Author Randy Attwood stops by today, to share about his books, a collection of edgy novels:
The Books of Randy Attwood
Crazy About You
I grew up on the grounds of a Kansas mental hospital because my father was the dentist for Larned State Hospital and the State provided our housing there. You grow up around crazy people and they don't seem so bizarre to you. Seemed natural that I'd write a story based in that environment, and so Crazy About You got started. Brad Adams is going to have a week in his life that grows him up faster than he ever wanted to. Reviewers have called it a coming-of-age, young adult; some see it has a mystery/thriller. I used to get upset when people asked how much of what I wrote was true. Did they think I didn't have any imagination? Later, I realized it was a high compliment. The words on paper had created a reality for them and they thought all I was doing was describing it. That, for me, is what writing is all about: using words on paper to create a reality for the reader. They think you are just describing a reality and don't realize that the words are creating that reality.
One More Victim
I started writing the poem that ends One More Victim about 1975. It was February. I had looked out the window of the back door of our small house in Hutchinson, KS and saw crows pecking holes in our black garbage sacks.First stanza came easy enough:
In February the crows come,
To pick though my garbage,
Make holes in the black plastic sack
And scatter its entrails over the snow.
For some reason that prompted an idea for a story that I started, and then stopped, and then went back to, and then stopped. That continued for about 25 years. And when I finished the story – turned out to be a three-part novella – the end of the poem came to me. I consider it my Heart of Darkness.
Because the Holocaust is a critical element in the plot, the story is classified as world literature, Jewish. And the few times I have offered it for free, it hit the #1 free download Amazon ranking in that category. A couple of times it has reached #92 in the paid category. I've used One More Victim as the title of a paperback POD collection that also contains "The Saltness of Time" and three short stories.
SPILL: Big Oil + Sex = Game On
SPILL is a political satire: a comedy that was written out of despair. When you write for 30 years and have such little publishing success to show for it, you do tend to doubt yourself. I thought what I was doing was pretty good, but I might be self-delusional. So I decided to write a comedy. If you made a reader laugh, the writing succeeded. I had a bar acquaintance who worked as a small-package deliveryman. He mentioned one time that his delivery that day was taking the head of a dog to the state veterinary school for rabies testing. That whole scene stuck with me. And gas prices were soaring. And I, and my whole department, had been laid off at the educational institution where I had worked for 16 years. I had the time. The SPILL wrote itself in three months. I've never written any novel that quickly. And it gave me a lot of laughs. It also secured me my agent. Haven't sold it yet, but they come close. It also got me into epublishing. I'd always thought self-publishing was an admission of failure. But a couple editors at a couple houses encouraged my agents to urge me to do SPILL an ebook. So I did, and thought, heck, why not that other stuff that's just sitting in my file cabinets. Now I have 13 works live with three more to come. Here are the first two paragraphs from SPILL:
Fred Underwood was driving his 15-year-old, once-white, now rust-speckled Nissan pickup six miles over the speed limit on his way to deliver the head of a dog to the state’s vet school for rabies testing when several things happened to him.
He saw a sign announcing—as though proud of the fact—that gasoline at the upcoming station was selling for $4.15 a gallon. He looked into the rear view mirror when he heard a siren and confirmed that, indeed, a police car was chasing him. He uttered, “Shit,” but then felt his body swept with euphoria: an idea smacked him that would make him rich.
Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America
Long before 1984 arrived, I had a dream of writing a novel called 2084. I constructed long biographies and future histories to show how by the time 2084 arrived the religious right would have taken complete power over America and rule her with a Bible in each fist. I thought it would be a long book and be told in tales from various decades. And it came to nothing. Again it showed me that outlining was no use for me; it actually hindered my writing. But I had a beginning segment of a mason returning home after a 14 hour day working on construction a huge cathedral for the Church of the Evangels, who ruled America. I finally just continued with that opening scene show what life was like for Bob and his wife and their 14 children, one of them Bobby, who had an amazing memory for Bible verses.
Here's that opening scene for Rabbletown:
Bob Crowley, drunk and very tired, almost tripped over the broken toy truck before kicking it out of his way then trudging around the side of the house to the back of a former duplex that now housed six families of 50-some Christian souls. Work on the Great Christian State of Kansas Cathedral went on from dawn to dusk, almost a 14-hour, hot, summer day. After Bob had made the long climb back to the ground, he stopped at one of the small booze-holes at the edge of Rabbletown to drink its oily-smelling, stomach-wrenching, blessedly mind-numbing alcohol before going home. Now, in the doorway to his basement apartment, he burped and smelled the sour acid of his empty stomach. Pulling the burlap sack of tools off his shoulder and dropping it to the floor when he entered, the noise of his own household assaulted him. The twins came, screaming their welcome, and he picked the bag of tools back up, swung, and caught one of them on the side of the head, sending him sprawling sideways and setting up a wail of tears and pain that caused his wife to yell, “Stop beatin’ the kids, will ya?”
“Well keep the little retards away from me.”
Doesn't sound like a pleasant, Christian household does it?
Blow Up the Roses
I have never known the end of a story when I start it. It seems knowing the end is a fraud upon the reader. I start with a scene, or an idea, or a character, and then learn about the characters and follow what they do. When I found out the horror of what Mrs. Keene's renter was doing in Blow Up the Roses, I almost just quit writing it. But some characters demand their existence: this serial, pedophile killer tied me to my chair and extracted words from me as sure as blood from his victims. Blow Up the Roses is being published by Curiosity Quills and should soon be available as a paperback POD and an ebook. The language of flowers can be brutally frank.
Here's the chilling opening scene:
Mr. Brown closed the door on the whimpers and walked up the stairs to take a shower. He stood under the stream of water and leaned his head against the wall of the shower stall. "Mommy loves me. Mommy loveth me. Mommy loveth me," he whispered to himself as his heart slowed. Those pictures should really be something, he thought to himself. As good as these stills would be, though, he knew there was no way they would show the wriggling. That's what he loved, how they wriggled trying to get away from him. The audio cassette tape he supplied with the pictures made quite a package, but it was time to get into video-taping. He could invest some of the profits from the stills in good equipment. He already had the lights. If only he had a partner. But who could you trust in a thing like this? Sure there were plenty of others out there, if the way his distributor bought his picture-cassette tape packages were any guide, but how could you find one you could trust to work the camera? He'd just have to find some way to rig the camera in a static position. If he could afford it, he could buy about three cameras and ring the area, then splice the tape. He could be as careful as he was with the still pictures and the cassettes to ensure that nothing in them identified him. Maybe they offered some lessons on video tape splicing at the community college. They taught everything else there.
He reached for the soap, brought it to a lather in his hands, and then washed the blood from his penis.