Welcome, Keith. What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
DH Lawrence had a great line, “Never trust the teller, trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.”
For me the line is, “Trust the tale not the teller.” Meaning if there’s any value to the work it’s because it exists inside the writing, not in the life-story of the author. Writer’s lives are a footnote to their writing, but people always want to see behind the curtain.
Invariably, you only find a little man pulling levers and shouting into a microphone, “I am the Great and Powerful Oz, pay no attention to that man—”
But for what it’s worth, I was a 1970s kid, did everything wrong at least twice, and three or four times for the crazy stuff I invented myself. Did this help me make
Eden? I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes. First, Do No Harm . . . The strangest thing
about growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s was that no one imagined adulthood.
Duty, responsibility, mercy, and turning a frown upside down. Invisible when
you’re young, and harder than it looks when you’re older.
Tell us about your family.
Dysfunctional family of the WWII generation: a cross between Everybody Loves Raymond, The Front Page, and the Thurber story, The Night the Bed Fell on my Father. If you’ve ever seen Albert Finney in Tom Jones—that was me, as a teenager . . . we are obliged to bring our Hero on the Stage in a much more disadvantageous Manner than we could wish; and to declare . . . that it was the universal Opinion of all Mr. Allworthy's Family, that he was certainly born to be hanged.
Have you written other fiction books?
Six novels. Two spy thrillers, Swan Div and Banquo’s Ghosts (with Rich Lowry); a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream set in the dustbowl, Archangel; a romance based on the true story of Jung and his first important patient, Sabina Speilrein, Secret Dreams; a God-fearing sci-fi thriller based on the idea that the Pied Piper of Hamlin comes back to life in modern USA, End Times; and of course, Eden.
Do you have any other books in the works right now?
A thriller out of
Bosnia via France and Aspen. A show biz novel based on my personal
experience in the game.
What kinds of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?
Practiced Shotokan for 30 years with a Japanese Sensei; a deep feature of character building. When I have time, I hunt and ski, but mostly I like snuggling in the bed with my wife and the dogs.
Why did you write the featured book?
Well, they don’t call it the greatest story ever told, for nothing! I’ve always admired Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web and of course, The Wind in the Willows – getting my animals to talk and think was more fun than I can possibly explain. You can say and see a lot of things through dogs and donkeys and lambs you can’t say or see using people.
What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
The Almighty is good, and so are the animals, his creations who march with us through this world. Anyone can be redeemed.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers about you or your book?
Pick it up, start on the first page, read first line, if you get to the second line, go to the third . . .
Please give us the first page or two from the book.
“There is not enough darkness in the world to extinguish a single candle flame.”
Saint Francis of
The Roman Legionaries called the dog Old Gray. During the day his ashen fur made him look like a wolf, while at night the moon turned his coat silver from head to tail. Season after season Old Gray kept pace with the soldiers’ column, trotting beside their tramping feet. No one knew where he came from, but as long as anyone could recall the dog marched with the cohort, camp to camp. Out of companionship? Or for the scraps of Roman bread and soup at day’s end?
When winter came and the weather grew cold Old Gray took shelter in their tents. In the heat of summer he lay on a folded cloak under the starry sky. Like all dogs he slept lightly, his ears and nose alert to any strange movement near at hand. And so Old Gray earned his keep, guarding the soldiers of the Legion.
That winter the Roman army marched south many miles through endless barren hills and Old Gray kept pace, trotting mile after mile. Oftentimes he scouted ahead, then doubling back, only to overhear the cavalry horses who grumbled at every turn of the road.
For weeks on end the war horses whinnied the same complaint:
“No grass. No grass.”
Then grimly to anyone within earshot:
“Bare ground. Everywhere bare ground.”
The column’s surly mule, harnessed to the hay wagon laden with the Legions’ grub and the animals’ daily feed, grumbled along with the rest, “I have grass. Bales and bales of grass. They’ll feed you tonight, like they do every night. Be thankful you don’t have to pull it.”
It was a soldier’s right to gripe. Mules and horses no exception. Old Gray took it in stride. Mules and horses could only graze if there was grass, while smart old dogs combed the roadside for birds’ eggs and every creature of the field. But Old Gray didn’t feel too sorry for the mules or horses; the soldiers always fed the beasts of burden first as the cohort wouldn’t move without the draft animals lugging food and water and the officers never traveled on foot.
Every day, the barren road into the south stretched to oblivion. The column plodding on forever, a great serpent of men fading into the cloud of yellow dust that hovered over their line of march. The hills of this wilderness were mostly barren, but then they came upon flocks. Old Gray saw shepherds, their sheep straying for tufts and brambles in the rocky pastures above the road. At dusk Old Gray crept up the slope and found what he was looking for—a ewe and her lamb astray.
At first the shepherd tried to strike the thieving dog with his crook crying, “Get away! Get away!” But Old Gray darted off, herding the ewe and her lamb down the slope as the man stumbled in pursuit. Back in
Gray was praised by
all who saw him and the clink of Roman coins quieted the shepherd’s protest.
Anything to shut him up. camp
Old Gray had heard it all before.
Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
Settle in for some winter reading and enter to win a copy of Keith's book and a Kindle Fire!
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- A copy of Eden
- A Kindle Fire
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