What can you tell us about your new release, 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have Or Have Not?
The numeronym title 2HVØRHVNØTcame to me in a serendipitous moment while driving with my family. I remember thinking about To Be or Not To Be, while pondering the idea of the Haves and Have Nots. Seeing the numeronym appear in my head, I envisioned it as a defaced identification tattoo on a wrist of someone oppressed by the government. The whole story developed from trying to figure out how that would have happened.
2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Notis a fast-paced, genre-bending murder thriller set in a dystopian future where the superpowered Mighty oppress the powerless Citizens. Mario’s identity tag is 24VØR4VNØ, but he defaced it when he was a kid to spell out the numeronym To Have or Have Not, after the Mighty took away his parents and left him to raise his younger sister Zelda. The whole story takes place from 5:46am to 8pm in a single day, starting with Mario waking up late for work.
As he waits in line, he has no idea his boss is dead, and an adjudicator named Tanalia, who is one of the telepath-seer monks that police Fellowship City, is on her way to arrest him for the undetected, grisly murder.
The book is split into three parts with Mario being the primary protagonist of part I. However, in part II, his sister’s adventure begins as she searches for her brother in a city besieged by a monstrous killer.
This book combines some of my favorite things to read: science fiction, fantasy, superpowers, post-apocalypse, dystopia, and horror. There’s also elements of romance and suspense, and it is littered with subtle pop cultural references and social commentary throughout. I write what I want to read (or watch). My hope is that others like what I like, because I’ve got a whole world I’m building, and I’m ready to entertain.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
In third or fourth grade, I wrote and drew a short little story that our school published for books to sell to parents. I remember seeing my work in print and thinking it was the best thing ever. From then on, I knew I wanted to be published again someday. I wrote my first novel in sixth grade, which was some sci-fi fantasy Star Wars/Star Trek mishmash that I have no idea if it was any good or not, as it was never returned to me from a classmate reading it. I’m not exactly sure what or who inspired me to become an author. I just remember those two moments vividly in my memories.
That being said, I read a lot of Stephen King from the age of 10 on, as well as Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and others throughout high school. I think they inspired me to continue my dream. However, one of my biggest supporters was my adopted grandmother Bibby (we adopted each other, as she was my cousins’ grandmother). She always encouraged my writing and was so proud when I won awards for a poem in high school and short story in junior college. I wish she could be here today to see that I’ve finally become a published author, something she always knew I had in me, even when I didn’t.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
My tastes change with the seasons, so my top 5 today may not be the same the next time I’m asked. So, with that caveat in mind, here are today’s top 5 in no particular order: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series, and Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Lost Stars. By the way, this is really hard to limit myself to 5 books. I chose these, because I could read them over and over again.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
If I could have any guest to be on my show, I’d want my first guest to be Stephen King. However, I would love to have both Stephen King and George R. R. Martin on the same show talking about their writing styles, but that’s not what was asked, so I’ll get back to the question at hand.
The first thing I would ask Stephen King is how. How is able to produce so much? What does an average day look like for him? How can I become more like him?
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I love world-building. I’ll formulate the world I want to write in, creating its rules, customs, and history. I strive to produce vibrant, colorful worlds filled with interesting characters. I’ll spend weeks planning the world out and mapping it, so I know where everything happens, before I even put pen to paper to write one story. I believe that a fully fleshed out and compelling world is not restricted to only one kind of story. While my first story is technically a murder thriller, I could just as easily write a political espionage or a hard science fiction technothriller in the world I created. Seeing the endless possibilities in something I thought of and how others respond to what I’ve created are my favorite things about writing.
What is a typical day like for you?
I’d like to say, “I wake up before morning and watch the sunrise, have a light breakfast and begin to write,” but that would be very far from the truth. I work better at night, so I tend to stay up late and sleep in later than I should. My wife goes to work and leaves me with our three-year-old, who sometimes falls asleep with me and other times makes me get up to make him breakfast. I have an 18-year-old and 16-year-old also living at home, so sometimes I can get them to watch their little brother, so I can do some writing or other book-related function. I can usually get some things done while the 3-year-old is having quiet-time after lunch, and then it’s much more difficult until he goes to bed. Then, depending on my wife’s work schedule, we may watch a little TV before she goes to bed and I go to work on my laptop trying to write before falling asleep and starting it all over again. Although I can’t wait for COVID to be over, so I can go back to having more time to write without distraction, I truly enjoy this time I’ve been able to spend with my family.
What scene from 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have Or Have Not was your favorite to write?
There are so many favorites, but I cannot say anything about them, or they would spoil one of the twists. I loved writing the twists. They seem to just come out of nowhere and I hope that’s the experience the reader gets.
So, my favorite scene I can safely not spoil is the very beginning and its reprise. I love the interaction between Mario and Zelda. It’s short and sweet, and really shows who they are with one another. The first time we see it from Mario’s perspective, but in the second part of the book when Zelda becomes a primary protagonist, we get her take and it spins it a little bit. I like how Mario thinks about her and she thinks about him, and neither realize truly what the other is thinking.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
When I became a dad I said, “You can’t be a dad without getting a little snot on your shoulders.” I think I live my life by that philosophy. There are always consequences to our actions, and if we don’t act, there is no possibility of a positive consequence. I think Yoda’s “Do or do not. There is no Try,” is also something that influences me in the same way. It encourages me to push and make it happen, being positive about who I am and what I can do. I have a little sculpture of that on my desk, so I can look at it and be inspired. This is the way.