The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

The Search for the Stone of Excalibur: Book Two – The Chronicles of the Stone

Author: Fiona Ingram

Paperback: 378 pages (also available as an e-book)

Publisher: Biblio Publishing (October 1, 2014)

Synposis:

Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.

However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.

Review:

I have been waiting for the second Chronicles of the Stone book forever and it was worth the wait. Just as good as the Secret of the Sacred Scarab (maybe better since Ingram added a girl adventurer!). This book is just the right mix of history, adventure, creepiness, and plain old kid arguing and getting in trouble. I felt like on every page there was something to appeal to each of my senses. Ingram isn’t just a visual writer, she also gives you hints of how things sound, smell, feel (OK, not too much taste but there was a lot of tea). She truly makes the adventure come alive.

I think Grades 4 through 6 will enjoy reading this book (and checking out the illustrations and maps) but I believe it would also make an ideal read aloud book for the whole family. I think everyone from too young to read to Grandma will get a kick out of The Search for the Sword of Excalibur. Now, you have to figure out who has the best English accent and they can be the designated reader for your family.

The first book in the Chronicles of the Stone series is The Secret of the Sacred Scarab (you can also get The Young Explorer’s Companion to The Secret of the Sacred Scarab — great bonus info and activities for teachers). Fiona Ingram has also written two books about dogs if your young reader enjoy canines more than ancient cultures.

The Other Shakespeare

The Other Shakespeare

Author: Lea Rachel

Paperback: 2o4 pages (also available as an e-book)

Publisher: Writer’s Design (October 31, 2014)

Synposis:

Set in sixteenth-century England, The Other Shakespeare tells the tale of Judith Shakespeare, older sister to the famous William, as she struggles to develop her talent and gain acceptance in a world that won’t recognize her because of her gender. Consistently denied her independence, she’s forced to engage in extreme measures to get what she wants out of life—and to make difficult decisions that will shock and surprise you.

Written in the vein of character transplant novels like Grendel, Ahab’s Wife, and What Happened to Anna K, Lea Rachel’s novel brings new life to a character that first appeared in another publication. Judith Shakespeare was originally introduced in acclaimed author Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece A Room of One’s Own—and now Judith’s full story is told in this speculative piece, which answers the ultimate question, “What if Shakespeare had been born a woman?”

A must-read for Woolf and Shakespeare fans alike, The Other Shakespeare combines history, social issues, and drama in a compelling story that will thoroughly entertain and enlighten.

Review:

If you enjoy alternative histories or “what ifs” you’ll find The Other Shakespeare an interesting read. What if the mind and creativity and drive of Shakespeare had been found in the body of a woman? Centuries later would the names Romeo and Juliet be synonymous with love? Would “to be or not to be” still be the question? And would we have as many lawyer jokes if they didn’t have that original one to build on, Henry VI’s “first, kill all the lawyers”?

Even without the Shakespeare tie-in, I would have found this book interesting simply as a representation of life during the 16th century, especially the life of women. This book was just over 200 pages and it was a fast read. I was wondering if William would steal Judith’s writings, if Judith and William would collaborate to pass her writing of as his, if Judith would come to an untimely end…so many possibilities.

You can read the first chapter of The Other Shakespeare here

 

My Life in Crime

MY LIFE IN CRIME

gilCrime writers are in the business of violence. I’ve stopped apologizing about it. My dear old mother—a kindergarten teacher and a gentle soul—used to take me to task. “Why don’t you write about something pleasant?” She’d rather have the whole world dancing to a vanilla, positive thinking, Up With People! sort of vibe.

That’s not me. Crime, transgression and aggression are realms where the human character is tested and revealed, so that’s where I’m drawn. As an unofficial motto, a line from the Latin poet and playwright Terence might serve: “Nothing human is foreign to me.”

When I started doing crime journalism for magazines, I realized there was, truth be told, quite a bit out there that was utterly foreign to me. I was appalled at the various and sundry hurts we put on each other. The evil in the hearts of men frequently doesn’t lurk so much as spill over, bloodying anyone unfortunate to be standing nearby. As a crime reporter, what I was essentially doing was interviewing people about the worst day of their lives. Jail visits were a matter of course. I learned there is no more soul-sucking place in the world than the metropolitan correctional facility in a large American city.

Even as I sought to rub my face in the grit, there was still something missing. My job as a crime writer, as I saw it, was to face as directly as I could the consequences of violence. I didn’t want second-hand. I lacked access to crime scenes because I wasn’t a cop. But I found the next best thing. For my book Aftermath, Inc., I job-shadowed a crime scene clean-up crew in the Chicago area. I climbed into a haz-mat suit, strapped on a respirator and got down on my hands and knees to sop up blood pools the size of bathtubs.

In such circumstances, the mind naturally tends towards the philosophical. I found myself musing on the ultimate source of violence. With Aftermath, I experienced some of the who, what, where and how. I needed to understand the why. All right, yes, we are an aggressive species, but why? I wanted to trace the reasons for the mass shootings, the savage treatment of the weakest among us, the brutalities to women and children, the cascades of blood splashed across the news feeds I was reading.

All men are violent, but some are more violent than others. I investigated some of the most brutal souls on earth for Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting That Unmasked the Mob. A chronicle of the Apalachin meeting in southern tier New York State in 1957. No shots were fired at the gathering itself, but a mob war in the run-up to it was bloody enough. Mafia Summit allowed me to dwell on the idea that there are sociopaths among us, unnatural head-cases that victimize those whose mental apparatus is more normalized. In some respects, violence is a mental health issue.

All of which led me directly to Thirteen Hollywood Apes. An evolutionary biologist can suggest why human beings indulge in vicious behaviors. Darwin jotted down a couple lines in his notebook that I used as an epigraph for Hollywood Apes. “Our descent, then, is the origin of our evil passions. The Devil under form of Baboon is our grandfather.” What he means is that we are violent because we are descended from violent species.

9780553395051I’m not a violent man myself. I haven’t gotten into a fist fight since my long past school days. To put it another way, my violent self has been kept “down in the hole,” as Steve Earle puts it, by socialization. Even so, on the crime beat I found myself empathizing with cops, yes, but also with criminals. Maybe crime writing is my therapy. It’s a way to goad the demons and keep them at bay at the same time.

“There no crime,” states Goethe, “of which I cannot conceive myself guilty.” Over the course several books offering the worst that humankind has to offer, the thought has occurred to me more than once.

Check out my review of Gil Reavill’s novel 13 Hollywood Apes here.

Windy City Blues

Windy City Blues: A Jules Landau Mystery

Author:Marc Krulewitch

E Book: 258 pages

Publisher: Alibi (January 6, 2015)

Synposis:

Jules Landau feels right at home in the ethnic stew of the Windy City, where he’s indebted to the hopes and schemes of his criminal ancestors. Street-smart and college-educated, Jules wants nothing more than to go straight and atone for his family’s past. But when he investigates a horrific killing, Jules uncovers a hidden world of lucrative corruption.

Jack Gelashvili had his head bashed in and no one knows why. The most obvious answer is that he was a parking cop, a universally loathed job—especially in Chicago. Turns out there’s a lot of money to be made on expired meters, and when Jules starts making noise, he starts making enemies—from the head of a media empire to the mastermind of a prostitution ring. When rumors of bloodthirsty Mob connections arise, Jack’s gorgeous cousin Tamar objects, and Jules is increasingly swayed by the logic and charms of the sexy baker. Following this beautiful woman into the cloistered world of Georgian immigrants, Jules brings his hunches, his family connections, and his gun. But he’s just one man against a pack of criminals with a million reasons to shoot first.

***previously published as Scofflaw Blues

Stop by on Friday for a review.

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Save Me

Save Me

Author: Jenny Elliott

Paperback: 336 pages (also available as e-book)

Age Range: Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 to 18

Publisher: Swoon Reads (January 6, 2015)

Synposis:

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

But then she learns something about David that changes everything, and Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft, and is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend….

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered that her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?

Review:

Teens will love this book. The love is all-encompassing, the obstacles seem impossible and the paranormal aspects are…well, just creepy enough to keep this book from being predictable. What started out as a standard teen love story was given a shake up with the addition of the paranormal aspects. I’m not a regular reader of the paranormal but Save Me seemed to handle it well, making it just normal enough to convince you that witchcraft could easily be an underlying current in every normal community.

Are you familiar with Young Adult books that easily cross the bridge and are equally enjoyed by adult readers? Maria V. Snyder’s books are a great example. Save Me is not that type of book. In my opinion, this is strictly for teen readers with all the obsession, perfection and rebellion that they love. Those of us with more experience might feel our eyes rolling a bit. Oh, to be that naive and optimistic again!

13 Hollywood Apes

13 Hollywood Apes: A Layla Remington Novel

Author: Gil Reavill

E Book: 308 pages

Publisher: Random House (December 16, 2014)

Synposis:

As a wildfire rages outside the Odalon Animal Sanctuary in the rugged Santa Monica foothills, the retired Hollywood movie chimpanzees housed there are shot and left for dead. When Malibu detective Layla Remington reaches the grisly scene the next morning, she’s deeply disturbed—and even more confused. The victims are not human, so the attack cannot be classified as homicide. Yet someone clearly wanted these animals dead, and executed them with ruthless efficiency. Miraculously, there is one survivor: a juvenile male named Angle.

But as Layla reaches the veterinarian’s office where Angle is recovering, a man with rock-star good looks and a laid-back Southern California attitude swoops in and removes him. And just like that, an unusual case turns truly bizarre. Soon reports surface of ferocious attacks against Odalon employees . . . with Angle as the prime suspect. As a wave of senseless violence reaches its apex, Layla chases a mystery man and his chimp—but everything comes back to that terrible night at the sanctuary.

Review:

Bizarre is the first word that pops into my head. Who killed the apes? Who are the apes killing? Who is directing the apes? And all the whys? This is a book that has so many questions you’ll find yourself unable to stop reading once you pick it up. So definitely pick it up! Aside from the murder question, there is the intriguing ape-human aspect. It’s amazing watching a tough cop like Layla Remington develop sympathy for the killed apes and an initially reluctant relationship with the ape Angle. If you’re tired of the same old-same old cop/murder books try 13 Hollywood Apes.

Murder at the Book Club

Need a little escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Why not discover a new author and a new cozy mystery series? Maggie King is introducing the first of the Book Club Series on December 30 — perfect way to use that Amazon gift card you receive as a gift! Check out an excerpt here. Now is also the ideal time to pre-order. Amazon is offering 25% off books with the promotional code BOOKDEAL25

Murder at the Book Club

Author: Maggie King

Paperback: 400 pages (also available in e-formats and audiobooks)

Publisher: Pocket Books (December 30, 2014)

Synposis:

Hazel Rose never dreamed that the murder mystery book group she and her friend Carlene started would stage a real murder.

Nevertheless, the normally composed Carlene is unusually angry and rattled one night during a book group discussion and dies after drinking cyanide-spiked tea. Despite a suicide note, Hazel is skeptical; Carlene never seemed suicidal—she was busy making plans for her future. Incidentally, Carlene was married to Hazel’s ex-husband, and Hazel has always suspected there might be something more to her past than she let on.

How much does anyone really know about Carlene Arness? And did she die by her own hand or someone else’s? Hazel begins a search for the truth that produces no shortage of motives, as she unearths the past that Carlene took great pains to hide. And most of those motives belong to the members of her very own book group…

Featuring memorable characters and a wicked sense of humor, Murder at the Book Group shows the darker side of a book club where reading isn’t about pleasure—it’s about payback.

The Tiny Portrait

The Tiny Portrait

Author: Heidi Carla

Illustrator: Karla Cinquantatinyportrait

Hardcover: 56 pages

Publisher: Curly and Iceberg Publishing (October 1, 2014)

Synposis:

Young siblings Tess and Toby discover an antique tintype portrait of an unknown ancestor in a family heirloom trunk. Their discovery leads them on an unexpected adventure when they embark on an imaginative journey to uncover her identity. Along the way, the children are encouraged to explore their own unique connection to the past by creating a family tree. This curio keepsake book features atmospheric photographic illustrations with inter-generational appeal.

Review:

Every kid loves a treasure hunt. I know, because I once planned a pirate party for my daughter, complete with treasure hunt. Author Heidi Carla and her sister Karla Cinquanta, the book’s illustrator, managed to combine treasure hunts, which kids love, with genealogy, which grown-ups love. It’s a great way to draw your children into your hobby or even just encourage them to be interested in their ancestors. The book’s illustrations, which seem to be mainly black and white with selected sections colored, serve as the perfect bridge between the present and the past. The do add a bit of a haunted feel to the book which I’m sure kids will love. Adults will love the fact that the illustrations are beautiful.

I think this book has the possibility to serve as a way to nourish the relationship between grandkids and grandparents. I would even give this to an adult who enjoys genealogy or perhaps a teacher with a lesson plan that involves family trees.

5Ws with Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro is on a WOW Blog Tour with her memoir She’s shes-not-herself-coverNot Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness (Dream of Things, September 2, 2014). You can stop by the other blogs on her tour by checking out her schedule and an opportunity to win a copy of She’s Not Herself here.

Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named Finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008. Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist’s Journey,” named Shapiro Top Blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.

She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.
On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.

Today Linda is visiting Words by Webb to answer five questions.

WHO
Who do you hope will read your book?

LINDA: First and foremost, I hope I have written a story that will speak to all readers. I do not think my memoir is merely about my personal survival, which will relate only to adult children of the mentally ill. I think that most readers will be able to use what I’ve experienced to help them understand, identify and empathize with any dysfunctional situations in their own lives or the lives of others.

Even those in the professional community of therapists, social workers, and psychologists are claiming to benefit as I share how I processed years of trauma by examining them through the lens of time and with the help of skilled professionals. Gaining inspiration and the ability to forgive without forgetting is never easy. However, it is my hope that in my search for ways to face a reality that was never acknowledged, I am encouraging others to succeed in finding ways to feel more at peace as they cope with whatever obstacles have blocked their path to healing.

WHAT
What do you feel are the most significant changes in society’s attitudes toward mental illness compared to when you were young? What do we still need to improve?

LINDA: We know today that secrets within in a family are the breeding ground for all sorts of emotional problems including mental illness. Surely there has been a paradigm shift in de-stigmatizing illnesses in general. The scientific community is moving forward in its race to better understand and treat patients suffering from a variety of conditions that fall under the broad umbrella we refer to as mental illness. If we focus only on the reported rise in children with autism, the increasing numbers of teen suicides, or the ever-increasing numbers of the mentally ill who are incarcerated instead of hospitalized (*when all statistics point to the fact that the great majority of the mentally ill are not perpetrators of crime), there remains am urgent need to help identify and treat loved ones whose families don’t know how to help even when they are witness to unusual and even aberrant behaviors.

Additionally, due to the increase and awareness of the number of physical illnesses (including cancer) societal pressures are offering patients and their families as many options for treatment and care that are currently available.

The curtain to what was my so-called “normal” for my family in the 40s and 50s is certainly lifting. Yet, there still remain many communities and religious sects that adhere to the belief that problems in any family should stay within the family. They don’t want others to judge them and therefore they do nothing to change what, on some level, they are aware of as having the potential for danger. Therefore, all the auxiliary people who come in contact with children – from pediatricians to teachers to social workers – must be better educated to recognize the signs and symptoms that children inevitably exhibit if a trained eye is watching them. More funding must be allotted for further scientific research that includes how to best treat patients as young as toddlers and treatment centers and hospitals must be available for those in all socio-economic groups, if we are ever to live in a saner and safer world.

linda-appleman-shapiro[1]WHY
Why did you choose memoir instead of fiction, a genre that leaves you greater latitude?

LINDA: I chose memoir because I felt compelled to share a story that I experienced first hand. I then re-visited, remembered, and sorted through all that has affected me, shaped who I was and who I have become.

I am happy to leave it to others to create worlds within worlds with fictional characters and reach the hearts and souls of readers as great writers throughout time have always done. That was not my calling.

WHEN
When did you begin writing?

LINDA: I began to journal at the age of eleven after reading Anne Frank’s Diary and have written poetry (primarily for myself and a few chosen loved ones). I only wrote critical papers throughout college and the various graduate programs I attended. Creative writing was not anything I even attempted to explore.

To answer your question, I’d have to say that writing my memoir has been my first real stab at writing. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit to it also being a labor of love and tenacity. It has reaped untold hours of revelatory awareness of who I was and who I have become.

WHERE
Where will your writing go from here?

LINDA: I intend to revive a weekly blog a wrote for three years – “A Psychotherapist’s Journal” – which I’m proud to say named me Top Blogger in the field of Mental Health by Wellsphere (an on-line site whose mission was to “to help millions of people live healthier, happier lives by connecting them with the knowledge, people and tools needed to manage and improve their health).

With regard to writing another book:

In spite of the fact that I know how difficult it is for authors who are not well known to get a book of essays published, that is, in fact, my next project. I started it a while back, but now that my memoir is out, I have every intention of returning to it.

I have always been fascinated by the power of myths within families, cultures, and religions – all of which influence our choices, affect our beliefs, and color our biases.

Although many people associate the word “myth” with Greek Mythology, Webster defines a broader usage of myth to include “any invented story, concept, or idea.” It’s this broader sense of “invented stories” and how they affect us that I will be addressing in my essays. Whether we believe or don’t believe the constructs that have been passed down to us, we continue to tell ourselves stories to create other myths to heal old scars or enhance current joys. . . and it is only when we work to change negative behaviors do we create new realities. Such new realities help us identify the myths we’ve chosen to sustain us and allow us to discard those that have harmed us.

Questioning and exploring the role myths play in our lives, the essays will address a wide range of subjects, most of which are not nearly as whimsical as the working title I am now using, “Unicorns Eat Strawberry Ice Cream.” Whether that title will ultimately work or not, I’m not certain. But it gives me pleasure to know that I have taken it from an essay I wrote about a child’s ability to enjoy the luxury of imaginative play, admiring how she perceives her world to be safe and loving.

Since I grew up not knowing how to be care-free and spontaneous but was, instead, always on guard and hyper-vigilant, never knowing when the “black clouds,” (as Mother referred to the times when she was overcome by her demons) would descend.

I was, therefore, overwhelmed with joy when I spent an evening with my granddaughter (when she was 3½) and she asked me – when playing with a soft, cuddly stuffed unicorn – if I knew that unicorns ate strawberry ice cream. She couldn’t have been more serious on the one hand and more playful on the other. That ability left me awe-struck.

The sound of her laughter and the security she felt about going to sleep at night were not luxuries afforded to me at her age. For those of you who may have lived through family traumas or are living through them now, such luxuries are, no doubt, absent from your lives as well.

Yet, while anything can happen to any of us at any time, we can’t afford to allow the news of the week – the multitude of disasters around the globe – to deny ourselves the sheer pleasure of appreciating a child’s delightfully trusting and magnificently magical imagination. Even though such times may be too few and too fleeting, they are always precious.

That is why when we have the privilege of being with children reflecting the safety of the world as they know it, reveling in their playfulness enriches our lives. Learning from their ability to feel free enough to think creatively, encourages us to be open to all sorts of new possibilities. It serves us well to know that if we allow our innocent children to captivate our attention and in so doing inspire us, offering the opportunity to share in their gaiety, knowing that – even while they are aware that they are weaving a yarn, making up a story such as one where unicorns really do eat strawberry ice cream – so much more is possible.

More often, however, I will address the serious implications of myths as they impact 21st century life – including our need to understand relationships; the effects of failing economies; the changing priorities and new definitions of what constitutes a “family;” the attitudes toward mental health and the health care system itself; bullying in various arenas, and our changing attitudes towards toward age and aging.

Throughout this book, my mission will be to disempower outdated myths that impede progress. I’ve been told that this book of essays is the first book written by a psychotherapist addressing how the myths we absorb over time affect our present-day lives. If we become aware of them, we might then replace them with new stories – myths, if you will – that reflect our current realities, promote healthy growth and help to fully realize our potential. In order to move forward, we need the freedom to allow our imaginations to be more expansive, our attitudes towards people and cultures to become more inclusive. It’s a path toward the development of a saner, more civilized world.

5Ws with David Berner

David Berner is on a WOW Blog Tour with his latest book Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons (Dream of Things, September 17, 2014). It is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connectanyroad all of us. In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip–the one he always wished he’d taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story–Jack Kerouac’s On the Road–and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit. However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

David W. Berner–the award winning author of Accidental Lessons and Any Road Will Take You There–was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book Accidental Lessons is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area’s most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a “beautiful, elegantly written book” by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and “a terrific memoir” by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). Any Road Will Take You There is the recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association.

You can learn more about the stops for Berner’s blog tour and book giveaways here. Today, you can learn more about Berner and his writing in five questions.

WHO inspired you? Jack Kerouac?

DAVID: This may sound terribly cliché, but I have gained inspiration from a lot of people and not just writers. My sons inspire me with their passions and enthusiasm. My mother inspired me with her tenaciousness. My father inspired me with his unconditional love. Bob Dylan’s lyrics inspire. The music of alternative artists like Dawes, and Iron and Wine stimulate my creative side. And so many writers! Jack Kerouac’s free spiritedness that fills On the Road and The Dharma Bums certainly inspired Any Road Will Take You There. His compulsion to travel for the sake of travel, for insight, for redemption is the essence of my memoir. Hemingway also inspires me, and so do more modern-day writers like Chuck Klosterman and Paul Theroux. I love Annie Dillard. I could go on and on. In fact, I am frequently inspired, even in some small way, by the writer I’m reading at the moment. The simple leap of faith to put words down on paper deserves a celebration.

WHAT type of writing do you enjoy the most? You’ve done a bit of everything: fiction, memoir, non-fiction, reporting.

DAVID: I love creative nonfiction, the delving deep into the stories of our lives. This clearly stems from my journalism background. But what I write, most of the time, is not journalism, it’s personal stories. Nothing is better than a true story told well, a story that has layers based in the human experience.

I’ve written some fiction. In fact, I have a novel I’m trying to get published. But although it’s fiction, it’s based on a lot of my own experiences. It’s fiction in the Hemingway tradition. There’s truth between the lines.

DavidBernerWHY did you decide to tackle a memoir that focused on your relationship with your sons?

DAVID: I was compelled. In the first part of Any Road Will Take You There I lay out a story of a family photograph, long hidden. It’s of four generations of men: my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father, and me when I was a young boy. But it was never displayed in my home because it held the secrets of the scars of the men in that snapshot. This is what got me thinking about fatherhood and my own role as a dad. The road trip turned into a deep reflection about my relationship with my father and the ones I was forming with my sons.

The father-son relationship is so intensely complicated and layered. There’s nothing like it. Men carry the DNA of all the fathers who came before them, the good and bad stuff, and we struggle trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away. And because of the long tradition of fathers who stood at a distance from their sons, believing it was the right thing to do or because they didn’t know any differently, the modern father stumbles attempting to figure out what his role is supposed to be. There are all those echoes from the past, all those long shadows. I wanted to explore this, not only because it was important to me but also because I believe it resonates with every single man.

WHEN did you realize you would be a writer?

DAVID: Second grade. Seriously. I wrote a short book for class called The Cyclops. It was maybe five pages long. I was so proud of that book. Still have it in a storage box somewhere. It was the story of a deep-sea monster and the men who tried to capture it. The idea must have come out of all those Jacque Cousteau specials on TV back in the 1960s.

But I knew I was a professional writer when I began to get paid for writing journalism, print and broadcast, back in the late 1970s. My first writing job was in radio. I was a news reporter and had to write each day on deadline. It made focus on telling a story succinctly. It also helped me be a good editor. That’s probably why I love the rewriting or drafting process, sometimes even more than the writing itself. I love to massage and shape a story.

WHERE did you and your sons go on your journey?

DAVID: The trip was about 5000 miles: Chicago, Iowa, Denver, Moab, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Santa Fe, back to Denver and Chicago and many places in between.

But miles on pavement cannot define the best part of the journey; it was instead measured by what was in our minds and hearts. There was a lot of time to listen to music, think, and talk. And in that kind of atmosphere, there is no way you can avoid going deep into the crevices of memory and emotion. Road trips force it all to the surface. It’s not as if we were in some sort of highway therapy session. It was simply the luxury of space and time that permitted us to observe and ask more questions of each other. I think my boys saw sides of their father they had not truly seen before, the introspective and the deeper side. And I saw boys turning into men. I saw the blossoming passions of my sons; I saw two exposed hearts. I truly believe that only time traveling over long stretches of highway can evoke such things.