J. Conrad Guest, Author of “January’s Thaw”

What is your book about?

January’s Thaw is the sequel to One Hot January. In One Hot January, Joe January, a private investigator circa 1947, grudgingly helps a pretty young woman find her father, a professor of archeology at Columbia College in New York who’s been missing for six years. When January finally tracks him down, Professor MacIntyre spins a wild yarn of time travel and alternate realities. All January knows for sure is that two nefarious individuals are hot on his trail. Only at the end, when January is transported a century into the future, does he come to believe in the validity of MacIntyre’s claims.

In January’s Thaw, January must come to terms with his misplaced past, which includes losing the woman he loved but never told, while trying to survive in a world that has, in his eyes, gone mad: “Pornography, prostitution, pollution, government corruption, global warming, terrorism, and for all your purported connectivity through the Internet and cell phones, your society is more disconnected than ever. On top of that, the war between men and women is no closer to a cease fire than it was from when I come.”

Written in January’s own first person narrative, it’s a convoluted story that ends where it begins. If that makes little sense, well, don’t expect me to explain. You’ll just have to read both books for yourself! Trust me, when all is said and done, it’ll be crystal clear.

Tell us a little about your main character.

Joe January was fashioned after Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s character in many great novels from the 1940s and 50s. Chandler did so much to shape the hard-boiled detective genre that others, like Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and, yes, even Elmore Leonard, have pushed to new heights.

January is my tribute to Chandler. Think Marlowe working against a science fiction backdrop of time travel and an alternate reality in which Germany has won World War II.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

The answer to that is twofold. I usually have the end of the story in mind before I sit down to write the first word; I also have in mind an approximate word count. Therefore it’s simply a matter of writing to that end while I allow the characters to tell their story through me. I make a number of discoveries as we go, taking digressions and detours, all the while keeping track of the word count. Just because I hit that word count doesn’t mean I just end the story. I give myself permission to go over if the story requires it. Subsequent drafts usually add to the word count.

The second part of my answer is that I’m never truly finished writing a story until I approve the final proof. Frankly, I could make revisions indefinitely. Each time I read a novel of mine I’m capable of tweaking this or that, adding narrative or an exchange of dialogue. I’m a perfectionist that way. Jack Kerouac would accuse me of self-censorship, but I can’t help myself: I’m constantly looking to improve something I’ve written. But once it’s published, it’s done and I won’t revisit them.

January’s Paradigm, my first novel, has been available for more than a decade and I haven’t looked at it since. What would be the purpose? I’m sure I’d find ways to improve it; however, that’s where I was, both as a person and as a writer. Why would I wish to change it to reflect who and where I am today?

Someone recently told me they thought January’s Paradigm is my best novel. I have to say I felt somewhat insulted. If I’m not writing better today than I was twenty years ago, then what have I learned about the art of writing? I think what they meant is that they connected to that story more than they have to my other work.

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

The January books are composed of a number of messages. In January’s Paradigm the reader learns that there are people in the world—men and women alike—who are not very nice, and that men don’t have a corner on the mean market. Men, too, can be hurt through a woman’s infidelity. One Hot January shows that no government is benign and that we must care about a world we will not see. While January’s Thaw is largely about redemption, that it’s never too late to close the door on the past and to live in the moment, for tomorrow.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

I think every story I’ve ever written has changed my life in some way.

The January trilogy took ten years to write. During those years I lost both my parents. I struggled with the creative process as I struggled through my grief; but I also struggled because I was so caught up in publication and the rejection letters I received. It was like playing the dating game. I constantly questioned why I was doing it—putting myself through the agony of looking for approval of my work through publication. I questioned my talent and ability—ignoring the reality that the book industry is a business concerned with bottom line and that acquisition of a manuscript is, like wading through profiles at an online dating site, largely subjective—and I often talked myself out of a writing session, procrastinating to another day because I doubted the value of my work. It was only as I neared completion of January’s Thaw that I finally learned to enjoy the process of creation. At that point I knew I was a writer.

Coincidentally, success came when I stopped focusing on trying to manifest it. Just like dating: when you stop looking, someone usually comes into your life when you least expect.

What are you working on right now?

I just completed my seventh novel, 500 Miles to Go. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, the story centers on Alex Król and his drive to win the Indianapolis 500. A sports/romance novel in the vein of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, 500 Miles to Go is largely about the importance of, and the risks associated with, pursuit of dreams.

I’m presently in the process of making revisions to A Retrospect in Death, my sixth novel, and I’m nurturing the seed for my next major project, which was given to me by a beautiful and creative woman I met on Facebook. I’m making plans for a book event in late February to promote both One Hot January and January’s Thaw at Barnhill’s in Winston-Salem. The aforementioned beautiful and creative woman is planning to meet me there and we will endeavor to create some romance. I expect the endeavoring will come easily and naturally.

When I get home I’ll work on the second draft of 500 Miles and will likely commence my next novel sometime in March.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Revisions are the most difficult process for me; yet it’s a process I enjoy immensely. I constantly seek ways to improve my work—even before I finish my first draft. First draft is really a misnomer, because I edit as I go. I sometimes think my first draft is really the equivalent of a third or fourth draft because of all the changes I make as I go.

But it’s difficult, too, to cut something you really love but know you must because it contributes little to the overall piece.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

Putting on a Sunday morning pot of coffee, going to the humidor to select the right cigar, unwrapping it, snipping its head, inhaling the fragrance of the wrapper, lighting it, and watching the smoke permeate my den. Then I put on a Beatles CD and crank up the Bose speakers. The Beatles were turned down by Decca Records because some suit didn’t like their sound and also thought that guitar-driven music was on its way out. The Beatles inspire me to one day create my own White Album (which, at present, might be 500 Miles to Go).

Honestly, that’s all a part of my routine, and writing, for me, is all about routine. While I’ve heard other writers talk about waiting for their muse to show up, I find that, with a cup of coffee and a good cigar, my creativity gets a jump start and pretty soon the muse shows up, out of curiosity, to peek over my shoulder to see what the tapping is all about.

Does writing come easy for you?

It comes a heck of a lot easier today than it did when I first started. It’s like anything you do with regularity—like a workout routine. The first few times you hit the gym, your muscles rebel. But after a time, your body craves that workout; miss a few days and your body complains. For me, a day without writing is like a day without sunshine. And a day without sunshine is like … night.

But does it come easy? No. Nor should it. I’ve gotten better at arranging words on a blank screen. I’m more efficient about it. I rarely struggle for thirty minutes or more over the construction of a simple seven-word sentence like I did early in my career.

I don’t write formula, or even in a specific genre. I find that easier than writing to a particular audience. The January books combine science fiction with the hard-boiled detective and mix in more than a dram of romance—just not the bodice-ripping romance novels that sport Fabio on the cover. Backstop and 500 Miles are both sports-themed novels with romance; while A Retrospect in Death deals with searching for love and never finding it. The Cobb Legacy is a mystery-romance with subplots of infidelity, divorce, and a son trying to connect with his dying father.

Always in my novels you’ll find something decidedly different. If you’re tired of regency romance because of the formula, why not try one of my novels? Another Facebook friend of mine says I write gritty love stories … what she calls “romance for the non-romantic.” I like that, although that in no way reflects on me as being non-romantic. I may be curmudgeonly and smoke cigars and drink scotch, but I know how to romance the right woman. The trouble is it’s been a while since I dated a woman who I thought was the right woman. I suspect that’s about to change.

But enough about my love life.

I suppose writing would come easier if I chose to write following the formula many creative writing courses teach; but then I’d see myself as a mercenary, writing for a paycheck to appeal to the masses. I still write largely to amuse myself and hope my audience one day will find me.

I like the challenge of writing a good story—outside the confines of genre—creating characters with whom readers can relate, and writing engaging dialogue. If it was too easy, I’d grow bored and find something else to challenge me.

Wow. What was the question and did I answer it?

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

In the words of former Spinal Tap keyboardist, Viv Savage: “Have a good time all the time.”

No, seriously. Don’t let the novel die. Wherever the technology takes the novel, there’s something about words—whether on a page or an e-reader—and what they make happen inside a reader’s head that can never translate to the small or big screens. It’s been said that all change begins with a thought. And what is a thought but words that ultimately compose an idea.

If the novel is dying, what’s that say about imagination? Watching a movie requires little imagination—it’s all done for you. A picture may be worth a thousand words; but never underestimate the power and value of a thousand words and what those words, in the hands of a skillful writer, can do to inflame a mind. Words can inspire support for a cause; they can stir the oppressed to rebellion; they can bring understanding to two sides at odds; or they can bring two lonely hearts together for a lifetime.

So many people today in our immediate gratification society don’t have the patience for reading. I find that sad because, like stopping to smell the roses—which requires disconnecting from technology—getting lost in a good book is truly one of the most gratifying, and rewarding, indulgences.

Where can people learn more about your books?

You can find out more about me and my literary world, which includes all my novels and works in progress, events, cigars, and a link to my blog, at J. Conrad Guest. I’m also on Facebook.

Click here to read Chapter 1 of: January’s Thaw by J. Conrad Guest

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “January’s Thaw” by J. Conrad Guest

Dellani Oakes, Author of Lone Wolf

What is your book about?

Lone Wolf is set in the year 3032 when humans have conquered long range space flight and have settled into many parts of this and other galaxies. Hovering in space far from civilization, members of the Mining Guild, Marc Slatterly & Matilda Dulac, wait for their miners to return from the planet they’ve been working. Unbeknownst to them, one of their miners has harvested Trimagnite, a toxic and volatile liquid ore. Exposure to Trimagnite causes madness and death. Their ship isn’t prepared to handle this load.

Enter Wilhelm VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. He is assigned by the Mining Guild Commandant, John Riley, to pick up the ore and carry it back to the Mining Guild home planet. He and Marc have a history, apparently one ending in violence. Despite this, the two men agree to work together with Matilda in order to track down the villainous Commandant Riley before he can wreak havoc on the galaxy.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The characters were in my mind many years ago. The idea for the three main characters of Marc, Wil and Matilda came from a role playing game my husband and I played. I had originally set out with  the idea of recording their adventures in game, but that changed almost immediately. The characters took on a life of their own and insisted on telling a different story. What they came up with is far better than what I had initially had in mind.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

As I mentioned above, the idea came from a “Traveler” game we played back in 1982. However, the characters apparently thought that scenario rather lame and came at me with other ideas. I like theirs better.

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

Matilda is a lot like me in some respects. Her fierce devotion and the way she takes up for those she loves is totally me. Oddly enough, some of the aspects of Wil’s personality come from me as well. Mostly, he and Marc mirror aspects of my husband’s personality.

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

Of the three main characters in “Lone Wolf”, I love Wil the most. I’m very fond of Marc and Matilda, but Wil stole my heart the minute he walked through the airlock. He’s smart, sexy, handsome, wicked and not scared of anything. He always has a contingency plan and he’s easily the most paranoid character I’ve ever created. His paranoia keeps him alive and one step ahead of his enemies. As long  as he’s lived, that’s quite a feat.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think that Caprilla Mayeese, the enormous Fellician warrior is the most unusual and likeable. Fellicians are giant cat people who speak and walk upright. They are almost all mercenaries and fight like no others in the galaxy. Caprilla is the leader of a small group of mercenaries, all Fellicians. He’s about eight feet tall, with sleek black fur and penetrating blue eyes. He’s got a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. He’s also loyal to the death and will gladly kill anyone who gets in his way or threatens his friends.

How long did it take you to write your book?

“Lone Wolf” took a few months to write, but far longer to edit and perfect. It was one of my earliest novels and it took me awhile to get my style down. I didn’t really figure out what I was doing until   about the fourth book in the series, so each of them requires a lot of perfecting. Now, I can sit down and write a book that’s close to finished with the first draft.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I had quite a lot in mind when I started to write, but the characters took me in a totally different direction. I can honestly say that absolutely nothing in “Lone Wolf” was in my mind except for the three main characters. What’s on the page came from Wil, Matilda, Marc and the others telling their story in their own way.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

It’s hard to research something set so far in the future. Since I created my own worlds and locations, I didn’t have to study maps or anything like that. However, in order to get the Mining Guild and Galactic Marine ranks correct, I had to do some research into military rank. Most of my research is done on-line as it’s the most easily available. Thank got for the Internet!

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

The characters delineate themselves. I come up with a body for the slot, give it a name and it develops its own personality and characteristics. Even minor characters speak loudly wanting a name and an occupation. Some of these seemingly unimportant people later become major players in the series. One character in particular that comes to mind is introduced in book two, “Shakazhan”. I thought Dr. Stanley Savolopis was unimportant, merely a cog in the corporate wheel. By book three, “The Maker”, he’s a main mover and shaker.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes very easily for me. The ideas come faster than I can get them down, which is why I have so many unfinished stories. I’ve learned to work on one until the ‘muse’ grows silent, and move on. I come back and work on each story a little at a time until it’s done.

Other stories come to me all at once and I write until I’m finished. One in particular I think of—I’d finished my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project early and got the idea for an entirely different book. I started it Thanksgiving afternoon and finished four days later.

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?

I greatly dislike killing a character and avoid it if I can. However, there are times when a character must die to advance the plot. The one who upset me the most was a guy named Murdock Pickford. He’s in a prequel to my sci-fi series. Murdock is a nice guy. He’s kind, capable, loving and forgiving. He’s engaged to a woman who’s pregnant with another man’s baby & he agrees to raise her as his own. He’s thrilled about the baby, excited about getting married—and he has to die, horribly, brutally, for the book to move forward. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I had to kill him off.

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’ve got a list in the back of one of my notebooks with story ideas that one day I might get to. Let me finish the 54 novels and short stories I’ve got pending before I take them on. (Gosh, didn’t realize it was so many. Kinda sorry I counted them up.)

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Apparently 54, cause that’s how many are unfinished.

Have you written any other books?

I have one other published novel, “Indian Summer”, also available from Second Wind. “The Lone Wolf” is the first in my sci-fi series.  I’ve written six books in the series so far & am working on a 7th. Finished books not in the series—27 and probably 20 short stories.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My novels are available through my publisher, Second Wind Publishing at www.secondwindpublishing.com  “Indian Summer” and “Lone Wolf” are also available at Amazon.com where it can be purchased in paperback or Kindle format. The books are on Smashwords and a variety of other websites.

To find out more about me and my books…

Check out my blogs:



Or look for me on Facebook:



Click here to read an excerpt from: Lone Wolf

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf

Click here for an interview with: Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

Joe January, Hero of the Novel One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest

Bertram: Who are you?

Joe: My name is Joe January. I was a private investigator from the South Bronx, circa 1940. Was once described as an indignant Humphrey Bogart. Who am I to argue? The difference between Bogie and me is that I was the real McCoy. Where he took the scripts that Hollywood wrote for him, I took on the tough cases nobody else would. Unlike Bogie’s, my bumps and bruises were the real deal, not makeup.

Bertram: What is your story?

Joe: One Hot January is anything but a story, although it could be construed as a Hollywood type script Bogie might’ve been interested in bringing to the screen were he alive today. Not being a scientist, I can’t tell you the how behind what happened, only that it did happen. I know, it reads like science fiction, spanning two centuries and dealing with time travel and alternate realities, while the denouement is less than satisfactory—boy loses girl, boy finds new girl, loses her, finds the first girl and this time she loses him. But such is life: a happily ever after, while often promised, is never a given.

In a nutshell my story could be termed what Nietzsche called “the bungled and the botched.”

Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?

Joe: Funny, just not in a humorous sense, but I’ve been accused of arrogance in my self-depiction, creating a sort of comic book superhero of myself. Yet in youth, we often view ourselves as invincible. It isn’t until later that we realize how fragile life is; furthermore, that we see the repercussions of our actions.

Antihero was a term first coined in the early 18th century to describe certain protagonists, those whose armor was less than shiny, indeed, tarnished. They often fall short of literary ideals, just as happens in real life. Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Polish-born Jewish American author who won the 1978 Nobel Prize in literature and was noted for his short stories, wrote: “Children have no use for psychology. They detest sociology. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don’t expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish allusions.”

Yeah, I’m an antihero.

Bertram: What is your problem in the story?

Joe: Imagine an alternate history in which the United States fails to enter World War II in time to help the Allies defeat the Tripartite before Germany becomes too strong to defeat. Imagine a future in which Germany has perfected genetic engineering and is systematically eradicating whole nations in an effort to secure the empire Hitler vowed would last a thousand years; a future in which Hitler lies in a cryogenic chamber, awaiting treatment for a cancer for which a cure has been discovered. Imagine a future in which a faction of genetically engineered people, opposed to Hitler’s tyranny, travel back in time to amend future history by influencing Churchill to withhold from U.S. Intelligence the vital decrypt specifying the date and time of the raid on Pearl Harbor. Now perhaps you begin to see my problem in the story.

I managed to uncover this seemingly impossible plot by agreeing to help a pretty young woman from Gramercy Park locate her missing father—a Professor of Archeology from Columbia College who was tasked with preventing the secret of Hitler’s location from falling into the wrong hands.

But the real meat of my story is about regret: how, through my own foolishness, I lost the two women who meant the most to me.

Bertram:  Do you embrace conflict?

Joe: I always find myself at the center of conflict. It seems to find me the way it finds the protagonist of any good detective novel. Do I embrace it? Does anyone ever embrace conflict? I don’t run from it, which is not the same as embracing it. I guess, as Philip Marlowe could tell you, it came with the territory during those years I was a PI. Like Marlowe, it became a way of life for me—fighting, in my own way, for truth, justice and the American way.

Bertram:  Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Joe: I approached J. Conrad Guest in 1992 with my story. He was an unknown back then. He had talent, although it was unpolished; still, he was no hack. What I liked about him was that he refused to write the formula drivel that the major publishing houses seek today.

It was a chance meeting, and I suspect he didn’t believe he could complete the project. Our encounter resulted in January’s Paradigm, the first book in the January trilogy. He’s since written the second volume, One Hot January, and the final volume, January’s Thaw. Both are forthcoming from Second Wind Publishing. Combined, they paint a profile of a man out of place out of time.

Although it took him ten years to complete the project, I’m pleased with the result. I think he managed to remain true to my story as well as my voice.

Bertram:  What do you need?

Joe: There was a time, in my youth, when I would’ve said the only things I needed were a challenging case and a beautiful woman with whom to lay for an evening of divine debauchery. The first was true, until circumstances deemed it necessary I find a new career. The second was a lie. Unfortunately it took my losing Lindy to make that clear to me.

Bertram:  What makes you angry?

Joe: Having been thrust one hundred years into the future in the blink of an eye, perhaps it’s easy for me to see how the world, our society specifically, has devolved: pornography, pollution, global warming, corrupt politics, terrorism, the pursuit of materialism—the American Dream—as a basis for happiness, and for all our purported connectivity through the Internet and cell phones, we are more disconnected than ever.

Why does there have to be a battle between the sexes? “Battle,” by default, denotes a winner and a loser. Sometimes the only way to achieve victory is through negotiation—by seeing an issue from the other’s perspective. If more people, men and women alike, attempted to see through the eyes of their partner, I daresay there’d be far fewer unhappy couples and fewer divorces.

Bertram: What, if anything, haunts you?

Joe: That after I abandoned Lindy—it wasn’t my choice, merely circumstance over which I had no control—she’d had to marry another man out of necessity. We met once, Lindy and I, thirty-five years after the accident that took me from her. It took her a moment, but she recognized me and I knew her feelings for me had never diminished. Furthermore, that she forgave me the betrayals of my youth as well as my abandonment of her.

That anything but chance meeting resulted in my finding the closure I needed to give my past self a second chance to find the love he didn’t yet realize he had.

Bertram: Are you lucky?

Joe: Most people either find love or love finds them, and they hold onto it, stay with it their entire lives. They are the fortunate ones. The unfortunate manage to make it out of this life without experiencing love, perhaps taking solace in the juxtaposed adage that it is better never to have loved than to have loved and lost.

I was fortunate in that love found me not once but twice, in two different centuries. In the first case I never realized what I had until it was too late. In the second, I fully realized what I had, but knowing didn’t prevent my losing her. You could say I’m living proof that one can be both lucky and unlucky in love.

Love found me the second time a hundred years after the first time. Her name was Ecstasy, and she once told me that she loved my loneliness—a man out of place out of time. I surmised that her love for me was born of pity. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my loneliness was the result of my losing the one woman who, at one time, mattered most to me. To this day I regret that I never told her how much she mattered. After Ecstasy was killed, I often wondered if she might not have known that all along—that my loneliness was for a woman who could never threaten to usurp her place in my life.

Bertram:  Are you honorable?

Joe: At one time I thought I was. I never stole money from a client for services I failed to provide; but that’s only a part of my life. I never kept secret from Lindy that I had other lovers and patted myself on the back for my honesty, crediting her for her choice to accept that arrangement. But in retrospect, such an attitude was anything but honorable. Once I realized I would never again find my way back to my own time, to enjoy the warmth of Lindy’s familiar and loving embrace, I lived my life to honor her memory, because it was the right thing to do and the only way I could make up for my treatment of her.

Bertram: Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Joe: I was born on October 21, 1911. Newsworthy events of October 21 include:

         The Battle of Trafalgar began in 1805
         Thomas Edison invented the working electric light in 1879
         The first transatlantic radio telephone was made, 1915
         Trumpeter and bebop pioneer Dizzy Gillespie was born in 1917
         A new typewriting speed record was established by Margaret B. Owen in New York City, when she typed 170 words a minute with no errors, 1918
         Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame was born in 1956, as was my biographer, J. Conrad Guest
         The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—the only building in New York City designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—opened in 1959

Bertram:  Who was your first love?

Joe: That would be Lindy, my gal Friday in 1947. Sadly, I never told her how I felt about her. Then one day I was gone—whisked into the future. I took little comfort in knowing she still lived in her own time. To me, in 2047, she was dead and buried. Obviously she got on with her life after I abandoned her. But I like to think I could’ve made a difference in her life, the way it turned out for her.

Bertram: Who is your true love?

Joe: Ecstasy Givens, who I met the very day I arrived in 2047. I needed her in order to survive in the 21st century. Initially I loved her for her body, but in time she came to mean much more to me. In losing Lindy I learned what love is. Ecstasy was the beneficiary of what Lindy taught me, which pains me even if I imagine Lindy might be proud of the Joe January she in part helped to mold.

Bertram: Have you ever had an adventure?

Joe: Duh. Read One Hot January and January’s Thaw.

Bertram:  Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

Joe: The day I was transported into the future. Not only did it save my life, it defined how I lived the remaining days of my life.

Bertram:  What is your most prized possession? Why?

Joe: My memory—specifically of Ecstasy and Lindy. Since they are both gone from me, they—their memories—are all I have.

Bertram:  What is your favorite scent? Why?

Joe: Smell and memory are intimately linked. Since Ecstasy was killed my favorite scent belongs to those items that still bear her essence—the clothing that remains in our closet, the afghan with which she covered herself while reading on cold winter nights.

Bertram:  What is your favorite beverage? Why?

Joe: A single malt scotch—Aberlour a’bunadh (pronounced ah-boo-nar) is my favorite. If I have to explain why, you’re obviously not a scotch drinker and wouldn’t understand anyway.

Bertram:  What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

Joe: That would be my fedora, which I was forced to give up wearing in the 21st century. You’ll read why in January’s Thaw. In the 1940s it defined who I was, as it defined Bogart’s screen persona. But I wore mine first, and my persona wasn’t make believe.

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

Joe: We face many choices each and every day of our lives, which over a lifetime add up to myriad decisions. Whether we choose to act or to refrain from acting affects the world and ourselves. There is nothing we do, or choose not to do, that doesn’t leave a mark on us. All of which lends credibility to the theory that countless universes exist, the result of the choices we make (or fail to make) and their interactions with the billions of other choices made or not made by others.

Too New Age for you? Remember, I come from an era before New Age.

See also:
Excerpt from One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest
Interview with J. Conrad Guest, author of One Hot January
Chapter One — One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest

Click here to buy: One Hot January