Tag Archive: life


I recently reviewed Tony Bertauski’s “Annihilation of Foreverland” and “Foreverland is Dead”.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him online and this is the result of that interview.

Ten Questions: An Interview with Tony Bertauski

Does the hidden pinky finger have an R on it?
(If you don’t understand this reference, please see Tony Bertauski’s Facebook Author Page)

I’ll be there in 5 minutes.
I don’t remember if I put an R on that finger or not.
(Is that my first question?)

Nope.  Just a freebie.

What is self-publishing like?

…and don’t worry, you have as much time as you have…

Oops. Let me find my glasses. At 46, my eyes went bad.
 

Oh, please.

Self-pubbing. I’m lucky I got into writing when I did. Traditional publishing is a tough market to crack. I’ve never aspired, and still don’t, to be a full time writer. I have stories to tell. And the more I write, the more stories I find.

I love to have complete control of the story, interacting with fans and being involved with the cover. Once I put it all together, I upload to various outlets (Amazon, BN, etc) and announce through various outlets. I’ve also learned how to market it so that more people will see it. It’s a wonderful “hobby” that works like a side job. A side job I love.

By the way, an interesting blog post is making the rounds titled “Why indie writers suck“. So there’s some debate.

 

People who think Indie writers suck are generally unsuccessful Indie writers…(And that [blog] is from a pretentious snob hiding behind a nazi monocle, I mean, moniker who, has his/her/its own blog (a common form of indie writing))

 

How old were you when you wrote your first ‘thing’ and what was it?

Mmm…good question.

I didn’t write much of anything when I was young. I read a lot of sci-fi but never thought about writing. However, back in the day we passed notes in school (smart phones were still futuristic thoughts) and I had a friend that wrote concise notes that were hilarious. I remember wanting to write like that.

I attempted to write a couple books/stories when I was in my early 20s but, like most starts, they barely got started before I quit. I completed two novel-length stories when I was in my early 30s. They’ll never see the light of day. The story that got me hooked was The Discovery of Socket Greeny. I started writing it for my son when he was little, something he would read. It didn’t work. I think I rewrote that story a dozen times before it was good enough to get out.

I’ve gotten better since then.

And my son still hates to read.

 

What book has inspired you most in your writing?

Dune. I was captivated by a universe that existed in Frank Herbert’s mind that contained philosophy, politics and relationships that didn’t really exist. I wanted to create my own worlds, and I wanted to share them with others, wanted to connect with people the way I did with Herbert. Now, although I’m not a horror buff, Stephen King has been a large influence. I don’t like his endings (I’m a big ending guy, want the twist) but his style is so fluid, so visceral and comical. I rarely read his stuff without feeling like I’m in that room with that character. That, I believe, has been very inspiring.

 

What one work/series would you most like to see made into a movie? (and just to sneak another freebie in: who would you want to see play the major roles?)

Damn good question. A second to gather my thoughts.
 

…no worries…

The Discovery of Socket Greeny would be the first one because that character is so close to my heart. Socket played by…drawing a blank. I’ll come back to that before we’re done. The Foreverland series would be second with Jeff Bridges playing the Director. Claus would be third with Jeff Daniels as Nicholas Santa and Jim Carrey (so cliche but have to) as Jack.
 

Ok, throw Socket Greeny in there when you have an answer…

 

Do you write by hand, or straight to “screen”?

I write rough outlines by hand on a legal pad. It’s basically sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and letting the story unfold. That might be half an hour to hour. Then I prop the pad up and type, sometimes not even looking at it once I’ve got it. However, even if I have to rewrite a scene I’ll go to the legal pad.

 

Aahhh. so there’s no Royal or Remington lurking in your past? (another freebie)

I learned on one and glad they’re dead.
 

I shouldn’t laugh, so did I…

 

What is the most important element of writing a story (as opposed to the craft of writing)?

I’m not a great writer. By that I mean I don’t know the rules of grammar and I don’t care. I’m interested in the story. For me, the most important element is the twist. As a reader, I become engaged when I don’t exactly know what’s coming. It doesn’t have to be a big bang surprise, but keep it from being predictable. Keep it original. And if I read that last page with a WHOA!–well, then…we have a winner.

 

When developing characters, how do you know when you have the “right name”?

I spend a lot of time on the names. There are times I’ll look up the origin of the word to match the personality. For instance, Cyn in Foreverland is Dead is short for Cindy. However, it sounds like “Sin”. That’s not an accident. So much of the time the names have hidden meanings. Socket was a fluke. I wrote that for my son so it was a fun name but then it became integral to the story. Broak was a name that had great significance in the Socket story. There have also been times where I finish the rough draft and do a find and replace because the name isn’t feeling right.

 

How much time do you spend writing on a daily basis? If you don’t write every day, what is your regular writing schedule like? (more freebies)

Socket Greeny character would be someone like Josh Harnett or Liam Hemsworth, but since they were both in Hunger Games it seems too cliche now so I’ll go with the kid in The Walking Dead, Chandler Riggs.
 

Nice.

My day job is an educator and all the ancillary things that go with it. I’m also a father and a husband. I was just chatting with an author friend about this. Writing is solitary endeavor much of the time and can isolate my wife. (My kids are older so they’re not around as much.) I’m careful about when I get focused because I always remember something from Stephen King’s autobiography. He used to write at a giant oak desk in the middle of the room. Now it’s smaller and in the corner so there’s room for life. I write mostly on weekends and in the mornings. If I’m on break between semesters, I’ll put in a lot of time. If my wife is gone for the weekend, I’ll probably put in six hours daily. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if I was a full time writer. It’d be a job. Right now it’s an escape.

 

What has been your most memorable encounter with a reader(s)?

There have been many but the most recent was a review of Socket Greeny from a mother that bought the books for her reluctantly reading son. Her gratitude was moving. I try to write from a place that has meaning and when it connects with a reader I am grateful.. There are elements of Zen (a practice I’ve been involved with for the last 20 some years) that underlies my stories. Even now, I’m working on a romance novel but wasn’t satisfied with the outline until the characters where sufficiently suffering and find ways to transform. That plus sex.
 

That’s funny: sufficiently suffering.. plus sex.

 

Last question: Who is your favorite cartoon superhero? (villain?)

It would have to be Frank Miller’s Batman. He was very human. However, I find great affinity for a despicable villain you can’t quite hate. For instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker was masterful. I loved him and hated him. I strive for that element in my villains. At the very end of Socket Greeny, Pike’s role as super evil, super villain is questioned…just what side is he on?

 

See, that was easy…

Painless.
And fun.
Thanks for chat.
 

Thank you for letting me pester yo
*you

I like yo better.

What would you do if you were given everything you could possibly want or need in exchange for a little slice of yourself?

Tony Bertauski has written a novel that is one part Peter Pan and one part Matrix. He successfully combines these and elements of other SF works in an original and compelling plot that could be tomorrow’s news. TB’s dystopia is not some artificial alternate reality.  It’s the world we take for granted.   The story carries the feel of every day right down to the mundane rituals we all endure.  There is plenty of life sucks and then you die.  It’s just not the same.

The Annihilation of Foreverland isn’t a dystopian novel.  It’s more the story of a 21st century Dr. Moreau.  The island is a paradise, every want and need has been arranged for. Soon, however, the reader is confronted by something much more cold-blooded and malicious.

There are no good guys or bad guys in The Annihilation of Foreverland. There are only victims and benevolent predators.  From the first scene you sense something is off; too many things are happening to determine where things might go bad, you just know they’re going to go bad.

Bertauski challenges the reader to connect with his characters and see the world through their eyes.  Danny Boy knows there is a cold, harsh world out there somewhere.  He also knows whatever lies behind this magical playground is much colder, and much harsher.  What he doesn’t know is how or why.   While Danny Boy struggles to keep his internal world intact, we are thrust into a continuously shifting scene where we are compelled to seek answers even as they twist and slide into new more sordid motives.

What makes this novel appealing? The hero is everyman, handicapped by age and inexperience, disadvantaged by authority, most of all, hindered by the loss of his memory.  There is nothing for him before his arrival in Foreverland.  The setting is a dream come true for our hero, yet he has the courage to take that dream apart to see what makes it tick.

Tony Bertauski successfully splits the climax into two elements causing you to hold your breath not once, but twice. Danny Boy discovers the true nature of the evil being done while rescuing the others.  But what Danny Boy discovers, a supreme evil itself, is not, and has never been, the underlying reason for Foreverland.

Evil takes many forms and sometimes it takes no form at all.

Side Note:

***It’s not my job to tell you a story.  It’s my job to convince you to read the story for yourself.  In the end I don’t care if you agree with what I have to say, as long as you take the opportunity to decide whether a book has merit.  In any review I write, I’m hoping for a little, “What the hell is she talking about?” I’m hoping to give a hint at the treasure within. ***

laconiaLaconia:  I’ve heard your pipes, I’ve seen your tats, boobs and bellies.  Your piercings and your paint jobs.   May I be excused from Sturgis and Daytona, please?

Seriously though, when we first got to Weir’s Beach, my thought was, this is it?   This is all Laconia and presumably Sturgis and Daytona are about?   White tents with cheap crap?  People jam packed into narrow lanes between vendors and bikes, looking at, being looked at?  See my colors? See my pins? See my scars?  I’m sorry.  I’d really rather be riding.

That was my trip to Laconia.  Now about the rest of the weekend.

We rode up on Friday and about 40 miles outside of town my bike went dark in the middle lane of bumper to bumper traffic on the tollway.  I pushed it across two lanes to the side of the road when an ANG halfback stopped to let me through and conveniently blocked the other lane.  It was an electrical issue that I was sure of, and I hoped if I let it cool off, it would fire up.  Sadly, no.

There I sit leaning on my bike, waiting.  A bus full of little kids goes by, and they all turn down their windows and yell, “Hi! Biker Lady!!”  Ok, that was pretty cool. Then a small car with what is clearly a grandma, a mom, and a little girl goes by, and the little girl calls out, “Hi!”  The grandma says something to the little girl and she turns back and says, “Are you ok?!?”  Yep, I’m fine, and tell your grandma she’s pretty cool too.  Then another car goes by and the little girl leans out the window and says, “Hi, BlackJayne!!” and I wave.  Then the car is in the breakdown lane in front of me and I walk up to the window to say, “Hey, no, it’s all good…” when I look in the window I realize it’s my neighbor. “Hey, how’s it going? Wanna take me into town to buy a battery for my bike?”

How undignified can it get?

The battery seems to fix things, my riding partner shows up after a long complicated set of maneuvers to get back on the tollway below me and headed in the right direction. We get up to Laconia about 5 hours later than we were shooting for.  Go to the bar, grab some food, hit the rack.

Saturday, we checked the bike, seemed to be fine. Start up, run, no funkiness.  For logistical reasons, we take the other bike to Weir’s Beach.  We get a good parking spot, we have a chance to enjoy the scenery.  Five thousand bikes parked on the road, in the boardwalk, at the various lots (some lots up to 5 miles away) at any given time. Another couple thousand give or take, on their way in or on their way out.

Yippee.  Can I go home now?

Sunday we ride the Kancamagus (Cank-uh-MAY-gus) over to North Conway and plan to ride the Daniel Webster Highway back around.  We ride the Kank.  (A really nice ride if you’re ever in the area; car or bike, Winnebago, bicycle you name it. Nice ride.)  Get to North Conway stop for a drink and a stretch. The bike won’t start. Not only dead, but D-E-D dead. Can’t find a new battery. Get a trickle charger from the Harley dealership a mile up the road.

Ok, this part sounds much funnier than it was. We sat in Dunkin’ Donuts for an hour and a half and played cribbage while we charged the battery.  Oh, yeah, living the dream there.

Get the battery back in the bike. She fires right up. We get out on the street and I hear “Puh. Puh, puh-puh. Gasp….” Awesome.  I push it into the Circle K parking lot.  We talk about our options, don’t really like any of them.  Cram all our shit into the other bike, go in and ask the manager politely, “Please do not tow my bike, I promise I will be back for it in the morning.”

We ride back to the hotel, which is about 40 miles away, back over the Kancamagus.  It rains. Hard. The road is still windy-twisty and beautiful. And wet. An hour and a half later, we’re showered, and in the bar again, looking forlornly at the menu which is not in the restaurant where we had planned to eat.

Our best alternative is to rent a truck. We have no vehicle to pull a trailer.  There is no service dealer anywhere within 100 miles, and truly? I want my guy to work on my bike, so I know what my problem is.  Not what some guy with HD plastered on his shirt wants to tell me.  I call work, “Sorry can’t be there tomorrow, I’m busy.”

Monday we get up, we ride the bike crammed full of ALL our stuff now that we’ve checked out, back across the Kancamagus.  Bright sunshine, twisty-windy, fresh air ..…small RV…..  young male moose, trotting across the road.… (Please god, please god, please god… do not let the RV hit the moose, it will mean bad things for all of us, and I have enough bad things going on right now, I’d like not to add a moose to my problems.)  I’m not sure how late it was before he saw the moose, but the moose definitely saw him and was happy to keep on moving before we all got there.

Pick up the truck, which is big enough for both bikes, so we put the one on, drive to get the other. Put the battery back in it (having trickle charged it over night) get it lined up to go up the ramp and in the truck. ….Last chance….  …breathe… fire it up and goose it just enough to keep the ka-pow from starting. Hit the ramp straight and enough speed to get it over the hump at the top. Screech to a stop narrowly avoiding the first bike. “Gasp, puh, puh-puh..” …sigh…  (I go back in the Circle K and tell the nice manager, “I have taken my bike, it has not been stolen, and thank you very much for your consideration of my plight.”)

We drive it all the way back to my guy.  He’s expecting me, having talked to me while I was sitting on the highway, and again as we came into the city. We take both bikes off the back, he keeps mine, the other heads to the U-haul place and I follow in the truck.   We drop the truck off, I pretend I wasn’t driving since I wasn’t on the list.  Something about tickets and suspended licenses and like that.  We again pack the last of our crap into the other bike, and ride back to the house.

I have never been so glad to go to work the day after a long weekend.

In the end, my guy replaced a fried voltage regulator and rewired some accessories that had been put on over the winter.  I really like my guy.

This is a trip I will probably remember for the rest of my life.  But not because I went to Laconia.