Wake Up Your Wild Side
Article 15 Blog Tour Interview
October 29, 2019
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi. My name is Mudcat. (”Hi, Mudcat.”) I’m a recovering English Major and I have not dangled a participle in sixteen months. Actually, I was very fortunate to have been mentored in my “creative” writing pursuits by novelist and poet, Robert Flanagan, at Ohio Wesleyan University. I worked mostly in verse back then, because I was trying to polish my songwriting skills. After I graduated, though, I started scribbling out stories that grew into novels that were rejected by all the very best agents and top flight publishing houses in the world. But I kept on going…and going…and going…then one day freedom came my way in the form of ebooks, Smashwords, and Amazon. And, well, the rest is a matter for history to sort out.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I love turning gasoline, gunpowder, electricity, and dead trees into noise. Gasoline on my motorcycle or in an airplane. Gunpowder in my Walther and 1911. Electricity with my Line 6 Variax Guitar. And dead trees with my power tools. I’m not so much a woodworker as a wood mangler, but I’m getting a lot of practice renovating an old newspaper building Lola and I bought (circa 1901).
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I work without a net. In other words—much to the shock and dismay of some of my fellow writers (Malcolm?)—I use no outlines. I just launch into the story based on a scene or character in my head and see where it goes. I tried once to outline one of my books, In the Black, because it had so many characters and plot lines, but it was a miserable failure. Mostly because the characters refused to follow the script and tended to wander off in other directions—directions which, truth be told, were more true to their natures. So, I follow Robert Frost’s first dictum of writing: “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Well, I must to confess to making a conscious effort to pay attention to things going on around me in “real life.” I’ve spent countless hours researching our legal system by studiously watching episodes of Law and Order and Boston Legal—so much so that I’m sure I could pass the Television Bar Association exam. I am fortunate enough to have a definitive expert on Navy SEAL history and weapons, Kevin Dockery, in one of my writer’s groups (Thanks, Kevin) and I supplemented his knowledge base listening to the Jocko Willink podcast (Thanks, Jocko). The flying stuff was easy: been there and done that as a Certified Flight Instructor and Commercial Pilot. The real trick was fitting all that stuff into a story.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The Kentucky scenes with Johnny, Maura and Cap were the most fun. I’m huge fan of Justified. Those characters and their dialog were so awesome,…it gave me pause. It’s my modest little homage to one of my all-time favorite story tellers: Elmore J. Leonard.
How did you come up with the title?
While researching my next book, Jungleland, which takes place in Congo during the civil war years in the Sixties, I came across a reference to a fictitious article in the Zairian constitution—Article 15—that simply reads: “Débrouillez-vous!” (get it while you can!). It was basically a sanction on grassroots level corruption as the only rational response to living in a country that is criminally corrupt at the upper levels. And I loved the double entendre with the Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
What project are you working on now?
I am finally getting around to writing the sequel to my very first novel, My Brother’s Keeper. You know how shiny literary things can be so distracting. Anyway, my intention was always to follow Hawk, a World War II P-51 Mustang fighter pilot, along on a series of aviation adventures through the years after the war. Jungleland finds him in the middle of the Congo civil war flying and fighting along side the CIA, their Cuban Bay-of-Pigs pilot survivors, and Mad Mike’s South Africa mercenaries. Oh, yeah, there is a woman involved, too.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
“Persistence to the point of stupidity…but never beyond.”