Friday, July 24, 2020

THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES OF GOMEZ GOMEZ - Buck Storm - One Free Book

Welcome, Buck. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Some, probably—it’s natural. But my characters cover a pretty broad spectrum, and I try hard to get out of the way and let them speak for themselves. I figure they have a lot more to say than I do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh man, you’re talking to a longtime songwriter/traveler who’s used the world as his backyard. I’ve literally lived a life of quirk. We might need another blog for that! I don’t know if I’d call it the quirkiest, but one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done is taking a job as a singing telegram in Los Angeles years ago. Not a good job for a semi-introvert (in my defense, I was starving). I got fired after about five minutes and was lucky to last that long.  

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Boy, when that happens, I’ll let you know…

Actually, I can’t remember a time in life when I didn’t consider myself a writer, even though it took most of my life to get there professionally. Maybe I was just biding my time collecting characters and stories. I remember lying on the Los Angeles apartment application when my wife and I married back in 1989. I listed my profession as “writer.” I figured it wasn’t much of a stretch—after all, I wrote songs, and I’d get to books eventually. It took me twenty-five years and a lot of miles to become a novelist but I’m happy to report, several books in now, I made good on that application.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love good writing and it comes in a lot of different genres, so I don’t lock myself in to anything specific. For instance, I’ve got a professor friend who often sends me books I’ve never heard of let alone read. I always look forward to reading new authors, seeing their approach, and hearing what they have to say. I’ve been on a big John MacDonald kick lately, but I usually have several books going at once. Right now, for instance (I’m looking at the stack on my desk): Patrick O’Brian, Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, Louis L’Amour, Dashiel Hammett, Hemingway, Bukowski, Roddy Doyle… That’s a very partial list, and only in this stack (we won’t talk about the fact Tom Wolfe is hanging out in my bathroom right now). I think I might have a book problem!

My husband told me that if I die first, he could open a library with all my books, so I understand. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Ha. My family and friends might tell you I hold sanity with a fairly loose grip. To tell you the truth, I find life pretty peaceful for the most part. I do what I love. I get to spend my days hanging out with my God, my family (my kids and their spouses all live with us on our property here in northern Idaho), and I write pretty much every day. I’m a blessed man and don’t for a second take it for granted.

On the same property? I feel blessed that all our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all live in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Hmm. I guess I just think of them. Sometimes I’ll ask my family to throw out ideas if I’m stuck on it. Or I’ll assign something random and keep pressing at the story until something clicks. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it. What works for me is to keep things fluid and not be married to particulars. Even names. I’ve written whole books and changed a name or two at the last minute before submitting a manuscript.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Without hesitation, my family (although this is God’s accomplishment, not mine). My wife and I have had a truly special love story from the start. And I’m in absolute awe at the adults my kids have grown into. They, along with their spouses, are our best friends. I don’t deserve any of it, but I thank God for it every day.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Well, my wife says she’d be a dolphin, so I guess I’d be that since it would be decidedly inconvenient to be a separate species form my spouse. Although…considering…I might add wings to the dolphin. That would be a twist. And I’d also be a dolphin who could enjoy a good taco once in a while. 

What is your favorite food?
That’s funny, my family and I had this exact conversation for over two hours last night. It’s a hard question! But I grew up on the Mexican border and, for me, nothing tops good Mexican food. Although, I have to say Greek is a close second.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I think the hardest (and surprising) thing I found about writing, at least in the early days, was that it’s a very solitary discipline. I’m kind of an introvert and have no problem being alone for long stretches but as a writer you have to be able to live day in and day out with no one but your characters. After all, it’s all in your head. You’re the only person on the planet who knows anything about this story. So, in my case at least, I’ll go eight months, a year, maybe longer without any real feedback from other humans. At some point, doubt starts to knock. What if everything I’ve poured into this for months and months is horrible? Useless? It’s a good chunk of my life!

The bottom line is, every writer has to, at some point, dig deep and find some level of confidence in themselves and in their stories or they’ll continually struggle. There has to be a sense of fearless self-reliance and that takes time. Because, with writing, you have to figure out what works for you. You can’t be someone else. You can study the craft endlessly, get all the rules down, get your head shot (coffee cup in hand), go to all the right conferences, read all the right marketing blogs, but, at some point, you have to put pen to page and be you. You have to tell your stories.

I imagine I’m not alone in saying that, even after my first couple publishing deals, I was waiting for the shoe to drop. I just knew someone was going to figure out I had no idea what I was doing. I finally had to decide that my success as a writer wasn’t going to be measured by whether or not a publisher liked my work, sales numbers, what the experts say the market is looking for, etc. I’m just need to honor God in my life and tell my stories. And I’m having a heck of a good time doing it.
   
Yes, we each have a unique right way to put our stories on paper. Early on, whenever I’d hear a successful writer tell how to write, I’d try it. I always quickly went back to what works for me. Tell us about the featured book.
Well, it’s your basic homeless widower drinking himself to death in the bushes slash Catholic Priest love story… Sounds weird when I think about it.

It’s essentially a quirky David and Goliath match up, pitting eccentric, homeless widower against a wealthy and influential businessman. Gomez Gomez has lost his wife, Angel, in a head-on collision and, grieving, he’s moved into the bushes next to the crash site to basically drink himself to death. It’s sacred ground to him. He’s always been a little (or a lot) out there, and alcohol certainly doesn’t help the situation—thus the talking to snakes and the stars and the sequined, jump-suited Elvis who occasionally turns up. Sonny Harmon, who owns the car dealership next door to Gomez Gomez’s vacant lot wants the land to expand. He basically doesn’t even consider Gomez Gomez human. The town squares up and takes sides. Hopefully, so does the reader.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Gomez Gomez talked to snakes. Something many might’ve found odd had the subject in question not been Gomez Gomez. Even as a kid he was considered a half bubble off plumb.
           
Their loss, he figured. A simple problem—people didn’t know how to listen. He couldn’t blame them, of course. The world at large, the ones outside the glass looking in, had no way of knowing. No, it wasn’t their fault. They had no real perspective. No foundation in the exceptional.
           
Not like him. He understood the exceptional. He’d breeched the glass. After all, he’d been married to Angel. At least before she’d learned how to die.
           
The other thing they didn’t understand—couldn’t understand—was that Gomez Gomez never initiated the conversation.
           
And the thing about snakes, they always had a lot to say.
           
The shrill phrases of the garter snakes, the machine-gun staccato of the red racers—you couldn’t get a word in edgewise with those guys—the coughing hasp of the gopher snake. The big rattler, five feet at least, scared him with his dusty slur, but his stories were by far the most interesting.
           
This afternoon a huge king snake stretched himself out on the log under the mesquite tree and regaled Gomez Gomez with tales of the hunt in his comfortable, booming baritone.
           
Gomez Gomez sipped from a paper bag-wrapped Thunderbird wine bottle then arched an eyebrow at the big king. “You told me that one before.”
           
“Did I?” the snake said.
           
“You told me most of these before. You have a bad habit of repeating yourself.”
           
“You know you’re cranky when you drink?”
           
“Then I’m always cranky.”
           
“Good point.”
           
“And don’t judge me.”
           
“Why would I? Still, you must know you’re killing yourself.”
           
“Not fast enough, you ask me.” Gomez Gomez took another pull. “Besides, Thunderbird is first rate snake-hearing juice. Nothin’ like it. Seems like that’s something you’d be all for.”
           
“Maybe, but I worry. What would Angel say?”
           
“She don’t say nothing anymore. She never does. Can’t even dream about her. And leave her out of it, anyway.”
           
“I’m just saying that some ghosts have heavier footsteps than others.”
           
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
           
The snake lifted his head, flicked his tongue against the clear Arizona autumn air. “So what’s on the paper?”
           
“What paper?”
           
“The one in your hand that has you so upset.”

Wow! I want to know what’s on the paper, too. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Buck, for sharing The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read it. And thank you for the fun interview.

Readers, here are links to the book.
The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez  - Christianbook.com
The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez (Ballads of Paradise) - Amazon

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5 comments:

Kay Garrett said...

Thank you for introducing me to a new to me author. "THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES OF GOMEZ GOMEZ" by Buck Storm sounds like a fabulous story and one that I would greatly enjoy having the opportunity to read and review. It's now on my TBR list.

Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected. Thank you for the chance!
Kay Garrett from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Nancy Payette said...

Sounds very interesting. Great interview. FL

Lucy Reynolds said...

Thank you for sharing. It is always nice to be introduced to authors I haven’t read. Blessings from WV.

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Paula Shreckhise said...

Sounds quirky and interesting. Able to teach lots of lessons! Thanks for the chance. I’m from Missouri.
paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet