Monday, March 7, 2016

We Were Heroes Author Interview: John Vicary

Hello, and welcome to an all new series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "We Were Heroes" is now available, and I'm wrapping up the last interviews with the collection's various contributors.

MTI:  Today I'm interviewing John Vicary, who contributed Her Game. Thank you for being here.

Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

John Vicary:  Hello, and thank you so much for having me. I write under the pseudonym of John, but I'm actually a wife and mother of five. I own my own editing business, The LetterWorks, and I am the submissions editor at a small publishing company called Bedlam Publishing. In my spare time, I enjoy playing classical piano and I am learning to speak Russian.

MTI:  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

JV:  I've been writing for as long as I can remember! It seems like it was a natural outlet for me since I was very young. I like to try my hand at all different genres, but I tend to gravitate towards literary fiction and more recently I have had success with creative nonfiction.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

JV:  I have to pick John Irving. As a youngster I was in love with the classics, and I read a lot of authors who had been published many years before I had been born. John Irving was one of the first authors I read who is still alive and publishing today who I consider an absolute genius. I was so impressed by his unique style. I find that he is very polarizing; people either love his stories or they despise his work. My own style is not like his, but if I could imbue my stories with as much heart and humor as he does, I would consider myself a success.

MTI:  Your story, Her Game, appears in We Were Heroes, an anthology devoted to the theme of aging, retired, or out of their element superheroes and villains.  Tell us a little bit about your contribution to this collection.

JV:  I was so excited to write for this collection because it is an unusual and interesting subject. My story is a little tongue-in-cheek, but I think that underneath it shows the pain of aging in this society. We tend to neglect our elderly, and I think the transformation into an old, and therefore useless, person must be very difficult for those people who were revered as celebrities, as superheroes are. This story uses humor to underscore that point.

MTI:  Who's your favorite superhero (or villain)?

JV:  When I was little I adored Wonder Woman. And She-Ra, Princess of Power!

MTI:  If you, yourself, could have any superpower, what would it be?

JV:  I rather think it would be fun to fly, don't you? If I didn't have to worry about the wax melting, like Icarus, then I might choose that. If flying were like swimming in the air, I don't know if I could turn that down. Then again, I could wreak a lot of havoc by shape-shifting, and I'm not normally mischievous but that sounds like limitless fun for a creative person! Tough choices!

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

JV:  It sounds terribly pretentious, but I am working on my memoir. It has received some positive reviews, and I am hopeful that people will find it interesting.

MTI:  Other than your contribution appearing in We Were Heroes, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

JV:  Yes, I have just published my fifty-second story with “Shenandoah”, and two of my stories are shortlisted for the 2016 Charter Oak Best Historical Fiction Award and will be published as part of Alternating Current's annual literary journal.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

JV:  It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's 10th Season just came out. So funny! I also just finished this miniseries called Poldark. It wasn't bad.

MTI:  How about music?

JV:  I have diverse tastes in music. My kids are really embarrassed by what I listen to. I like everything from 70's disco to classical. My favorite genre has to be Bollywood soundtracks, though. If you haven't danced in your kitchen to Chammak Challo or the Lungi dance, you're missing out. Fun stuff!

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

JV:  #1 The Lord of the Rings trilogy extended version, #2 Om Shanti Om, #3 The Matrix

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today?

What Remains

            They threw me off the hay truck about noon after we’d been riding the rutted roads for the better part of six hours. They gave me a dented canteen still mostly full of warm water and pointed me north to a border that no one but me wanted to cross. I shook hands with all of them except Wilford and I would have watched them pull away, but there wasn’t any point. They were already gone, whether I watched it happen or not. I hitched my pack onto the shoulder that wasn’t broken and started walking.

            A different sort of man might have enjoyed the scenery; the ruined path that had proffered pain in the riding now provided a breathtaking vista by foot. Perhaps that same man would have taken the chance to turn inward along the way to examine the thoughts and conscience that had led him to undertake such an arduous journey. I was not such a man, however, and I walked northward with a numbness of purpose. Each step was a buffer against pangs and ruminations until I found myself alone in some dark unknown place.

            Even a man such as I must rest sometimes, and that place between sleep and dreams is when memory lays down the weapons of day and allows unwelcome remembrance to breach the gate. There is nothing left in this wide world during the nighttime except the star lanterns shining overhead; that is when what is left of you crept in. I saw your face in Andromeda and Virgo, and the cloud veil hid your smile. I knew then that they were right to leave me at the border. They were right about all the things they’d said. Even Wilford hadn’t been half wrong, but I’d broken my hand in two places against his jaw trying to shut him up and make the words stick in his throat. It hadn’t worked.

            The next morning the stars had burned themselves out against the trenchant dawn, and I was alone again. This time, I hefted my pack onto the injured shoulder and pretended the tears were for that tender broken spot. A slight breeze brought the smell of hay from the west, where I imagined they had made good time and were safe by now. But, then again, it might have been my imagination and I was just picking up a whiff from a fallow field down the road. Whatever the case, I had my own sojourn to make. I drained the last sip of water from the canteen and left it in the hollow where my head had rested last night. If my finger lingered in the dent, it was just for a moment, then I placed it with care against the cradle of dry prairie grass. I turned my back to the rising sun and headed into the unknown to find you in the missing blue of every day.

MTI:  That's certainly an intriguing piece.  For those who want to read more work by John Vicary, they can pick up We Were Heroes now, in print or kindle format!

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