Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sam Silvasteen from Thomas Barr Jr's, Notorious P Man Sam

We’re thrilled to be talking to Sam Silvasteen from Thomas Barr Jr's,Notorious P Man Sam: Miami's Urban Chronicles Volume I

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character! Thank you for your interview, Sam. Can you tell us your story?

What's Up? Thank you for having me. My story is the age old one of overcoming odds in realization of a dream. The dream of escaping poverty, drugs and crime to become a productive member of our beloved society. The tool I focus on in relation to over coming the odds is that of Entrepreneurship. It can be a key to anyone in becoming self sufficient.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features? 

I can list that feature as one of persistance. In my story i continue to come up with ideas to get ahead as an entrepreneur. I've sold music and owned a club in order to learn to be a good business man. I'm not afraid to fail in realizing my dream of escaping the circumstances of a harsh poverty filled life. My persistance is what drove me to pursue my dreams.

What would I love the most about you?

 I'm a good guy at heart and you will love that about me as you get to know me. I'm likeable and i consider the interest of others as i travel my road in search of my ultimate goal.

Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?

I prefer to be with friends and family. I enjoy seeing others happy and i'm happy being around people i love. I do have times that i prefer to be alone and think over things. Ultimately, i chose the company of friends.

Who is your best friend?

My best friend is Jose. We've been friends since our younger years and he's a sincere loyal person.

What is in your refrigerator right now?

I would want to say pizza and old E 800 beer are my favorite. However, my wife is on a health kick and has cleaned out the refrigerator for fruits and V8 Juices.

Where do you go when you are angry?

I usually go to the pool hall and hang out with my friends. It's a change of pace which eases my mind when under preassure. There i can laugh and crack jokes with my friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession is my wife who is my life partner. She has supported my dreams and has been there for me during the harsh times. An entrepreneur is often financially tested and she has learned to support my shortcomings.

What is the trait you most not like about yourself?

I would say my loyalty. I can be loyal to my own detriment. I could have avoided alot of trouble by simply walking away or abandoning certain people in situations.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? 

In light of my settings, I think the author has portrayed me in an accurate manner.

TitleNotorious P-Man Sam: Miami's Urban Chronicles Vol. 1 
Vol. 1: Miami's Urban Chronicles
Author: Thomas Barr., Jr.
Publisher: VIP INK Publishing Group, Inc. / Printhouse Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Format: Paperback - 88 pages / eBook
Genre: Urban Fiction  

Purchase The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

This book is about the struggle of African American men as they traverse the perils of 20th and twenty first century life in the professional realms of the work place atmosphere. The differences in opportunities are often overlooked in comparison to other classes and among the races.

The American dream is the realization of success in the face of struggle and hard work. Is it relevant that one’s struggle is harder than the other in accomplishment of this goal? P-Man Sam is a hard look at the road to self-empowerment and what it takes to make it in the American society. The entrepreneurial spirit is one of the main roads traveled in realization of the American dream.

It takes knowledge and a fearlessness to take a chance in the ruthless world of business in this society. It’s also important to be able to effectively communicate with the modern diverse society of today through effective people skills.

The P-Man Sam story brings an awareness of how to navigate negative experiences and transform them into motivational learning blocks. Learning from experiences and moving forward is essential in life. One’s eyes must be open and na├»ve thought processes must be conquered in attaining the ultimate prize. The following are useful for application:

• Mentorship
• Net working
• Coalition building
• Broad-mindedness

This book is a good source for inspiration and having hope is a major force in your journey through life. Situations and circumstances should not be viewed as a hindrance, but instead a hurdle in step to the finish line. There are many instances in this story that relay the struggle against forces that present obstacles. Willpower and dedication are true factors that assist the main character in winning out against such forces.

In conclusion, the power of love and support are sustaining factors in the realization of goals in life. The act of goal-setting itself is an important factor in accomplishing anything in pursuant of ambitious dreams. This novel is sprinkled with kernels of knowledge and inspirational wording designed to give the reader insight into the motivations of the main character that can be transcending to experience.

It is beneficial and intended to identify and acquire these gems of knowledge to retain as progressive career tools.  

Book Excerpt: 
In the tenth year of the millennium, on the major Interstate of I-95 cars sped up the roadway and zinged pass construction barriers.  Many of the vehicles just barely swipe distressed vehicles’ parked roadside.  Sam Silvasteen drove with his windows down taking in the South Florida breeze as his car cruised at a comfortable speed.  A black car with a high performance sounding engine screeched up next to Sam’s car.  The sound of gunfire erupted and peppered the passenger’s side of Sam’s car with silver dollar sized bullet holes.  Sam jerked the steering wheel in an attempt to dodge the spray of bullets.  The men in the car continued to pace Sam’s car firing ruthlessly into the frame of the automobile.  Hot lead ripped through Sam’s flesh as he was hit with a volley of bullets. 
Sam slammed into the median and the men sped off as his car coasted to a halt along the concrete rail.  Sam could hear the screaming brakes of other cars on the road and smell the scent of twisted metal as he faded out.  The Entrepreneurial President of Bandstand Magazine lay shot along the Miami corridor among twisted metal.  His life flashed before his eyes and he thought back on the events that led him to his current predicament.
Sam was a street wise entrepreneur who had escaped the shadows of the crime filled eighties drug environment of Miami.  Cocaine was the major drug that circulated thru the community of Dade County.  He transformed his life into a respectable businessman and attempted to help other urban youth in becoming productive community citizens.  Within the blink of an eye his life was turned upside down and the phantoms of his past attempted to snatch his mortal essence from existence. 
Sam was initially raised in a single parent home.  When Sam turned ten in the year 1977, he was placed in an orphanage by his grandparents due to his mother’s early dementia among her other mental illness related problems.  Sam’s grandparents had six adult kids living in their home and couldn’t afford a proper home for young Sam. 
“Who turned the damn T.V.,” yelled a burly kid his hair dripped with Gerri curl juice.  His voice echoed through the bare white walled dayroom of the orphanage.  Sam sat motionless as the other kids looked around not saying a word in response to the question.  The scarcely decorated room remained silent.  Most of the juveniles were Cuban exiles and spoke little English.  The burly kid steaming with rage yanked the plug out of the wall and kicked the T.V. over.  The loud crash and sound of breaking glass alerted the nearby sisters from the hallway entrance. 
“What happened to the T.V.?”  Asked Sister Alice, she was new to Saint Joseph and relocated from Nicaragua to assist with the influx of prospective exiled children of political patriots.  She wore the traditional long flowing robes of her profession.  She was a looker and it could be speculated that she had her pick of the litter before being ordained.
“Jose kicked it over,” said the burly kid as he pointed at Jose Marti a skinny pale Cuban teen.  Jose possessed long limbs but his skinny frame made him look a bit goofy in appearance. 
“Jose is this true?”  Replied Sister Alice, as she wheeled in his direction.  Jose remained silent as Sister Alice waited for him to respond. 
“Jose didn’t do it Sister Alice,” Sam exclaimed.  His voice was firm and controlled.  “Well it didn’t happen on its on Sam,” replied Sister Alice in a sarcastic tone.  The burly kid cut his eyes at Sam and gave him a hard look.
She now turned to the burly kid, “Trey Brownlee if you’re fibbing you get twenty lashes,” She exclaimed. 
“I swear….,” replied Trey before he could finish his sentence Sister Alice smacked him in the chest with a ruler.  In a heavy Spanish accent she sentenced Trey to spend the rest of the day in time out. 
“Sam get this mess cleaned up,” she said as she escorted Trey from the room.
Sam immediately grabbed a garbage can to pick up the shards of glass that covered the floor.  Jose found a broom and swept some of the glass in a pile for Sam to scoop into the garbage.  The other kids resumed their activities as the hype died down. 
Sam made a friend in Jose from the day of the T.V. incident with Trey.  They began their friendship working as partners at anything they did together.  Sam was a husky twelve year old and Jose was three years his senior.  The two got along quite well with no regards to their respective ages.  Lucky Barnes was a younger kid who hung around Burt Ramos the only Puerto Rican kid at the orphanage.  Lucky was a portly black kid with big hands.  Burt often used little Lucky when he was trying to hustle the other boys in marbles.
“Hey Sam,” said Burt.  “Trey is going to be pissed that you stuck your nose in his business.”
“Forget Trey,” responded Sam.  “If you’re down with Trey than forget you too,” said Sam as he flopped down onto a sofa in the dayroom of the orphanage.  A group of boys congregated at the corner of the day room and shot a game of marbles. 
“Oh I’m down for myself and I was just making sure you knew what time it was,” said Burt as he made his way to the marbles game.  Lucky gave Sam thumbs up as he shuffled close behind Burt.
Jose pulled up a chair alongside Sam and said, “Now we have nothing to watch because of Trey.”  The boys protested loudly in the corner of the room while Burt tried to convince them he was not cheating.  “Hey I got ya back don’t let them get to you about that Trey stuff,” he said. 
Sam sat straight up and replied, “I’m not worried about a thing.”  He extended his hand and slapped Jose five.  Jose watched a lot of T.V. and was hip to the street ways of black culture.  He understood the gesture and was happy to have made a friend in a place where watching out for self was paramount.  Sam was also careful in not being labeled a rat while sticking up for Jose.  He knew in befriending an older kid his chances of survival had increased tenfold. 
The females were housed in an entirely different dorm wing as compared with the males.  The only times the two would mingle was during mealtimes and that was usually three times a day.  All the kids in the orphanage were supervised by nuns and the Mon Senior had final call on all activities.  Sam had his eye on this one pigtailed hair girl named Vivian Smart.  She was a beautiful vivacious teen who was present at the orphanage upon Sam’s arrival.
“Hi Sam,” she said as she sat down with her lunch at Sam’s table.  “I heard what you did for that Cuban kid the other day and I think it was courageous.”  Sam shifted in his chair.
“No big thing,” he replied.  “The kid looked as if he needed help and I stepped in.”  Sam dropped his head and continued to munch on his sandwich.  Vivian took a cookie from her tray and placed it on a napkin in front of Sam’s tray.  Sam didn’t raise his head but his heart quickened its pace. 
“This is for your bravery,” she replied as she slid the napkin in Sam’s direction.  Sam was at a loss of words, and before he uttered his faint thank you Vivian had strode off and rejoined her friends. 
The cafeteria was a bustle with kids and they were being closely monitored by the nuns for any improprieties.  Sam sat brooding as he finished his meal.  He missed he mother and siblings, while the orphanage provided a vibrant surrounding it lacked genuine personal connections.  Before his mother’s unfortunate problems Sam was often doted on by his family.  He was the youngest and the last born of his mother’s children.  His siblings were years older than he was and were all away trying to establish a life for themselves.  Sam hated being poor but what else could he do he thought to himself. 
Sam made his way to the day room after lunch and sat looking at one of the day room windows.  He had a second period of classes in which he contemplated cutting.  Jose walked up to him and slapped him on the back, “What up Sam!”  He said in his best English. 
“What’s up Jose,” replied Sam.  I got a couple of classes for second period and I do not feel like going,” said Sam with a sigh. 
Jose was only a grade higher than Sam although he was fifteen.  His problems with the language barrier relegated him to grades lower than his normal level in Cuba.  “Let’s hangout in the courtyard or sneak over to the girl’s dorm,” replied Jose.
“Cool,” replied Sam.  He stashed his books under a nearby sofa and was out the door along with Jose. 
The girl’s wing was well kept and immaculate in comparison to the facilities the boys maintained.  When not in class the girls milled around outside and played dodge ball on the cement courts.  The males and females rarely participated in physical activities except when there was a yearly festival occurring.  Jose and Sam hid behind a dumpster near the courts of the girl’s dormitory.  “Hey there’s Vivian,” said Sam as he ducked so he wouldn’t be seen by her. 
“Who is Vivian?” Jose inquired. 
“Nobody,” replied Sam.
The girls walked on a nearby court and began their ritual jump rope Double Dutch game.  Jose whistled trying to get one of the girls’ attention, Sam nudged him in the side.
“Are you trying to get us busted,” exclaimed Sam.
“No, just trying to get us some trim,” replied Jose. 
One of the girls heard the commotion and walked over to where Sam and Jose were held up.  She saw them crouched behind the dumpster and immediately began screaming.  The boys tore out of their hiding place and ran for the nearest place to hide for cover.  Jose laughed hysterically as he tried to catch his breath from the sprint to the dormitory.
“You’re crazy,” remarked Sam bending over in exhaustion. 
“That was a rush,” said Jose. 
The two boys walked back to the day room and talked about the look on the girls’ faces when they realized they were being spied upon.  Classes were ending for the day and the dayroom was filled with students.  Music appreciation seminars were usually held by Sister Alice after dinner and Sam really enjoyed the sessions.  He profiled the different types of music genre as well as the musicians of past and contemporary times.  “I’m going to my room before dinner,” said Jose.
“See you later,” remarked Sam.
Sam remained in the dayroom leafing through his school books as he sat on a bench in the back of the room.  Sister Alice entered the dayroom recruiting groups to complete chores.  Sister Alice mentioned that the females were also participating and Sam decided to volunteer.  One group of males and one group of females were directed to the gymnasium area of the compound.  The two groups were instructed to scrub the floors and wash the walls.  Sam joined the chore group hoping to get a chance to be around Vivian.  Sam began scrubbing and to his dismay saw no sign of Vivian in the other group.  
Sam continued to volunteer his services for the chores squad of Sister Alice in hopes of seeing Vivian.  On this one particular day the squad was tasked to clean the main administrative offices of parish officials.  Vivian was assigned to the task and Sam was delighted his persistence had finally paid off.  Sam decided he would work closely with Vivian and learn more about her interests. 
“Hey what are you doing here?” said Sam.  Vivian stopped what she was doing and put her hands on his hips.
“The same thing you’re doing,” She said.  The girls giggled as Vivian smiled at Sam. 
Sam thought to himself that was a dumb question to ask.  He never knew the right words to say to the members of the opposite sex.  She looked so beautiful standing there with a twinkle in her eyes and sass in her voice thought Sam. 
“Well I was offering to help but I see you’re good,” Sam replied with a smirk. 
“You’re such a good guy,” said Vivian with a wink.
Sam continued to work while the girls chatted about what guys they thought were cute in the boys’ dormitory.  Sam pondered his next move on how to get Vivian’s attention without her friends being around.  He thought he would have a better chance at an honest conversation on a one on one basis.  Sam would have to covertly recruit individuals to help with his plan and a major part of his plan would be Sister Alice.
Sam was exhausted after his chores and he lounged in the dayroom and watched the boys roll marbles.  A couple of maintenance men coordinated the installment of a new T.V. in place of the damaged one.  Jose walked in and made his way over to a nearby by sofa avoiding the guys on the floor as they shot marbles. 
“So you were doing chores,” remarked Jose.  “Did you see your sweetheart Vivian,” he remarked with a laugh.  Sam ignored Jose’s remark and continued to watch the boys argue over taking a turn to roll marbles. 
“When are you going to volunteer to help out around here?” asked Sam.  “Maybe you’ll meet a nice female.”  Sam remarked. 
“My uncles say the best way to get a fine girl is with a lot of money,” said Jose.  
“Yeah that works too,” said Sam with a chuckle.
Sam was intent on wining the heart of Vivian and he assured himself that love was his reason for his persistence.  Sam had not really known the love of a woman outside of his mother but he could not resist the emotion he felt when he was around Vivian.  Sam would be careful about revealing his feelings around the people he interacted with daily, because in his environment this could be a source of perceived weakness.   
Trey entered the dayroom and stomped through the circled marbles on the floor where the boys were shooting marbles.  The sound of grinding glass against the floor could be heard as Trey twisted his foot on each stomp.  Marbles shot out from under Trey’s foot hitting the sides of nearby chairs, tables and walls.   The boys scuttled out of Trey’s path dodging flying marbles.   
“Man why’d you do that!”  One of the enraged boys responded.
“Shut your trap,” retorted Trey.
Sam knew Trey was pissed he had challenged his rule in standing up for Jose.  Sam was ready for whatever retaliation Trey would seek to impose.  Sam continued to lounge nonchalantly on the sofa as Trey marauded around the dayroom.  Jose remained silent as he sat on the other sofa.  Sam could see Jose was tense and his demeanor had drastically shifted in relation to his earlier mood.  Sister Alice stuck her head through the doorway of the day room. 
“We will have no trouble out of you today Trey,” She said as she disappeared down the hallway. 
Sam sat at the breakfast table alone and ate his bowl of oatmeal in silence.  He soon felt a hand on his shoulder.  It was Sister Alice standing over him smiling with her black nun’s head dress draped over her hair. 
“Sam don’t mind Trey much,” she said.  “Both his parents died of aids when he was just a toddler.”  She pulled up a chair and sat next to Sam.  Sam paused between spoons full of oatmeal as she continued to talk. 
“He was raised by his grandmother until she died a couple of months ago and he seems to have a hard time adjusting.”  She said. 
Sam thought to himself he was not having an easy time here either and why is she telling this story to someone who loathes Trey.  Sam began to fidget with his silverware as Sister Alice told Trey’s life story.  He desperately wished Jose would appear and interrupt her oration.  Sam could appreciate the concern Sister Alice felt for the kids of the orphanage.  He wondered if she spoke of his situation and issues with others as she did of Trey.
                Sam’s own home situation was what led to his current occupancy and he felt little empathy for Trey’s story.  Sam had few adult role models; however Sister Alice influenced the good in him.  Sam dreamed of the day when he could stand on his own without the need of the orphanage.  He was tired of being a kid and was ready to venture out into the world.  Sam was in his own thoughts now and subconsciously caught bits and pieces of Sister Alice’s conversation.  “You know Sam Saint Joseph will seek to be a solid base for your upbringing when you grow up,” she said.  Her voice seemed to trail off as her last comment reverberated in his thoughts.
                Sam desired to make a good impression to others by making himself who they thought he should be.  He would do tasks that made other people happy and would go all out to fit in with others.  Sam felt uneasy in the aftermath when he thought of this act of self repression.  His true nature was to be himself and explore who the real Sam was as an individual.
                Sam viewed Trey as a bully and an enemy to the free spirit of those around him.  Trey’s bully tactics blunted the freewill of others stunting their growth.  Sam in an attempt to be ordinary like everyone else downplayed his true abilities.  He had no desire to be recognized as exceptional in comparison to his colleagues.  The Trey types sought to bring out such exceptional abilities which made Sam hate him even more. 
                Sam’s perceived abandonment issues stoked his desires for the camaraderie of others and he highly valued friendship.  Trey bullying tampered with that concept which in turn was a source for instability in Sam’s world.  Sam would mesh out any instability that threatened his contentment.  Trey would be met with the harsh retaliation whenever he threatened to disrupt Sam’s reality. 
                Sister Alice realized Sam was not soaking in her words and stopped speaking.  She looked at Sam as he sat gazing into the distance.  She raised herself from her seated position and stood with her hands on her hips.  She shook her head and walked away from Sam as he continued his gaze. 

                “Kids,” she said.      

About The Author


Hailing from Miami Florida; Author Thomas Barr was born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  He is the grandson of a share cropper whom taught him the value of hard work and education.  At age 17 he began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college he was inspired to write when he read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  He began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  He entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military he went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  He began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.  His current works were inspired by his work with the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.

Thomas Barr’s writings reflect the everyday struggle of the average individual trying to make something of life.  Every person has a story to tell and the job of an inspirational writer is to bring those stories to life for the good of all.  As an author Thomas Barr desires to be the chronicler of inspirational stories designed to assist dreamers in achieving.   

Connect with Thomas:
Author Website: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com 
Author Blog: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com/367815247 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.j.barr.5 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ThomasBarrJr Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31179667-thomas-barr-jr

Friday, May 22, 2015

Nalah from Anne Sawyer-Aitch's Nalah Goes to Mad House City

We’re thrilled to be talking to Nalah from Anne Sawyer-Aitch’s Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Nalah. How old are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m seven. I don’t have to make a living. But my Mom says I make a lot of mischief. Oh, and I make a lot of messes. Well, actually, I don’t make them, the animals do. Tico the Tiger is the worst. But Mad Tooth the Mouse eats one of each kind of sock. And if I didn’t throw peas at Ernestina the Emu, what would she eat? No one believes me though. They think I’m making them up. Because I’m the only one who sees the animals.

Where do you go when you are angry?

I make a blanket fort and hide in it with my favorite toys. When I bring my flashlight in there, I can do a light show.

What makes you laugh out loud?

I like to watch Mad Tooth chase Tico around the house. Because even though he’s a tiger, he’s afraid of a little tiny mouse.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Well, Auntie Anne does her best. But she can’t always get all the awesomeness of my world down on paper. It’s really fun to be me.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Funny you should ask that. I just had the most perfect day! I went to Mad Mouse City. It’s a really cool little town with a sock monster, and a mouse band, and all these weird little buildings made from junk. I’m the most important person there, because the city is in my sock drawer. They had a parade in my honor. And there’s a cheddar cheese statue of me in the town square. It doesn’t get much better than that. The only thing missing was ice cream.

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

Animal crackers, grape popsicles, and Cheetos.

If you could change one physical thing about yourself, what would that be?

I would want to have wings. Mad Tooth said a spell that helped me to shrink and have Tinkerbelle wings so we could get to Mad Mouse City. But when we got back, the wings weren’t there any more. Flying is the best! I’d fly to school every day if I could.

Who is your best friend?

Well, I can’t say that, or the animals might get mad at me, wouldn’t they? I mean, if I say Tico the Tiger, then Percival Prong the Polka Dot Pig might get jealous. And he’s very touchy. I just got Tico to stop going into Percy’s bathroom and squirting him with toothpaste.  The last time that happened, I had to sit in the bathtub with Percy and sing “Let it Go” a billion times in a row before he could calm down. Sometimes friends are so much work.

Someone is secretly in love with you.  Who is it and how do you feel about that?

Oogie. I might get cooties.

Do you like to cook?  If so, what is your favorite thing to cook?

I like to make spring rolls and Pho with Mom. But sometimes I like macaroni and cheese too. We put hot sauce on it.

About the Author:

Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. When she decided to create her first book, Nalah and the Pink Tiger, she began experimenting with different styles of illustration, and finally discovered a technique that uses her skills as a maker of color shadow puppets. She calls it “Illuminated Illustration”, and it involves cut-away designs, layering, and backlighting. In her capacity as a puppeteer, Anne creates puppet pieces of all kinds: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. She is a MN State Arts Board Roster Artist, teaching puppetry all over the state, and has been touring around with her first book & her Nalah and the Pink Tiger show for the last two years. Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City is her second book. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For More Information
About the Book:

The adventures of Nalah continue! One day Nalah finds herself bored and lonesome because all of her imaginary friends have gone away on vacation. But wait – not all. Mad Tooth, the little mouse who lives in her sock drawer, is still busy munching away on her knee-highs. When she finds out why Nalah is sad, she offers to take her down through the sock drawer into a mouse metropolis. The result is a tale of wild dancing, cousins and mice, taffy and a sock monster.

“Gorgeously illustrated with a process I've only seen before in Anne Sawyer-Aitch's 1st book, Nalah and the Pink Tiger. My 4-year-old particularly enjoyed the x-ray view of the stilting guard of Mad Mouse City, and was inspired to make several of her own versions of the illustration. Another fun story with a relatable young girl as protagonist and vivid fantastic characters she encounters.” – E. Bestrom, Good Reads reader

For More Information

  • Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Character Interview with Harric Dimoore (The Jack of Souls)

We’re thrilled to be talking to Harric Dimoore, from Stephen Merlino’s The Jack of Souls. It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Harric.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

I turn nineteen in a couple days. But then, that’s all I get. I’m dead. My mother cursed me to die on my nineteenth birthday.

I’m not trying to get sympathy, but since you asked, I thought you should know.

What do I do for a living? Normally, I tell people I’m exactly what I appear to be: a gentleman bastard, earning his coin playing cards and running a modest trade supplying pioneers passing through on their way to the Free Lands.


Since I’m dead tomorrow, it hardly matters who knows the truth. The truth is I was trained from birth to be a courtier spy in Her Majesty’s service. Why am I here, you ask, and not in court? Long story. Suffice it to say, I refused the service, and won a death curse for my pains. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the Queen. I do. She’s the only reason bastards like me are free in Arkendia and not slaves. She freed us, and I’d give my life for her. I refused to go to court because…Well, let’s just say I had some differences of opinion with my master on the best way to serve Her Majesty.

Enough of that. The long and short of it is that instead of serving in court as I was raised to do, I’m a frontier gambler, con artist, trickster, and rogue.

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

Aren’t you listening? Obviously, someone put you up to that question. Was it Rudy? He’s a cob. But back to your question. What would I do with one day to live? Apparently the first thing I’ll do is grant an interview to someone with wool in their ears. After that, I’ll fight like hell to break my curse.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

My handsome good looks and winning smile, of course! Kidding. Not really.

It bothers me that the only picture you have of me is the one from the cover of The Jack of Souls. Jakub Rozalski was the painter, and I’ll grant he’s unbelievably talented, but I object to his choice of scenes. The night before that scene I’d been jumped no less than three times and fought for my life against fists and swords and sorcery. I look it, too. Why couldn’t he show me at the card table, hair combed, fat roll of ragleaf between my teeth, leaning back in my chair as I cast a sly smile at the viewer over stack of coins in the foreground?

Whatever. If I look wretched and ready to topple over that cliff, that’s why.

What would I love the most about you?

My humility.

What is your most treasured possession?

As a kid, it was my favorite card from the tarot poker deck: The Jack of Souls. When I was nine or ten, someone gave me a particularly fine, hand-painted Jack, and I pinned him on the wall above my bed. He was my hero. I wanted to be the Jack—sly, mysterious, magical, powerful. I imagined I’d be him when I grew up. Now that I’m a man, I think I came out about right. See the resemblance?

Since I’ll be dead tomorrow, it won’t matter if I reveal my most treasured possession as a man: it is a small, glossy, utterly lightless stone, about the size of an egg, but perfectly round like a miniature Black Moon. If it were discovered on me, I’d hang. I stole it from a dead witch.

Who is your best friend?

The lady Caris.

Why am I smiling? I smile because she is surely my dearest friend. I also smile because I’m sure the word “lady” conjured to your mind the image of a petite, gowned beauty seated on a cushion with a cat in her lap.

Caris hasn’t worn a gown for many years. More recently, she’s worn armor hard as granite and ridden hard upon a warhorse rather than sat with a kitten in her lap. That’s not to say she isn’t fair. She is, in her way.

But Caris is what we call “horse-touched.” No one really knows what causes the condition, but everyone recognizes it: Caris is bigger and stronger than most men, and she gets along better with horses than with people. Uncanny with horses, really. Useless among people, unless you get her alone. Alone, she’s kinder and more true-hearted than anyone I’ve ever met.

I willed her this card, The Maid of Blades, to bring her luck finding a knight who will squire her. It kind of looks like her.

I’m opening up your cabinet.  What foods do I see?

Hey! How the black moon did you know there was a hidden cabinet in that wall? Did my mother send you?

Look, I don’t know who you are, but you knew damned well there isn’t food in this cabinet; that’s where I keep my tools. And no, those aren’t cookbooks, they’re recipes for poisons, and that isn’t cutlery, they’re my lock picks.

Look, this is none of your business. Keep your hands clear. I’m closing the cabinet.

Do you like to cook?  If so, what is your favorite thing to cook?

Ah. Glad you asked. I do cook. I cook poisons, intoxicants, perfumes of certain affect. My favorite is a poison called amity. When complete, it is undetectable but for a faint coffee scent, which is why it’s an admirable additive to that beverage.

I see you glance at the cup you finished during this interview. You are a clever one. Sadly, not as clever as I. The toxin is now well into your body. But not to worry. I’m not a murderer. Amity’s effect is quite gentle. After I’m gone tomorrow, you’ll wake on this couch without the faintest memory how you got here. Indeed, you won’t recall much of this conversation.

Did I say I’d let you share all these secrets? Alas. I lied. Though I’m about to die and it hardly matters now who knows these things, I’ve lived a life of secrecy, and it seems old habits die hard.

That was a big yawn. You should probably lay back now, to prevent knocking your head. The sleep comes on fast.

Tut! Dispense with that hurt look. Consider this:  you but lay back to sleep, while I go to face my curse and either break it or die. We can agree yours is the lesser grievance.

It was a pleasure speaking with you. Farewell, fair stranger.

Sweet dreams.

— H

About the Author

Stephen C. Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English. He lives with the world's most talented and desirable woman, two fabulous children, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle drove Stephen indoors for eight months of the year. Before the age of video games, that meant he read a lot. At the age of eleven he discovered the stories of J.R.R. Tolkein and fell in love with fantasy.

Summers and rare sunny days he spent with friends in wooded ravines or on the beaches of Puget Sound, building worlds in the sand, and fighting orcs and wizards with driftwood swords.

About the time a fifth reading of The Lord of the Rings failed to deliver the old magic, Stephen attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English. Sadly, the closest he got to England back then was The Unicorn Pub on University Way, which wasn't even run by an Englishman: it was run by a Scot named Angus. Still, he studied there, and as he sampled Angus's weird ales, and devoured the Unicorn's steak & kidney pie (with real offal!), he developed a passion for Scotland, too.

In college, he fell in love with writing, and when a kindly professor said of a story he'd written, "You should get that published!" Stephen took the encouragement literally, and spent the next years trying. The story remains unpublished, but the quest to develop it introduced Stephen to the world of agents (the story ultimately had two), and taught him much of craft and the value of what Jay Lake would call, "psychotic persistence."

Add to that his abiding love of nerds--those who, as Sarah Vowel defines it, "go too far and care too much about a subject"--and you have Stephen Merlino in a nutshell.

Stephen is the 2014 PNWA winner for Fantasy.

He is also the 2014 SWW winner for Fantasy.

His novel, The Jack of Souls is in its fourth month in the top ten on Amazon’s Children’s Fantasy Sword & Sorcery Best Seller list, and among the top three in Coming-of-Age.
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About the Book:

An outcast rogue named Harric must break a curse laid on his fate or die by his nineteenth birthday. 
As his dead-day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.
To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.
With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?
And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her. 
Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.
Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.

A tale of magic, mischief, and the triumph of tricksters.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Trevor Hadley from Ted Grosch's 'Quantum Level Zero'

We’re thrilled to be talking to Trevor Hadley from Ted Grosch’s, Quantum Level Zero.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Trevor.  How old are you and what do you do for a living?

I am 34 years old and I was a physicist. Actually, I was a physics grad student for Eli Baracki, you know, the one they called the Angry Afghan? He quit the profession about a year after a suicide bomber killed his family. That’s how he got the nickname. When he left M.I.T., I finished up my doctorate and did my own thing.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

I would say it’s my dark blue eyes. Brown is their natural color. I wear blue contacts and a beard as a disguise because I’m wanted by the Supreme Scientific Counsel and the United Nations Security Force. I did something rash. I discovered a new and powerful energy source. The powers that be wanted it, so I set my lab to self-destruct when soldiers came to take it all. Luckily, everyone got out, but it left a big hole in the ground and a lot of embarrassed people on The Council.

What would I love the most about you?

I’m the smartest guy I know, except for Eli, and I’m modest.

What would I hate the most about you?

I’m impulsive. Blowing up my lab is one example where I could have made a more sane choice.

Where do you go when you are angry?

I go to my brother Cameron’s cabin in the Pocono mountains. He’s been living out there since he lost an eye in the Jersey Riots.

What makes you laugh out loud?

I often laugh at my own outrageous ideas. Cam makes me laugh just because he is so different from me and down to earth.

What is in your refrigerator right now?

I have a half a fish wrapped in newspapers and a couple heads of cabbage Old Man Thomas gave me. He knows I can’t grow anything for myself because I’m hardly ever home.

What is your most treasured possession?

It’s my formula for making the plasmon metamaterial that is essential for extracting energy from the quantum vacuum, the so-called zero-point-fields.

What is your greatest fear?

It used to be losing my job. Now I fear being shoved out of an airlock without a helmet.

What is the trait you most not like about yourself?

I always wanted to be bigger, like my brother Cam. I’m below average height and pretty thin, even compared to the other starving survivors I know. Cam is a big man, big enough to get picked on in public because other men want to show how tough they are.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

No. I have a softer side. I loved watching old black and while moves on TV, when there was TV.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

The perfect day is to start with a breakfast of venison hash, eggs, and real coffee at Cam’s cabin. Then we’d sit on the front porch and watch the fish jump in Silver Lake.  Later, maybe walk down to Dingman Falls and listen to the roar of the water or we’d go fishing and catch our supper.

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

Grocery store? I remember those. Food as far as you could see. I would get milk, breakfast cereal, and corn on the cob. Three of the main food groups.

I’m opening up your cabinet.  What foods do I see?

Caned soup and kippered herring. The soup comes in handy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kipper snacks have been in there since Cam moved out. I hate kippered herring.

Are you a loner or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends?

I’m a loner and I’m even more alone now that I’m on the lam. I landed a job working for Eli, but all of his people are secretive and wanted by the authorities for one reason or another. Few people talk much there, maybe they are more like Eli the Iceman than they know.

Who is your best friend?

Of course, my brother. He’s my only friend. I was getting friendly with Cara, who works for Eli, but our assignments have kept us at different facilities and departments. She’s head of AI and I’m just some goof ball who blew up my own lab.

Do you have children?

I don’t have children.

What is your favorite weather?

I like those spring snows we get in upstate New York. It’s above freezing at the ground, but the flakes form higher up and float down, getting more damp and heavy as they go.

Do you like to cook?  If so, what is your favorite thing to cook?

I love to cook. I know 400 ways of making fish, but my favorite thing to make is French toast. With homemade bread and a touch of sassafras. My mother made it with a touch of vanilla, but you can’t get that now days.

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

I would publish my formula for the metamateral for everyone to have. It’s the only way we’re going to win our freedom back. 

About the Author: 
Ted Grosch is an American science fiction the author of the novel Quantum Level Zero and other published short stories. Ted has a Ph.D. and teaches electrical engineering. He has published over 25 works of fiction and non-fiction. He lives in Georgia where he works with wood and trains dogs.
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About the Book:

Title: Quantum Level Zero
Author: Ted Grosch
Publisher: Double Dragon eBooks
Pages: 287
Genre: SciFi
Format: Kindle/Nook

Winston Churchill stated that history is written by the victors. Germany terrorized Britain's civilian population with V1 and V2 rockets. The Nazi historians would have a legitimate rational for that had they won the war. Quantum Level Zero takes place in a dystopian society of the near future Earth, where fanatics are about to win the war on terror for the good for the people and the good of society.

Their leader, Matteen Al-Rama has outgrown his fanatical roots. Once an ambassador and secretary General of the United Nations, he now leads a fundamentalist revolution that uses cloud computing, holographic CGI recruitment rallies, computer worms, rootkits and Trojans, advanced communications, and cybernetic enhancements to spread apocalyptic chaos across the globe. If that weren't enough, rumor of an alien race wanting to begin diplomatic relations with Earth threatens to solidify Al-Rama's global stranglehold.

Quantum Level Zero follows three people at the pivot point in the war on terror, one who has knowledge, one who has great need, and one who has the courage to make a difference. Elijah Baraki is a scientist and former official of Al-Rama's revolution. Eight years ago he lost his wife and three children in a suicide bombing meant to show the world that nobody leaves Al-Rama's organization. Since that bombing, Eli has concentrated on research and radial technology with the intention to wage war on the revolutionaries. In a world where reasonable people become dissidents, Eli is joined by two-hundred other scientists, engineers and soldiers, all of whom have their own reasons to leave their former lives and battle the growing chaos.

Trevor Hadley sabotaged his own laboratory to prevent the authorities from confiscating his zero-point energy research. Now wanted as a terrorist, Trevor has been working on Eli's secret project for the past few years as a lab assistant. Eli sends him to reconnoiter an Al-Rama outpost and is almost killed. He teams up with his brother, Eli's former boss, and Sharon Murphy, a former army helicopter pilot also on the run, in a race to report back to Eli and join the fight to free Earth.

Forces of reason have the edge in the war, but will that remain the case if First Contact goes to the revolutionaries? Quantum Level Zero opens as the world awaits the arrival of Al-Rama's latest ally, an advanced alien race offering anti-gravity, zero-point energy, and faster-than-light travel. Al-Rama won't be satisfied with anything less than world domination. Eli won't be satisfied with anything less than total destruction of Al-Rama's empire.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kass from David Pennington's Peer Through Time

We’re thrilled to be talking to Kass from David Pennington’s Peer Through Time. It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Kass. How old are you and what do you do for a living?

Thank you. I’m an adult, but I haven’t existed for very long, so I’m not quite sure how old I am. I make my living as a psychotherapist.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features?

I’m a synthetic human. Some people call me a robot, but I don’t think that word encompasses everything I am. I may not be biological, but I am human.

What would I love the most about you?

I have a genuine interest in the well-being of others—including you, even though we met only moments ago. People seem to appreciate that about me.

What would I hate the most about you?

I would hope nothing, but I’ve found that some people hate me simply because I was designed rather than born. Without attempting to get to know me, they assume I am unworthy of existence.

What is your most treasured possession?

That’s an easy one. My acoustic guitar.

What is your greatest fear?

Amnesia. Total memory loss has been known to spontaneously happen to synthetic humans, and I imagine it would be the equivalent of death. What am I without my memories?

What is your idea of a perfect day?

For my first day outside, my friend Della and I played on a swing and splashed each other with water. Later, I spent some time alone in nature, playing my guitar. That was a perfect day—until the cops showed up and arrested me for suspicion of murder. But I digress. In summary, my idea of a perfect day is one spent with friends, followed by some solitude.

What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?

I’ve heard of grocery stores. That’s where people went to buy their food, before they could print it out themselves from the building blocks of nutrients. Hm. I’d say three essentials would have been money, a cart, and a smile for those who don’t really want to be there.

Do you have children?

No. By not having children, I know I’m missing out on something fundamental about the human condition, which makes me a little sad sometimes—a little wistful.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no childhood, per se—I was created as an adult psychotherapist—but when I grow up, I want to be a rock and roll star. If not that, I’d be happy being a session guitarist.  

About the Author:

David T. Pennington grew up in a small northern California town called Paradise, but his home is in San Francisco. While his associate's degree in computer programming has helped pay the bills, his bachelor's degree in psychology has informed his writing. His love of fiction--mainly mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers--is balanced by his fascination with books on futurism, theoretical physics, and cosmology. Peer Through Time is his debut novel.

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About the Book:

In 2079, a time travel experiment sends physicist Carmela Akronfleck further back in time than she’d intended. Though she’s still in her small northern California town, the year is 1936 and she must learn to live without the technology she’s come to rely on. Her neurological implants should be dormant, but she receives a cryptic message, periodically accompanied by an audio transmission from the future. It’s the voice of her former psychotherapist, an android named Kass, stating his innocence in a series of murders occurring in 2079.

When Carmela deciphers the code as a hit list, she’s shocked to discover her mother and sister are among the intended targets. Further evidence reveals the killer’s true identity, but the inoperative time portal prevents her from returning to save her family and vindicate Kass.

She considers another option: hunt down the killer’s ancestors and avert his existence without radically changing history. She devises a plan to protect her family, haunted by doubts that she’s becoming the kind of person she’s always loathed—one willing to take another’s life.

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  • Peer Through Time is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.