Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview: Randy Attwood

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Randy Attwood. A good time was truly had by all and here’s how it went down.

from Goodreads
Hi there Randy! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Blog. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Randy Attwood?

I grew up on the grounds of a Kansas insane asylum where my father was a dentist. I attended the University of Kansas during the troubled 1960s getting a degree in art history. After stints writing and teaching in Italy and Japan I had a 16-year career in newspapers as reporter, editor and column writer winning major awards in all categories. I turned to health care public relations serving as director of University Relations at KU Medical Center. I finished my career as media relations officer of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Now retired, I am marketing the fiction I've written over all those years. And creating more.

I can see you’ve already had quite a career, but now that you’re retired, I’m sure the adventures will begin. Being an author is a lot more involved than most people realize.

So whacha got for me today?

image provided by author
Growing up on the grounds of a mental hospital and working in the cafeteria that fed its 1,500 patients meant I got to know a lot of crazy folks. "Write about what you know," goes the adage. "Crazy About You" is told in first person from the point of view of a high school student who will have a week that grows him up far faster than he could have every wanted. Crazy is a coming-of-age, murder mystery, thriller story. It's my most downloaded and purchased book with 17 five-star reviews. You can see them here.

Not too many people can write from firsthand experience in a mental hospital. Already your story sounds very intriguing.

So who’s starring in this 2 dimensional script read of “Crazy About You”?

Brad Adams is a high school junior. He's a folk singer and a dreamer. When his dad, the mental hospital's dentist, goes on a work trip, Brad has no idea that he will spend the week grappling with questions about sexuality, sanity and death. And some of the answers aren't pretty.

There was once a time when hearing of a teen grappling with questions of sexuality meant that someone was having their first crush. Teens are so mature these day and subjects that were once taboo are now being openly discussed in healthy ways. This definitely sounds like a tale that will appeal to a wide audience.

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

I write by the seat of my pants. A scene or situation or character comes to me and I start creating that scene and character and see what happens. I never know the ending of a story when I start it. I used to be upset when people would ask me how much of "Crazy About You" really happened. Then I realized that the writing created a reality for those readers. And that's what I'm trying to do with words: create a reality.

I try to write by the seat of my pants, but I think I need a better belt. It never goes well for me. I need to plan; however, I do appreciate the creativity of others who can simply write.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
S. Rufener,

Like my own writing, the taste in fiction is all over the map. Joseph Conrad was an early influencer. So was William Faulkner. Philip K Dick's science fiction grabbed me when I was in high school. I've read John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series several times. Ditto, Adam Hall’s, Quiller series. Erich Remarque did some many other wonderful things than "All Quite on the Western Front." Walker Percy, Evelyn Waugh, Robertson Davies and, of course, Elmore Leonard.

I think I’m detecting a theme here. Lots of crime fiction and thrillers here, but that’s great for influence and inspiration in your genres.

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Joseph Conrad. We seem to know so little of what he was like as a person.

Nice choice and for good reason.

Who is so you and why?

I seem to connect deeply with many of Eric Remarque's characters.

Fair enough. We can’t all always identify with just one person or character, but I can understand relating to many.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?

from Goodreads
Outside when the weather is nice. Right now I'm reading Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch, which I've had on my shelf for decades and just reading. It's brilliant.

I also enjoy reading outside though I hardly get to do it.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

The Black Stallion series. I liked the character and set up and looked forward to the next tale. I've only tried to do one series, the Phillip McGuire series and found out how difficult it is to achieve.

I tried to read this book as a child, but had no luck. I never seemed to warm to books about animals, mainly horses, but I don’t mind to watch the film versions. I’m sure it’s all psychological...

Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Sure, why not.

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
from Wikipedia 

Casablanca. Great story, great characters, great acting.

That’s a good classic movie that far too many from my generation haven’t seen. I fear the current generation never will.

What makes you geek out?

I love it when I discover a writer I haven't read and learn that I like him or her and then can read everything they have written in the order it was published.

I adore this response. I know that feeling of discovering a “new to me” author, but I never considered going back to read all their publications in the order they were released. Very cool!

So what’s testing your patience right now?

I haven't seen the new Star Trek effort and look forward to that. I'm a big Trekie. I started watching with other fans at the Student Union at the University of Kansas in the first year of the series. Never stopped. I have two books coming out this year, both part of a that Phillip McGuire series I mentioned that is about a burn-out foreign correspondent who returns to KU to own and run a bar. Adventures come his way. The first, "Tortured Truths" was by Curiosity Quills on Oct 25. The second, "Heart Chants," came out December 20. The second one features a half-Navajo, half-white character who thinks he is a witch. It contains, I believe, the best retelling of the incredible Navajo creation story that exists in a work of fiction.

It’s always exciting playing catchup with your pop-culture drug of choice. I’m excited about a new series coming out called Gotham. My dad’s a big Trekie, so I’m always hearing about it from him. Also, kudos on all your releases and your continued creativity. I look forward to hearing about all your success.  

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

Can't stand heavy metal. Love lyrical songs, such as "Suzanne" (<= listen and watch) by Leonard Cohen.

This is such a passionate question with no right or wrong answers, but I love that people who do listen to music have their likes and dislikes. It makes us all unique.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

Living in Italy. Learning Italian changed my life and made me appreciate how little I knew of the world. I was so fortunate later to also live in Japan for 18 months and meet more wonderful people.

Being able to experience a new place and have it become a part of you is always memorable, and Italy sounds like a good place to bond with.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

I love being retired and being able to work on fiction pieces. Doesn't seem I'm really integrated as myself unless I have a project involving words. I'm 45,000 words into a future history and 10,000 words into a noir mystery with a very strong female protagonist.

That sounds quite nice. I look forward to a day I can write with leisure. I’m happy you’ve come to a place of content.

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Randy Attwood, check out these great links:

GoodReads: Randy Attwood
Facebook: RandyAttwood
Twitter: @AttwoodRandy
LinkedIn: Randy Attwood
Purchase links for “Crazy About You”: Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Apple

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your reactions and more. Remember, I’ll be moving to the ToiBox full-time soon, so please, stop by to check it out. Until next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken #thetoiboxofwords