Author of the Week: John Zunski, Shangri-La Trailer Park
Posted by joeyavniel
If an author falls in the woods, can he write a book about it?
John likes to hear comments from potential readers, so he’s going to give a free copy of Cemetery Street or Shangri-La Trailer Park (your choice) for anyone who leaves a comment!
Let’s check the Blurb before we get some answers from John:
If an Indian falls in the woods, can you hear him scream? Dora Shear did, and her life was about to get interesting. After Maistoinna Standing Bear tackles a tree, Dog Shear Dora – as she’s known in the trailer park – is left to pick up the pieces. Only she’s up to no good.
Uncover the secrets of a Jewish love triangle, why the IGA checkout lady trashes a car, why a trip over the coffee table is better than Novocain, and more importantly, the difference between a Canadian Passport and a Kentucky Waterfall. Hop on board with Maistoinna for a crazy forty-eight hour ride through the world’s most dysfunctional trailer park.
WARNING! Don’t read if your are: A) easily offended B) politically correct C) like everything nice or D) believe in the Easter Bunny!
And now for some answers from John:
Q: If you could choose one super power, what would it be and why?
A: Instantaneous transformation of thought into perfect sentence structure. How cool would that be? You could think a story and it would be composed perfectly upon the page. Imagine, every thought for a story, character, being clear, concise, and aesthetically pleasing. Prolific doesn’t begin to describe the results or how I’d feel.
Q: What was your happiest moment as an author?
A: Without a doubt, the moment I finished the first draft of Cemetery Street. The feeling was rapturous. At that moment I knew the story was trapped upon the page. It wasn’t going anywhere. I no longer worried about not completing the story. I even remember the date – 5/3/01 at 4:44 AM. With each successive title the feeling is more a sense of relief. Seeing Cemetery Street go life was up there, but not as high as getting good reviews, which, still don’t top that initial magical moment.
Q: How would you convince someone to read your book in 140 characters or less?
A: In my best Mobster voice: “You read-a my book or I –a break – a your legs, capisce?
– oh wait, I can’t say that, they’ll find out I’m really in the witness protection program. I’m only joking… “Readers need to do the talking, otherwise I’ll sound like a used car salesman. I hope that readers connect and form relationships with my characters and their stories.” Inside the quotes rest 137 characters. I sweated that one out.
Q: What can you tell me about your ideal reader?
A: Again, I’ll let the ideal reader speak for themselves. This quote was taken from Publicbookshelf.com “wow it’s so powerful and moving. I laughed out loud I cried silently. I prayed with james and became carefree with shannie. I saw what my life would be like in her eyes she encouraged me. I feel in love with Count and mourned his passing. I skydived with James. I felt his sorrow and rejoiced at the burning of the monument. I loved it, such a powerful touching novel. probably the best I have ever read thank you -Jennifer ” The characters and story resonated with this reader. That’s what I wish for every time someone reads either Cemetery Street or Shangri-La Trailer Park.
Q: If you could talk to your readers while they are reading your book, what would you tell them?
A: Absolutely nothing. Talking would do the story a disservice. I’m already speaking to readers via the prose.
Q: Which author influenced you the most?
A: Can I copout and claim three? 1) Stephen King – because it’s about the story 2) John Irving – because I love his characterization 3) Carl Hiaasen – because he makes the absurd seem plausible. But, if you held my feet to the fire, I’d have to say Stephen King.
Q: Tell me one unique thing about yourself that no other author in the world (as far as you know) shares.
A: My perspective of the world – be it my occasional, rampant cynicism, my insane optimism, my experience and my ability to take a metaphorical hiccup in my life and translate it into a heart attack upon the page. I like to think that within the confines of my stories, no one lies as well to their readers – but, I know that is a pipe dream.
Q: What’s the funniest line you ever wrote?
A: That’s a pressure packed question… and it’s so flippin’ subjective. I have many, put it depends on my mood. Not to mention it’s a dangerous question, since I have such a cracked sense of humor. I’ll share two and let the reader decide.
The first is from Shangri-La Trailer Park: “Native American, Indian, it’s all the same to me,” she said.
“Indians wear turbans and ride flying carpets,” Maistoinna snapped. “Native American’s wear baseball caps and drive pick-up trucks.”
The second is from Dirty Bum for President: (The Dirty Bum’s (Robert) running mate is Irving Richard Knightly. This is a slogan from the campaign.) “Vote for Robert and get Dick Knightly.”
Q: What’s next?
A: For someone who hasn’t read my work, I hope they find their new favorite Author. For those who’ve read Cemetery Street, I hope they read and enjoy Shangri-La Trailer Park. For the eBook world I’ll be releasing Dirty Bum for President on July 4th 2012. In early 2012, Cemetery Street will be released in paperback. In the realm of writing, I’m working on Cemetery Street’s sequel – Montana Rural.
We’ll finish this week with a Snippet:
Eyes ablaze, a bear came at night. It lumbered into camp, earth shaking under claw. In the light of a crackling campfire its shadow flickered upon the trunks of conifers. Its breath swirled about its snout before rising into the night. Fast asleep, Maistoinna (My-stween-a) Standing Bear was oblivious of the ursine’s presence – or maybe he wasn’t. Either way, he turned his back on the bear.
Maistoinna wasn’t concerned about a bear invading his camp. He was experienced camping in bear country and took precautions. The Blackfoot Indian was fond of saying: “If a bear’s crazy enough to slash his way into my tent, I’m crazy enough to have a nasty surprise waiting for him.” This night, Maistoinna didn’t pitch a tent, choosing instead to sleep under the stars.
The cinnamon bear nosed closer, firelight betraying a deep gash upon its shoulder. Around the wound dried blood matted its fur. A normal bear might pause to paw at this rock or that, maybe uncovering a tasty treat. This bear seemed different; slowly, deliberately, he moved toward Maistoinna. Hovering over the sleeping Blackfoot, the bear paused, studying his quarry as its steamy breath belched skyward.
When Maistoinna rolled onto his back, the bear pounced. With a primordial grunt, it nudged Maistoinna with a giant paw, startling him from sleep. The echo of Maistoinna’s bellow rolled over the treetops.
The bear pinned Maistoinna and lowered its snout. “Shut up!” the bear growled, engulfing Maistoinna with putrid breath. “Sweeny, Shut up! It’s me,” the bear shook Maistoinna’s shoulders.
Terror filled Maistoinna’s eyes as he struggled to free his arms, his breath rapid and shallow under the bear’s weight.
“Calm down, calm down, it’s me.”
Maistoinna squinted, recognition settled over him.
“Sorry to scare you, cousin, but it’s the only way I can get your attention,” the bear said. “It’s happening again,” it warned. “Do something about it! This time, do something! Don’t let another eagle fall.”
Maistoinna awoke with a start, his heart pounding. Next to him, embers from the dying fire glimmered. “A dream, only a dream,” Maistoinna mumbled. Confused and weary, he sat motionless, scrutinizing the tree line. Far from his Browning, Montana, home, Maistoinna was camping along the Appalachian Trail in northeastern Pennsylvania, in the midst of a solo quest at conquering the two thousand-mile trail.
Shaken, Maistoinna snuggled into his sleeping bag. For the first time in his adult life, he didn’t feel at home in nature. He suddenly feared the dark and what lurked within; he wished to be in a motel room, in a comfortable bed under a warm blanket, watching this week’s million-dollar movie.
Somewhere in the night an owl hooted; Maistoinna jumped. He gave up his attempt at sleep and climbed out of his bag. Sitting before the campfire, he watched morning light chase darkness across the sky. His mind grappled with the bear. What was he saying? Did the eagle mean what he thought? What was with the bear’s wound?
These things once would have been intelligible to Maistoinna, but lately—ever since his nephew’s accident —many things seemed incomprehensible. Maistoinna was frustrated that he didn’t understand the bear. He related to bears better than women. He knew bears—women, well… he understood bears.
As a boy, his grandfather told him that their clan was directly descended from the great bear. Even then Maistoinna admired the bear’s arrogant swagger. “They’re always smiling,” a young Maistoinna told his grandfather. Unknown to Maistoinna, his own smile resembled that insolent smirk.
Real-life encounters with bears didn’t shake him the way this dream had— not even the time a black bear caught Maistoinna with his pants down. The sun shined brilliantly upon the jagged Mission Mountains as Maistoinna answered nature’s call. He was squatting behind a stand of brush when he heard the bear lumber nearby. It swaggered across an opening in the trees, busily foraging with its snout to the ground. Not until Maistoinna moved for his pepper spray – set upon a stump five feet away – did the bear notice him. With teeth clacking, the bear moved towards Maistoinna.
In his excitement, Maistoinna forgot to pull up his pants and fell over himself. He hit the ground with a thud—pepper spray out of reach. Snorting, the bear closed. It caught whiff of Maistoinna’s scat and lowered its snout. After a brief investigation, the bear scampered away.
Maistoinna never told a soul, he found zero humor in the story. That’s not to say that Maistoinna didn’t possess a blistering wit, he did, as long as others were the target.
As the sun rose above the Appalachian forest, Maistoinna dumped his remaining coffee on the fire and closed camp. He faced the long day ahead of him with a sigh. Hiking was an ordeal in the Mid-Atlantic summer time soup.