I do not know what other authors think of their creations, but I can guess that my thoughts are similar. I enjoy what I am working on now, and my present creations are always my favorites. With that said, I think Coltrane is my best work.
1) Coltrane – “There’s something lacking in you,” Rebecca Talley informs Corey Dugan. “It’s something fundamental, and something about what it means to be human.”
Corey is sure, at first, that Rebecca’s assessment is one that has been delivered a million times throughout history by good-hearted, emotional women to their unfeeling boyfriends. He also finds a way to disregard her comment by convincing himself that she had to make it to avoid being perceived as the bad guy in their breakup.
When a second girlfriend corroborates Rebecca’s assessment, after witnessing him kill a person, Corey decides to give empathy and remorse a spin. As a result of his efforts, Corey Dugan experiences what some might call a moment of euphoria that Corey theorizes is derived from a chemical reward the brain had offered for fulfilling a need. The reward is equivalent to the reward offered to a body that is depleted when the person eats a Vitamin C rich strawberry. You may even not know that your body needs it, he theorizes, until you eat that food, and you perceive it to be the most delicious food you’ve ever had in your mouth.
As with anyone that has experienced such a high from chemical rewards, Corey attempts to duplicate the euphoric experience. With his next victim, Corey attempts to duplicate the sorrow and remorse he felt with the previous victim. As with any drug, he finds that all subsequent hits are unable to accomplish the chemical high that the initial hit provided, until he finds that he is chemically addicted to feelings of empathy, and he needs all subsequent hits of empathy just to feel normal again.
For everything he has gained by becoming more human, he has lost something vital. He cannot execute the simple task of exacting revenge upon a judge that ended up killing his best friend/mentor John Coltrane. The judge’s daughters are too young, too innocent, and too full of life, and Corey Dugan is now so overcome with emotion that he cannot perform the simple task of pulling a trigger.
The novel Coltrane begins as a social commentary on those that attempt to determine the degree to which a sadistic killer has remorse for what they have done, regardless the body count, but it evolves into a commentary on our culture’s lack of empathy, and how one man manages to overcome what he believes to be a predetermined fate to accomplish one good deed in an otherwise wretched life.
2) The Ghost of Carl – To those that may be interested, I have written other novels. To this point, they do not match the quality and psychological depth contained within Coltrane, and The Ghost of Carl is no different. Anyone interested in what led to Coltrane will find it here, as The Ghost of Carl is the first readable novel I’ve written. The others have their moments, but for the most part should not see the light of day.
No one cares that Carl McDougal is dead. No one cares that he may have been murdered. He died as he lived his life, without notice. No one cares that Dominic McDougal is alive. It’s possible that that his works of art could shake up the world. No one cares. He sucks. He’s weird. That won’t stop him.
“You’re wasting the precious gift called life,” it whispered.
That’s how it began. Was it Carl? Was Carl coming back from the dead to stop his son from going down the same road he fell down, or was Carl trying to save himself from whatever demons were chasing him in the afterlife? Was Carl, as Dominic’s friend Michalas suggests, trying to escape the plane of hell he is on by advising Dominic to live a better, more productive life? Or was this whole thing the result of a couple of over active imaginations? Regardless, the characters involved in these dilemmas are extremely good looking. They make some mistakes along the way, but they are not mentally challenged.
The book The Ghost of Carl is not as somber as this synopsis may imply. I attempted to jam as much humor as was possible in a philosophical, family saga about abuse and the fight to maintain artistic individuality. It’s dark humor, that is disturbing at times, but it is always pertinent.
6/20/14 note: This book starts out great, but it loses steam about halfway through. It seemed like such a great idea to me, and I slaved away at it for YEARS. Hindsight, that terrible term that haunts most authors, tells me that this book isn’t near as good as Coltrane.
3) Midnight at the Chicango–A collection of all of the best short stories I’ve written thus far.
There’s Something about Eddie: Eddie is angry about his lot in life. Eddie has a secret. Eddie has lost his mother. Eddie is angry that his Dad is selling their cabin. The family that is purchasing this cabin is a complete, loving family. Eddie is jealous. Eddie introduces one of the kids (Brad) to a rock, located on the outskirts of their cabin, deep in the forest. The rock has some kind of energy to it, something that causes Brad to froth at the mouth and shake and seize. Brad’s little brother Ty screams, fearing that his brother will die. “He won’t die. He’ll be a vegetable, but he won’t die.” As the other family leaves the park, rushing Brad to the hospital, Eddie can’t stop smiling. He’s on the border of laughter. He can’t help it. There’s something about this he likes. Ellis Reddick is a failure in life, and he’ll do whatever it takes to be taken seriously. Laurence Venkerhove is defined by those around him, and now that it’s too late they all appreciate him for it. Baby: A man doesn’t like his child. He never wanted a child. He wanted a wife, until they had a child. Devil Inside: Lloyd Bores is about to be a successful screenwriter. He creates stories about vampires. He is surrounded by fake vampires, and he is trying to write his way out of becoming a story. Mr. Cab Driver is stuck in a dead end job he loves. He picks up an overly sexual, under satisfied passenger who thinks she’s Supergirl. She has soft lips, and she sings gospel songs. She is everything a lonely cab driver wants in life, until she tries flying across the room. Captain Edritch is a story about Cash Davis—the worst stunt driver in America. He packs auditoriums not because he’s good, but because he’s bad. He has a number of accidents. He nearly dies so often that people pack the house to watch him die a miserable death. He dies, but a mysterious creature brings him back to life in an attempt to salvage his legacy. Eucalyptus Estates: Joe Audliffe is now a successful apartment manager. He no longer has to date ugly chicks. He openly informs these women of this and stirs up a hornet’s nest.
(6/20/14 commentary) All links removed as a childish temper tantrum of me being unable to move any of these books leaves me feeling, as if my for sale sign should be taken down.