Archive for January, 2014

What’s In the Cupboard (January ’14)

 

… in which I take three words from my Word Box and use them in a short piece of creative writing.

The words:

  • proctaglia – a severe anal pain
  • bailiwick – a person’s specific area of knowledge, authority, interest, skill, or work
  • bibelot – a small object of curiosity

And now the writing:

“Jimmy,” Don says, looking me up and down, his teeth clamped hard around that infernal cigar of his. “You are an acute and chronic proctaglia.”

“A what?”

“Look it up. It’s appropriate.” The cigar shifts sides as Don moves over to clean up my mess.

The bibelot lies in pieces. If it ever held magic, the magic is now welll and truly dispersed. I guess. Magic’s not exactly my bailiwick.

Ronald Malfi: 5 Questions & a Statement

  

I have to admit, I’d never read or heard of Ronald Malfi before picking up the Kindle edition of Cradle Lake.

But I’m bloody glad I have now.

I’ve just finished the novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great fiction should not only thrill you, it should take you inside a character’s personal problems with empathy. And thrill you. Cradle Lake does both. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work into the future.

I caught up with Ronald recently and assailed him with five questions and a statement…

PETE:  What did you read, growing up?

RONALD: I read everything I could get my hands on. Genre didn’t matter, the author didn’t matter. When I was about eleven, I found a box of old books in my grandparent’s rec room and spent the summer reading everything from Reader’s Digest condensed novels to Lolita by Nabokov. I cut my teeth on Stephen King with his fantasy novel, The Eyes of the Dragon, and later discovered the wonderful prose of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and the rest of the Lost Generation.

PETE:  Tell us about Cradle Lake: what was its genesis? What are you most proud of in it?

RONALD: Cradle Lake started out as a subplot that was ultimately excised from my novel, Floating Staircase. I really liked the relationship between the husband and wife, and their back story with the miscarriages and the wife’s subsequent depression, but it didn’t really fit with the themes of Staircase. So I cut it out and worked on it as a separate project, which quickly took on a life of its own. My wife was pregnant at the time of writing it, so my mind was already a mess with fears of becoming a father for the first time, and all the things that could go wrong in pregnancy. I’m most proud of the relationship between the two characters, how the husband has become so obsessive about taking care of his wife that he loses sight as to whether he’s actually helping her or hurting her.

PETE:  Exactly what’s engaged me the most in this novel. Where are you heading next in your writing?

RONALD: In May, my novel December Park will be released. It’s a coming-of-age novel about five teenagers growing up in the nineties who vow to stop a killer that’s murdering children in their hometown. It’s marketed as a thriller, but I feel it works just as well as a mainstream novel about childhood, friendship, and growing up. I’m very excited for this book to come out; it’s very personal to me.

PETE:   What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

RONALD: This is a tough question. Advice is a tough thing, particularly in this business, where there is no sure way to success and everyone’s experiences are different. There is one constant, though: to succeed as a writer, you must read and you must write. Every day.

PETE: What are you “into” (reading/watching) at the moment that you think the whole world should be into also?

RONALD: I don’t watch a lot of TV, though when I do, I enjoy independent films, genre and otherwise. I have very little interest in what Hollywood is doing. As for reading, I continue to read everything I can get my hands on. I’ve recently read John Fowles’s The Collector and Herman Koch’s The Dinner, which was fantastic. I prefer fiction that challenges the reader, that is artful in its presentation and eschews the familiar tropes of specific genres. That said, I find myself reading horror fiction less and less nowadays, as much of it is formulaic and disappointing.

PETE: What are your thoughts on this statement?  “Every character, no matter how noble/depraved/deranged/outrageous, reveals something of the author who created them.”

RONALD: By virtue of the craft, the author will always bring something of himself to the work he creates, to include the characters, but I think it’s presumptuous and somewhat simplistic to assume an author will either deliberately or subconsciously invite his own personal traits into these characters. Some authors do indeed use their characters as a pulpit to pronounce their own convictions, but I don’t think that’s most authors. I think it’s just the opposite—a good author will create real characters with real views about life that may or may not be completely in contradiction with the author’s.

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Cradle Lake is available in paperback and ebook.

You can visit http://ronmalfi.com/ for more about Ronald’s other novels.

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MORE 5 QUESTIONS POSTS:

From the mouths of … teenage fiction readers…

 

So we had three 14 year old guys (friends of Youngest Son) staying over last night for New Year’s. (The pyrotechnics are a whole other story.)

Over a brunch of hotdogs, the boys started talking about the Hunger Games books and films. My wife asked, “What’s better the books or the films?” Two boys shrugged. After thinking for a moment, the other (not my son, who sadly doesn’t read much) said this, quite seriously:

“Well. In the book, you can skip straight to the actual Hunger Games. In the film, you have to sit through an hour and ten minutes of crap first. So the book’s definitely better.”

I think this is instructive for writers, particularly writers of young adult ficiton and particularly authors seeking male readers under 30. As Montgomery Burns once said, “Get to the bloody point!”

Whatchoo think?

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