I couldn’t be more proud of my writing partner, Cole Alpaugh, and his third published book, The Spy’s Little Zonbi. (OUT TODAY!) I am humbled by his talent, but more so by his dedication and achievements.
It’s not like I didn’t already know he was talented. A writing partner who has won awards during his time as a journalist and who was a pulitzer prize nominee for an essay? Um, yes! I’ll take him. *cough* If I HAVE to. *cough*
But before I knew of those accomplishments, I first read his writing. I became a friend and eventual writing partner with Cole purely based on my initial reaction to his words. His style and prose were poetic, yet straight forward. I have always appreciated the way he incorporates raw emotions and truth with a style that flows easily.
Now Cole is *TODAY* officially a published author of three novels. Where I have slacked and barely been productive this past year, he hasn’t lost his steam or his charming story telling ability. Please check out his new book. (After you read the rest of my blog post.)
In honor of Halloween and his November 1st book release, I asked Cole to answer some writing and fear related questions. Thanks for playing along, Cole!
- What was the biggest fear that you had to conquer when deciding you wanted to be a writer for a living? What helped to make that decision or gave you the courage?
Well, conquered is a strong word. I actually wrote an entire novel about fear that’s currently being shopped around. I mention it because there’s a scene in which the main character is so exhausted from living in fear that he grabs the antagonist and hauls him up the creaky stairs and down a long hall to a small closet. The MC crams him in, then shuts the door. But he doesn’t bother with the lock. The MC knows the thing that makes him afraid can escape no matter what. The best thing to do is tuck your fears away and let them live or die in the dark. The fear of failure and sickness and terrible late-night phone calls seem far away when sitting in the warm grass with my wife watching my youngest daughter’s soccer practice. I write in spite of the fears that are tucked away. If anything, I occasionally use them for motivation.
- Out of everything you have ever written, what where you most scared of showing the world? Why?
It had to be my first book. Small parts of it, anyway. Climbing inside the heads of beaten-down circus roustabouts and carnies. Trying to bring to life a man who believes he can become invisible by sitting perfectly still, yet he’s conflicted because vanilla pudding is being passed around as the day’s reward. The hard part is putting into words what happened in his life that brought him under that ancient circus tent, seated on an unraveling bale of hay, praying nobody can see him. I spent a hundred hours trying to get him right, but always assumed I couldn’t.
- What genre would you be most afraid to tackle?
Speaking of horror … I have friends who’ve been doing it for years and years. They’ve grown up with horror, have studied and lived with every facet of the genre. But I stumbled across a Jack Ketchum interview in which he discussed writing across different genres. He refused to use a pen name or worry about disappointing his fan base. It struck me as a heroic rant against conventional wisdom. I would love for popular authors to write out of their genres. Imagine John Irving writing a science fiction story. Or a JK Rowling western? Hell, yeah. So while I might fear the apparent arrogance of treading where others have toiled, I think all writers should write exactly what moves them on any given day.
- Pretend that you walk onto an elevator and stumble into one of your favorite writers of all time. Who is the author and how would you describe your new book to them? You only have a few floors to summarize it.
Oh, I got this because I was rendered speechless when I first met the late Kurt Vonnegut thirty-some years ago, and swore I’d do better the next time.
I’d start by telling him that I’m his biggest fan, because that’s something Kathy Bates didn’t make creepy. I wrote a story, Mr. Vonnegut – can I call you Kurt? Cool. So, Mr. Vonnegut, it’s about a guy who tries really hard to do the right thing, becomes filled with bravado, and escapes deadly situations by the skin of his teeth. Right, right, exactly like ten million other stories already out there. But this spy story is really about love and how it survives the worst kind of betrayal. You’re floor is next? Okay, well, it’s at its heart a novel about a soccer game being played by broken children on a dirt field under a tropical sun. Each player has been mangled by disease, war, or indifference. But they share one thing. Wait, Mr. Vonnegut? Don’t you wanna know what they have in common? Can I come with you? I swear, I really am your biggest fan.
Again, be sure to check out Cole’s book and support a wonderful author!
“Chase Allen never intended to be a killer, even for the good guys, but after he is recruited as a secret agent, terminating dictators and jihadists is all in a day’s work. He marries a dark beauty and they have a child, his “Little Zonbi,” who means everything to him. Now that his priorities have shifted, Chase strives for normalcy. But a spy doesn’t escape his past so easily.”