Today I'm happy to introduce another fellow Muse It Up Publishing author, Pat Dale. His book "The Evil Within" just released last week, and he's here to tell us about it. Welcome, Pat!
Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.
It started when I was in college. I was a music major with a minor in English and my English profs tried to convince me to pursue fiction writing. I loved music and ignored them. Later, I’d get an idea for a story from time to time, but never follow through. Finally, after I retired from teaching, I started writing one day and, three months later, had a hundred thirty word novel all but done. I’ve been writing ever since.
What is one of your favorite books and why?
My latest novel, THE EVIL WITHIN, is among my favorites. In it, I attempted to write a gritty, no holds barred, story in a way I envision John Steinbeck or Ernest Hemmingway might if they were alive and writing today.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by the constant battle between evil and good, and wanted to put a good man in position to see that even he had a streak of evil inside him. I set the novel in my own home stomping grounds, in a location I know well. Not a happy story, but one that tells a story of a man back from war, suffering from PTSD, and looking for a little peace and quiet. What he found was anything but that.
How would you describe your writing process?
I’m laughing here. Basically, I put my butt in the chair and write. Evil was written originally as a NaNoWriMo project and was done in thirty days. Add words every day for a month without going back to edit or looking ahead to plan. After letting it sit for a month I went back and found that I had written pretty much a decent book. Of course, that’s just the first part of my writing process. I rewrite and edit a book within an inch of its existence before bothering my publishers or editors with it. And I’ve learned that, when I think it is done, it isn’t. Lay it aside for a few days and go back at it. After two or three more run-throughs, it will tell you when it is done.
How have you marketed your book?
It released on January 27th, 2012, so I’m just beginning to market it. I put it on the various online groups I belong to. I’ll send out a press release here in my hometown, and visit the bookstore (if it hasn’t closed yet). Oh, and I’ll drop by our libraries to see if they will carry it there. Two of my earlier novels are there and, I’m told, being read by our local population. I love that. Beyond that, I hope to build a little war chest to purchase sophisticated promotion in the near future.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Read. Read some more, and then do it again. You won’t copy other authors’ styles, but you will begin to recognize your own as it emerges. If you truly are an author, your voice will develop over time. Don’t rush it. Our technical devices make writing easy these days, but that will not accelerate our ability to write cohesive long forms. That takes time, and is well worth the patience it takes to enjoy the journey. If you’re going to be a novelist, remember that a full length novel is not a series of novellas stacked up. The long form requires additional sub-plot development, more interaction between characters, and a host of technical details only a novelist will be able to do.
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
Adam climbed into his truck, smiling at his recollection of times past. Maybe it would be good to get back here where he belonged. Time would tell. He slammed into gear and headed around the mountain toward home. Dust swirled up, a rooster tail behind him as he flew down the gravel road, swerving from time to time to avoid little dips and bumps that had been forged into a permanent slalom course on this long-traveled road.
Just like the people. Peaks and valleys, but all of like origin. And that’s what I’m made of, just like my dad and his dad. That’s why living here should be my first choice.
Edward was sitting on the porch when he pulled up in the drive. He got to his feet and smiled. “Howdy, son. You always go that fast down this road?”
“Don’t know about fast. I was just thinking about things. What makes you think I was going fast?”
“I could tell by the dust storm rolling along behind you. We can always tell if our visitors are upset before they get to the house. Little dust, they’re happy. Big storm cloud, they’re mad as hell. Nothing in between.” He laughed at Adam’s surprised expression.
“Ozark philosophy, huh? Makes sense.”
“Thought it might. So what’re you angry about?”
“I’m not angry.”
“Well, not in so many words. But something has you riled up.”
He chuckled. “Now you’re guessing. Saw Hank in town. He wanted me to come in so he could beat my butt at the pool table again.”
“That pissed you off?”
“Naw. Made me laugh. I think I can beat him now. We had a pool table in our day room and I got a lot of practice in. But don’t let on if you see him. This is going to be a long-awaited sneak attack.”
Edward laughed. “’Bout time, too. Hank’s a good guy but cocky. That boy’s cocky as hell.”
“Dad, you said earlier we need a good old-fashioned talk. I think I’m ready for it now, if you’re still of a mind.”
“That I am, Adam. That I am. You know I love you. And your mama loved you, too. Makes me want to cry, she isn’t here to welcome you home.”
“Me, too, Dad. I miss Mom something awful.”
“Yeah, we all do. And I’m sure she’s up there in heaven smiling down on you right now as we speak.”
“I’m not so sure she’s smiling, but it makes me feel good to think so.”
Edward went back to his favorite rocking chair on the porch and pointed to the one next to him. “Sit and we’ll talk for a spell. Sarah’s fixing dinner but I reckon it’ll be a while before its ready.”
“That’s okay. I had a burger at the café and I’m not hungry right now anyhow.”
“Son, you know your Uncle Ernie and I were in the Army back in the sixties. We got sent to ‘Nam. At the same time in the same unit, but we were in different patrols.”
“Yes sir, I knew that.”
“Well, what you didn’t know and still don’t is, both of us got shot up in one battle. Shot up real bad. They thought neither of us would make it home alive. We were ambushed, something like what happened to you.”
“You’re right. I didn’t know that. You guys get purple hearts?”
“Yep. Mine’s in the bottom of my sock drawer. Don’t know where Ernie keeps his but he’s got it. Funny, I always thought it would be neat to have one of those things. Figured I’d wear it on my chest and be proud of it. Not that I’m ashamed. But after what happened, I mostly wanted to forget why I got the damn thing in the first place. Know what I mean?”
“I sure as hell do. Dad, all I can think about when I look at that thing of mine is how my buddies got blown to hell. And how I’m still alive. I feel guilty as sin.”
“That’s what I figured. You’re alive and they’re dead and it’s not fair. That about it? That and the fact you didn’t blow every son of a scum to hell getting even?”
“You got it. I didn’t say anything because I figured nobody would understand.”
“Can’t blame you for that, boy. Can’t blame you for that. But what we got to talk about is, you did come home. Alive. And you’re safe. Your buds are up there somewhere too, like your mom, smiling down on us. There wasn’t a damn thing you could do to save them, so they don’t blame you at all. If you could have, you’d a died over there getting even for them. Maybe died in their place if you could’ve.
“One good reason they sent you home, son. Revenge is not the Army way, at least not on a personal basis. Makes for some good battlefield heroism, but doesn’t get the job done in the larger picture.”
“So, what are you getting at?”
“If you go back, you got to put that shit behind you and act like it never happened; like you’re there for the first time. Otherwise, you’ll come back in a body bag in a few weeks. They know it and I know it and it’s high time you got around to dealing with it.
“I’m not saying don’t go back, boy. Just that, if you do, I want you there for the right reasons and not for revenge. You okay with that?”
“Damn straight. I know I can’t go back for revenge, Dad. The only thing I can do is keep up the good fight for God and country.” He paused. “Crap! That sounds like some kind of corny recruiting bullshit.”
Edward laughed. “You got that right. But corny or not, it’s on the mark. Now, speaking of on the mark, I want to talk to you about something else.
“If you’re going back over there, I’ll need to begin grooming your brother to take over the mill. I’d always figured we’d follow tradition and put you in charge. Now don’t go thinking I want to push you out of the way. You’re the oldest and rightfully deserve to become the boss.”
“Dad, I don’t think I want to talk about mill business right now.”
“I know but I’ve got to make a decision and it can’t wait much longer. I’m getting older, whether you’ve noticed or not, and with my game leg I can’t hold off too long. The lumber business is pretty doggone complex. Takes some time to learn what we have to do to compete with the big boys out west and down south. So far, our Ozark lumber’s been doing pretty well but that could change. Can’t let up for a minute, let alone a year or two. We have to be ready.”
“I understand. Well, I should be able to make my decision in the next few weeks on going back. That soon enough for you?”
“Yep. Plenty soon. I just wanted you to know we understand what you’re going through. And we’ll back you, whatever you decide.”
The sudden absence of sound startled Adam. When he’d come up to the house he hadn’t even noticed the constant whine from the saw mill, located a half mile down the road. Thinking back, he realized it was a sound he’d grown up with. The whine of saw blades, the blast of trucks backfiring, the crack of hunters shooting at game, all echoed through the erosion-carved natural hollow the Watsons had built this home in. “Must be quitting time at the mill.”
“Yep. Five on the dot. Start up at seven and quit at five, been doing it for longer than I’ve been alive.
He smiled. “That’s downright poetic.”
The not so poetic sound of motorcycles interrupted their moment of peace. As he and Edward watched, four bikers roared past, kicking up gravel and dust. The same four from the café, he noted.
“Wonder what the hell they’re doing way out here?”
“They were in the café while I was there. Probably lost and looking for a highway to take them back to civilization.”
“Well, they won’t find it that way. Road dead-ends just beyond the mill. Reckon some of the boys’ll set ‘em straight on that. Hold your ears, son. They’ll be roaring back by here any time now.”
“You have trouble with ‘em?”
“Not me. Kelly Samples.”
“The new girl down to the café? Hell, she’s too damn young to get into trouble with creeps like that.”
“Maybe not as young as you think, Dad, but I didn’t mean it that way. They were kind of gross the way they talked to her and around her. One of them slapped her on the butt. Scared the hell out of her. I kept my mouth shut but it wasn’t easy.”
“Just as well. Those guys look like they’d be pretty tough to handle.”
“Came down to it, I could hold my own with the likes of them,” he muttered.
“I’ll just bet you could, Adam. I’ll just bet you could.”
Where can readers find you and your book?
THE EVIL WITHIN is available at: http://www.museituppublishing.com go to author page for Pat Dale and you’ll find it and my other Muse books. Caution: This adults only book contains graphic violence and sex, including rape and murder.
Thanks, Pat! Your book sounds like a gripping read--great character voice, too! I appreciate you joining me today!