Recently, Pat Bertram interviewed me for my new book of short stories – THE ORACLE.
Welcome, Frank. What is your book about?
Well, Pat, the ORACLE consists of a series of short stories tied together by means of a background story – a story within a story (similar to Ray Bradbury’s “Illustrated Man”). And like the Jeffrey Archer and Twilight Zone stories, the Oracle short stories are written with surprise endings.
The background story begins with a young musician on his way to Phoenix from Los Angles for a concert. He is given a car by his manager and shortly after entering Arizona it breaks down. Out in the middle of nowhere he decides to hitch a ride to the nearest town for help. While waiting for a ride, the weather turns inclement and he seeks refuge at a ranch house inhabited by an old and lonely couple. They invite him in and persuade him to stay for dinner.
After eating, they retire to the living room. After a while, the old woman offers to show their guest some of their three dimensional slides on their old-time stereoscope.
Being polite, the young man decides to endure the request. His hosts carefully remove a set of slides from a shiny metallic box from under the coffee table and place the first one in the stereoscope’s viewer. They instruct the young man to hold the stereoscope up to the living room lamp and focus it towards the viewer. When the viewer is focused and the light hits the slide, something amazing happens.
The still 3D image begins to move!
The first image he sees tells a tale that happens to be one of the short stories in the series. At the end of the first story, the young man turns to question his hosts on this wonderfully strange device. The couple just smile and offer him another slide. He asks again what the device is and where did it come from. The couple respond that the device is an ordinary stereoscope of the early 1900s that they purchased from a Sears catalog many years ago.
But the slides – ah yes, the slides. That’s another matter indeed.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
I came up with idea and the basic outline for THE ORACLE 40 years ago. After completing my 4th novel, I dusted off the outline and story summaries and decided to write the book of short stories.
What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers like to be surprised by a story. One that is unexpected and entertaining. If you know how the Twilight Zone TV show stories unfold, then the short stories in THE ORACLE will pique your interest.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I’m from Brooklyn, New York. A Brooklyn boy gets right to the point and in away that communicates quickly and efficiently. You would know this if you ever spend time around New Yorkers. So that’s how I write. Conversationally without long boring narratives. If you want a quick entertaining read, then the THE ORACLE fits that bill.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished my 5th novel. It’s called MURRAN. I expect this to be my breakthrough novel because it is steeped in politically incorrect controversy. It is getting very good reviews from my beta readers.
MURRAN is the story of a young African-American boy named Trey coming of age in the 1980s, and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a ‘crew’ in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a violent drug gang. He is eventually framed for murder and flees with his high school teacher to his Maasai village in Kenya. There, Trey learns what a true Black African and African culture is, goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, becomes a young shaman, and returns to America to confront the gang leader that framed him.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?
Controversy. A politically incorrect version of Blacks and their culture in America.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
Many years ago, I started collecting ideas for my novels. I created file folders for each proposed story I would write. As I found any and all material that fit the story line, I would drop it into the assigned folder. This would include websites, books, news items, magazine articles, videos, etc. etc. This process has worked well for me in helping develop my stories.
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
I’ve completed 5 novels and currently doing research on a 6th novel. I have at least 3 more in the hopper.
Which is more important to your story, character or plot?
Plot. Plot. Plot. Without plot characters have nothing to do. Plot first then develop characters to drive the plot. And in the process, SHOW don’t TELL.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
A fellow popular author colleague of mine. Write, write and write. Create a back list of books. If one takes off, readers will flock to your other books. The more books you have in the marketplace the better return on your writing time when your first book becomes popular. Then Tom Clancy – yeah, that Tom Clancy – told me to don’t suffer over a book. Complete and go on to the next one.
Have you written any other books?
I’ve written a dozen non-fiction books before turning to fiction. My fiction books include: CYBERKILL – a techno-thriller, The chronicle of Jeremy Nash – a 3 book action/adventure character series, THE ORACLE that I mentioned before, and MURRAN which is in the hands of beta renders now.
What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?
I break a cardinal rule here on writing. I don’t read other author’s books. I haven’ read a book in 10 years. What I do is watch tons and tons of movies because I write my novels as movies. I’ve learned a lot about writing watching and dissecting movies – plotting, character development, pacing, etc.
What genre are your books?
Thrillers, Action/Adventures/ SyFy and Mainstream fiction. I’m told that I write in the vein of Michael Crichton because we both write in many different genres.
If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?
Robert Heinlein. If you read the Notebooks of Lazarus Long in his novel ‘Time Enough for Love’, you’ll see why.