Curious about how an author develops his/her ideas and transforms those ideas into a book? Check out all the authors we have in our Meet the Author section. The latest author to join our ranks of listed author is Dave J. Andrae, author of The Friends of Allan Renner. Check out his listing here:
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
FQ: Who do you envision as the ideal reader for this book, the kind of person you hope most to reach and influence?
ANDRAE: That’s a good question but one I don’t have a specific answer for, in that when I sat down to write The Friends of Allan Renner I honestly didn’t envision an ideal “type” of reader or person who would or should be drawn to it. Because the book represents a hybrid of sensibilities in terms of the moods and subjects explored, the backgrounds of the characters encountered, the genres touched upon and so on, I would say that anyone with an open mind who isn’t too politically or ontologically rigid might possibly be into it--which isn’t to say all of said people will like it. Probably having a wry sense of humor would help. And having a bit of an intrapersonal streak, being drawn to cinephilia, the paranormal, being curious about people in general, and maybe being keen on literary fiction and cool music. But I would never assume a certain demographic should automatically be smitten with the book. My philosophy has been that once the book is out there, if people take the time to delve into it and they end up enjoying it, then regardless of who they are they should consider themselves “the target audience.”
FQ: You seem to be a very broad-minded thinker; how much of Allan Renner’s open, accepting attitude is really Dave Andrae?
ANDRAE: There are always going to be some sort of parallels or discrepancies between a novelist and his creations, and I have to be careful about mapping out that terrain in explicit terms. I would say that the general attitude of the book, as evinced through the dialogue, exposition, and various asides, is close to my own, even if the characters and scenarios are mostly made up. I think in general people should try to enjoy themselves and see if they can lean toward making things more enjoyable for others as well. So as an author, on this outing at least, I’ve tried to create something inviting that readers can get lost in, preferably off the internet—which is why I think people should buy the physical books. I see authoring a book as similar to hosting a party at your house: you don’t want people to show up and see you sobbing and drunk in your bathrobe with unkempt hair smashing dirty dishes on the wall and lighting the rug on fire. So a kind of decorum is in order, a mode of restraint and some affability, which isn’t to say things can never get a little crazy. Overall this book is an accumulation of that sort of vibe that elides most of the miseries and tedium that were incurred by its humble author while writing it.
FQ: The ending of this volume could be seen as preparation for a sequel. Do you envision that possibility?
ANDRAE: It was very tempting when the book was finished and the smoke had cleared to get cracking on a sequel novella or something similar. But I’ve officially decided against expanding upon it. I have my own theories of what will happen in that story world, how Renner will use his preceding experiences to achieve a kind of “self-actualization” mostly only hinted at in the book. But for all intents and purposes The Friends of Allan Renner will remain a hermetically sealed literary universe. It ended up being a stroke of good fortune that things came together the way they did, and I’m wary of jeopardizing that, of pushing my luck. Even if it were to one day become financially lucrative, I’d have to decline for fear of ruining something that sits fine on its own.
FQ: Have such psychic phenomena as astral travel mentioned in the book been part of your experience, leading you perhaps to speculate about worlds beyond our own?
ANDRAE: I’ve had sleep paralysis twice, which was frightening, but I don’t think I’ve ever astral traveled. I’ve had exactly one intense experience of the vibrational state; late at night I was listening to a lecture in bed and kind of lost the thread of consciousness and the next thing I knew I was enveloped in an intense warm tingling sensation throughout much of my body. That may be the closest I’ve come to the sublime, but it lasted less than a minute. It’s the most relaxed I’ve ever been and if I could get that in pill form, it would surely get the best of me. But in terms of literal worlds beyond our own, as in aliens in other stars systems, I could talk your ears off about various theories related to that (The Great Filter, Drake’s Equation, the Fermi Paradox, etc.), but I haven’t had any direct experiences with it. I did once spot a strange momentary apparition while biking one night, which was the inspiration for a similar scene in the final chapter, but I can only assume it was a hallucination.
FQ: How long did it take to write this work, considering the many interlocking characters and plots that had to be brought together?
|Author Dave J. Andrae|
ANDRAE: The book took two years and some change to put together, from about mid April 2018 to early July 2020. It was written from beginning to end, with a refining of the previous chapters as it progressed. I wrote the first three chapters in Southwest Florida, the fourth and most of the fifth in Wisconsin, with the remainder of the book being completed back in the Sunshine State. The last chapter was written just as the pandemic made everything wonky and unpleasant; it was intense grinding it out while the world seemed to be falling apart, masses of people were dying, and the 2020 Election insanity was hanging over all of us, almost like an act of sadism. But as grueling as it was, I preferred having something constructive to work on that got me out of bed nearly every morning.
FQ: Would you characterize this novel as a mating of dystopia and utopia?
ANDRAE: I think it’s ultimately a humanist novel, leaning more toward a kind of utopian vision of humanity in the end, on an individual level, in that Renner can see himself and everyone else from a dignified remove via the Klybohxians. But there are nightmare visions within, not quite as nightmarish as some of J.G. Ballard’s work or a book like The Road, but Renner does speculate about a potentially grim future for humanity and it’s not hard to draw these same conclusions if one pays attention to the news and the internet or certain works of science fiction. As far as putting these things down in the book, it was a way of me grappling with these concerns in a more constructive manner than just typing them on social media and bumming out an unsuspecting stranger (as I’ve lamentably done in the past). In Chapter Six, though, the book takes on a critical attitude toward such lines of thought, in that Renner understands he might alienate Carmen if he goes on about it; he doesn’t want to run the risk of sabotaging a potential romance by coming off like a crank.
FQ: Is there a single author who influenced your choice to construct a central story glued to a wide variety of mostly separate characters?
ANDRAE: No, I can’t recall a single inspiration for that in literature, at least not one that was on my mind while writing it. But in terms of my personal life it’s often been that way, in that I’ve had several friends and acquaintances with whom I’ve interacted on some level, sometimes over many years, who might not have ever interacted with each other, or might not do so anymore, or who will check in with me in a sporadic, almost comically random manner.
FQ: Noting that you are a filmmaker as well as a writer, do you have cinematic plans for The Friends of Allan Renner?
ANDRAE: In order to pull off such a project, I think its budget would have to be far more substantial than the films I’ve made up to this point, each of which has had a total cost of well under $10,000. So there would need to be outside funding, a lot of it. And that would probably be contingent on a well written screenplay/adaptation, which I don’t have the wherewithal to write, having already spent so much time with the story. But if someone else whipped up a good screenplay and the funding materialized, i.e. if someone else did most of the hard work at this point, I’d be happy to work as a creative consultant and play a bit part in it, maybe as the haggard homeless man in Minneapolis who wears a Hypercolor shirt and likes robust tobacco. But I wouldn’t want to direct it.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
By: Dave J. Andrae
Publisher: Kaji-Pup Press
Publication Date: November 2020
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: July 26, 2021
A thoroughly modern man with a variety of fascinating friendships becomes the focus for something entirely different, in this panoramic plot-twister by debut novelist Dave J. Andrae.
It is clear from the beginning that the book’s title is a literal description of its narrative. Told in seven segments as briefly described in the Introduction, Renner’s saga involves the influence of seven presences – one being his rowdy canine companion, the only creature selected to be with him through most of his adventures and misadventures. Andrae introduces Akhil, an Indian semi-mystic who tipsily tips Renner off about the possibility of something like miracles; Sadie, an erstwhile smalltime singing star who has remained attached to Renner over the years; Fred, a cinematographer who encourages and impacts the young man’s artistic bent; Carmen, another musician with the undertones of love ever present in her vibrant persona; Renner’s parents, Phillip and Alice, nurturing their own secret sorrows and hopes for their son; and Ruby, the faithful pooch. One last player in this dynamic tale will appear out of the blue - and Renner will join him there.
Renner, the reader will learn, is a seemingly ordinary human being who attracts extraordinary attention because of his willingness to consider just about every possibility for how life can be organized, freely criticizing hostile and small-minded approaches and, in his own quiet manner, admiring and rewarding the glimmers of love and sharing that come his way. This singular quality, a refusal, it could be said, to mingle with the mob, will take him farther than he could ever have imagined, and the reader will be happy to join him on the journey.
The book begins with the rather dissolute and very hip Renner approaching mid-life and postulating his death and how others might react to it. It ends when others might well imagine that he has passed – but to where? And how? With a fine grasp of dialogue and his filmmaker’s skill for hundreds of swift scene changes, Andrae moves and shakes his hero through lively encounters that will keep the reader wondering what can happen next, and - by the end – begging for a sequel.
Quill says: The Friends of Allan Renner is an intriguing bundle of cross-threaded notions creating a unique tapestry, displaying author Andrae’s talents as a yarn spinner and story weaver.
For more information on The Friends of Allan Renner, please visit the author's website at: www.dave-andrae.com
Monday, July 26, 2021
By: Grady Hendrix
Publication Date: July 2021
Reviewed By: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: July 26, 2021
Anyone who has ever seen an old-school slasher film knows what a Final Girl is. But after the credits roll and the last moviegoer exits the cinema, do we know what happens to the Final Girl? We find the answer in The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix.
Lynnette Tarkington is the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that happened two decades ago. Since then, she spends her every waking day living in fear, always looking over her shoulder, always restless and jittery, dreading that her monster would come back to finally finish the job. She transformed her apartment into her cage, panic closet included, and her address is one of her best-kept secrets. Whenever she has to go outside, she takes an extremely roundabout way of getting from point A to point B, making a lot of train and bus transfers, taking detours into a movie house to check for potential stalkers, changing stops every so often. She memorizes people’s shoes because that’s how she would find out if someone has been following her throughout her roundabout way of going back home. There is no semblance of normality in Lynnette’s life. Her best friend is a plant she calls “Fine,” short for “Final Plant,” and the only other thing that provides structure in her existence is her monthly support group session with five other Final Girls and their therapist.
The six Final Girls, including Lynnette, who meet every month have nothing in common with each other except for the deep-seated trauma that each of them has been carrying all these years after suffering at the hands of their monsters, irreversibly changing the way they view the world. They all have kept on meeting up for their monthly support group sessions despite the constant drama and antics. With their distinctive personalities and varying levels of paranoia and coping mechanisms, the sessions seem to have run their course. That is, until one of the Final Girls misses a session and is found dead. Soon enough, they will realize that someone is coming after the Final Girls, one by one.
The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a meta story about the Final Girls from classic slasher films like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Hendrix asked the question “what if you put all the Final Girls together in their final slasher flick?” and wrote exactly that. The concept is interesting and, although I find the execution a bit wanting, I think it was written exactly like how a slasher flick is supposed to be written – action-packed, bloody and violent, and minimal character development. I think this would be a great TV series or a movie. On the book, I especially liked the epistolary-style snippets after every chapter as it helped a lot with the world-building that Hendrix was trying to show. I would recommend this to fans of the classic slasher films as you would find a lot of easter eggs such as in the names of the characters and from the titles of each chapter.
Quill says: This is a meta campy horror/thriller that pays homage to the classic slasher films.
Friday, July 23, 2021
By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: DreamPunk Press
Publication Date: April 2021
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: July 20, 2021
One teen’s accidental possession of a mysterious pink book morphs into an obsession until near-deadly situations arise in Zahra Jons’ second full-length novel, Little Pink Book.
Amelia Perrin is caught off guard when Matt Curnal, a guy she has a crush on at Granby High, says “hi” to her. To hide her embarrassment, Amelia keeps her head down, pretending to study her history notes. What she doesn’t expect is to collide into THE Samantha, one of a perfectly slim with flawless complexion five-girl group. In English class, Amelia suddenly gets sick to her stomach. Later, when Amelia relays the incident of THE Samantha with Casey Fitzgerald, her best friend, their conversation moves to a little pink book—both glittery and stinky—Amelia finds in her bookbag and assumes it belongs to Samantha.
Amelia attempts to investigate the book’s contents only to receive a paper cut in the solitude of her bedroom. She watches wide-eyed as the book’s cover promptly absorbs her blood droplets. The scents of honeysuckle and strawberries immediately overpower the book’s putrid licorice odor. Weirded out by what she witnesses, Amelia returns the book to her bag, intending to give it to Samantha at school. The only problem is that Samantha is a no-show for the rest of the week. Things grow eerie when Amelia receives threatening anonymous texts. As Amelia checks out some of the strange book entries, like “Boston Créme doughnut to Emily Dornhauser,” a peculiar old gypsy woman warns: “You gots to burn it.”
Amelia and Casey deduce that the five-girl group use the cryptic entries to mysteriously transfer their unwanted items (zits, added pounds, and sicknesses) to others at school. The girls assume that it must be dark magic, and Amelia thinks back to the old woman’s cautionary message. Nonetheless, Amelia feels compelled to continue to write down her list of undesirables and pass them on to those “who deserve it.” As a result, Amelia (as well as Casey) begins to trim down nicely. Just as their physical changes take form, Samantha returns to school with her skinny version transformed back to her old heavier self. Although Amelia and Casey befriend her, things grow from strange to downright scary with an uptick of anonymous texts that turn life-threatening.
Zahra Jons has produced a unique tale filled with a slew of “paranormal horror twists.” Jons presents a military brat’s awkwardness having to adjust from one place to the next. It’s only been about a year since Amelia's family left Okinawa, Japan, and settled in Norfolk, Virginia. During that time, she’s made one close friend: Casey. Amelia may be a good student who helps her parents care for her young, energetic twin brothers. Still, she has yet to find a way to fit in at school, especially with her crush, Matt. Little does she know that her life is about to turn upside-down when she comes in possession of the little pink book.
Jons grabs the attention of teen readers, opening her novel with the ubiquitous “girl crush” before shifting into the unfathomable aspects of the little pink book. Using a relatively small but tightly-knit cast, Jons slowly builds narrative tension by sprinkling in mystical eeriness within scenes befitting a teen environment. Although Amelia plays the lead role, Jons has crafted a cast that function more as foils to develop Amelia’s persona than simple secondary characters to enhance the storyline.
Chapters are short with cliffhangers and alternate between Amelia’s life at school, home, and otherwise over several months. While the tension-driven narrative centers on the effects of the little pink book, it also reveals the impacts the book has on Amelia’s life. Whether or not she succeeds in succumbing to the book’s lure remains to be seen.
Quill says: Little Pink Book is a perfect twisty coming-of-age book for teens.
For more information on Little Pink Book, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dreampunkpress.com
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
NUMBERS: I’m 71, married and have one daughter who lives in Sydney, Australia. I’m a licensed architect and have practiced in Idaho and California (Lake Tahoe/Truckee area) for over forty years. Ever since high school, I’ve written poetry. Looking back, it was REALLY bad poetry. But my classmates kept encouraging me, so I kept writing.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
NUMBERS: This book is a collection of odes to the body. Celebrating the individual body parts literally from head to toe. It is both a serious and a humorous look at the human body.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
Author Joe Numbers
NUMBERS: I felt compelled to complete this collection of odes because it seemed like no one else had done anything similar. I was originally inspired by the odes of Pablo Neruda. I was introduced to his poetry while living in Santiago, Chile in the early 1970’s.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ?
NUMBERS: I only write when the desire surfaces…usually late at night.
FQ: The genre of your book is narrative poetry. Why this genre?
NUMBERS: This collection is meant to be a celebration of the human body and its many individual parts. By definition, odes are celebratory in nature and therefore they are the perfect literary expression to convey the beauty and complexity of the human body and the human experience. Anything less becomes a dull textbook description of a miracle of design and purpose.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
NUMBERS: I enjoy the writing of Pablo Neruda (obviously), Ernest Hemingway, and the “Don Juan” series of books by Carlos Castaneda.
FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?
NUMBERS: I’d like to have dinner with Ernest Hemingway because of his strong connection to Idaho and his clean, straight forward writing style. He led an incredible life in many countries around the world and experienced the best and worst of humankind and then wrote powerfully about his experiences.
NUMBERS: I think my all-time favorite book is Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda. It changed my life. I had been writing poetry since high school, but this book gave me a vision of what really good, beautiful poetry looked and sounded like.
FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?
NUMBERS: I would urge the students to be keenly aware of their surroundings and to mentally describe what they see around them. Also, to look for the patterns, colors and structures of natural and everyday objects around them.
FQ: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
NUMBERS: I agonized over virtually every single word in this collection. Is this the right adverb? Adjective? Is there a better, more poetic way to phrase this thought? Is it too wordy? Not wordy enough? Does it make sense? Etc., etc.
For more information on The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body, please visit the publisher's website at atmospherepress.com
Monday, July 19, 2021
FQ: Dan, it was a pleasure reading this book. Per your bio, I know you grew up in Wyoming, so majestic mountain ranges made up your surroundings. Where and when did the idea for the warm seas of the Caribbean and the pirates sailing them come into play?
HENDRICKSON: Well, it was really not from the movies; Pirates of the Caribbean. I was born in 1962 and I grew up reading books like Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and watching movies like Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and The Master at Ballantrae. I dearly loved the Book Series about Captain Horatio Hornblower by Eneas Mackenzie from the early 50’s as well. So, I have always been fascinated with the pirate theme but after finding out in college history classes what a huge part of the Caribbean Slave trade they were involved in it took some time for me to come up with a story that would still satisfy my childish affection for the topic while dealing with their real world impact.
FQ: I had read that journalism was what you majored in; when/how did it come about that you chose the fictional world to write in over that path?
HENDRICKSON: I love the science of journalism in that one has to separate themselves from a story and present it from an observational point of view endeavoring to show all sides of the account. At least that was the ideal I was taught in college. My desire to write fiction began in my childhood and is something that has only rekindled in my heart in the last few years. So, my training as a journalist has caused me to want to tell stories in that same way. That is why I choose to write in the third person, and present tense. Because that is how a story is presented in a newspaper or on a television broadcast. I think that it gives a fun way to read a story because it allows the reader to make their own observations and judgments about the situations and characters. It is great fun to read the feedback in reviews and such, because others’ opinions of characters and situation vastly differ, and more times than not differ also from my intent in their presentation. Some might take that as an insult, but it tells me I put enough variety in the story to allow each reader to see their own version of the tale.
FQ: You practiced martial arts for a long time, earning black belts and others. Did you call upon this background when it came to the battles played out in this book?
HENDRICKSON: Most obviously in my character, Zhang Yong whom I portray as a man from China who is also a Shaolin Priest. The understanding of the ‘secrets of Tai Che’ and its universal practice in China is one of the key elements of the relationship between him and my character John Edwards. John had learned Tai Chi from a monk while serving in the British Navy but did not understand its practical application in fighting techniques until Zhang revealed it to him in the story. In the story I endeavor to show how though John was quite formidable before he met Zhang, his talent increased exponentially after receiving some training from him. Also, there are a couple of places in the book where Zhang and Captain Joshua are shown to “think alike” in matters of strategy and combat. This concept I got from the book entitled, The Art of War by Sun Tzu in the 5th century. It is a very well-known and well-read among both military and martial arts practitioners worldwide. In small ways, I endeavored to show that both men used the principles in the book in their thinking and strategy for combat.
FQ: Has the “swashbuckler” hero and villain been an interest for you since you were a child?
HENDRICKSON: Very much so. As I stated before, those kinds of books and movies have always been among my favorites.
FQ: Out of all the pirates in the past, do you have a particular one that was a muse, perhaps, when it came to creating them in your book? Which would you prefer to be cast as: the good or the bad on the high seas?
HENDRICKSON: Well, my character ‘The Scarlet Mistress,’ is based on the famous female pirate Ann Bonny of the early 18th century. She was of Irish decent and known for her fierce temper. I tried to portray the pirate life as something to be ashamed of and avoided. My intent with Brandy was to show her growth and transition out of that life by way of the help she received from people like John Edwards, whose character is based on people like Captain Horatio Hornblower, and Captain John Smith.
FQ: Give our readers a peek, if you will, at a normal “writing day” for you.
HENDRICKSON: I own and operate a full-time automotive body shop and detail shop and I still do volunteer Christian ministry work, so my writing can be sporadic. I try to get some in the mornings after I open my business. After those few precious hours, it is basically anytime and anywhere I can.
FQ: Is there an author, classic or present, that you would like to sit and chat with? If so, what would be the one question you would love to ask them?
HENDRICKSON: Ernest Hemingway. He also was a journalist. In literary circles he was accredited to have introduced the use of shorter sentences, and paragraphs in his fiction writing. Although controversial at the time his style has since hugely changed the way people write books. Thus, making the reading of novels more popular and easier. I would love to talk to him.
FQ: I read that you are working on several more books at this time; can you let our readers know what to expect in the future?
HENDRICKSON: Right now, I have two in the works. The first is based on one of my main characters in my ‘Last Enemy Series’ and prequels. Captain Tommy Williams. He is the one who led the rescue mission to free Commander Jacob Edwards in the third book of that series. He is also Jacob’s mentor. Captain Williams has a label attached to him by his colleagues that he is not very fond of, which is: “The Living Legend”. In the upcoming book I show how he got that label and why he doesn’t like it when people call him that.
The second book is called Magi Apprentice and it is a historical fiction of the wise men who visited the young child Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth.
For more information on Brandy: Ballad of a Pirate Princess, please visit the author's website at danehendrickson.com