Saturday, July 16, 2011

Author Terry Rich Hartley on Whisper

1. The story Whisper was your third novella since returning to fiction writing. MP3 download listeners are showing great interest in this particular story. To what do you attribute the surge?
"Whisper seems to have a mystical quality that captivates listeners’ imaginations. Perhaps more importantly it’s a story of redemption. The protagonist, Larry Grady, is deeply blemished; indeed, he is close to incorrigible. Yet, when backed into a corner, Grady chooses altruism over self interest. Most of us like to think we can overcome our own flaws when it really counts, and the novella plays on that theme. I also credit Nick Landrum’s spellbinding reading. He’s an excellent storyteller who could keep any group wide-eyed around a campfire."

2. Your psychological thrillers are unique and also reflect some type of psychological disorder about the character or characters in the story. In Paranoia it was paranoid schizophrenia, in The Ditchrider’s Daughter—it was claustrophobia, and in Whisper it was obsessive compulsive disorder. Whisper, the story of a grifter, read by Nick Landrum, contains some common characters that one would expect in street life, yet the way you presented them and the way they were performed by the narrator gave a fresh perspective to them. There was also a lot of dark humor. The ending for me was not seen exactly as it turned out but I thought it was right. What was your intention for the listener to come away with in Whisper?
"A feeling for the complexity of human personality. Larry Grady’s dominant behavior was sociopathic to the core, but he wasn’t just filling some cosmic role. Using flashbacks, I illustrated powerful forces that shaped his character, from his mother’s drug addiction to the parade of sordid men in his formative years who taught him that human beings are prey to be had. When Grady finally settles down long enough to actually get to know—and admire—other people he sees an entirely different dimension of life. When you hear or read dark humor in this or any of my stories you’re catching a glimpse of me. It’s the way I see life."

3. Was there any particular inspiration for Whisper and/or the characters in the story?
"No one particular thing or event inspired the story. I’ve ventured into the Madison Valley many times and the setting is stunning. So the setting provided the macro dimension for Whisper. The micro dimension came from my own interest in human behavior. Somewhere along the line my brain decided to drop an obsessive-compulsive person into the Madison Valley and let things rip. Regarding the characters, in my life I’ve known saints and sinners, flim-flammers and killers, academics and ditch diggers. Every single one of them had multidimensional personalities, not the black and white you so often see in movies. You could say I have an inventory of human cognitions, emotions, and behaviors stored in memory and I stitch patterns from them to form individual characters."

4. Are any of the stories based on your work as a research psychologist in the past?
"Not directly. However, that work along with journalism and all other experiences of mine add to that inventory I mentioned in the previous answer."

5. Are you working on any manuscripts now? Do you plan to continue writing novellas?
"I just wrapped up a 131,000 word draft for a novel—working title: Blood Pond, Idaho—and I’m busy cropping and tightening it before seeking an agent. It’s a techno-thriller influenced by the works of Michael Chrichton, but obviously told from my own slant, which includes technologically induced mental disorders. As to novellas, oh yeah! I’m about a third the way into a draft tentatively titled Midnight Ride to Forever. Additionally, a sequel to Whisper has been gnawing away at my fevered brain since the day the ink dried. I’d love to hear recordings of both one day. And if that sounds like a shameless self promotion, I’ll plead guilty but at the same time humbly thank everyone who helped make Whisper such a success."

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