Rod Marsden, Author of “Desk Job”

What is your book about?

Desk Job – Sarah in Office-land is my salute to Lewis Carroll. it contains my views on working in various offices in Sydney, Australia in the mid-1990s. Lewis Carroll inspired me to whack in some humor which I felt it needed anyway if it was to be both read and enjoyed. Plenty of crazy goings-on here worth a smile or a laugh.

In terms of story, there’s a murder and an investigation. During the investigation we discover just how dysfunctional a dysfunctional office can be.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I wanted to write about what it was like working in various offices in the mid-1990s. I decided on one particular fictional office that is truly weird but in some respects typical of the times. Maybe not that different from offices today. For over a decade I couldn’t get my head around how to proceed in this writing then Lewis Carroll showed me the way with his Alice books.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters of this book?

A lot of myself and my experiences in various offices is in this book.

Tell me a little about your main character. Who was your favorite? Why?

My main character is Sarah Hollingsworth, a psychic detective exploring a dysfunctional office. Gary Whitebridge is the man driven to murder and Kaze Majo is the victim. She is also the wind witch terror of the office. My favorite characters would have to be Ms. Slimbeam, the Cheshire cat like receptionist, and Sir Morris, a talking cat from another universe. Ms. Slimbeam should be a butterfly but instead she is an able worker. Sir Morris is a swashbuckler and I like swashbucklers.

Who is your most unusual/ most likable character?

I suppose it is a toss up between Ms. Slimbeam who is pretty enough to be a butterfly but prefers to work for a living and Julio Piazza who is a mule with wings.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

A lot of people work in offices throughout the world. I do not believe offices and the way they are run today are that much different from the mid-1990s. I have talked with a number of current office workers and they seem to get my creatures. There’s a lot of truth in Desk Job served up on a polished surrealist plate.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

Many of the characters in Desk Job follow the particular pattern of the creature they best represent or best represents them.

An owl guards and protects. This guarding and protecting may simply be about property. It can also be about the mind and the soul.

A hawk is a high flying business creature. They get the contracts and organize the mules.

Now a mule works behind his or her computer in support of their hawk.

Where there are praying mantises, this damaged creature looks for rule breakers she can deal harshly with. Close by she has her faithful and rather foolish dung beetle.

Butterflies and moths play and get hawks on side rather than do an honest day’s work. And the caterpillar rests in his room most of the day, not wishing to be disturbed.

What is your goal for the book?

What I want readers to understand is that rules and regulations need to be tempered with humanity. Also you can’t really make someone more equal than someone else without doing some damage to the idea and ideal of equality.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I realized straight off that if it was too dry it would just blow away and be forgotten. If I didn’t make the reader smile and occasionally laugh I wouldn’t get the readership I so wanted.

I am a big Terry Pratchett fan because in his discworld novels he gets the reader to laugh at things that happen in our world but viewed in a surrealistic way. He can write about the absurdities of how we conduct our lives and by so doing tickle our funny bones. He touches upon serious subjects such as pollution and political correctness gone mad but in a way where he drives his points home by making us, at the very least, smile at the craziness.

I decided that Terry Pratchett as mentor wasn’t quite right for me at this stage in my growth as a writer but perhaps the author of the Alice books comes closer to the guide I was looking for. Inspired by Lewis Carroll I could write this novel and not have within it that dryness I know doesn’t work.

Yes, I could find humor in a kind of Wonderland I could think of as Office-land.

What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

The most difficult part in writing Desk Job was in finding something simple and straightforward both writer and reader could immediately focus in on. Someone had to come into the office to give the outsider’s and thus, to some extent, the reader’s point of view. At the same time I wanted the inner workings of the minds of the office personnel out there for the reader. Once I decided on an office murder and a psychic investigator it all clicked.

How does your upbringing color your writing?

I believe in a fair go for all and I don’t like the idea of some people being more equal than others because of strange politically correct reasons . I also believe in beaches where bikini clad lika-lika birds are most welcome and always will be.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

No but I do prefer to do my rough writing on the train and polish it up at home.

What writer influenced you the most?

For this book it was Lewis Carroll and his Alice books. In general I would say either Franz Kafka or Terry Pratchett.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Off hand I would say Catch-22.

What is something you never leave home without?

Pens, paper and a book to read.

Thank you for answering my questions, Rod. Where can we learn more about Desk Job?

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “Desk Job” By Rod Marsden

Click here to read an interview with: Sarah Hollingsworth, the main character of “Desk Job” by Rod Marsden

 

Sarah Hollingsworth, the main character of “Desk Job” by Rod Marsden

What is your story?

My name is Sarah Hollingsworth and I have psychic abilities. I run a detective agency in Sydney. Of late I have been called upon by a lawyer, Jackie Rose, to look into the murder of Kaze Majo, a Japanese wind witch. There is little doubt that the murderer is Gary Whitebridge, a working mule. My primary mission is to discover why it happened. Even on the first day snooping around the office where it took place I got the impression that where they had worked was full of bad vibes that had to have contributed to Gary’s action against Kaze.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies see me as a trouble maker. They would like for me to just go away. The office manager, a lazy caterpillar named Mr. Always, is afraid I will make changes in his work environment. He has every right to be afraid.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see me as a real go-getter. They know I’ll fight for justice no matter what. I’m sometimes seen as a hawk and sometimes as an owl.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Yes and no. The author has skipped those times when I was younger when I used to lose my temper. Also those times when I was too judgmental of others.

Do you have money troubles?

No. I can play the stock market any time with my psychic abilities. If I went to Los Vegas I’d come away a millionaire. I am more interested in people than money.

Do you like remembering your childhood?

Yes and no. I was happy being a lika-lika bird frolicking in the surf. My skin condition put a stop to that. When my psychic abilities kicked in I almost went mad with all the voices crowding into my head. Luckily a gentleman was there to help sort that out.

When my favorite beach at Cronulla was attacked by newcomers against pretty lika-lika birds wearing bikinis I was naturally taken aback. I don’t believe anyone has the right to take surf and sun away from anyone. I also believe that females in Australia going to an Australian beach should have the right to dress as they please.. Nature may have cut short my lika-lika life but I’ll be damned if I will allow some group of intolerant males from somewhere else do it to somebody else.

What do you want?

I want the office where Kaze and Gary worked cleaned up. There are vicious praying mantises on the prowl and mules on the point of committing suicide. I’m making out a full report for the lawyer, Jackie Rose, and also for the company’s head office. The local office manager, Mr. Always, is not going to like it one bit.

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of meeting up with a praying mantis who has superior psychic abilities to my own. A praying mantis with the ability to both read and control minds is to be feared.

Do you have any distinguishing features?

I have jet black hair and very pale skin. I burn easy and have to be careful of the sun’s rays. I look a little like Morticia out of the Addams Family.

What is your favorite music?

I like jazz because I like the hole-in-the-wall cafes in Sydney that play jazz. Great atmosphere. I also like surf music and anything that used to play in the ’60s when we went surfing because I remember my wonderful days as a lika-lika bird. You know, surf and sun and all that. A pity it was cut short when it was discovered I burn too quickly under the sun.

What are the last three books that you have read?

They would be Walk like a Lika-lika Bird by Y. A. Aila, The Praying Mantis by I. M. Belle, and Flight of the Office Hawk by I. W. Alana. I especially enjoyed Walk like a Lika-lika Bird. It brought back wonderful memories. Oh, and recently I re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Who is your true love?

I have yet to meet him but he’ll turn up sooner or later. He’ll most likely be an owl or a mule with wings and a big heart.

Have you ever had an adventure?

For a psychic living in Sydney, Australia every day can be an adventure. I suppose a special adventure was traveling to another world that happens to be in another universe. It was a place of some interest with talking cats such as Sir Morris and Lady Penelope for company.

What is your most prized possession?

A full length mirror which is also my most dangerous possession. It is the gateway to another world.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

I can’t read every mind. Some people can either mind block on purpose or by accident. Others have such muddled thinking it’s a real headache to even attempt to read them.

Where can we learn more about you?

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

Petra, Hero of Ghost Dance by Rod Marsden

What is your story?

I was born in England and died in Germany. I have been around for over a hundred years. I like being in Australia.

Who are you?

I am Petra, a female vampire.

Where do you live?

I don’t live anywhere. I haven’t lived since a certain fateful night in Germany. I am undead. This means I am somewhere between life and death.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Yes, I am the hero of my own story. It has been a long time since I have killed anyone unless provoked into doing so.

What is your problem in the story?

My biggest headache is this warlock who is after my blood. He is also after the blood of this young werewolf. The fellow is a bit of a doofus but likable enough. He needs a firm hand. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. On the other hand, I don’t want anything bad to happen to me either.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

I think everything about me is covered in the story except maybe the difficulties of leaving England for the first time to go abroard.

Do you embrace conflict?

I avoid conflict but, if someone wants to fight me, well, I will certainly give them their money’s worth.

Do you run from conflict?

I rarely run from conflict. I am no fool, however, when it comes to the odds. If I am outnumbered and sticking around will mean my second death of course I will bolt.

How do you see yourself?

I have a sense of honor. If you don’t attack me then I won’t go for your blood or the blood of the people your have sworn to protect.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see me as someone who sometimes causes trouble but also someone they can depend upon in a fight. I never let friends down. This is why I do have friends.

How do your enemies see you?

With any luck my enemies don’t see me until I have seen them first. I am a thorn in the warlock’s side. I also have the blood that he needs for his experiments. The young werewolf also has the blood this creep needs. It isn’t a good idea to get on my bad side.

How does the author see you?

I remind the author of a couple of no nonsense but decent women he has known for decades and has loved. They are as fiercely loyal to him as I am to my friends.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Yes. the author did a good job on me. I know I have a temper. I also know my upbringing in England was based on his grandparents and on other information that came to hand. But it was mostly his grandparents.

What do you think of yourself?

I am the best vampire you are ever likely to meet since I don’t just drain anybody I meet of blood. I was an English Vamp in 1920s Germany who became a real vampire. I still like to dress in black. Vampires don’t have to, you know, but I think black suits me. I sometimes have fun with being undead. The biggest problem there, however, is that mirrors don’t work on me. The reflection from a dead person’s eye, which is really small, is often the best I can do.

Do you have a hero?

No, sorry. I don’t have a hero. Well, when I was young my dad was my hero but he died and he’s not likely to ever come back.

Do you have a goal?

My goals are to stay undead and to look after my friends. Also, to do terrible things to anyone daft enough to attack me.

What are your achievements?

Despite vampire hunters, have managed to stay undead for over a hundred years. I understand the 2nd World War better than the present day living because I was actually there.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No, I don’t talk about my achievements. That’s not my style.

Do you have any special strengths?

As a vampire I do have heightened human abilities and I can fly. I am stronger than humans and can hold my own against other vampires. Vampires who owe me their lives I also view as my strengths.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

I have the usual weaknesses for my kind. Sunlight bothers me to ash. A stake through the heart would also finish me. You can consider my temper a special weakness if you like.

Do you have any skills?

I understand how most humans think and also most vampires.

Do you have money troubles?

I don’t have money troubles. If I don’t have enough money I can always rip an ATM apart or take it from one of my victims.

What do you want?

I want to travel and for vampire hunters to leave me alone. Also I want that warlock to go to hell before I do.

What do you need?

I need to sleep during the day and get blood during the night. I need to look after my friends and keep an eye out for my enemies.

What do you want to be?

I want to be human again but that isn’t going to happen.

What do you believe?

I believe I am not the worst vampire who ever lived. I wish I could believe in redemption. I believe that there are times when you have to lighten up or go mad.

What makes you happy?

Being with undead I care about makes me happy. Dancing for no other reason than I feel like dancing makes me joyous. I also like good music. Jazz and Blues I like a lot. I don’t dig disco music at all. Mind you, the blood at discos is good quality even if the people it belongs to aren’t always so good.

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of the second and final death. I am also afraid of letting my friends down.

What makes you angry?

Injustice makes me angry. Bullies make me livid. I dined on Nazis during the 2nd World War because the stood for injustice and bullying. I get angry when I am attacked just because I am a vampire. It I did something wrong fair enough but I can’t help being undead. It wasn’t a choice I made.

Where can we learn more about you?

Petra can be found in Ghost Dance. Ghost Dance by Rod Marsden can be found on Smashwords and Amazon.com USA. It is part of Night to Dawn publications.

Rod Marsden, Author of “Disco Evil” and “Ghost Dance”

What is your book about?

My latest book, Ghost Dance, is in the realm of Dark Fantasy. It is a quest saga. A young man has lycanthropy and the cure can possibly be found in Germany. His allies are vampires and vampire hunters. A modern day warlock wants his blood for sinister reasons. I have been developing my vampires and vampire hunters for over a decade. They first appeared in a series of short stories. Then came the novel Disco Evil and now Ghost Dance. Soon there will be Torch Song.

How long does it take you to write your books?

Each book takes between six months and a year to complete.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired to write Disco Evil because I believe everyone deserves a fair go and that people who go out of their way to be nasty to others really do build up bad karma for themselves. I happen to like quest/adventures stories so that’s how Ghost Dance came about. Two of the women in Ghost Dance are based on certain stand up and be counted sort of ladies I know and love in real life.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

There is quite a lot of myself hidden in everything I write. My writing, however, is more upbeat than downbeat.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?

My favorite main character in Disco Evil is Paul Priestly. He isn’t the brightest of pennies and he has somewhat of a one track mind. My favorite main character in Ghost Dance is Petra, the female vampire. She tries to do the right thing most of the time but she is also hot tempered and she does have her moments of blood lust.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

With both Disco Evil and Ghost Dance I did some research in the library and on the internet. I also asked novelist and friend Lyn McConchie for help. Trust a first class novelist to tell you when you need to look into matters in more detail or when you need to cut back on description.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

There are messages in my writing for sure but I don’t really want to tell anyone about them. It is best if the readers figure such things out for themselves.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I have a rough plot in mind before I begin writing. My characters tend to keep me going in the right direction.

What are you working on right now?

I have Torch Song in the pipe line. It is set in Australian and in the USA. In it I poke my tongue out at ‘Reality’ television and comment on the subject of loneliness. There are a lot of fun moments. It is definitely not all doom and gloom. Right now I am tentatively looking at political correctness in Australia in the 1990s and how this affected office work for a great many people. No working title so far. Even so, Torch Song comes out next.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

The first draft is the easiest part of the writing process. You can really let yourself go. Very few writers expect the first draft to be the last. Mitchener went through a number of drafts before he was happy with Hawaii. I go through a number of drafts before I even approach an editor.

Does writing come easy for you?

Some writing does come easy to me. When the idea that kicks it off is red hot then it’s easy.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

When it comes to Disco Evil I want people to walk away thinking that they have had an experience worth savoring. With Ghost Dance it would be great if the reader feels that they have been on a journey that has come to a satisfying conclusion.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

When you deal with the supernatural killing off a characters doesn’t mean they won’t return. I have had characters return a number of times after death to either help or hinder the living.

How has your background influenced your writing?

One thing I loved doing with Ghost Dance was to bring back Ramsgate Baths as a place for the spirits. The Baths had been destroyed to make room for a car park. They do, however, live on in my memory and in the memories of quite a few people who lived south of Sydney when I was young. If people can exist as ghosts why not much cherished places that are no more in the world of flesh and blood? Why shouldn’t some ghost have a play where they can play and generally have fun?

What do you like to read?

I like to read adventure stories and dark fantasy. The Disc World novels of Terry Pratchett really crack me up – in a good way.

Where can people find your books?

My novels Disco Evil and Ghost Dance can be purchased through Smashwords as an e-book and also through Amazon USA.

Paul Priestly, Hero of Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand by Rod Marsden

Bertram: What is your story?

Paul: I was straight out of high school. I had an okay job as a bank teller. Then I visited a disco one night and became one of the undead. I got revenge on some people who had wronged me but I have made a lot of enemies. I once wanted to believe in superheroes. I once believed with all my soul in make love, not war. The disco destroyed that belief and I want it back. I know now I cannot get it back. I will continue to fight those who took it away from me. I will also fight those who will strand against me and defend those against make love, not war.

Bertram: Who are you??

Paul: I am a vampire.

Bertram: Where do you live?

Paul: I do not live. I unlive where I can. I am neither alive nor dead. I must find shelter during the day or be destroyed by the rays of the sun.

Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?

Paul: I am the tragic hero of my own story. Others may not agree with this. I must have blood. I try to only kill those I see as undeserving of life. In this way I try to make the world a better place.

Bertram: What is your problem in the story?

Paul: My problem is that I am always being hunted. Members of the Secret Compass, an outfit out to destroy all vampires, are after me. I am also being pursued by the Rising Sun Group, an Asian concern also out to do me in.

Bertram: Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

Paul: No problem I can think of off hand. Maybe I need love and I need to move away from violence but both are impossible for me to achieve.

Bertram: Do you embrace conflict?

Paul: I didn’t embrace conflict at first but now I have developed a death wish and want to take as many of the enemy with me as possible. I will die my second death with some sense of honor.

Bertram: How do you see yourself?

Paul: I am the victim of circumstance suddenly given the opportunity to right the wrongs I was afflicted with when I was human. I have destroyed many who would spit upon make love, not war.

Bertram: How do your friends see you?

Paul: My only friend was Lilith. She sired me. She was given her second death in New York. She went out in a blaze of glory. I miss her. I know she saw me as the ally she needed. She wanted to destroy brutish men who could have been Nazi thugs in another life. She destroyed men such men. She also realized brutish women were to blame for there being brutish men in this world. She needed me to take out the brutish women.

Bertram: How do your enemies see you?

Paul: My enemies should see me as the great avenger of wrongs but they don’t. One sees me as the killer of his niece. Most see me as simply another vampire that has to be slain.

Bertram: How does your author see you?

Paul: I think the author sees me as a troubled soul…maybe a reflection in some ways of his own troubled soul. He doesn’t agree at all with my methods but he understands where I am coming from.

Bertram: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Paul: The author did his best. If he was undead he might have done a slightly better job.

Bertram: What do you think of yourself?

Paul: I am an avenger! I right wrongs! I try to only hurt those who deserve it. The thoughtless savage woman dies at my hands and I lift the thoughtful angels among women up onto my shoulders to where they can see and experience the beauty of our world. I destroy their enemies…Well, some of their enemies…I wish Lilith was still around to take out the male trash.

Bertram: Do you have a hero?

Paul: Lilith was my hero. She’s gone now.

Bertram: Do you have a goal?

Paul: I will make those who spat upon the Hippy ideal of make love, not war very sorry.

Bertram: What are your achievements?

Paul: I have taken much blood from women who, in my opinion, did not deserve to live. I have also recruited, sired women over into vampirism so they might join me in my quest to make the world a better place. I have not been entirely successful in this last regard but one does one’s best.

Bertram: Do you keep your achievements to yourself?

Paul: I do hide dead bodies so the vampire hunters don’t catch up with me if that is what you mean.

Bertram: Do you have any special strengths or weaknesses?

Paul: I am much stronger than a human and my senses are far more developed. I can change form and also summon vermin to my aid when I am under attack. I have the usual vampire weaknesses. Not to be discussed with you. Now if you were not human…

Bertram: Do you have any skills?

Paul: In bat form I can fly. I can also mesmerize my victims.

Bertram: What do you want?

Paul: I want the Hippy paradise promised to me that was taken away by the Disco scene and the people undeserving of life!

Bertram: What do you want to be?

Paul: I want to be cared for, I want to feel like a superhero.

Bertram: What makes you sad?

Paul: I am saddened by the fact that I have never experience human sex and, being now undead, never will. I gain whatever sexual pleasure I can from the taking of blood.

Bertram: What do you regret?

Paul: I regret not being able to save Lilith.

Bertram: What is your biggest disappointment?

Paul: I am disappointed by the Disco. Promises were made but not kept.

Bertram: What was your childhood like?

Paul: It was a quiet childhood. I grew up in a good household. I miss my family.

Bertram: What in your past had the most profound affect on you?

Paul: My first visit to a disco. Also the night at a disco Lilith came into my existence and took my life. Three nights later I was undead and the avenger you see before you.

Bertram: What in your past would you like to forget?

Paul: My family. in my present condition I cannot be with them. Also the night Lilith died her second death. It was horrible!

Bertram: Who was your first love?

Paul: I would like to say Lilith but it’s not true. She was more like another sister to me. I suppose I have never had a first love.

Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?

Paul: The fact that I cannot really turn back the tide of time and mend what the Disco has broken.

Bertram: What is your most prized possession?

Paul: My honor. I need it to continue my work.

Bertram: What is your favorite music?

Paul: Goth nowadays. I grew up on the Beatles.

Bertram: What are the last three books you read?

Paul: They were vampire novels written by women I had sired into vampirism.

Bertram: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that did not affect you personally, what would it be?

Paul: Kill Disco completely and create a world where women are beautiful, happy and have flowers in their hair and they are not cruel to men because men in this world would never, ever be cruel to them.

Bertram: What makes you think that change would be for the better?

Paul: Everyone would be happy and those that wouldn’t…well, I could dance on their graves!

Bertram: If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

Paul: A woman. I only drink blood from a woman unless it is bottled blood or plasma.

Bertram: How do you envision your future?

Paul: I will soon die my second death. It will be glorious!