04 Apr 2014

New Release & Review: “The Reluctant Jesus” by Duncan Whitehead

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Today I am thrilled to present an outstanding book, a novel that literally saved my Christmas spirit single handedly last year with its irresistible humour.  I have been sitting on this review for far too long. Finally, the book has been published.

A wild and romping comedy from Duncan Whitehead, the author of the best selling and award winning novel, 
The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club (2013 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award Winner and Gold Medalist)

 

“The Reluctant Jesus” by Duncan Whitehead is a hilarious satire set in 1999 New York and depicts the story of Seth Miller. A regular Jewish guy with a good life discovers that he is the second Messiah, son of God. At first he turns the job down but reluctantly he changes his mind.
The story is told with a dry witty voice that lets you know from the first page that you are in for a real comedy treat. Playful and entertaining, the characterisation of God, Jesus, Satan and Irma Miller, Seth’s mother are very accomplished. God calls, Satan emails and Virgin mother Irma Miller knows passive aggressive as good as any Jewish mother would.
The story is based on a clever idea and told in a manner that should not offend religious people more than Ephraim Kishon or Woody Allen do. I dislike using the phrase in reviews but I laughed out loud throughout the read and it cheered me up tremendously during a very trying time in my personal life.  
Whitehead is a great story teller – you never quite know where the plot is going although the strength lies much more in how it is told than what is told. The book is full of great observational and situational humour, showing someone who knows, likes and draws human nature with great skill, even when describing Satan or God. I have read the author’s award winning “The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club” and expected this new book to be good, but Whitehead proved to be more than a one trick pony, not relying on formula or repetition. With The Reluctant Jesus the author shows his versatility and delivers another great piece of entertainment.

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Duncan was born in England in 1967. 
After a successful career in the military where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser aboard some of the world’s largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world’s most luxurious and exotic places. 
Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment, the book, a thriller, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived. 
His passion for comedy saw submissions to The Onion and a stint performing as a stand-up comedian.
He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children’s soccer coach.
In 2011 Duncan returned to South America, spending six months in Brazil and a few months in Paraguay before travelling to the Middle-East and Europe before returning to the United States. 
He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, gets by with Russian and Arabic and lists his hobbies and passions as cooking, the Israeli self defense art of Krav Maga, Esgrima Criolla (The South American Art of knife Fighting)and the deadly pressure point martial art Dim-Mak.
Duncan has written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for an assortment of web sites both in the US and UK. 
As well as his other activities he performs volunteer work, as a hospice visitor.

AN ACTOR’S LIFE ON AMAZON

 

 

The year is 1999 and the millennium is fast approaching. Baseball fan and thirty two year old confirmed bachelor and architect, Seth Miller, is content with his life, as long as the Yankees win and his mother stays away from his Greenwich Village apartment. Seth’s life though, is turned upside down when he is informed by his overbearing and overprotective mother, that he is actually God’s youngest son; and by default the second coming of Christ. 

Initially convinced that his parents are crazy, his thoughts of their committal to a suitable care facility are superseded when he receives an unsolicited telephone call from God himself. With Armageddon fast approaching, and due to some poor editing and proofreading of the Bible, Seth must assume the role of Christ and fight God’s corner in the ‘Final Conflict’ between good and evil. Despite his initial reluctance and attempts to shirk his new responsibilities, God is insistent and Seth is cajoled into undertaking the role of Messiah. 

With his best friend, and chief follower Bob Nancy, Seth embarks on a calamitous sequence of miracle doing and disciple gathering, all of which fail to inspire the legions of followers expected by God, but leads to a bout of food poisoning for a troop of visiting boy scouts and a suspected attempt on the life of Mayor Giuliani. 

God, a somewhat nonchalant character, is far more preoccupied by the lack of IT and administrative support he is receiving in heaven, than actual events on Earth; and is already planning to move on to other planets that he and Lucifer are in the process of developing for ‘future projects’.

Enter Maggie De Lynne, as Seth’s second disciple and love interest, who adds her own perspective to Seth’s predicament; which is only compounded when a just as unsuitable anti-Christ, suffering from IBS and with a penchant for dressing up as cartoon characters, visits his apartment. 

Throw a ‘gangsta’ rapping guardian angel and Walter the talking cat – who used to be quiet as a mouse – into the mix, and the scene is set for a hilarious tale of one man’s reluctance to save the world and join the family business.

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28 Nov 2013

Aaron David: “The Almost English Dictionaarony”

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“The Almost English Dictionaarony” by Aaron David is a selection of eight intriguing and very funny shorts.
The author has a very quirky and unique sense of humour that he has already proven in a full length novel, The Tale of the Ancient Marina.
In this book he explores some obscure but clever ideas, such as space travel gone wrong, acting ambitions pushed to the limit, monkey vertigo and a set of hilarious made up biographies. Some stories are actually quite meaning- and thoughtful and show the author’s ability to serious reflection but the main purpose of the collection is valued entertainment.

Short, concise and very enjoyable.

 

 The Book is FREE 28 -30 Nov 2013

 http://bookShow.me/B00GT1HK5W

 

Interview with Aaron David:

 

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and a person.

OK try to stay awake; I’m 48 years old, married 28 years, three kids; 20, 18 and 16 (unusual names). I’m a tradesman running a 24 hour call-out service. I live in Bolton in the north west of England.

What made you become a writer?  Aaronpic

In 1997 we were awaiting the imminent arrival of our third baby in four years. My wife worked strange shifts so I based my work around hers. Thankfully this meant we never had to rely on anyone else for childcare; the kids were always with one or both of us. Anyone who’s been through the whole “baby thing” will know you spend a lot of time waiting; for them to wake up, for them to be hungry etc. I thought I could use this time productively so embarked on writing a novel. Sure enough, a mere ten years later it was finished! The rest is geography… Physics… Double-French… History.

Have you always written? Was it always going to be comedy?

I always wanted to write, I was the class clown at school then later at work and in the pub. It HAD to be a comedy. I was genuinely shocked when my readers told me it was a thriller.

Can you be serious?

I can but prefer not to.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

I found it easy because it was enjoyable. When you write you discover what your opinions are. I didn’t treat it as a job; didn’t sit down to write eight hours per day. I’d write when I felt inspired then stop when I wasn’t. I would go months between writing bits. I think over all the book benefitted from that.

Would you say there is a message in the book?

No.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

So far (touch wood) I’ve only had positive reviews. The only criticism was that it’s too short; which is kind of a compliment. Means the reader wanted more.

What do you like most about your characters?

They’re all fictional but could be real. None of them are based on real people except Mike, Ken, Clare & Judith. If I’d ‘nicked’ real peoples’ personalities I’d feel I owed them something.

Which one is your favourite?

I have a very soft spot for Nobby; In the face of adversity (being incredibly thick) he muddles through life somehow.

Are you like any of them?

Ken is an idealised version of the older me, Mike is an un-idealised version of me in my twenties

Who would play the characters in a film?

Steve Coogan would be a brilliant Tony, Peter Kaye could play Nobby better than he’s written.

What are your next projects?

The Almost English Dictionaarony; a collection of short stories is available on Amazon now. I’m running a free promo’ 28 – 30 November.

What is your life like?

Hectic!

What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My work and family keep me busy, writing is my only ‘hobby’.

Who are your literary influences?

My readers would be the best judges of that. Several reviews have mentioned Tom Sharpe. I’ve never read any of his work but must get around to it some time.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I don’t get nearly enough time to read. I’ve re-read the Red Dwarf novels several times, heartily recommend them (except the third one; “Backwards”; not rubbish but not as good as the other three). “A Matter of Life and Death”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Toy Story 1, 2 and 3”, “Aliens”, “Terminator 2”, “In the Line of Fire”… I could go on for weeks. The best album ever is “Bat Out of Hell” by a loooooooooong way. The two ‘sequels’ were AWFUL!!!

What are your views on independent publishing?

Very hard work and very time-consuming but ideal for control-freaks like me.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Your good self obviously, Ian Hutson, Tony Gilbert, loads of others

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Friends?

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Dog, black, playing football/ tennis/ badminton on a warm beach with my wife and kids + girlfriends/boyfriends.

What would you take to a remote island?

A boat and a map to get back home.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

The sequel to “Marina”; “All the Loft Insulation you can Eat” is an ongoing project. I write short stories when an idea hits me.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

They’re brilliant and worth every penny. J

 

Thank you so much, truly an honour and a privilege. As you know I’m a big fan of your work.

 

The Tale of the Ancient Marina on Amazon: http://bookShow.me/B004C05C98

An Almost English Dictionaarony on Amazon http://bookShow.me/B00GT1HK5W

07 Oct 2013

NEW RELEASE: “The Village Idiots EBAY CLUB” by Charlie Bray

3 Comments Book Reviews

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“The Village Idiots EBAY CLUB” by Charlie Bray is the first in his new Laugh Out Loud at Life series and concerns a bunch of very odd and idiotic e-bay users. Their inventive and original silly names are most likely their handles for their interactions on e-bay and their `club’ has the nature of an AA meeting. Having read Bray’s “Open House” I am amazed at his versatility to change the tone of his humour so easily.
I am probably not experienced enough with e-bay myself to get all of the clever, sarcastic, ironic and laugh out loud jokes but from what I gather the items traded, the prices paid, the uselessness of some of them, the addiction, the bidding wars and the clever traders taking advantage of the `idiots’ are all themes found in one way or another in this often hilarious and wonderfully absurd story. I found many parallels to other internet groups and forums that I use, so even if you like myself are not too familiar with e-bay, the principles and characters are very similar everywhere.
In this regard the book is a great reflection on modern society as well. Our village idiots, avoided in public and ridiculed by their peers have now found a new forum on the internet where their extravagant, eccentric and weird qualities, habits and characteristics find a new and sometimes rather unsuspecting audience. Everyone can be someone on the internet, Bray gets them to meet in their club and you can see what can happen when they do.
Bray has taken a great idea and with original imagination and sadly probably with quite a lot of material based on real experiences and characters has made this a very entertaining farce.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FFF6C02/?tag=wwwtheindietr-20

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FFF6C02/?tag=funboo04-21

LINK TO A PREVIOUS INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE:
REVIEW OF CHARLIE’S PREVIOUS BOOK:
“Open House” by Charlie Bray is the first in his Cove Castle Comedy Series and it is off to a promising start. An aristocratic family runs into financial difficulties and has to open their house to the public, at least for certain people and projects, such as a hunting party, a film crew and ghost tourists.
Charlie Bray portrays the British class system and its difficulties to stay intact in modern society extremely well. The family concerned struggle in hilarious situations with the outside / real world and with the decay of the conservative values amongst their own ranks. Catalogue brides, tree hugging activists outside their premises and rebellious family members provide an excellent mix of adventures for the reader and the author tells it with great wit and talent. A must read for any fan of the genre and anyone in need of a good laugh.
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05 Aug 2013

Malla Duncan: Fat Chance

4 Comments Book Reviews

 fat-chance2“Fat Chance” by Malla Duncan was recommended to me by a friend. Not usually a friend of humorous crime fiction I reluctantly followed her recommendation and was pleasantly surprised to find a book that made me laugh a lot.
We are in Italy and are following the investigation of a serial murder of fat women. Besides the police detectives there are a group of colourful fat women doing their own snooping amongst the suspects
The sense of humour really worked for me, I thought those characters were brilliantly chosen and the solving of the murder was cleverer than I had anticipated.
This is a great beach read, highly amusing.

“This delightful, witty story moves at a spirited pace, with Malla Duncan’s talent for description transporting the reader not only to the warmth and beauty of the Amalfi Coast, but into the middle of a great mystery.”

“I absolutely adore this book! It’s witty, intelligent, humorous (I laughed out loud often), suspenseful, has twists and turns, is set in Italy (who doesn’t love the Amalfi Coast?), and is without a doubt well-written. The details, the setting, the characters, the story – all  fantastic.”

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What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

 

Writing began for me at the age of seven when I wrote a poem because it popped into my head. Once I had discovered the joy of creativity and power words can give you, I was hooked. I wrote screeds of poetry after that – inspired oddly enough by the great war poets of the 1st World War – Sassoon, Brooke, Owen. I eventually wrote my first short story at the age of seventeen and achieved publication in a local magazine when I was nineteen.

 

I think one desires to become a writer rather than decides. They say writing is a drive that shows itself at a very young age. Often it’s a hankering for something you’re not quite sure of – then gradually this feeling hones to a compulsion that sees you spending chunks of time by yourself with the people in your head. You don’t always see an end – you just want to conquer the characters – to bring them out whole and vibrant on paper in a way that makes them seem real and memorable.

 

How did you come up with the idea for Fat Chance?

 

Fat Chance grew out of desperation. I had written children’s books, horror, women’s thrillers – and struggled for years with agents and rejection. Finally I thought I was writing the wrong thing. I needed to try a new genre. Friends told me: ‘Write something funny. You can do funny.’ So I chewed that over. Then I thought that people also like recipe books. Imagine combining funny and food! What a combination! (Been done before, I know, but I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of my idea.)

 

Then I expanded possibility by adding murder as a factor – this book was going to spoof all those formulaic thriller novels out there. Yes! Once I got to this point I knew I would combine murder and recipes. Couldn’t be better. Then Marsha pushed into view: one of those rather overpowering characters who nurse all sorts of secret doubts about themselves. When Milly joined her, equally large but rather timid, I knew I had a novel.

 

I lined up a recipe designer and we were off! Except the designer was never able to get around to those puddings – so the recipe part was ditched and ‘Fat Chance’ was born as a comedy murder mystery laced through with the universally identifiable problems of food and fatness.

 

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

 

Characters are like babies – once you’ve brought them out they’re pretty much with you for the rest of your life. I’ve always believed that your characters shouldn’t be anything like you as the author – they should be entirely different. The writer is simply the vehicle through which people and situations are brought to the reader’s attention.

 

If I had to choose a favourite character from one of my books, I would choose Ilsa Joubert from ‘Deep As Bone’ – my first psychological thriller. Ilsa is a dark little number, somewhat sly and underhand, a plotter and manipulator who doesn’t really let you know much about her – it’s only looking back over the book that the pieces fit together. And yet the great thing about Ilsa is that you can’t help liking her. I liked her in the beginning when she seemed good, then I liked her when she got bad, and when she got really, really bad – liked her even more. I’m probably as puzzled by this as the reader.

 

Tell us about your other books.

 

‘Deep As Bone’ was my first adult book of any substance that I actually completed. A London agent loved it but was unable to sell it. Many new writers don’t realize that just cracking an agent is not the end of the story – the agent then has to sell your book to a publisher and goes through all the difficulties that a writer experiences in trying to attract an agent in the first instance. Most publishers are wary of unknown names and wary of books that are too ‘unique’ – books that don’t have what they consider follow-up value. Many publishers will say that they want ‘something different’ but not so different that the writer cannot write at least six others in the same in look, feel and tone.

 

‘Dark Sanctuary’ became my next offering but was – as everybody had feared – completely different in feel and tone. I deliberately cut the writing to short and snappy, a modern thriller tone because I thought that way I would be more engaging and acceptable – but I was still unsuccessful because by the time I had finished with the rewrites the agent requested, I had a different book altogether – and nobody was happy.

 

‘Catchee Monkey’ was my third offering – an ambitious book that wanted to capture a sense of neurosis in the main character, a touch of paranoia which would add beautifully to the mystery: is she right about her husband trying to kill her – or is she just plain nuts? But now the agent didn’t like the characters – who granted were somewhat dark and irritable, but to my mind very much reflections of real life. So at this point agent and author parted ways, a tad distressed.

 

Since then, I have gone on to write humorous books for African children – the Miki series. There are few books out there for African children at affordable prices. I also began a fantasy series for children The Shadow Garden series and Book I is on all sites as ‘The Vampire Castle’. I also wrote in 2012 what I consider my last thriller offering: ‘One Night’ written exactly the way I wanted to do it and a book that I was happy to publish straight to the Net.

 

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

 

Self-publishing has been an exhilarating experience. I absolutely loved it – loved being able to write without interference, enjoyed the learning curve on formatting, thoroughly adored deciding on my own covers. That said, for any kind of success you have work at marketing continually – otherwise your book is going to hang like a lightless star in cyber space. It’s all about keeping traction on social media – and of course, writing the right kind of material that is popular on the Net. I would never advise people not to self-publish – it’s one of the great joys afforded to writers – but be prepared for disappointment. Not many people make money with ebooks. Those that do are lucky. I don’t think there’s a secret magic formula – but what I do know is that any clever person who comes up with a way for self-published writers to connect more successfully with readers, should be dipped in gold.

 

What is your advice to new writers?

 

If I had to mention all the things I’ve learnt over many years of writing, I’d fill a book! So I’ll just offer a couple of pointers on key aspects I’ve struggled to master:

 

1) Your point of beginning is key. Where in the story will you begin? How much back story are you leaving yourself to write? How will you get that across without spending pages talking about the past? Really good writers always have an intriguing beginning. They also manage to lay scene and character and back story neatly in about three pages or less. Or they cleverly interlace the back elements into the current text. This was for me, the most difficult part of novel writing to get to grips with. Often I would be at chapter four and suddenly realize that the beginning was entirely wrong and needed to be redone from a different point in time or point of view. It’s nothing to panic about – but as you gain experience and confidence, you will develop a ‘nose’ for this and it will get easier. Eventually, I found the prologue structure extremely helpful in laying out a snippet of back story that would ‘lead’ the rest of the book without cumbersome explanations.

 

2) Your reader is not stupid. Readers pick up the elements of the story, scene and tone very quickly – so don’t tell them the same thing twice. Every page should introduce new information that takes the story forward. That goes for dialogue as well. There is nothing worse than pedestrian conversation – kills a novel stone dead. Everything your characters say must be relevant to the story. If you don’t keep tight control here, your characters can wander off into idle talk and it’s really difficult to bring them back. Don’t waste space on the page. Add behaviour and description into conversation – this develops characters as they speak – ie: He wasn’t smiling but there was a cheeky glint in his eye.

 

3) Writing is always about the re-writing. Get to like editing because initially it’s going to be about two thirds of your work.

 

How do you handle criticism of your work?

 

Fortunately, most of the feedback I’ve had so far on my writing has been positive. But there’s hardly a writer out there that doesn’t get the nasty little one star from time to time. I got a one star on one of my books because it wasn’t for free! So no matter what you do there’s always someone who might not like your story or your style – or who, for that matter, may just want to hurt you because you have written something really good.

 

As a copywriter, I learnt to take criticism in my stride otherwise I couldn’t have done my job. But criticism is also good. If I do feel a reader has a point, or enough readers come back with the same complaint, I will always look at my work again and try to rectify the problem. All writers should only have one aim – and that is to continually improve. Readers who take the time to connect can be very helpful. I for one, am very grateful to those who take the time to give feedback.

 

What are you working on now?

 

Several things fill my head at any one time. At the moment I’m considering Book II of The Shadow Garden series as Book I ‘The Vampire Castle’ is selling so well. I’m also in the middle of a paranormal murder mystery that I might continue soon. And of course, I’m looking at a sequel to ‘Fat Chance’.

 

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

 

I can tell you that in one statement: Table Mountain. I live in its shadow. The weird thing is that I never get used to it. I look at it in wonder every day. It has been an inspiration to much of my writing in all sorts of ways: moody under cloud it’s good for mystery; draped in misty wraiths it’s good for dark fantasy; and clear-cut against the sunset just makes the imagination soar!

 

 

About this author

Malla Duncan lives in Cape Town and writes across a range of genres from women’s thrillers ‘women-in-jeopardy’ to children’s fantasy, romantic adventure and humor for African children. Her thrillers focus on ordinary, flawed women in extraordinary circumstances. Fast-paced for intrigue and tension, her novels are geared for readers who enjoy mystery and suspense.

You can find Malla at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/vi… 
You can join Malla on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malla-D…
Follow on Twitter: @MallaDuncan
Find on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/tshiyw

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024398&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024427&sr=1-2

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4955686.Malla_Duncan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13595927-fat-chance

 

 

 

26 Jul 2013

The Mandrake Hotel and Resort (to violence if necessary) by Jarod Kintz

1 Comment News

Today I am participating in a blog tour. Please find a link to the other blog events and to the rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, as well as a similar post on my original blog, which will be phased out over the next months or so.

Without further ado, please meet Jarod Kintz!

 

Right versus wrong, good versus evil, and peanut butter versus jelly—these are just a few of the many eternal struggles this book tackles.

But don’t worry, based on the NFL’s recent concussion scares, all this book’s characters were made to wear helmets before these hard-hitting issues were tackled.

Some central questions will be answered, like:

Who is Dark Jar Tin Zoo, and why is he trying to take over the world?

Will Jackson Jackson Jackson be able to thwart Dark’s diabolical plans? And why does he have a last name for a first and a middle name?

Is Abby Norma Sykes simply too sexy to be featured in such a dramatic thriller such as this book clearly is?

Finally, is it improper to refer to a dwarf as a midget? And what is the shortest height you can be without technically being a dwarf? Is it really as tall as 4’11”? Does that make a person who’s 4’10” the World’s Tallest Dwarf?

This book doesn’t actually discuss such serious social issues as I alluded to in the last paragraph, but it should. I’ll speak to the author immediately, and maybe he’ll address them in the sequel.

My review:

“The Mandrake Hotel and Resort to violence if necessary” by Jarod Kintz is one of the oddest books I have read in a while, but fortunately I mean this in a good way.
Combining absurd, farcical and surreal humour with some more serious and thoughtful musings the book is a firework of clever lines and quirky episodes.
The Mandrake Hotel has a room for everyone, whatever your desires, hobbies and preferences are. It is a madhouse and a world of liberty: Whether you want a room made of sand, one with specific collectibles or a floor full of nudists – the hotel has got it.
I wondered for a long time if the hotel was written as a fantasy world for lazy and hedonistic people (as one reviewer suggested) or as a wider symbol for the world as it is; a statement not unlike the questions of all questions in Douglas Adams book. The world population is exploding, so are we sitting on a powder keg that will go off once the resources run out? Can humanity survive? Are we sane in doing what we are doing?
A lot of ideas are covered in this book at a fast pace, highlighting absurdities and having a good laugh at them.
The author draws you into the book with his wit and once I had handed over total logic to the valet and stopped trying to make sense of every line that was thrown at me – at times very fast paced and confusing – I eased in to the rhythm of the story. It reminds me of the great Eugene Ionesco and Haruki Murakami, without wanting to imply that the style is close to either of them.

So much about the Hotel part.

‘Resort to violence’ refers to the plot as it thickens. Our hero of many names and his date Abby decide to fight Dark, the villain of from the 13th floor and here a more structured narrative continues.

The book is hugely entertaining, clever and will probably divide the audience into those who appreciate it and those who may not ‘get it’. Luckily I was part of the latter group. My mother in law would say : It is different. I agree, it is, and it is good. Try it!

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Interview with Jarod:

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing for about 12 years, and it started one day on a plane back from Denver when I decided I wanted to write for Saturday Night Live. I liked the idea of only working one day a week. That really appealed to my Puritan work ethic.

I really love your book but found it difficult to put in any box of sorts. What genre would you say it would most fit in?

This book is hard to classify, but I’d call it dystopian humor. There is a very serious issue I address, the one about exponential growth, but I didn’t want to close the book with that reality so I brought in a surrealistic and absurd ending to distract from the bummer idea I’m trying to bring awareness to.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

The title of the book, “The Mandrake Hotel and Resort to violence if necessary” just sort of occurred to me randomly. I wanted the name of the hotel to sound both luxurious and sinister, and then I decided to make the play on words to give a hint at what the book was about, so people didn’t mistake it for a hospitality or travel book.

How did you create the plot for this book?

The plot is loose and fun, and as I mentioned before, I structured it so that I got my message across early, then continued on so people could have fun and not have to dwell on the grim reality facing the world.

How do you come up with your ideas? Who or what inspired you?

This book was inspired mainly by the current global economic depression, coupled with exploding population growth, with a touch of conspiracy theory mixed in.

Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

I let the story develop organically, and I didn’t have a set plot outline developed when I started writing it. I wrote the book in about two months, and at the beginning of that time I had no idea how the book would turn out.

Is your main aim to entertain or relay a message?

Normally my main goal is to entertain, but this book I really had a few messages I wanted to get across. But I’m not a preacher, so I tried to camouflage the density of the ideas with some good old-fashioned nonsense.

Would you say your book has a message and could you hint at it – for the confused?

The overriding message is the unsustainability of the world, given our current path. Couple that with the lowering of standards of living for the many, and the rising power of the few, I wanted to subtly call out the cartels that control the world. Nations are being replaced by corporations, and behind the curtain is a tiny select group of unelected people that are literally ruining the world.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favorite thing? 

My favorite thing about writing is it’s like fishing. You sit and sit, waiting for that catch. You can’t see under the waters of your subconscious, so when you hook a great idea and you reel it to the surface, you feel the excitement of capturing a part of you that you didn’t even know could swim or breathe underwater. My least favorite thing about writing is getting seasick.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

I make all my own covers, and for this one I took a picture of myself wearing a fedora. I pulled the hat low so you couldn’t see my eyes, both to disguise the fact that it was me, and not my alter ego Dark Jar Tin Zoo, but also to add a sense of mystery and shadyness to the portrait. Then I converted the image to grayscale before tinting it red, to give it a menacing, evil look.

What is your writing environment like?

I write in bed, either with a pen and paper, or on my computer. Usually I have my writing partner, Cap’n, curled up next to me so I can pet him in between paragraphs.

Do you need silence or music to write?

I need silence to write. I can’t have a movie or music playing or else I’ll get no writing done at all. I am easily distracte—oh hey, what’s that over there? Let me go take a look.

How do you edit and quality control?

Editing is the toughest part for me. I like to print the pages out, because it’s easier for me to spot typos for some reason. Also I can mark the page up with a pen.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows? 

Self-publishing on the Kindle platform is amazing. I have nothing but praise for that program. No complaints from me. It’s easy to use, and the royalty percentage is remarkable. I really am very thankful for both Amazon and Goodreads.

What is your advice to new writers? 

I don’t really have any advice for new writers other than to just keep on writing. Write, write, and write some more—and when you think you’ve written morefully, that is the perfect time to write some more. Even when you’ve been writing for a long time, writing continually is still all you can do to keep getting better.

Who are your favourite authors?

I like Oscar Wilde and Nietzsche, among many, many more. Too many great authors out there.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

Right now I’m reading Boomerang, by Michael Lewis, and this is the third book I’ve read by him. I really like his style, and I am very jealous of his success. I hope he gets the plague and dies soon.

What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Not read recently, but I like to recommend a few books:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance;
If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him; and
Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Who would you say are the biggest influences?

My biggest influences are probably Monty Python, Gary Larson, and Jack Handey.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

That reminds me of a great book and author I forgot to mention: Richard Brautigan. Trout Fishing in America I’ve read twice, and I’d love to read it a fourth time—but not before I read it for the third time.

Tell us about your other books?

My other books are nonsense. They are not to be taken seriously—and indeed, they are not to be taken at all. Don’t take them, don’t buy them, and don’t recommend them. Just kidding. Well, sort of. You can take them, just so long as you don’t pay for them.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I really enjoyed writing Jackson J. Jackson and Abby Norma Sykes, because they got to engage in witty banter. What I really liked is how each character sounded like the other, and both sound exactly like me. Also, did I mention that Dark Jar Tin Zoo is an anagram of my name? It’s true! Jarod Ora Kintz equals Dark Jar Tin Zoo. So every character in the book is based on me, and that’s what makes it great. It’s also what makes it terrible.

<strong>What would your character(s) say about you?</strong>

Asking what my characters would say about me is like asking what my clones would have to say about me, and though I can’t be certain, I’m sure they’d all have glowing things to say. Either that or they’d feel threatened by my existence and try to kill me.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I think the perfect theme song for this book would be “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” and to accompany Bette Midler singing it would be Jackson J. Jackson, dancing The Flamingo. Do you think she’d let me be one of her backup singers?

How do you handle criticism of your work?

Not all criticism is bad, so it depends on the intent of the critic as to how I react. If the criticism is constructive, and meant to build up, then I listen to it and perhaps implement change. If the critic is just being spiteful and nasty, then I ignore it in the same way I’d ignore an invisible and inaudible person. That makes me wonder: if you were invisible, would you still have a shadow? And if you were silent, would your shadow be able to speak for you?

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live. 

Weird thing: Florida is the retirement capital of the world. Nice thing: I’ve never had so much sex as I have since I started working in a nursing home. Fact: I just made that up—I have no idea if Florida is the retirement capital of the world.

What are you working on now?

Working on another book of love quotes, this time written by Dora J. Arod, who’ll appear in the next Mandrake book.

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Website: http://jarodkintz.com/
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarodkintz1

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Excerpt:

People come from all over the world to stay at The Mandrake. The building
is an architectural marvel. Hidden passageways, secret hallways, doors
that lead to nowhere, windows to the soul, stairs that wind like windmills,
rotating walls, beds disguised as couches, sink handles that open doors,
elevators that double as community showers, a dungeon, a torture
chamber, and even a screening room that plays an endless loop of the
movie “Battlefield Earth.”
Though more people rent out the torture chamber every year than the
screening room, the screening room is booked for two weeks solid every
year in June for the annual Scientology Convention. The Scientologists
also rent out the dungeon and the torture chamber, presumably for training
purposes.
The Mandrake is a boutique hotel and resort that caters to the passionate
enthusiast. Every room is themed, and targeted to a hobbyist of some
specific sort. So let’s say you’re an avid golfer, and instead of
sleepwalking, you sleep putt. Well, The Mandrake has a room for you.
Room 1422 to be specific.
Room 1422 has one king sized bed with green sheets, green pillows, and
a green duvet, one green dresser, two green nightstands, and not
including the walk-in closet or bathroom, the room has the square footage
of Monaco.
The room has two lakes, one with an island hole (par 5), hills, dunes, sand
traps, bunkers, greens, fairways, waterfalls that loop around endlessly like
escalators, and even a couple of alligators and a fog machine.
Room 1422 is particularly challenging for the housekeepers, because
some of them are never quite sure whether they should be mowing the
grass—or vacuuming it. One elderly gentleman even spent his entire shift
trying to sweep up the sand trap using a broom and dustpan. He was
almost done too, when James Braid walked in and explained the game of
golf to him. I wasn’t there, but the conversation probably went something
like this:
James: A man who has gathered that much sand must have a lot of time in
his hourglass.
Housekeeper: Who are you? James: I have been asking myself that question my whole life. Who I am is
a mystery to me. The closest I have come to answering it is I am a being of
love, with a body built for golf, and a mustache that I wouldn’t want to take
a chip shot out of.
Housekeeper: I haven’t been able to grow facial hair since my father died. I
was more of a farmer, and I grew all my hair on his face. Who handles
your facial irrigation?
James: It seems you not only have all the sand in all the hourglasses in the
world, but you also have all the time. Well, I don’t. I’m a busy mustache
attached to a golfing machine, and I came to perfect my craft before the
Masters next month. So if you don’t mind, unsweep all you’ve swept, and
I’ll swoop off and sweep this whole conversation under the rugby match I’m
off to see. Don’t be affronted, but when I come back, all this better be back
the way you found it. Incidentally, which way is the closest trap door to get
back to the lobby?
Housekeeper: It’s right under the very spot where I’m going to put all this
sand back.
James: So the trap door is under the sand trap? Clever.
Housekeeper: What’s all this sand for anyway?
James: The better question is, What’s the sand not for? It’s not for hitting
your ball into. But it’s there to hit your ball into.
Housekeeper: So the sand is there to hit the ball into, and not hit the ball
into?
James: Precisely. A sand trap is like a politician in its duality. It represents
two opposing viewpoints. You see, it was designed to trap your ball. So it
exists to have balls land in it. But it was also designed to be avoided. So it
also exists to not have balls land in it. This is the beauty of golf. The game
of golf is a Zen koan in action.

 

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