Some wonder what to read next – I say get a free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of stories by authors from around the globe.
In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Neil Newton. He is a musician and songwriter as well as an author, parent and grandparent, and is married to author Elizabeth Horton-Newton, who also has a story in the Twisted anthology.
Your story ‘Weather the Storm’ appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?
My mother was a speech teacher. I have always been fascinated by the fact that in a world that is basically chaotic, language actually falls into groups that are persistent. It’s a phenomenon that no one can really explain fully. So it occurred to me to think of what it would be like if the chaos that seems to rule most of our lives invaded our persistent artifacts, language being one of the most critical.
Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?
I am shocked that I did it as quickly as I did. I am a novelist and like to stretch out the elements of the story over pages and pages. I am still not entirely comfortable with the ‘effectiveness’ of the story. But I think a lot of that is due to the fact that I’m not used to the short story form. It does force you to be more careful with what you write.
Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?
Two people: Jean Shepard, who wrote the two books that were merged to create the movie A Christmas Story. He has been called the 20th century’s Mark Twain. He is the best of modern Americana. My humor and my dialogue are very influenced by him. The second is Jack Vance, who is technically a science fiction author but is in his own category. He is a expert at exposing the human heart or the lack thereof; he has a knack for showing people being flawed and selfish in a very realistic way. He also is an amazing ‘culture builder’ – his fictional cultures, alien and human, are masterpieces.
What’s your next project?
I’m working on a book that takes place in the present but features the technology and philosophy of Nikola Tesla. Tesla was an inventor who was a genius. There are things he did that still baffle modern scientists. In addition he was an altruist, thrilled to invent things that would change the trajectory of humanity, allowing humans to be creative by freeing them from menial tasks. There are rumours that he was an ailien meaning, in this case, a non-terrestrial. If he had done what he planned, it is likely that we would have had cell phones and the internet eighties years earlier than we did.
In this work in progress, the entire population of a tropical island are being taken advantage of by an American developer who is overcharging them for electric power, something that is causing quite a bit of hardship. An American physicist brings the wireless power technology of Nikola Tesla. to the island and gives the inhabitants of the island free power. He also destroys the power plant built by the American developer in the process. The conflict emulates Tesla’s experience of being an altruist in a world of greedy, power hungry men.
Please share a little more of your writing background.
I have been writing since I was eight and that was quite a while ago :-). It was only a few years ago that I finished my first book, The Railroad. It has been published since 2012 though it became an indie work in 2015. It is the story of a Wall Street raider who is traumatized by his experiences on 9/11 (these experiences parallel my own experiences on 9/11 in the subway as the Twin Towers went down). Depressed, he runs away from everything in Manhattan to a dreary weekend house. Along the way he becomes entangled in the lives of a woman and her daughter who are running from an abusive father and husband. In many ways the abuse was a metaphor for 9/11 in my mind. The story chronicles this man’s transformation from a selfish Wall Street Raider to a man with ethics and values.