FOUL is a murder mystery that centers around an old professional football scandal. It is a literary quest into the automatic negativity of much of society to victims of brain disorders. The protagonist, Brando Mahr, had a major mental meltdown as the result of a violent impact that left him aphasiac and epileptic.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
About thirty years. I’d begun reading about brain disorders because I myself had lost use of the muscles in half of my face, a form of polio I suffered as a child. I learned to control the right side of my facial muscles from the left side.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I myself had been in military intelligence in Vietnam, and was interested in the plight of soldiers who return from war changed for life, different forever, and yet unbroken in spirit.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
Well, I was violently impacted, and since the incident have felt not the same as before. Doctors have confirmed this with a brain scan, a dangerous tangle of veins and cells in my frontal lobe. They would like to operate, but that’s not going to happen.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
The idea for the story line came from research I was doing when I wrote HEADSLAP: The Life & Times of Deacon Jones. I uncovered one very important play-off game that certainly looked like it could have been fixed. The outcome smelled so badly that sports writers of the time were outraged and made accusations that were largely passed off as partisan ranting at the time. But to me, looking back with somewhat calmer reflection, it still looked like one team had actually thrown the game. Enormous amounts of money are bet on professional sports. I started to think about how and why that outcome could have happened, and to wonder if anyone would commit murder to cover it up.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
It certainly wasn’t hard with my protagonist. He speaks in 17th century London street slang and falls over with spasms when he should be moving into action.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I outline extensively. As a Hollywood writer, I tend to see my stories as three act screenplays…in fact, I generally adapt them to screenplays and pitch them around town. I’ve sold a few options around town, but so far no brass ring.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I’m generally an entertainer, not an educator or enlightener. But with FOUL, I had (for me) a rare sense of empathy with my character. It was almost as if he was me in a parallel universe. It’s not that I feel sorry for him (me). I’m proud of what he (I) have accomplished, even though I’ve never hit it big in Tinseltown.
Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
I think I am more hesitant to take on a project than once I was. Ideas are everywhere and they only take a minute to think up…but for a serious person, it’s six months to a year to develop that first draft.
Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
I like four in the morning, like now.
Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?
Milk with a little coffee and an Oatmeal-To-Go bar.
What are you working on right now?
I’m doing a weekly radio show called Dark Landing. It’s a one hour weekly show, featuring sci-fi, horror and fantasy short stories that tend to the dark side. I thread the show with a running narrative and commentary and we have commercials, other authors pay me to promo their work. It’s on internet radio, has run here and there in the usual places, and you can find it for real after the 1st of the year. Just google Dark Landing.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I have ideas everywhere in bits and scraps of paper, in old notebooks, on the backs of napkins and even toilet paper.
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
Too, too many.
What do you like to read?
Dick Francis. Flannery O’Conner. John Grisham. Tom Perry.
What writer influenced you the most?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your books?
FOUL and my more recent books are mostly published by Double Dragon as trade paperbacks and e-books. They are all available from the usual suspects…Amazon, B&N, Kindle and the like. Except for THE FREIGHT TRAIN OF LOVE. That one is a bit more serious, a sort of murder-mystery, romance, war story, thriller. I didn’t think it was right for Double Dragon so went through the CreateSpace trauma. A lot of extra work, but still, all’s well that ends well. You can find out more about me at my website: http://johnklawitter.com/