Thursday, September 27, 2012
"It's good to be here in The Last Bookstore, Rudy. I've been meaning to set something up but it doesn't always go as smooth as we hope right?" The young author let out a sly smile.
"Haha very true James, very true. And as always, our producer is in studio, Mr Ron Kennedy taking calls, texts, instant messages et cetera from the listeners and fans, how about we get started huh? You came onto the scene literally out of nowhere, how did that happen?"
"Ron Kennedy as in the Kennedy who ran the radio stations at NYU and later USC right?"
Ron let out a smile from a nearby station, "Yeah, the one and only!"
James let out a laugh, "Yeah I thought I recognized the name, you're good man keep it up."
Rudy quickly cut in, "Okay okay you two settle down, we have some hungry listeners and I'm sure some eager fans waiting to peer into that mind of yours."
"Right, right," the young author responded, "breaking into 'the scene' if you will..."
James settled into his seat across from Rudy as he adjusted his headset and took a long sip from a nearby mug.
"You started writing in college in your spare time, short stories if I'm correct, some guest spots on food and travel blogs when you weren't on creative binges, pretty low key stuff outside of those spots then BAM, 'The Drifting Star' hits stands and people just eat it up."
"Yeah that was a really exciting time for me Rudy, I had been traveling around through the Northwest U.S. and dabbled a bit in Canada when I went through some old journals of stuff I had jotted down in my spare time and that piece just grabbed me and I really just kinda ran with it. The end result was a bit shaky in my opinion but I think that added to it especially as a first go."
Rudy is busy drinking from a large mug, similar to James', then puts the mug down.
"So, for our listeners that may not be too familiar with your work, how did 'Star' happen and shape up?"
"The story was really originally built off a book I read at the suggestion of a fellow author, Alexandra, who I met in college and the style really grabbed me, it was dirty, raw. So I started with that and wanted to be very descriptive in terms of dress, looks, even paying attention to lighting and moods and actions of people not involved, I really wrote the first short story from that with a screenplay style in mind."
"And I personally think that feel really comes through, especially when you focus on the two main characters, Claire and Travis." Rudy adds, face gleaming like a comic book fanboy.
"Yes exactly, as detailed as everything else was, I wanted the focus on those two to shine through that much more, like reading the story in HD," James let out a slight chuckle, "I wanted to immerse the readers, if they chose to pick the book up, in almost a sensory overload at times, like in the first scene, in the bar when we see the two encounter each other for the first time in a while, the frame is left open to interpretation so it could have been a few weeks, maybe even a few years ya know? So depending on how long one feels that they were apart, the book can read out a little differently."
"Very nice, so we obviously have these two who have a past, its hinted to be very emotional, their interaction is limited, then he's gone. Did you mean for that scene to set an overall tone? It seems very introspective on the part of Travis, gives a little history and then he leaves, evidently the same way he left this young woman before."
James is listening half-heartedly, throwing a USC "Fight On" to Ron.
"Also, message boards have been burning about the idea that you pull a lot of character's ways, emotions and ideals from your own personal life... is this true?"
"Yeah, ya know I really wanted to leave his reasons for leaving, which we don't have explained in full at first, to stay hidden. It sets the mood that he has a secret, or a good reason, or no reason for really leaving, especially with his response to her note with 'Because I loved you too much.' It leaves everyone intrigued I feel, at least I tried..."
Rudy is nodding, adding more liquor to his mug.
"And definitely I pull things out on myself for these characters, situations, a lot of it comes from something else. I had originally began writing as a way to deal with some things and every now and then I'd get obsessed with and idea, and I couldn't leave it alone. That's what happened with 'Star" and 'Brothers'...i was obsessed and had to finish them. You can't love something without giving up a part of yourself for it right?"
"Wow, obsessed you say?" Rudy takes a large gulp, "without spoiling 'Star' we'll leave it there and now I wanna touch on 'Brothers of The Sky', your sophomore effort and a very successful one at that. How did this story spawn itself?"
The young author's face lit up as he took another drink from his mug.
"Ahh now you got his attention!" Ron exclaimed, "I think he's a little excited."
Rudy agreed, awaiting a response from James.
"Hmm, 'Brothers of The Skies' really was a labor of love and a culmination of necessity."
"Go on." Rudy egged.
"It's pretty common knowledge that WW2 romanticism is something I really had a passion to work with, and this was what came of that. Originally it was a piece I had written for a fiction blog, which I used eventually for a class when I was getting ready to graduate. The short story that started it was called 'A Brother's Failure' where we have these two brothers fighting in the Pacific theater together."
"This book was not dark in the same way as 'Star' but it is more of a gritty war-time piece with, which is kind of your staple through two books, and underlying love story, can you elaborate on that?"
"Well war is a gritty thing, its dirty, its dark, it changes people. In 'Star' I really didn't have that as a tool, I didn't have that as a catalyst. The change we see in the Lieutenant and how he interacts with his fellow war fighters, his family, his brother comes directly from the combination of the war and what they are going through as well as the feeling of our protagonist fighting a war on two fronts, one is a real war, one is his mental struggle to stay focused with what's going on back home." A more serious look starts to creep over the author as he takes another sip from the mug. "I had family members, friends coming home from war, they were coming back to women who weren't faithful, or had abandoned the idea of being with them. This book was for those guys who lost people on two sides, it was something I had to write. It was very much the marrying of ideas in my head about how life could turn out, ideally, and how life turns out in reality. Very much an emotional book to write, and you get that through the Lieutenant, emotions I had, emotions my friends and family had."
The room was silent.
James lit a cigarette
Ron chimed in, "You guys would not believe how many messages and texts we are getting about these two books man, everyone wants to know, why you chose the Pacific War, why Travis came back from Europe, why you wrote two hugely different settings and how that came about...people are going crazy man, and we haven't even gotten to your new book."
"Holy shit, we still need to get to this new work, which I personally think is amazingly beautiful, beautifully dark, elegantly crafted. ladies and gentlemen listening coast to coast, we have arrived at the new novel by J.S. Havok which hit shelves last Tuesday, of course I'm talking about "The Angel and a Stupid Boy."
Rudy continues. "Even the concept of this book is great, if you haven"t picked it up you should. Basically we have a book here, about a writer, in the process of writing a book but he is fraught with inner struggles and difficulties, can you elaborate on that?"
James puts his cigarette out in a nearby ashtray.
"This was a hard book to write, we have a writer who sets out to create a fiction piece, but with him putting so much of himself into it, the piece slowly becomes a dark story of a guy essentially writing an autobiography without him really seeing it."
"Interesting, I think that readers may have been caught off guard by the style up front in your prologue, we get a very intense and cryptic message and setting to the story."
"Yeah" James replies, "this was my first venture without the input of Alexandra and I wanted to set the tone a little darker, more of an inner struggle of one person, you don't have much interaction story wise with people outside of himself, he gets lost in his work pretty much. Eventually, it begins to really consume him. Its a story of love and loss, a story where he gets enveloped in a strange world where hypotheticals, the 'what-ifs' are the things drilling into him."
"I have to agree here" chimes in Ron, "I read this piece right when it hit the shelves, and the messages we are getting agree too, overall a lot of focus on the author losing himself in his work and the work really affecting his mental stability. Our forums are already teeming with theories of who the inspiration of "The Angel" could be. Got anything for your fans?"
"Well the love story we have in the book isn't actually the focus, but is the focus of the book in the book, which I think creates a very interesting position for the reader, in one aspect they may be trying to reason why I'm writing this story, but at a deeper level you have to think about the character's reason on writing his story. This book in particular was strange to write because I put some of myself in everything but had to in a way where the writer has his own soul he's writing from. Kind of, "I have a dark side, he has a darker one."
"Dark and darker, writer writing a writer writing a book, brilliant!" Rudy proclaims, "your character uses brilliant imagery much like we've seen in your other work, the way he describes this girl he creates. A lot of readers see this as you projecting yourself but everyone wants to know...."
James swallows slowly.
"Where do you get this ability to paint such beautiful people, describe them how you do? I mean we are talking about things like, 'that beautiful dark auburn and brunette hair', 'an intoxicating smile', those honey-brown doe eyes', 'a childlike freedom of spirit', hell if us guys could find a girl like that we'd be golden, so where do you get this inspiration? How does one do that? Are you hiding some supermodel from us that you pull inspiration from?"
A slight chuckle fills the air between the three in that studio, in The Last Bookstore.
"We all have that perfect image of our dream girl don't we..." James' voice slightly trails off. "So now we have an image of a girl that we aren't sure is real or is made up by our author for his book."
"Well, if we aren't getting ALL the juicy details here, I guess our listeners will just have to read. Ron, lets take some calls and questions and all that jazz we are running out of time."
Ron starts rambling off questions listeners has messaged in, occasionally taking a call about upcoming books, his favorite foods and the like. James loosens up a bit more with the interaction, some questions more off the wall than others, the three enjoying playful banter.
"Well, well, well, now we have someone saying they know the secrets of Mr. J. S. Havok." Ron interrupts, "She sounds hott lets put her on the air."
James fixes his eyes on Ron as he lights another smoke.
Rudy quickly chips in, "Why hello there you have Mr Havok live in studio and we hear, that youuuu think you know his secrets."
"Mmm well maybe," a female voice chimes in, "depends on if he is who I think he is."
An automated audience "woooo" filled his headset as Ron stroked a key at his computer.
"Well", the author slowly responded, "who do you think I am?"
"Someone who takes their pen name from their father. James."
"Go on," James' intrigue building, "who else am I?"
"Someone who likes ice cream, obviously."
Chuckles filled the room, smiles all around.
"Well I have been known to enjoy a nice bowl every now and again, you had me going there for a second, like some kind of secret agent that had me in their sights."
"I know," the voice chuckled, "when you visit the ice cream shop what is your favorite flavor to get a sample spoon of?"
"Excuse me?" responded James.
"You know, like you go in and they give you those little spoons to taste with, the sample spoons.."
"Well usually, I go around and try a few things but usually settle on my old standby flavor..."
"Mint Chocolate Chip" the voice interrupted.
Rudy and Ron exchanged surprised glances, then focused them on James. "Mint Choco-chip...you don't say..." retorted Ron. "Nice."
"Where are you calling from?" James sat forward in his seat, the other two did the same.
"The best country in the world, Texas." she said, "duh." "And I read your book, I think who I know who the angel is." her voice teasing the audience, taunting the author.
A bead of sweat gently glided down his forehead as he bit his lip in a pensive stare. He reaches over and grabs Rudy's mug, stiff with bourbon, taking a hard pull. "Everyone has an angel, like I said before, everyone has their idea of perfection. The Angel, is the character's image. You have an angel too, we all do." He takes another pull from the mug.
"Well there ya go Miss Texas", Rudy proclaims, "the mystery remains a mystery!"
"Have you met your angel?" she asks.
"I sure have, why do you ask?"
A goofy sound effect fills the airwaves.
"The pen has silenced the voice!" Rudy proclaims as Ron starts celebratory effects, James caught in a thousand yard stare.
"Well I'm sitting across from her..." her voice states, "She's leaving on Sunday for a trip."
He goes pale.
"There is a keg of gin" the voice blurts out.
"There is a keg of gin"...she says again.
The line goes dead.
James, sweating, clenched teeth.
"Well that was fucking random!" Ron laughs hysterically as Rudy prepares the closing of the show.
James lights a cigarette, the last one in the pack, another pull of bourbon, this time from the flask Rudy has on the desk.
James sees Rudy and Ron talking, closing the show, he can't hear anything. Only silence.
"WOO what the hell was that all about?!" Rudy asks while laughing loudly, "trippy man a keg of gin? where do people get this stuff? Did you have any idea what she was talking about?"
"Oh come on that's too random to just be random...someone messing with ya James?" Ron seeminng slightly confused.
James takes a long drag, letting it out slowly.
He slowly puts the smoke out and stands up, "There should never be a keg of gin..." he quietly says.
"...Who was that?" Rudy asks, "was that..." he looks towards Ron, then back at James.
"That was The Angel." he simply says.
Ron and Rudy stare at each other.
"So...that means what?" Ron slowly asks.
"Well that makes me a stupid boy."
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Jimmy looked out of his cockpit on the deck of his carrier towards a young soldier he knew well. He and Mark had grown up together on the same street in Alabama. Both had joined the Navy after the monsters from Japan had taken the lives of their American counterparts when they attacked Pearl. Even though seen as brothers from a young age, the skill sets, personalities and capabilities they brought to the Navy were vastly different. Mark was an eccentric gear head, his abilities first displayed when he dismantled the engine of the family car, and upon re-assembling it, miraculously had the vehicle running better. This talent came in handy with Mark's dating life as he swooned the fathers of girls with his technical know how while also taking their daughters out for drives later. James, on the other hand, had been the more reserved of the two young men. A prized student and natural athlete, his physical ability had garnered his name despite his soft spoken nature. The two had spent many days and nights adventuring as children and teens, a mutual respect and admiration of each others differences.
How they got grouped together in a battle group, let alone the same carrier, was at best a shot in the dark, no doubt James' father, a retired Colonel from the Great War, had something to do with such an arrangement. Once James had been selected for the flying program in training, Mark had been determined to improve the aircraft that would bring the war back to Japan. To say that Mark was amazing at his job was an understatement in itself. He had risen quickly by training other mechanics to repair and improve the fighting flyers, now he proudly wore the bar designating him as Ensign. James had a similar career to this point, relying on instinct and an analytical mind to quickly become a well known pilot in the fighter group, also training other pilots whenever he could.
"Lieutenant Dorman, come in, Lieutenant Dorman.." Rang over his headset as he sat on the deck of the carrier.
"This is Dorman, confirm takeoff clearance, over."
"Cleared for takeoff, take it to those jap devils for the boys at Pearl."
He saluted his younger brother as he prepared to power his Corsair into the red early morning skies near Okinawa.
Mark responded by tapping his uniform where he held letters for James' family and girlfriend, should anything happen, then saluted his brother. James returned the gesture, his more symbolic than anything since the letters he held for Mark were tucked away in his quarters.
James placed the picture of a girl near his instrument cluster, a sigh accompanied it. The letters she once wrote had become cold, distant, shorter and arrived with ever increasing intervals between. Even the letters from his father had shifted from home life, she and her family weren't mentioned at all anymore, now they focused on James' health and morale during the war and how the boys were doing against the japs. Even the letters from her family had stopped abruptly.
Mark had noticed a change in Jimmy, he seemed aggravated, angry almost. The once calm and relaxed pilot had become increasingly anxious, he'd snap on occasion out of frustration. But as his personality dictated, he was stubborn, more willing to suppress his thoughts and emotions than to talk about what was happening in his mind.
The young Lieutenant powered his war machine into the air, followed by the rest of the fighter wing. As the radio check-in started he allowed himself to remember the last day home, in that burning Alabama sun. He promised Mark's family that he'd take care of his brother, much as he had done during their childhood. The neighborhood had a block party for the boys being shipped off, several Marines and Army boys littered the group of young eager soldiers as a group picture was taken. Afterwards, pictures of the fighting men and their families were collected, as well as the boys and their girls. She and James looked so in love, her brunette hair draped on his shoulder in his presentation uniform, her intoxicating smile.
He angrily forces the image out of his head as the last of his fellow flyers finish checking in. He noticed a squall forming to the rights, it looked particularly foreboding he thought.
"Damn, I hate flying in shit like that Jim." rang over the radio.
"Oh, come on Akers," Jimmy responded, "that is what makes things interesting."
Slight laughter cluttered the radio from multiple planes.
"Alright you scoundrels, remember the briefing and remember your wingmen, we aren't scheduled to die today."
"Roger that sir." fluttered multiple times through the radios.
"For God and country boys, let's show these monsters what Uncle Sam has coming for them." Jimmy sternly voiced. "For those boys at Pearl."
The battle was exhilarating, the enemy Zeros closed in furiously over the island and surrounding ocean. The Lt and his Blue Knights fought the enemy ferociously as the battle raged around them. Smoke, bullets, explosions filled the air as planes started going down, the lighter Zero fighters burning brilliantly as they descended to ocean graves. Occasionally pilots would have to break off from the major fighting to accommodate the addition of more enemy and friendly war birds.
Then the call came.
"Blue Knights, Lt Dorman come in this is Enterprise, incoming enemy fighters, do you copy? Over"
"This is Dorman, eta to contact over."
"Contact minus one minute, no current air support, you're the closest, over."
"Shit." He thought as he whipped his bird around in support of a fellow aviator.
"Boy's they are going after our home, I need some support until the others can rendezvous, follow my six!"
He broke off from the spiraling air battle as several other planes followed his lead, the Enterprise visible in the distance.
"We aren't going to make it in time to stop them." he thought as he pushed his engine to the limit.
Then, he saw the flashes, flight deck, superstructure, the fireball was tremendous.
The Blue Knights made contact as the japs started the second strafing runs. They came in guns blazing over the sea surrounding their floating home. Several flyboys split off in pursuit of torpedo planes incoming to dispense their deadly payloads, the japs never made it into range as the planes plunged as fireballs into the deep Pacific.
The instant seemed like eternity as Jimmy whipped his machine around again towards the Enterprise and a lone Zero closed in, flying low, flying heavy. He knew it was a Kamikaze, those suicidal cowards who thought it was glorious to die instead of fight. He knew the plane was going to strike, he knew it was disaster waiting to happen.
"MARK!" he helplessly yelped as the Zero collided into his ship, the following explosion was massive, the following fires more so.
Angrily he tore through enemy fighters, as they started to retreat, blood thirsty to say the least. Four more of the Japanese monsters lost their lives to his guns that day. His anger, frustration and fear for his brother only magnified by the fact his guns were silenced due to his ammunition stores being empty. He could only watch as the floating city burned underneath him.
Once the battle was over, the sweaty, exhausted flyboy could only stare numbingly at the photo on his instrument cluster as he approached a nearby carrier. He landed sloppily and nearly collapsed out of his Corsair as he vomited seeing the enterprise still burning near him. "I need to get to the Enterprise, NOW!", he snapped to crews on the deck. "Lieutenant, the only way we can get you..." "Shut up screamed the young flyboy,"I said now, and I mean it!" "Sir it's not possible becau..." "I know it's not possible", groaned the pilot as he slumped down into the flight deck, "I know", he sobbed.
When he was eventually able to get to his beloved home, the fires had ravaged her. He desperately demanded information on the dead and wounded, his pain showed through his blood shot, weary, yet fiery eyes. It would be hours before any word came in, and a day before any news on Mark.
As he was able to recover some personal items from his quarters, which barely survived, a sailor approached him.
"Sir, Ensign Murray is confirmed as killed in action, I'm sorry."
Jimmy stood silently and still, holding the letters Mark had given him.
"He was in a store room near the attack point of the Kamikaze fighter that struck the sh..."
Jimmy raised a hand and dismissed the sailor as tears streamed down his face.
His over aggression had put him to far from the ship to stop the fighter, his over aggression killed U.S. sailors, he failed to protect his brother, he had killed his brother.
James was rotated out of combat shortly after the Battle of Okinawa, he returned to Pearl harbor to train pilots until the end of the war. He never wrote home after the battle. He sat drinking whiskey as news of the surrender of Japan flooded the radio. He simply walked back to his quarters and went to sleep. Pilots he trained before the end of the war described him as a cold, despondent man, although gifted as a teacher and pilot. He arrived back to the states, through the ticker tape parades for those fighting in the Pacific. A bus dropped him off back home in Alabama where he got a hotel room instead of returning home. He sat on the patio as a torrential downpour surrounded him, the faint smoke of a Lucky Strike wafting through the air as he stared into the darkness.
The following day, he shaved and robed in his presentation uniform. A taxi took him to the Murray residence, where he had the taxi wait. He approached the house as Mark's mother ran out towards him sobbing as he embraced her and tears formed in his cold, dead looking eyes. He stayed and spoke to them and explained his shortcoming and apologized for his failure as they tried to assure him that Mark's death wasn't his fault. He left them with the letters Mark had written them in the event he didn't come home. Back in the taxi he lit a Lucky strike and instructed the driver where to go next.
They pulled up to a house about five minutes later, the flag for his wing was no longer posted in the front yard. As he exited the taxi he told the driver he could go, the driver refused to take his money citing he was a hero, "I'm no hero," Jimmy responded with a clenched jaw ,"just a flyboy." He felt uneasy as he stood in front of that house, alone in the Alabama heat.
Her father seemed apologetic to see him at the door, he shared his condolences for Mark's death and tried to catch up with Jimmy in a cautious manner. His wife walked in and seemed flushed to see him back in their living room. She walked over to him with watery eyes, "Oh my, James is a Lieutenant now, I'm so proud of you sweetheart, so proud." He could sense some hesitation in her voice and both seemed slightly on edge as she joined her husband.
"So," the silence was broken by the wife, "do you have any stories?" Her husband cleared his throat as to cut her off as she avoided eye contact with James as he swallowed hard.
"I guess I'll be going now," the flyboy quietly stated as he began to rise from his seat, "good to see you are in good health."
The husband stood up and shook his had, "I'm sorry Jimmy, sorry for what you boys had to do, but I'm glad you're home."
"Yes sir, I am too." He hugged the man's wife and reached for a small bag he had brought with him when a car was heard pulling into the driveway. The husband and wife looked at each other as Jimmy turned towards the door.
The door swung open.
That intoxicating smile.
His heart skipped a beat, then felt like it would burst from his chest.
That gorgeous brunette hair.
A smile started to creep over his mouth as his expression softened.
Their eyes locked for an instant before hers grew large, fearful, ashamed.
His smile faded, his clenched jaw solidified as they stood there in silence.
It seemed like eternity. Eternity until another young man followed her into the house.
She introduced the young man to Jimmy as Matthew Jacobs, a teammate of Jimmy's when they were in high school.
Jimmy nearly crushed his old teammates hand as he shook it.
Matthew grimaced as Jimmy released his grip, "So Jimmy, what service were you..."
"Navy" Jimmy cut him off, "What have you been doing with your life? working with your father at the dealership?"
"Yes sir!" Matthew responded with a mock salute. "What did you do in the war?"
"I got revenge for our boys" Jimmy sneered, "I killed the monsters that murdered our boys."
Jimmy turned to her parents and wished them a good day and strode between her and Matthew Fucking Jacobs as she followed him out.
"Jimmy....Jimmy....Jim.... JAMES DORMAN!" she finally screamed.
James stopped in his tracks reaching into his bag and pulled out a stack of letters he had never sent home. He weighed them in his hand and he turned to her, tears streaming down her face.
"I thought you weren't going to come back, Matthew was always there..." she started to sob.
James approached her slowly and dropped the letters at her feet, she rested her head on his chest, decorated with accolades and medals.
"Well, I came back. And now I know for sure that these letters get to you and its not the damn mail service."
As he walked down the street in that hot Alabama sun, she slumped over the letters, halfheartedly sorting the letters, she found the picture of her and Jimmy they had taken before he left, the picture he flew with, the edges frayed. They had looked so happy, her tears began to fall onto the picture as she flipped it over to see her handwriting was still visible.
"Until the day you come home, I'll wait for you, until the day I die, I'll love you."
She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked for the flyboy, but he was already gone.