Friday, November 12, 2021

Reader Questions & Comments Fall 2021

My favorite season. November 2021.


I have been collecting questions and comments from readers over the past few months and have chosen to share some here. These questions are about the characters of Robin, Peter, my parents, Oliver, Rowe and other topics.

Questions may be edited for clarity, content and contain spoilers. If you have a question then you may contact me at chrisvise at gmail.com. I enjoy reader questions and reply to them privately and may also share it on my blog. I attempt to reply in a timely manner, but with the upcoming holidays and home renovations I may be a little slower than normal.

Thank you for reading.

 

Is the "deep water" in Terminal Wake meant to represent fear?

It is written as an abstract idea and I wanted readers to come up with their own solution as to what it meant to them. For me, it symbolized many things. It was the future at the first part of the book and by the end it was both the future and the past. You are correct in thinking that it represented fear, but it was also my own heart and mind and my mother's.

What do you think about "Robin" now and will he be in your next book?

I'll answer the second question first: in some manner he will be present though not as significantly as in Dweller or Terminal.
My feelings about him are complex. There is no black and white emotion that dominates my thoughts about him. I cannot hate him, nor do I love him anymore. I have no regrets about what happened between us and at the same time I am not making excuses for his or my own behavior. If I could change what happened I would only change his moving away. I wish him all the best and though at times I considered contacting him for his perspective I felt that it would be too disruptive to his life and I am not strong enough to see those eyes again. I have seen photos of him that are from the last year and he still has a power over me. Readers can hate or dislike him if they wish, but I hope they do not. He meant the world to me as a kid and I did love him as much as I loved my mother.

How is your relationship with your father and mother?

I tried for many years to maintain a relationship with my father until ultimately I could no longer. I had returned from South Florida, made a special visit to his house in another state and our relationship came to an abrupt and shocking end. We have not spoken since 2016 and there is no desire on my part to speak or see him again. I interviewed him for thirteen years for his memories as he was aware that I would write a book and he encouraged me to do that. We fished together, toured old stomping grounds in Tennessee and another state and saw each other often. When our relationship ended it had nothing to do with my writing a book. I know through family channels that he is aware that I did publish at least one book, I did not ask about his reaction.
My relationship with my mother remained close until her untimely death several years ago.

Are you in contact with or friends with any of the characters from your books?

Yes, I am friends or in contact with a small number of the people behind some of the characters. Unfortunately many of the characters have since died or I lost touch with many of the real people over the decades. I do not foresee any reunions with some people anytime in the future, but I wish them well. 

What became of "Oliver" and did you ever see him again?

I will answer that question in a later book.

(I have been asked numerous times a variation of the following question.) Why didn't you tell someone what happened to you as a child?

I had no one to tell. I trusted no one enough to be able to do that. It was embarrassing and I blamed myself then for all that went wrong. I could not tell my mother as I never wanted to cause her a problem and I do not believe she would have been able to cope with it. I never told her before she died. I did tell an aunt after my mother died and she was the first person I ever told. That aunt has read the book, but no longer speaks with me. The truth is uncomfortable for some people.

How's your chess? Still losing?
Hahaha. I played chess into the 1990s and then suddenly stopped. I will explain why in a later novel. I did not begin playing again until a couple of years ago and I still am an average player. I wish I had the time to play more than I do.

Are locations from the books like your house on Aviary Hill, the tree, Elsberry Mountain, New Hope still the same?

My house on Aviary Hill is still standing and the hill remains largely the same, though the barn was razed in the early 2000s. My family no longer owns the property and I have not been back there in near twenty years. I assume you mean the tree at the end of Dweller On The Boundary? I have not personally seen the tree since some time in the 1990s, but judging from satellite imagery it still grows. Elsberry Mountain has not washed away, but has new owners since the time of the books. It is private property and I do not suggest visiting. Development has creeped very close to the mountain, but not up its slopes yet. I wish Paulding County would set it aside as a public park, but I suspect there is little chance of that. New Hope is nothing like it was when I was a kid. The roads have been reconfigured, shopping centers erected, houses built and Atlanta did swallow it. My elementary school building is there but it is no longer a county school.

Some of Visetown, Tennessee a.k.a "Rhodes Hill" circa late 1980s. Photo by me.

Decatur County, Tennessee is largely unchanged except in the area that I called Rhodes Hill which in reality was known as Visetown and Vise Landing.

How much of your stories are true?

My stock answer is that 90% of both books are true as events happened, 8% is based on the truth but altered in some fashion and 2% is fiction.

The boys from Blackout Log, did they cause you further problems?

 
Yes, they did. "Rowe" and I had more interaction than what I have written about in the two books. One of the other boys, "Cyril", also caused me further trouble, but not as much as Rowe. I will not elaborate further about them, but I do know where two of three are today and I still consider them dangerous.

In Dweller On The Boundary when you were separated from "Peter" you gave him a letter. You never said what you wrote to him. Why and what did you write?

Great question and good catch. Thank you for noticing that I never disclosed what I wrote in my letter to Peter. While I thought some might find that to be an oversight, it was intentional. I was and am still not ready to disclose what is in that letter. Maybe in a future book I will.
Side note: I have had fewer questions about the character of Peter than most other characters which has surprised me. He was one of my favorite characters in Dweller and one of my favorite friends growing up because he risked his own reputation to be friends with me. He was a very sweet and genuine person with more to him than most people knew. I was sent a group photo of him by a reader that did not know Peter was in the photo. It was great to see him in a photo that I had not seen before. It brought a smile to my face, especially when it reminded me of something that he liked to wear. I had to go listen to Purple Rain a couple of times.

One reader and former classmate expressed frustration about feeling like they never knew me growing up. They thought I had led a charmed existence.

I understand that, but at the same time you need to remember how cruel children and teenagers can be. Do not forget what it was like to be a kid and how anything that made you different could easily make you an outcast. I trusted a small circle of people and lived a highly compartmentalized childhood since I was seven years old. Not one person knew enough or everything to connect the dots and frankly most of my friends or family did not care enough to look at what went on underneath their noses. If you think I enjoyed hiding or lying then you fail to see why I hated myself so much then, saw no future and wanted to die. What frame of reference you had for me in the past was probably accurate, but it only was what I trusted enough to show you. My general personality did not change between people or groups, but a few knew me at my best. No one except myself knew me at my worst. If you felt cheated then there is nothing I can do about that except apologize, I had to survive the best I could at the time. Life and society in 1991 for better or worse was nothing close to life today. The nice car and clothes and my joking around with you in high school was only the surface. You should have scratched deeper.

Another reader was upset with me that I said that I did not care at the end of Terminal Wake what any of my classmates thought of me by graduation.

By graduation I very much felt that way. I was an abandoned island in the middle of the sea. Some of those classmates I had known since kindergarten and I was hurt, angry and disappointed in many of them by 1991. There was a huge betrayal and I had nothing and no one. I do not necessarily feel the same today, but I did then. I was tired of life, tired of school and tired of myself. It should have been an incredible year and day, but it was anything but that. Some of that was my fault and much of it was not. I hold no ill feelings towards my friends from childhood and I am glad that many of them lead rewarding lives today.

I'm a big Police fan and I loved all the 80s music references. What is your favorite Police song if you have one?
Thank you. I am fond of Wrapped Around Your Finger for obvious reasons (just listen to the lyrics), but King Of Pain is me to my core. I will always be the king of pain with the world turning circles around my brain. There is a great live version you may not be familiar with that was recorded here in Atlanta at the Omni in the fall of 1983, of all years. Maybe Robin was in the audience.


Thank you for reading. My next novel will be out in 2022.