Saturday, October 27, 2018

CRC Blog Scripted Interview With Crime Writer C. S. DeWildt on "SUBURBAN DICK"

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CRC Scripted Interview with C.S. DeWildt On His Crime Fiction Novella SUBURBAN DICK
      Shotgun Honey (https://www.shotgun published CS DeWildt’s crime fiction novella SUBURBAN DICK on May 1, 2018, with cover design by Bad Fido.
       DeWildt has published four other fiction novels:  Love You to A Pulp by All Due Respect; Kill Em With Kindness, All Due Respect; Dead Animals, All Martian Lit; and Candy and Cigarettes, Vagabondage Press.

SYNOPSIS of SUBURBAN DICK:  Private Detective Gus Harris isn’t paid to be nice. Problem is he isn’t paid for much of anything these days. Recently divorced, all Gus wants is a little business to keep his one-man operation afloat and a chance to be a part of his kids’ lives. So when a pair of distraught parents come calling for help locating their missing son, it appears Gus’s luck may be changing. As Gus investigates the boy’s disappearance, he discovers something rotten with the Horton High school wrestling team. Gus soon realizes the missing boy may not be missing at all, but rather part of an elaborate embezzlement scheme that serves to keep the team at peak performance and the college scholarships rolling in. Gus is certain that popular high school wrestling coach Geoff Hanson knows more than he’s willing to admit, but has no idea just how far the man is willing to go to keep his secrets from coming to light. Soon, the lines between Gus’s work and home life are blurred as he finds himself not only trying to crack the case, but also protecting the people most dear to him from Hanson’s vengeful wrath. 
Below is a scripted interview conducted between the CRC Blog and C.S. DeWildt from August 21, 2018 to September 6, 2018.

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing SUBURBAN DICK from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final book form?  Sure! First, thanks for having me by, again. I had the initial idea in 2014 (Left:  Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only) I believe, just a story about a guy trying to solve a case while doing the whole “divorced dad” thing. I love PI stories but I wanted to try something that would make mine a little different which is why I chose the suburbs and a more family oriented B story. I guess I wanted to subvert the genre by being a little less subversive. Does that even make sense?

       “Hey,” Gus said.  The kid turned.  “Tell your mom I’ll be by around six.  And do the dishes for her.  You owe me.”  The kid nodded, gave Gus that snaggle-toothed smile that was surely going to call for braces.  Jesus Christ, how much was that going to set him back?
       “See you later, Dad,” the kid said as he ran to the door.
       Gus watched his boy go and glanced at the photos on the visor again.  He hated the fact that he saw the photos of his kids more often than the kid themselves.  But more than that, he hated himself.   

SD is a pretty straight forward story, took me a year to get it in good enough shape to submit it anywhere. It was rejected by agents and publishers alike for about another two years. Eventually I followed up with Down and Out Books who didn’t accept it outright but passed it on to one of their new imprints, Shotgun Honey Books. Ron (Left)(http://www.ronearl over there liked it and we made the plan to put it out in 2018, which is exactly what happened.

What environment (s) did you write SUBURBAN DICK and can you describe in great detail?  It’s not that exciting but I’ll try. The bulk of it was written in my office, which is just a den that the entire family shares, so it’s loaded up with toys and school junk, books, art supplies, workout gear and of course our dog. It does have a great window for letting in a little natural light though.

Did you have a writing routine hours in which you would write SUBURBAN DICK?  Mornings are always best for me. I have young kids, who were even younger when I was writing the book, so I tried to get up early while everyone else was still asleep. It’s always been my routine because I’m an early riser, but this was the first book where I felt it was NECESSARY to take advantage of that time. By six a.m. I had kids climbing all over me asking for some breakfast. (Left:  DeWildt and his two boys.  Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

How long did it take to completely write SUBURBAN DICK? 
A year to write and two more to find a publisher.

What made you give that title?  The book was originally called “Chicken Wing” (a reference a motif throughout) but the publisher thought it was a little too vague and suggested “Suburban Detective.” I shot back with Suburban Dick, which worked since not only is dick short for detective, but Gus Harris enjoys needling people, he’s a bit of a dick himself.

Gus sat behind his desk, and Mrs. Hughes began to cry again.  The man stroked her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her to calm her.  He tried to pull her to him but she resisted.
       “Stop it Gene!” she said to her husband.  The man’s hand jerked away from his wife.
       “Grace, please,” he said.
       “Don’t!” she said.  “Our son is missing!”  She broke down again hard, as if saying the words made it real all over.  Gus slid a box of tissue toward her and looked to Gene for the rest of the pitch.
       “You probably heard about it.  The wrestler from Horton High that died a few months back?  He and Albie, our boy, were friends.”
       Of course Gus had heard.  It had been all over the news, Drew David, high school wrestler jumped off a footbridge seventy feet above the rocky creek bed that ran through Horton Nature Preserve.  The story had made the national cycle for a couple weeks, leading to a series of “special investigations” on teenage suicide across the web.  The event also stood out because Gus’s home, or the home that now housed his wife Lucy and their kids, was in Horton.  His daughter was a senior at Horton high this year and he and his wife, ex-wife, were alums of the small-town school themselves.   Given all of that, it was a story that was hard to miss.  The lesser-reported part of the story was that another wrestler, all-state champion Albert “Albie” Hughes couldn’t be found and was wanted for questioning.

Can you explain the chicken on the cover?  Again, the image goes back to the  original title and the “chicken wing” motif that runs through the piece.  And they’re delicious.

Which excerpt was the most compelling for you to write? Why? And may I include it in this piece?  I really loved the scenes where Gus talks/fights with his family. Solving the case was fun, but I really liked writing the family stuff, particularly the Gus and Jessie scenes. On one hand she’s your typical surly teen, but she also has a reason to be. Gus needed her forgiveness, but it wasn’t going to come easy.    All of the family scenes were a lot of fun to write. Include anything you want! (Right:  C.S. DeWildt.  Copyright permission granted by C.S. DeWildt for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Gus took a long swallow from the bottle and looked around the bright, empty kitchen.  The sink was empty of dishes.  Ernie was a good kid.  The boy’s “A” graded school assignments hung on the refrigerator.  Jessie was represented too, with a discipline slip to be signed next to a playbill for the Horton High School play, her name under the title, “Frankenstein goes to Hollywood,” a modern, musical retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Jessie’s first starring role after a year in the chorus and two more as an understudy.  She’d been thrilled when she got the role in time to include the information on her college applications.  Gus made a mental note, the performance a little over a week away.  He turned his attention to the discipline slip.  He read from the stock form and found, among the many listed potential crimes that weren’t checked off, Jessie was found guilty of “insubordination” with the swipe of a red pen.  She was also cited for “inappropriate language”.

       Gus took another swig of beer and caught Jessie out of the corner of his eye.  She was standing in the doorway looking at him, mouth set into the scowl he’d known since she turned thirteen.
       “What?” she said, annoyed. 

I felt the book was realistic crime fiction but the very ending seemed like horror – fantasy horror. Do you agree?  Absolutely! Another motif that developed in the process of writing this book was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I like an ending that surprises people and yes, this one kind of switches genres at the end. I wouldn’t say fantasy exactly; I tried to present a realistic, albeit worst case scenario regarding “the creature.”

  Behind the girl a person, no, a thing, dropped form the Dr. Frankenstein’s castle set-piece, knocking it to the stage with a hard crash.  The cast turned.  Some of the audience gasped when they saw it, others screamed. . . .

. . . Gus hoped on the stage as the thing snatched Jessie. 

Were there any portions that were deleted out of the final version and can you share them with us?  I wish I could say yes to make this answer more interesting, but no. Everything made the final cut for the most part. It’s a pretty lean book.

If this were a movie which actors and actresses would play the characters?
Gus – McCauly Culkin
Lucy – Charlize Theron
Jessie – Sophia Hublitz from Ozark
Ernie – My eldest child
Henson – Danny Bonaduce

Anything you would like to add?
Not really. Just thank you again for having me! And anyone reading, please check out Suburban Dick and my new blog site

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#35 Backstory of the Poem "Sobriety" by Timothy Gager . . .

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***This is the thirty-fifth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#35 Backstory of the Poem
by Timothy Gager

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  This is a short poem, and like most of what I write, was formed from a visual element from a place I was at. It was conceived while sitting, waiting for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous to begin, a fellowship I don’t hide the fact that I belong to. This particular meeting was at a location which had comfortable sofas, and art on the wall. There was a newcomer sitting there, just starting at this Piccaso reprint, and also, the other art---so,  I wanted to tell this person that sobriety can exist, be comfortable, take it in small steps, one day, one hour at a time, just like that painting you were staring at, was made—one brush stroke at a time, and it took a lot of brush strokes. (Title Photo-Timothy Gager on 10-14-2018 and Above Right Timothy Gager on January 3, 2014.  Copyright permission for both photos granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

I also wanted to say that to her that coffee is a mainstay at meetings, so drink it, and not anything else. (Left:  Timothy Gager drinking a cup of coffee in July of 2015.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

I don’t know if I had a specific process with this particular poem. It probably began with the first two lines, followed by free writing. Then, I balanced the lines, the stanzas, tossed out what didn’t work---made sure the beginning and ending of the poem worked to my liking. 
When I fine tune I like double meanings, for example “Sit on the sofa, legs curled under…” as one line it’s the person’s legs, but if you take it a line at a time, it’s the sofa…not making the person comfortable, the physical wooden legs curling under, or “view the oil paintings, hung boats and fields” The paintings are hung, the boats are hung, the fields are hung. It’s general, and it’s specific to the art. (Image I Told Him:  A Complete Portrait of Picassa, 1932.  Gertrude Stein sitting on a sofa in front of a painting of herself by Picassa at her residence at 27 Rue de Fleurus.)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail?  I went home and started the poem. My work space is a desk with a laptop on it, in the corner of my living room, faced away from the television. The desk area is full of papers, and they surround the laptop on three of the four sides
What month and year did you start writing this poem?   I have absolutely no idea. Anywhere after 2014 and before 2017 (Timothy in July of 2014. Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)  This poem took 8-10 drafts. I edit on the computer so there are no pen marked papers.  I work with a lot of musicality and after some time I fairly aware of my poetic voice. I’m fond of the delete button for the final draft if things don’t work out. (Left:  Timothy Gager in March of 2015.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us?   Heck, I’m getting old. I have no idea what was edited out.  (Right:  Timothy Gager in December of 2016.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?  That there is hope after surrendering.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?  The ending. It’s the awe of a journey’s beginning and a journey, in general.  I’ve very grateful from where I’ve come from, and I can get emotional about it (Left:  Timothy Gager in March of 2017.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

Has this poem been published before? And if so where?  published in the book, Chief Jay Strongbow is Real, 2017, Big Table Publishing

Anything you would like to add?  Keep writing people. There’s a lot of very important things going on.


It can exist
drink coffee

milk, three sugars,
stirred with a straw.

Sit on the sofa,
legs curled under

view the oil paintings
hung boats and fields

thousands of brush strokes

HEAR IT on Doug Holder's podcast at 25.25

Timothy Gager is the author of fourteen books of short fiction and poetry. Every Day There Is Something About Elephants, a book of 108 flash fictions, selected by over fifty-five editors, was released by Big Table Publishing in 2018. 

He's hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2001 and was the co-founder of The Somerville News Writers Festival. He has had over 500 works of fiction and poetry published and of which thirteen have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”