Friday, February 22, 2019

Whack 'Em Upside The Head (Not the Title of My Urban Fantasy Book. But I'm Thinking Of It, Next.)

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Whack 'Em Upside The Head
(Not the Title of My Urban Fantasy Book. But I'm Thinking Of It, Next.)

 Exciting week! I did a podcast for an audience of thousands of reader and book lovers on 'The Author's Show' podcast. Which, if anyone is interested, is probably the largest author show podcast site in the world. If you are wondering as an author, the podcast itself is free to do, they would like you to buy it later to put on your webpages, but that is up to you. I thought just the exposure in front of a listening audience of thousands of readers was fantastic.
I'll admit the opening question initially stumped me a little (you do get to see them beforehand so you can think about your answers) and I had to really think about it: 

Why would someone want to buy this Urban Fantasy book, out of the tens of thousands of urban fantasy books lining the bookshelf?

Well, for me, I believe in whacking a reader upside the head, toss them kicking and screaming into the book, and just when they think they are starting to figure things out I toss them a curveball in the manner of Sandy Koufax, pull the plug and hit "restart". In other words, no immediate backfill, just hammer them into the action.

What is your unwritten rule as a published writer?

The hero or heroine must win somehow in the end. Otherwise I think we'd be living in a very depressing world if even one of the bad dudes ran everything. I believe that in addition to being an entertaining read, which is what a book should really be, a reader should get that feel-good factor and maybe something to help them to be a better person. Through my writing, I really want to inspire others, even if only in a small way.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage?

I think so. I was the eldest of seven, raised only by my mom. We were really not well off (not any fault of my mom, she worked very hard) so I felt that it was up to me to do the best I could too for my brothers and sisters and to make the most out of what we had. Which, as JK Rowling has once said, "When you're on rock bottom, the only way is up." I feel very grateful for the experiences that led me on my writing path and to finally being published.

When did you first begin writing?

Seriously, in high school, on a creative writing course. I've said this before on another blog, but the idea was to create writing flow. In other words, to learn to just let go and begin writing from the subconscious mind No editing, just write.

Based on your experience as a writer, what one recommendation would you make to authors just starting?

Well, like I did when I was younger, in some sort of creative writing course. Learn to set the subconscious mind free. Once you get the knack, you can just let the story write itself.

Tell us about this urban fantasy book?

The Joining, Book One in the Ainsworth Chronicles, has Carol Ainsworth, Vancouver Detective undercover at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria. There's two mafia families coming in supposedly for a wedding to join the families together, only they aren't there just for that. They're setting up a west coast drug operation, but they figured without an old curse involving the mob and the area's ghosts. One of the mob leaders is found hanged in his room, presumably by a ghost, and on top of that young boys start to disappear. One is Carol's only nephew. Detective Ainsworth soon has her hands full trying to fend off a hunky FBI agent and a hunkier mobster when a crazy psychic lady (oh, and she really is a true, old-fashioned lady) shows up bearing a crystal skull, claiming Carol requested her presence. Agnes can read minds, and see ghosts, but her true reason for being there is to solve a decades-old abduction of a young lad and she soon realizes that it is tied to the other abductions. There's also ancient ghosts trapped in the sewers of Victoria due to the old curse involving the mob. They have been living off the energy produced by the drug-takers that go down into the sewers to get stoned. Among them, one begins to JOIN with human DNA.  

Who did you write your paranormal book for?

The lovers of ghost stories, the urban fantasy/paranormal crowd, and readers that like to be dragged kicking and screaming into a novel and shoved down a roller-coaster of a ride with no idea how it is going to end.

Is there a central message in the paranormal book?

I asked my wife and her immediate answer was "stay the bleep away from ghosts." But it mainly is about life. Just when you think you've got it all solved, something throws you a massive curveball. So I guess it's how to pick up the pieces and "keep buggering on". (That's not my phrase; I borrowed it from a very influential man from the nineteen forties!).

If you had to choose, what would you say is the single most important idea you’re sharing in your book that is really going to add value to the reader’s life?

Keep buggering on. Don't give up. I had nearly four hundred rejections before my first novel was accepted. No matter what your goal is, stick to it. Pick yourself up when knocked down and keep going. Use those curveballs to your advantage. Like Carol does in this book.

If you could compare this book with any other published books out there under the fantasy genre that we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

Similar to Charles de Lint's Greenmantle or Moonheart. Where spiritual beings, whether it's First Nations, Irish, German or Russian folklore, exist along with us on this planet.

Do you do a lot of research on your subjects and why?

I do. Usually in the research I come across great ideas for the book, or for those that will come after. I've often said that life is stranger than fiction can ever be. Some of the most valuable research can come from just talking to people; at home, at work or on the road. I stayed at the Empress Hotel just last year, and gleaned valuable information from a couple of the staff. I already knew that it was reportedly haunted by several ghosts, including the architect, Sir Francis Rattenbury. My favourite was that from the front doorman who recounted the story of a couple that, when they went to their locked room to unpack, found that his wife's clothing been mysteriously replaced with "ghost clothing". "Ghost clothing?" I asked? "Yes" he said. "Real, old clothing." Another curious story came from a wonderful character on the street, as we were looking up at the wonderful old building that was the Rogers Chocolate Factory, now just their retail outlet. He reported that his friend's dog, that he walks by there almost every day, will often stop, hackles up, and growl at the upstairs window of that building.

As a fantasy writer what is the one question you ask yourself?

"What if?" "What if" this really happened or "what if" this happened instead, and off goes my muse on a tangent. Or, like the above story with the "ghost clothing", "what if" that really happened. Does that mean there really is a ghost, or someone from, or even (as there is reportedly a time vortex in Victoria as well) in the past, walking around in modern clothes? (I discovered that in my research, and several people have sworn they've gone into it!).
So the bigger question is, has someone really come back from the past to travel around today? Well maybe. I think it is quite possible. Read The Joining for my take on it.


I also just found out that I have been selected to be one of the Storytellers for Vancouver's Story Slam. See link below. Vancouver Story Slam

 urban fantasy, paranormal thriller, published author, fantasy genre, fantasy reader, the authors show, paranormal book.

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Frank Talaber
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Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues).
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).
Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.

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