Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spreading His Wings.

by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All Rights Reserved

Local author Louis Bertrand Shalako is spreading his wings and learning to fly in the face-paced and exciting world of digital publishing.

So, in nine or ten months, I edited and re-wrote three books. ‘Heaven’ is 180,000 words, ‘Core Values’ is about 97,000 and the latest, ‘Case,’ is about 104,500. The first was re-written 12-13 times, the second about ten or eleven, and ‘Case’ seven times this year. I’m releasing them as e-books because I can. It doesn’t cost much, just an internet hook-up. To produce locally printed paperbacks is easily $8-$10 each, in small numbers, say 100 at a time.

My second and third novels have both been under contract, but no one ever showed any interest in the first one. Back then, my submissions were pretty amateur.

Heaven Is Too Far Away’ is a parody of a standard WW I Royal Flying Corps memoir, written in the personal memoir narrative style. The basic idea was to take a comic-book premise, ‘Snoopy vs The Red Baron,’ and turn it into a believable, realistic comedy.

But the reason, was that WW I propaganda is still being used today, and for all the same reasons, to justify things. I guess you could say I don’t agree with those things, and the propaganda wasn’t even valid in the context of 1917. It is even less so today. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of veterans will probably excoriate me for writing this book, but in my opinion, the actual veterans would probably thank me for writing it. A surprise was how dark it actually got. It turned into a psychological study, of how a nice young man, essentially became a professional killer, and how he dealt with the hate, self-loathing, and cynicism. What begins as realism becomes surrealism by the end of the book, another nice touch.

‘Core Values’ is a parody of a 1950’s drive-in movie science fiction thriller, much like the movies about big ants in the desert, or giant spiders, or piranhas, frogs, or any giant ugly creature. What sets this book apart is the study of a lonely, isolated character, of basically good heart, but again filled with anger and a kind of hatred, much of which might be based on lack of self-esteem. Brubaker looks at the world around him through a pair of shit-coloured glasses, and it blinds him in so many ways. In a nutshell, his hatred causes him to have flawed perceptions. Whether or not the hatred is ‘justified,’ or if in fact he or anyone else could have done anything differently, and would this have changed any outcomes, is hardly the point. This book is a collection of short stories and vignettes, linked by a common narrative thread.

‘The Case of the Curious Killers’ is a comic space-opera, and like much of my work it is both a parody and a gut reaction to something that bugged me at the time. It seemed to me that ‘space-opera’ was meant for a PG-13 television audience, which meant it really didn’t have too much intellectual meat on it; and secondly, it ignored so many of the most basic aspects of science. I understand that no one really cares what makes the engines go on the ‘Enterprise,’ but when you lose all power in the ship, you really ought to lose all of your artificial gravity. When you turn tightly, you really should feel a few gees. It is only when we actually think about publishing a book, when we run up against the edges of our comfort zone, in terms of controversial material. While it was mostly written back in 1993, when I was younger, and in happier times, there is some slightly edgy material in the book. It relates to human sexuality without being obscene. Hopefully it does have some erotic qualities. It is a kind of romance, I suppose, at some level. This book has the genuine ‘happy ending,’ so craved by readers.

All that having been said, all the books have violence, language, and with the exception of ‘Core Values,’ some adult content of a sexual nature. The funny thing is, that one might surprise us all. It has its edgy qualities, and is a kind of social horror as well.

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