Today I want to introduce you to an author I met in one of my online groups. Carl Stevens' bio reveals the life experiences that prepared him to be an author.
Jack London lamented that he had spent his life as a working class intellectual rubbing shoulders with the underprivileged on tramp steamers, in gold mining camps, on wharfs and in warehouses while reading extensively and writing books of serious social and philosophical merit only to be renowned for writing about dogs. It irked him yet inspired me decades later. Eighteen-wheelers, psych wards, factory floors and the halls of academia and corporate America may not be perfect matches to London’s, but they have all been part of my own working class adventures. I have lived in numerous careers the fiction that each was intrinsically important while in fact each was merely research for the role of Carl Stevens, Writer. Professor-in-training (in three fields so far, philosophy, history and psychology), nurse in a psychiatric facility, long-haul truck driver, security guard, waiter, bartender, clerical worker, manual laborer, engineer - they were all facades I presented while my true life’s work went on behind the scenes, reading and writing and incorporating life experience with the scholarly to create the self-identity that is now creating novels.
Three novels speak for the success of this creative self-identity. If a hundred years from now people neglect the layers of substance and only praise my exciting tales of adventure and if I am still alive, then I will be proud to have failed like Jack.
Here's a little bit about his book:
Michael Chabon, Lev Grossman and others argue that genre and literary fiction are not exclusive categories. Chabon won a Pulitzer writing about comic books. Grossman won acclaim writing an adult story about wizardry school. THE CANTERBURY TALES IN NEVERLAND is a post-apocalyptic mystery wherein the detective’s need for hard facts clashes with a culture’s need to reinvent itself on the ever shifting sands of storytelling. There are two main stories. In one, Jackson Thomas, a former mayor of a small town known as The Ville, is trying to avoid being stoned to death on false charges of conspiracy to incite riot and murder. He is hampered by being under arrest and dependent on a friend to wear out shoe leather poking into what really happened. Meanwhile Jackson’s son and several of the son’s friends have all talked themselves into believing that the wisest solution to Jackson’s dilemma is to trek across a hostile landscape in search of angels and a miracle. Both stories work on multiple levels. They are each an adventure on their own, a detective thriller in town, a road trip through chaos in the wilds. They are also each a metaphor for the epistemological quandaries of storytelling. Jackson is trying to find his way through a dark woods of conflicting witness accounts. His son and fellow travelers are finding their way through a physical wilderness while sharing with each other the stories which make up their culture . . .and enough puns to choke The Bard.
The Canterbury Tales in Neverland
A Post-apocalyptic Mystery of Literary Survival
Chapter, the first, having no other title
It is a simple story and if it will not do, you and I will invent another hundred or two. In the beginning, long after the end, when the world will be without form, the word will shape the world as it always has in ways not known; man will not know what he knows not, nor woman, neither. A tale will be born of idylls past and present, lost and found in time. Knowledge will be a thing of the past and knowledge of the past a wispy dream shaken off in a dusky dawn like the obscure opening lines of a book not yet written when you have skipped to the end, but once upon a time.
After The Time of Tribulations when some choose to till the land and some to steal the fruit and others tell their stories, Casavero Thomas guards against those who would breach the peace of The Ville. His feet walk the parapets between rooftops black in moonlight while his mind sprints through grassy fields bright in the sun and brighter still because Julie Garcia runs before him, smiling over her shoulder with golden tresses just out of reach. Today is Midsummerfest and the people of Brodman’s Bluff will come to enjoy the lull between planting and harvesting. The people of The Ville will play host in return for the favor of last year. There will be games and food and, with any luck, Casavero and Julie will be one of many couples to slip off for a stolen moment or two.
Beyond the pasture canopies sway in a gust, a harbinger of a pre-dawn storm perhaps, wind and trees an alarum, or just the day awakening with a yawn and stretch of leafy branches before rolling over for a bit more sleep. It is a holiday. Trees and wind and young men all can sleep in if they choose once their watches end, but Casavero knows that neither he nor any of the other guards will sleep tonight. There is an excitement in the air beyond any chance of a storm or bandit raid. There is the certainty of the festival and the chances it will bring.
“Ho, Temo, que sera de mi? It’s me again and point that thing away again, will you? I’m tired of looking at the tip of your thirty-eight every time we meet.”
“You could have been a bandit. That’s what we’re here to look for, you know.”
“Yes, but out there, Temo, not up here. If some bandit had climbed the wall and took my place you’d have heard me object, strongly, trust me.”
“Well, . . .”
“And don’t you shoot our relief, either. They’re due any minute and we can get off the wall and greet the dawn at the fairground as long as you don’t involve us in a battle with our own people.”
“A bandit could slip in and approach from behind. We’re supposed to challenge everybody even if we’re sure it’s a friend, our own father, or the mayor himself. Sorry, Casso, I . . .”
“Forget it. I’d say you’re right and we should challenge the mayor, but that hasn’t worked very well for my father, has it?”
“No, but you know what I mean. Any shadow could be a threat so challenge and shoot if you don’t get an answer.”
“Fine. Just don’t shoot any Bluffers today. They’re supposed to be our guests.”
“Them we’ll beat on the field. Xian will at least. He can run and wrestle any Bluffer into the ground. Oh, sheep’s tail, I’m sorry, Casso.”
“Forget it. He beat me fair enough. At least I got up the pole first. And your arrow hit the circle dead center like it was placed there by hand. If I had not seen it myself I would have sworn you stabbed it then only told the tale of shooting it. You’re bound to win for The Ville today.”
“No azar. That was just with the boys competing. There’ll be girls watching the festival matches. I’ll be lucky not to shoot my own foot.”
“Julie watching will make me climb faster.”
“Even your girl watching is enough to fluster me. Other girls, that I might, that may, that could . . . . I can’t talk straight just thinking about it. I’ll probably string my bow to my ear and shoot my cap into the sky. Will your sister be there?”
“Susanna? Sure. You know everyone will.”
“You know I meant Tiffany, you grinning weasel.”
“I’m sure she’ll be there, too. And if you don’t shoot yourself in the foot maybe you’ll get around to talking to her.”
“Not much chance of that. I’d almost rather shoot a toe off. You don’t think she might take pity on me if I did, do you? Maybe nurse me back to health?”
“I don’t know. If she won’t notice Temo with toes I’m not sure how she’d feel about Temo the Toeless.”
“You could at least call me Timothy when your talking to her. I’m not scared of everything like I am girls, you know. Do you ever talk to her about me?”
“Can’t really say I do, Temo, amigo, but if you ever do come up in conversation I’ll do my best to get the name right. What was it again?”
“Pig Snout. I hope you slide off that pole now.”
The Canterbury Tales in Neverland is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
Autographed paperbacks are available through www.carlstevenswriter.com/buy-stuff
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