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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Episodic Coming of Age Book

Missionaries and Indians
Author Wil Gesler has published a fictionalized memoir of life growing up in a Christian missionary community in India


CUMBRIA, ENGLAND – Author Wil Gesler, an accomplished and now retired academic who specialized in Human Geography and wrote numerous scholarly books and articles, has published his first fiction book, “Missionaries and Indians” based on experiences from his youth and travels.

 “Missionaries and Indians” is a coming of age picaresque novel filled with action, adventure and humorous stories as seen through the eyes of 16-year-old narrator Ben along with his twin sister Naomi. Born and raised in India as the son of Lutheran missionaries, Gesler experienced various cultures around the world and was inspired to share his stories in his fictionalized memoir.

Themes of tolerance and intolerance are explored in the various relationships presented in the book such as those between missionaries and Indians, children and their parents, servants and masters, religious beliefs and more. The characters also experience events such as a cyclone and devastating floods, being caught up in a political riot, becoming a fantasy spy, hunting a man-eating tiger, and the consequences of killing a monkey.

“Admirably, the narrator is neither a zealot who champions his parents’ beliefs nor a cynic who questions their sincerity. Rather, he fills the role of reporter, giving readers the space to form their own opinions.” – Foreword Clarion Review

To learn more please visit: www.missionariesandindians.com
ISBN: 9781524680251

About the author
Wil Gesler was born in India of missionary parents during the Second World War and was educated there through high school at a school for missionary children. He spent most of his working life as an academic human geographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Since his retirement, he has lived with his wife in England, most recently at the edge of the Lake District.








Interview
Welcome to my blog Wil.  Please tell my readers and I more about yourself and your books.

Q:
Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
The book is called Missionaries and Indians, a play on Cowboys and Indians, a game we played as kids, although here the Indians are not Native Americans, but from the country of India.  The narrator, Ben, and his twin sister, Naomi, who are sixteen, are on holiday from school and living with their Lutheran missionary parents in their home beside one of India’s sacred rivers.  They experience a cyclone and devastating floods; think about what it takes to be a successful missionary; are influenced by different types of sermons; have ups and downs on a houseboat trip on the river; hear the story of a single-woman missionary who was taken to court; are caught up in a political riot; suffer through the illness of a little child; get involved in an incident in which a missionary kills a monkey; listen to another missionary teen-ager talk about being a fantasy spy; discuss sex education; accompany a missionary on a tiger-hunting trip; and enjoy a holiday at the beach.

The question of genre is an interesting one for this book.  Originally the publisher, AuthorHouse, put it down as a book on religion, but I convinced them that, although there will of course be religious elements in a book with “missionaries” in the title, the book was not primarily religious.  After some discussion/negotiation with AuthorHouse and the book’s publicist, we decided that the genre was best described as action/adventure.  We also decided to cast the book as a coming-of-age narrative because teen-age Ben, the protagonist, is constantly finding out more about life as the stories in the book are told.  Further, we concluded that the book was not a novel in the conventional sense; that is, there was not an overall narrative arc that carried the reader from beginning to end, although some major themes persisted throughout.  Rather, there are multiple arcs, like the contrails in the skies above a busy airport (some of them crossing each other), as each chapter tells its main and subsidiary stories centered around a main theme.  Call the book a picaresque novel, modeled on something like the adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  When you have read all the stories, a picture should emerge that comprehensively captures the missionary and Indian experience.
I started to write the book to see if I could relate some good stories about my very interesting childhood.  I wanted to see if I could provide an honest account of what life was like for a teenager with missionary parents in India in the 1950s.   Also, I wanted to avoid casting missionaries and Indians as either saints or sinners, as other books have done.  As I got into the stories, I realized that there were two levels of the writing that would be of interest to many people.  The first level is the stories themselves, which involve exciting yarns (e.g., hunting a man-eating tiger, getting caught in a political riot), interesting settings (e.g., a very large river, missionary houses, the local bazaar), lovable characters (e.g., Pastor Timothy, Wally, Miss Malayalam, Uncle Eli, Aunt Emma, Uncle Jim) and not so lovable ones (e.g., Uncle Frank, Reverend Joseph), and vivid imagery (e.g., the river delta as the many arms of a Hindu goddess).  Then there is the level of what the stories might mean which deals with several perennially important themes in the everyday lives of people: evolution and change (e.g., biological evolution, children growing up); human relationships among various groups of people (parents and children; missionaries and servants; Indians and missionaries) that included both tolerance and intolerance, inclusion and exclusion; fake things (e.g., false accusations, poor quality products) versus real things (e.g., honesty in relationships, good quality actions), order versus chaos (e.g., in building a church or creating a new state); fantasy (pretending to be a spy) versus reality (knowing the spy story to be false); taking risks (e.g., climbing around the outside of a moving train, hunting a tiger at night), sex education (or lack of it); and religious beliefs (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism). 
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
I have always seen life as a series of adventures.  Although I am a rather shy person who is awkward in social situations, I have always felt the urge to try out new things like teaching or conducting research in foreign countries or walking by myself in the fells (mountains) of the English Lake District (which I close to where I live).  And I like to tell stories inspired by those adventures where I put people in a position of conflict or potential danger, build up the tension, and then see how things work out.  At the same time, I think that an action/adventure story is a good way to dramatize an idea or theme.  It gets the reader involved, imagining that they are in the story.  Also, an adventure story is a good way of developing characters because you can see how they behave in a stressed situation.  Say I want to illustrate some ideas about taking risks.  Should one take risks?  Under what circumstances?  Why do people take risks?  Let’s illustrate these ideas with a story about our hero trailing along when a missionary, who is perhaps not the greatest hunter in the world, goes off in the dark of night in pursuit of a man-eating tiger.  Why does the missionary want to hunt the tiger?  How is our hero going to react when things get a bit sticky?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria

THE BURGAS AFFAIR

She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.


In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.
The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.

It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.
Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.
The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.

Biography

Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army’s Nahal branch. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava Valley in Israel’s south. On the kibbutz he worked in agriculture, industry, tourism, the dairy barn, and served as the kibbutz’s general secretary.

After moving with his wife and three young children to Moshav Neve Ilan in the Judean Hills, Ellis received formal training in the hotel industry. He worked in a variety of positions at the Neve Ilan Hotel and later was Food and Beverage Controller at the Jerusalem Hilton. He served as the moshav’s general secretary during a period in which the community underwent major social changes.

As a hobby, Ellis began writing on the Internet. He wrote extensively about life in Israel in his position as the Israeli Culture Guide at About.com. He designed and maintained websites for the Neve Ilan Hotel and for Indic—Independent Israeli Cinema. For two years he was webmaster for Yazam, an international financial firm that provided support for technological start-ups.

Ellis served for three years as Editor in Chief of Israel Insider, an online daily newsmagazine that developed new technologies as it posted the latest news and views, from and about Israel.

Starting in 2004, Ellis began working in a marketing company servicing the online gaming industry. In the years 2009 - 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria. During those years, Ellis and Jodie traveled extensively in Bulgaria as well as in the countries of the region. Today Ellis continues working in the online gaming industry in Tel Aviv.

Ellis writes regularly on his blog at: http://ellisshuman.blogspot.com/

New novel: The Burgas Affair
Short stories: TheVirtual Kibbutz
Follow on Twitter

Interview
Welcome to my blog Ellis.  Please tell my readers and I more about yourself and your books.

Q: Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A: The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the investigation of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a bomb detonated inside a bus at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria. Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver were killed in the blast. As no one was ever held responsible for the bombing, I envisioned a joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation. A headstrong Bulgarian detective is teamed up with a young Israeli analyst on her first overseas assignment. The two must track down the terrorists behind the attack, while at the same time confront the demons from their past.
The reason I wrote this book is because I am an American-born Israeli author who writes about Bulgaria. I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Israel as a teenager with my family. I served in the Israeli army, was a founding member of a kibbutz, worked in the hotel industry, and now live in a small community near Jerusalem. For two years, my job in online marketing was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria. I fell in love with the country and most of my writing these days, both fiction and non-fiction, is based on my experiences in Bulgaria.

Q: What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A: I write the type of book I would be interested in reading myself. I am drawn to thrillers that keep me turning the page. Possibly this is because I do most of my reading on my daily commute by train to work. I take my seat, open my book (or my tablet as the case may be), and the next thing I know I am at the station when I must get off the train. I hope that my writing comes across as being that suspenseful.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A: In both of my novels—Valley of Thracians and The Burgas Affair—I envisioned the end of the book before I began writing. In fact, I came up with the very last sentence (or at least the concluding paragraph) before I began. I believe that the author John Irving also works like this. After I can picture the book’s ending, I work on how the plot will reach that conclusion. It’s definitely an interesting challenge!

Q: What kind of research was involved?
A: The Burgas Affair is based on a very real terrorist attack but it is a fictional account of the investigation conducted in the aftermath of that attack. Following the bombing in July 2012, I read every report I could find in the media, making notes of the details so that I could present them as accurately as possible in my novel. The circumstances of the bombing are based on real life incidents. Of course, the characters and the plot are entirely fictional.

Q: How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A: In my early attempts at writing a novel, my characters were too autobiographical, based on my personal experiences. I wasn’t successful in finding a way to make them have their own personalities. In the two published novels, the characters are totally independent. They are flawed individuals, with concerns and backstories that are not similar in any way to my life.

Q: How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A: The most difficult part of writing, for me, has always been finding the time to write. When I come home from work each day I am too tired to be creative. Weekends are devoted to family. Luckily, I was able to solve this problem. I start every day by sitting down at a coffee shop, writing for at one hour while drinking a cup of cappuccino. I don’t hear the other customers or the coffee machines. And, I accomplish quite a bit.

Q: Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A: I read a lot and generally go through phases when I endeavor to read all the books of a certain author. In my home, I have a bookshelf with all the novels of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. I enjoy his mix of reality with a bit of fantasy. I have also read most of the novels written by Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving. And I am constantly reading new authors as well, including many independent, self-published authors. Reading inspires me to write!

Q: Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A: Most readers would not be able to place Bulgaria on a map. And quite possibly, most readers don’t know too much about life in Israel. My novel, a crime thriller based on real events, is also an introduction to these two fascinating countries.

Q: What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A: I am always writing. I write on my personal blog. I post book reviews on The Times of Israel and travel reports on The Huffington Post. I am working on my third novel, which will also be set in Bulgaria and Israel, but it will take time to finish that project.

Q: Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A: I am still looking for an effective marketing strategy. As a debut author I was encouraged to establish a ‘platform’ so I set up a Facebook author’s page. I am very active on Twitter and LinkedIn, but I don’t see too many followers rushing to purchase my books. Following the publication of The Burgas Affair, I am spending a lot of time contacting book bloggers and book reviewers. Once I have a respectable amount of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads I will consider advertising the book.

Q: What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A: First of all, I would tell aspiring authors to write the kind of book that they would want to read. Then, I would advise them to write constantly, even if it’s only a short time every day. Good writing comes with practice, so even writing non-fiction (in my case travel reports and book reviews) helps improve one’s mastery of the art. I would tell authors to get a professional to look at their writing before it is published. Working with an experienced editor can make all the difference. And finally, I would say that one should never give up. It takes time to write a novel so aspiring authors should be prepared to devote a lot of time to the project. It will be worth the effort in the end!

Again, thank you Ellis for your time and great works.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception

Gritty New Literary Novel Pays Homage to 80s Chicago Music Scene
Author W. Lance Hunt releases debut novel of love, loss, ambition, and self-revelation while providing nuanced look at youthful striving

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The late 80s Chicago Goth-Industrial scene was an experience author W. Lance Hunt will not soon forget. As a former roadie, with a background in theatre, film, and television, Hunt was immersed in the music scene of the era. Now, as a professional writer, he has transposed many of his own experiences into the characters and events found in his debut novel, “A Perfect Blindness – A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception.”

A compelling literary novel for the senses, “A Perfect Blindness” follows the interweaving stories of two best friends and the lover of one as they stumble towards self-understanding they can only have when they finally realize that “Who we really are hangs someplace between all the stories, suspended in the contradictions.” Set in late 80s Chicago, the novel pays homage to the Goth-Industrial scene with visits to the bars, clubs, and music venues of that era while a tale of love, loss, friendship, failure, success and even death plays out for the reader as experienced by each of the three protagonists who reveal that self-deception is the most treacherous lie of all.

An iUniverse Rising Star, Hunt is already receiving critical praises from reviewers:

“An expansive historical novel that ably evokes its time and place. Hunt writes in a dense, passionate prose that strives to enliven everything it touches.” – Kirkus Review

“Littered with cigarette butts, vodka bottles, and a dead body, A Perfect Blindness is a grunge rock fantasy. With its operatic sense of drama, it is an escape story ideal for those who still live out their rock star dreams whenever they close their eyes.” – Clarion Review

Music plays a key role in the novel with references to many 80s era bands, such as Joy Division, and mentions of specific songs throughout the story. Hunt also provides a playlist of songs he encourages readers to listen to while reading the book to create a more immersive experience, which can be found at The Sounds of A Perfect Blindness.


“A Perfect Blindness – A Sensual Novel of Music, Passion, Secrets and Self-Deception”
By W. Lance Hunt
ISBN: 978-1-5320-1012-5 (softcover); 978-1-5320-1013-2 (ebook)
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks

About the author
W. Lance Hunt earned concurrent bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State University, cofounded the Rudely Elegant Theatre in Chicago, and helped produce an Emmy Award-winning film. After living in Mexico City, he moved to New York City, where he earned a Master of Arts in English from CCNY. Hunt works as a freelance writer and editor and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. To learn more please visit WLanceHunt.com






Interview

Q:
Welcome to my blog Lance. Please tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
The title is A Perfect Blindness chosen because it speaks to both the core idea—that we don’t see people, including ourselves, clearly and sometimes we’re willfully blind. It's also a reference to a line from Joy Division's song "Isolation": "a blindness that touches perfection." This connects  the title with the world in which the characters live: the late 80s alternative, club scene as they try to make it with their band Mercurial Visions. Further  Joy Division’s biggest hit “Love Will Tear Us Apart” hints at the enormous role lovers, both present, and past, play in the lives of each of the three protagonists (two best friends who found the band and the lover of one). 

It’s literary fiction by dint of not being any other genre. That  and its dialogue with Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet and Mailer’s Armies of the Night, as well as the music that pervades it, especially the way lyrics appear in the text, as lines directly quoted, and adapted through character’s thoughts and dialogue.

Structurally, the book adapts the idea Durrell used of passing a single story through more than one first-person view as well as though a third person point of view. These different narratives clash, causing events to appear different. Not as in the movie  Rashomon in which what happens changes depending on the point of view—rather, only the why things happened changes, meanings alter and even the dead are transformed. 
From Mailer, it took the idea of using newspaper articles as a removed third person point of view to contrast with what each character believes. 
There is also a splash of Nabokov’s Lolita here and there, in descriptive snatches.

The book interacts profoundly with music: bands, albums, CDs, lyrics, with the milieu full of songs playing on the radio, on the dance floor, in bars and at parties, mostly alternative/electro-industrial, with a dollop of popular—and mainly from the late 80s. The time I lived in Chicago. The music that filled the soundtrack of my life there.

On a basic level, writing A Perfect Blindness gave me a way to pour my experiences in live and recorded music, in live theater production, and in film and video production and post-production into fiction. After running sound and lights, and roadying for a band in Columbus, Ohio, I moved to Chicago in 1988, not long after graduating from The Ohio State University. There, I helped build out the Rudely Elegant Theater, where I co-wrote Barbie the Fantasies, and produced live theater, and ran lights and sound for various productions. Then, I worked in video, film, and music production and post-production.

Beyond giving me a canvas on which to use my experiences, the long form of a novel allowed me to explore the nature of identity. A part of that idea is exposing how we deceive ourselves through the stories we tell ourselves about the world around us and most importantly about ourselves. Further, it allowed me to probe how we can love and be friends and create anything when the stories we each tell ourselves contradict the stories other people tell themselves.

Finally, the novel gave me a platform to create an homage to the music and club scene of Chicago in the late eighties and early nineties, when I lived and dance there.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
That literary effects can be affected without trickery, naturally through shifts in POV and revelations in knowledge; Durrell blew me away with the Alexandria Quartet doing just that. I also enjoy the play between text and character—being able to use different styles of writing in a single work . In the case of A Perfect Blindness, three different, one for each of the three POV character:
·         Scott is ruled by power—he fixates on who is in control. The world is blunt and straightforward for him, and so are his sentences and word choices. He’s utterly focused on outcomes.
·         Poetry and Passion rule Jonathan, and he sees the poetic, erotic and passionate in everything around him. His sentences are longer, full of rhythm, alteration, parallel structures, a more fanciful vocabulary. Overall, the highest register of the three.
·         Pop culture rules Jennifer's world, and she thinks in similes and metaphors based on pop culture references and sees her life as if it were a TV show or magazine spread. Her sentences are not as elaborate as Jonathan's nor as blunt as Scott's and are larded with comparisons to TV shows, movies, advertising, and fashion. 
By living inside the head of each character as the world erupts in their mind, the contrast between the three worlds each one occupies grows; it is then that much more amazing that they
can build anything together.