghost white Rinthy coming up on him stone gray eyes and snaggletooth smile.  Neil saw that and he passed out cold with fear.
       “Hey, hey,” Rinthy said, shaking Neil.  “You alright?  You need me to fetch somebody?”  Neil opened his eyes and let the pieces fall together and he sat up and scrambled to his feet, looking down at the girl as she continued to kneel in her cotton dress and dirty feet.  He felt the fool again.
       “I’m fine.  What are you doing here?  This is my place.”
       She looked hurt, her kindness thrown down and stomped  “Ain’t just your place.  I come here too and I know for fact it ain’t your land.”
       “How do you know it ain’t?”
       “You got a deed?”
       “Yea, it’s at my house.”
       “Liar.  You can’t own it.  You ain’t but a squirt.”
       “Look who’s talking you runt.  And it is at my house.  It’s my daddy’s.  And he’s dead so that makes it mine.”
       “Well, if that’s the truth I’m sorry for your daddy being dead, but I ain’t moving out of here until you come on back with that deed and show me, or the law and run me off for trespassing.”
       “I could shoot you for trespassing right now and I’d be in my rights.”
       “You don’t even have a gun.  I’d bet all the money in the bank you don’t.”
       “Then you’d lose it.”
       “So show me.”

Excerpt, pages 73-74
       His worlds of past and present began to converge by page 8 when drug store owner and supposedly pillar of the community Jenkins hires Neil to break up his daughter Helen’s relationship with her lover Hoon and bring her back home to him.   Neal takes on the job only to find Hoon’s dead body, which the coroner insists is a suicide, but Chambers believes otherwise.

       Neil’s eyes adjusted and he neatly missed the feet just off to the side of him.  Hoon was hanging by his neck from the rafter.  His face and neck were purple above the noose.  Neil looked closer and saw the scratches above and below the rope.  Hoon had tried to claw himself free.  On the floor, below the dead man’s feet was the bottle of pills, surely a small portion of Jenkins’ missing narcotics.  Though swelled with death, the boy looked as if he’d taken a recent beating in addition to the one Neil gave him.  That and the scratches pretty clearly mapped out the dance steps that led to Hoon there on the floor.  Whoever wanted to make it look like a suicide didn’t care too much for the details.  Neil took a final look at Hoon’s purple face before he slipped back out the window.

Except, pages 32-33   

       Who is the murderer?  Is it Helen Jenkins, Hoon’s lover; Heidi Skaggs, Hoon’s ex-wife, now a socialite married to the richest man in town; the mysterious Skaggs’s employee and part-time stripper Lotta; Mr. Paul Skaggs himself; or the mysterious Sheriff who keeps on following Neil’s every move?
       Regardless of who the culprit is – the reader cheers for Neil Chambers – a very much tormented and violent man that has been on a quest since he was just a boy.

       Neil pulled off his t-shirt, he was scarred up and down the torso, memories of road rash and knife fights.  Over his heart was his own heart tattoo, not a valentine but a four-chambered, fist sized, human heart, drawn out of an anatomy textbook.  Inside was written, ‘Rinthy’.
       “What’s a Rinthy?” Helen asked.
       “She’s a person.”

Excerpt, page 125  

“The climax was the most compelling to write.  The reveal of hidden motives, the violent confrontation, I vividly remember writing it and it poured out of me in a kind of frenzy. It was a key scene in the arc of my character, an opportunity for him to take a moral stand and crack some deserving skulls.”

“There,” Lotta said, giving Neil the lead.  He took it and his hand went to the butt of his piece, ready to draw, hoping that behind the door was something other than another question or blow to the head.  His hand rested on the faux crystal knob.  The hot sweat and musk of sex hung in the air.  The sound of passions.
“Who’s in there?”
“Go in and see for yourself.”
He did.  And He saw.

Excerpt, Pages 142-143

And finally at the end the quest comes to a screeching halt when Neil’s two lives converge in shades of red violence, heartbroken love, a grave of a young girl and her newborn baby, a shotgun waving in his hands, and a huge big question mark leaving the readers grasping for more.  

Neil dropped down into the mouth of the cave, maneuvering his dangling, dying limb at the shoulder, holding the rock and root with the other as he lowered himself, hanging in the blackness, stretching himself as low as he could before dropping to the cold rock floor below.

Excerpt, Pages 159-160

“The ending was intentionally ambiguous, not because I wanted it to be, but because I really didn’t know what Neil was going to do. I’ll tell you for sure that Davey did not make it out of the cave.”
Fortunately for the reader DeWildt is in the process of writing the sequel, which is scheduled for a 2017 release.
       “Neil’s story is still revealing itself to me as a mosaic. I’m working on a stand-alone sequel that again tells two different stories on two different timelines. The question of what happened to Neil on the banks of the Green River will be answered. I know now what happened, but I’m not quite ready to share.”

       Neil woke and lay listening to the Green River, trying to place the sound, knowing well he was in that secret moment just before reality fully disconnects from the dream world, something nagging at the back of his mind.  He saw Jessup tugging at his leg, way back before.   He felt the pull and then the pull became his name.  Rinthy was calling him.  He pulled himself to his feet, stumbling over his own weakness.
       “Rinthy!  Where are you?  Rinthy!”
       “Neil!”  she said.  The sound was so slight it was a whisper in his ear.

Excerpt, page 110

       DeWildt writes in the dining room that is used only as a makeshift office, which he described as a writer’s mess, littered with laptop, notes, books, his children’s toys with a locked window that gives him a view of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson.

       I’m always “writing”, but that doesn’t mean I’m always getting the words on the page.  My projects occupy my mind constantly, and I often come home with notes and dialogue on scraps of paper that I add to the pile until I’m ready to cobble something together.  When I’m ready to get words down I have always been much more productive in the morning.  I try to get up between 3 and 4 a.m. to write before I need to prepare for my day job as a language arts teacher. I love early mornings – the dark, the quiet, the peace – they’re lovely.”

Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
CS DeWildt
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 2
Severed ear on the lawn film clip from BLUE VELVET by David Lunch
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.

Photo 3
Jacket front cover Love You To A Pulp

Photo 4
Jacket back cover Love You To A Pulp

Photo 5
All Due Respect logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 6
CS. DeWildt
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 7
Vagabondage Press logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 8
Candy And Cigarettes front jacket cover

Photo 9
Candy And Cigarettes back jacket cover

Photo 10
Martial Lit web logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 11
Dead Animals jacket cover

Photo 12
Bartleby Snopes logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 13
The Louisville Problem jacket cover

Photo 14
David Lynch in France

Photo 15
Jacket poster describing Neil Chambers from Love You To A Pulp
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 16
CS DeWildt in the first grade
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 17
Grand Valley State University Web logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 18
Western Kentucky University Web Logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 19
CS DeWildt as an intern for the Park Service
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 20
Mammoth Cave National Park web logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 21
Porky Pig Diner Facebook logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 22
CS DeWildt, wife Sarah, with their first son
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 23
Man holding jacket cover of Love You To A Pulp
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 24
Box of copies of Love You To A Pulp
Copyright granted by CS DeWildt

Photo 25
All Due Respect logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 26
Jim Thompson’s publicity photo
Public Domain

Photo 27
Cormac McCarthy
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 28
Cormac McCarthy web site’s logo
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 29
Jacket cover of Outer Dark

Photo 30
Chinatown movie poster

Photo 31
Film clip from LA Confidential with Russell Crow as Bud White.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 32
James Ellroy

Photo 33
L.A. Confidential jacket cover
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 34
L.A. Confidential movie poster
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photos 35, 36, 38, 40, 41, and 42
Jacket covers of Love You To A Pulp

Photo 37
Attributed to Edvard Munch "The Separation"
Public Domain 
Photoshopped by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 43
View of the Rincon Mountains

Public Domain