by Tegon Maus
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The first time I heard it, I thought nothing of it at all… nothing. I’ve been in the newspaper game for more than twenty-seven years and that kind of experience gave a guy an edge but even that didn’t prepare me.
I’d been beaten, shot at, even stabbed a couple of times over the years but I always got the story… always. But this one… this one was big… too big perhaps… Maybe we were ready, maybe not. Either way, it wasn’t my call.
None of which filled me with the fear, the trepidation… the anguish of five little words that still haunted me today…
“Is okay. I have cousin.”
I blinked in disbelief, too stunned to speak.
Standing in front of me, dressed in black jeans, a dark blue tee shirt with a picture of Bob Marley and a backward baseball cap was a small, no more than 5′ 2″, twenty something, black man.
“Hi. I’m Pete,” I said, offering my hand.
“Ahh, is sad story. Bob’s cousin not speak English,” Bob said pushing my hand away.
“Awhhh,” the little man breathed hoarsely, turning away, his arms swung loosely in response.
“Bob, he just said dude to me when he came in,” I said, pointing an insistent finger at the little man.
“He tries, broken English not so good. Is Fred,” he answered, spinning his hand playfully in the air, pointing, draping a large, affectionate arm over the man’s shoulder.
“Fred… your Russian cousin?”
“Da,” he answered simply without blinking.
“Bob… he just spoke to me and it wasn’t Russian,” I protested.
“Ahh, Bob’s friend generous, not make Bob’s cousin self-conscious. You good man, but Fred speaks no English,” he argued, folding his arms.
“Ahhh, damn it, Bob. You promised me… you said I could talk this time. Shit man,” Fred cursed in a raspy whisper, stomping his foot, turning away.
“Nyet, nyet,” Bob scolded, grabbing Fred. He began to speak Russian, shaking his finger in the other man’s face.
Fred’s shoulders slumped. His head swung loosely from side to side, avoiding Bob’s gaze.
“Da,” he said dully, turning in my direction once more.
“His English not so good,” Bob added, wiggling his hands dismissively.
“Sounded damn good to me,” I said honestly.
“Bob understands. Bob’s friend speak Spanish?” he asked with a little annoyance in his voice, threading his fingers through his hair in frustration.
“Nope. Can’t say as I do,” I answered, folding my arms.
“How you say… no speak Spanish?” he asked, folding his arms as well.
“No habla Hispano.”
“AAAHHH, to Bob, Bob’s friend sound like native. Bob thought he smelled burritos, heard waves on beach. Very impressed. Bob’s friend has gift for language. Sure not speak Spanish?”
“Fred,” I said flatly, stepping directly in front of the little man. “Do you speak English?”
“Da. Fred speak no English,” he responded dully, tilting his head from side to side, his arms hung slack, swinging loosely as he spoke.
“Very sad, like Bob say. Fred’s parents live too close to nuclear plant. Sure, sure, rent very cheap but Fred… no brain for English,” Bob said, closing his eyes, shaking his head in a pretentious, melancholy way.
“Bob,” I started.
“Very late. No time for Fred’s story. Bob’s friend want to see house tonight or no?” he asked, pushing himself to stand between me and Fred.
“Alright, have it your way. Let’s go,” I demanded now irritated, angrily grabbing my coat off the back of the chair.
“Nyet, nyet. Bob’s friend almost forget,” he said, turning his back quickly, wriggling his fingers.
“Dear God. Money? Now?” I said, throwing my coat across the back of the chair again.
“Business before pleasure… makes good fences.”
“The saying is, ‘good fences make good neighbors’ not…”
“Bob’s friend knows what Bob say. Not want money to be sticky bug between us.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. How much this time?” I asked aggravated, removing my wallet.
“Bob not know about such things. Must speak with cousin,” he said, wrapping a huge arm around the tiny man, pulling him to the other side of the room.
“Bob, you gave me your word,” Fred whispered forcefully, sending a pointed finger into Bob’s chest.
“Fred say, must think about it. Fred likes Bob’s friend Peter, wants give good price,” he said, smiling in my direction and then began to speak rapidly in Russian.
“Damn it, Bob. You promised me,” Fred whispered disappointedly.
“Fred say, four hundred dollars,” Bob said, holding up four fingers of his right hand, all the while maintaining his grip on Fred’s shoulder.
“Three hundred,” I countered, folding my arms, returning my wallet to my hip pocket.
“Oooh, Bob’s friend breaks Bob’s feelings. Bob’s friend would steal bread from Fred very mouth?”
“It’s not in Fred’s mouth just yet… three hundred,” I insisted.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Tegon Maus, author of BOB.
Hi Mr. Maus and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
What were you like at school?
I assume you mean High School… nothing before that would be relevant unless we include tag. I was… how do I say this politely… a dick. I was 16 maybe 17and thought – let me correct that KNEW… that I was a really smart guy with a very fast mind and knew everything I needed to know. My wife assayed me from that point of view within the first year we were married. Now, 46 years later…according to her I now know nothing without her approval!
Were you good at English?
Not even at all. I was captain of the JV Wrestling team and tormented those that were.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To be read of course! And to be read by as many people as is humanly possible and then add two more…just in case.
Which writers inspire you?
Top of the list E.E. Doc Smith. He wrote grand galactic crime stories with mind reading lawmen…John Wayne types and genetic manipulation to produce worlds to overcome the evil being plotted against Earth. All his work was written 1936 – 38. The man was WAY ahead of his time. Many of the things he wrote about came true…not to mention he’s the guy that made confection sugar stick to doughnuts!! True story!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
Ahhh…see you went too far! None of my characters are special…not one! What they are is a little less than normal, if such a word exist. Normal is what we call ourselves when we want to be accepted… way over rated. My characters are an inside view of that part of us that may not be able to handle the world at large and are afraid others will discover.
What are you currently working?
I’m busy with a couple of other books at present. The first is the 3rd in my Eve Series – THE CORDOVIAN EFFECT. I know there is no such word as Cordovian but I like the way the word rolls off your tongue. It’s a soft Sci-Fi about true love, androids and the questions of where do you or I draw the line to obtain that love…what would you do – who would you kill to keep it?? The second is called BLACK MOON…an action adventure. It’s the second in my Littlefield Series…lots of swords – lots of fun.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I’ve been asked this question before and as yet still don’t have a clue. This is one thing I KNOW I have absolutely no talent in. The closest I could come would be Wallace Berry (40’s movie star).
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
Way back when…mid / late 90’s Dearheart and I got together with friends on Sunday mornings and drank wine / beer and sipped champagne and ate cheese, crackers along with smoked fish and meats…all under the guise of dream interruption. We would get together talk about our dreams and everyone would pitch an idea as to what it meant. We started at 10:00 am and you had a shot at getting something useful in that regard…by the time we ended – 2:00 pm it was clear you and your pink unicorns were in way to deep. Never to be out done, my dreams were always the wildest, most unusual constructs imaginable…with or without clothes. Either I was very funny or the booze had given them all the giggles. My wife said I should write them down so everyone could give a booze free interruption the following week…I’m still waiting.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I write nights and weekends…at least that’s when I put it on paper. I write in my head all the time and can hardly wait to get home to put it on paper before something else takes its place.
Where do your ideas come from?
It depends…everywhere, nowhere…hard to say. I have a scene in my Action / Adventure THE LITTLEFIELD CHRONICLES where my hero is standing in a cavern adjacent to a volcano with a thousand shards of lava splashing up the walls to drip down to the molten pool once more…this chapter was inspired by a screen saver. The day I asked my wife to marry me is duplicated in a scene from MY GRANDFATHER’S PANTS. Ideas are everywhere…it just depends on how you decide to use them.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
As a rule I have a loose idea…the beginning and the end. As I go along other things occur to me in regards to the story line.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Nothing is hard about writing! It’s afterward that’s the problem. The first is trying to get someone to take you seriously… an agent, a publisher, relatives… a bum on the street.
The second is trying to get someone, anyone to read your work. You have to beat your drum like mad and say “look at me, look at me” because every day there are another 1,500 new writers who are screaming “look at me, look at me!”
Third you have to find someone that reads and likes what you write to give you a review. Then you have to convince those that “might” want to read you that your story is worth the 99¢ instead of their spending $9.50 on a name they already know…like I said nothing is hard about writing…it’s all the messy people stuff in between.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
E.E. Doc Smith and all the Sci-Fi greats.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I like the feel of paper but I like being able to send a dozen copies with a touch of a button so it’s a toss-up for me.
What book are you presently reading?
I try not to read while writing…I don’t want a great idea to turn out to be on someone else’s pages.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
That is a damn good question…my publisher handles that. A young lady by the name of Elle Rossi is personally responsible for all my covers…something to do with eye of newt and bat wings…I am not privy to the details but she does a great job!
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Just for fun.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Yes, most definitly. It’s the easiest way to get read. It’s like spreading grass seed…you can’t have a lush lawn without spreading a few seeds just to get your name out there. Even if you give them away doesn’t mean they will be read beyond chapter 3 but you never know.
How do you relax?
I paint, sculpt, garden and do woodwork.
What is your favorite quote?
President Ford once said he knew he was getting better at golf because there were fewer injury complaints from the spectators. I thought that was pretty funny coming from the President.
What is your favorite movie?
Depends on the day…Bicentennial Man, ID4, Twister, Topper, Ghost.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Any final words?
Thanks for your time and I hope your read!!
Thank you very much for taking the time to take part in this interview. It has truly been a pleasure to laugh along with you and get to know you a little better. I’m looking forward to reading BOB and hope to feature your future works here at Room With Books!
I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else…devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.
The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about…something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.
It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought, it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.
I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mind you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not. When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.
Tegon Maus will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.