Thursday, October 26, 2006

Randy Perkins Interview - Part II

If you are just joining this series, please read my review of Herb's First 100 Years & the Book of Truths and then read Part I of the interview with author Randy Perkins.

Shalee: Is Herb’s First 100 Years your first novel?

Randy: The first to be published. I wrote three others over a span of eight years during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Those efforts were learning experiences and although they did get me noticed by a few agents and a publisher, I look at those three books today and feel that none of them are very good. When I started out, I made the mistake of trying to write what the public was most interested in reading at that time. Now, I write only when I have an idea that I think is unique.

Shalee: What were those first three novels about?

Randy: The first was a western. The second was a story about a kidnapped little girl; a book filled with terrifying images and spine-tingling suspense. I had an agent review the work and tell me that she liked my style of writing but that the story was too terrifying for her to represent. She was the mother of a ten-year-old girl. In some ways I was complimented by her reaction. It was my intention to terrify with that book. In that respect I accomplished a goal. My third novel was a political thriller loosely based on a talk radio host similar to Rush Limbaugh. That book actually found a home with a major publisher and looked to be destined for release. Then the editor in charge of my story was fired and the editor who replaced him sent me a form letter telling me they were no longer interested in publishing the book.

Shalee: That must have been devastating.

Randy: Writing a novel is a solitary experience that is often frustrating in itself. Then when you have finished, you have the monumental task of getting people interested in your work. I had been disappointed by other opportunities that failed to materialize, but when that book was dropped, I was sure I would never write another one. I had spent the better part of a decade mining stories from some deep cavern in my brain. All I had to show for the effort was disillusionment and poverty. I decided to get a real job that paid real money and had real benefits. I landed one as the Director of Sales and Marketing for a small tour company in Denver. During busy seasons, I was also asked to conduct tours.

Shalee: That explains a little bit of how this story came to be.

Randy: Yes. This story would not exist if I had not met Herb while conducting one of those trips.

Shalee: How has the book been received?

Randy: Very positive. People like it and seem eager to recommend it to their friends. Word of mouth has been responsible for a majority of my sales. The first edition sold out in just under six months. Now I am trying to get a copy to Oprah. People tell me it is her kind of book – emotional and thought-provoking. I don’t suppose you have her telephone number?

Shalee: I do, but she would kill me if I gave it out.

Randy: [chuckles] I understand. Perhaps the next time you see her you could pass along a copy?

Shalee: I would be happy to. The next time I see Oprah, I promise I will put your book in her hands.

[more chuckles]

Shalee: Your story is largely built on dialogue. Was that intentional or just the way the writing evolved?

Randy: Both. Because I am one of the characters, the utilization of dialogue became my best tool for driving the plot. I could have inserted a lot more sensory detail and description, but page count became an issue because of the Book of Truths.

Shalee: I want to ask about that. This is really two books in one, the novel, Herb’s First 100 Years, and then the Book of Truths that is attached at the end.

Randy: I think the novel could stand by itself, but combined it gives the story an enhanced effect. For some, the Book of Truths is the best part of the story. I felt it had to be there. It is one of the things I think sparks curiosity within the reader and make the story somewhat unique and fun to read.

Shalee: It is a fun story, but at the same time there are parts that paint images that are anything but. Care to comment?

Randy: Sometimes you have to shock your reader in order to take them to a happier place.

Shalee: The character Fanny, did you know someone as obnoxious as her?

Randy: Fanny is a compilation of every traveler I ever escorted who went out of their way to be difficult. I named her Fanny because she is an ass. I never had one passenger who was quite that obnoxious, but there were a few who came close.

Shalee: Who are your favorite authors?

Randy: Hmm. So many great writers. In no particular order: John Steinbeck, Roald Dahl, Ayn Rand, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Robert Heinlein, Hunter Thompson, Tom Robbins, John Irving, Steven King, Ernest Hemingway, Mary Higgins Clark, Jack London, Steven White, Clive Cussler, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, David Sedaris, Dan Brown… dozens more who I will regret not mentioning. I could never choose one or two as favorites.

Shalee: What are you reading now?

Randy: A Benjamin Franklin biography and a novel that I refuse to tell you the name of because it is simply terrible. I have no idea as to how it ever found its way into print. I try to always finish whatever book I start, but this one is testing my devotion to that rule. I can recommend a couple of great stories if you like: For its imagination and construction, I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I also liked Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs because it is hilarious and at the same time very disturbing.

Shalee: Time Traveler’s Wife just so happens to be one of my favorites as well for the same described reasons. I also appreciated her ability to spin a convincing, beautiful tale that has science fiction written all over it, but feels like a comfortable story of love and life and the beauty the two hold together. I have a feeling, from the list you cited, we would make great book buddies.

Tomorrow will bring the conclusion of the interview with Randy Perkins.


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