Hello, and welcome to an all new series of author interviews. The long anticipated anthology “We Were Heroes” will be coming out in 2016, and in preparation for this release we’ll be running interviews of various contributors.
MTI: Today I’m interviewing a returning contributor, Karl G. Rich. This time around, he has contributed a fantastic piece entitled The Absence of Heat. Thank you for being here for another great interview.
KGR: You’re welcome. As always, I’m at your complete disposal. That is except for home remodeling because I’m also up to my eyeballs with demo and rebuilding.
MTI: For those of our readers who haven’t encountered our previous parleys, how about we start off by having you introduce yourself. Tell the new readers a little bit about yourself.
KGR: I’m a native Floridian transplanted to the Great Lakes region. I am fascinated with shipwrecks of which there are up to 6000 individual cases in the Great Lakes. It is what drives my current novels as I develop my own lore of life and death between the wave tops.
MTI: The Absence of Heat is appearing in We Were Heroes, an anthology devoted to the theme of aging, retired, or out of their element superheroes and villains. Tell us a little bit about your contribution to this collection.
KGR: I have a particular understanding of ageing and retirement. I hate to say it, but I resemble some of the caricatures on the proposed cover, especially the character with the teeth flying out of his mouth. I’m not an aficionado of comic books or their heroes, but I remember as a child identifying with the villains. Not necessarily the megalomaniacal characters, but the toadies and secondary bad-guys.
MTI: Who’s your favorite superhero (or villain)?
KGR: My favorite super hero is a tossup between Spiderman and Ironman. Personally, I always loved how Stan Lee allowed that little slit Ironman breathed through to be drawn with expression. Seriously, how does a metal face either smile or frown? On the other side, the Green Goblin as drawn gave me nightmares.
MTI: If you, yourself, could have any superpower, what would it be?
KGR: To change people’s minds. Think about it. Good or evil, take your pick.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you’re working on right now?
KGR: I’ve completed my first novel, The Mad King of Beaver Island. It is under submission at a small publisher in the UP of Michigan. I submitted to them because they publish other non-fiction works similar to my novel. In that vein I’m revising the second novel in that series.
MTI: Other than The Absence of Heat appearing in We Were Heroes, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
KGR: At this point, I’ve stopped writing short stories so I can work on my novels. On the other hand, I’m always looking for other venues to submit previously completed works.
MTI: On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?
KGR: TV is the bane of my existence. I watch sports.
MTI: How about music?
KGR: I like music, but I can barely listen to any of the new tunes. There are a few artists I can listen to like Bruno Mars or Meghan Trainor, but I tend to listen to the “Oldie, but Moldy” style of music.
MTI: What was the last movie you watched, and what did you think of it?
KGR: I don’t have a lot of time for movies, so I’m picky. I only go to movies that are big screen affairs like Avatar. The last movie I went to was Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey. It had an interesting concept, but hardly original. The best part of the movie was when a hatch blew up on a space ship. The sound quality in the theater of the explosion was outstanding. Right now, I’m trying to find time to see the next Star Wars installment. Weird fact: I was on my first date with my first wife at the debut of Star Wars in 1977. There were less than twenty people in the theater.
MTI: Readers love samples. Do you happen to have a story excerpt you’d like to share with us today?
KGR: Well, sure. Let me dig deep into my trusty flash drive…*bang, slam, crinkle-crinkle* oh, here it is…
Oh, since this is out of context. This is 1763, Great Lakes region and Wasaga is a Native American.
“Why?” The question hung in the air.
No answer came.
Wasaga opened his eyes as the first rays of sunlight illuminated the mountains to the east. Growing up, he never dreamed or at least dreamed little enough to affect his consciousness. Decades after achieving manhood and over the past month the dreams have never stopped. He dreamed of a white-winged canoe ripped to pieces and faces of white men that deep down he sensed he should know. At the end of every dream, a spirit god told him to travel west.
Different spirit gods visited him nightly. Michi Kinagog, the spirit father of all people invaded his dreams the most and was the most insistent on Wasaga journeying west. The most pleasant of intruders was Ogima Nibi, a spirit god of the Lakes. Wasaga rarely thought of her because he was a mountain dweller.
“Wasaga.” A soft voice and lips brushed his ear as he slept.
He envisioned a pair of alluring eyes and swept up corners of a feminine mouth as he slept. A hand jostled his shoulder and he awoke to the same pair of golden eyes that trespassed in his dreams. While sleeping in the hollow of a tree gave him shelter, it did not allow him access to retreat.
“We must speak.” Ogima offered her hand to help Wasaga to his feet.
It was not yet dawn and the soft morning light added a halo to her head. Around Wasaga’s campsite the forest animals started their daily search for food and morning ablutions to the new day.
As Wasaga crawled out of the tree he noticed Ogima’s swollen lower abdomen.How wonderful! Then he considered the implication of gods having children. If the gods need to have children, are they truly immortal?
Ogima reached out to lift Wasaga’s chin and redirected his eyes away from her pregnant belly. “I see you have noticed.”
Wasaga’s face reddened. “Forgive my rudeness, Lady of the Lake.” He dropped his gaze to her engorged bosom, then realized what he was doing, and quickly looked her in the eye.
“Maji is loose upon the world,” she said. “It is Our fault and We have indulged him too far.” Ogima caressed her belly and smiled. “I don’t intend to spoil this child like his brother.”
The eternal trickster is Ogima Nibi’s son? Wasaga tried to remember everything his grandfather taught him about the gods, but the years had dimmed his memory. The lore had been handed down to him as a youngster and he hadn’t considered the gods until recently when the dreams started to disturb his sleep. Something tickled the back of his mind. It was what his grandfather told him the night before the old man walked out of camp with another short, old man, and was never seen again. “Is it true the spirit gods only create children with the intercession of a human?”
This time it was Ogima’s turn to blush. “Yes.”
Wasaga quickly glanced at the woman from head to toe. She had all the qualities a man desired. Wide, baby-carrying hips to bring many healthy sons into the world and strong muscular arms to lift and carry everything he needed to survive. The only down side Wasaga could perceive was her strong mind. A man like him needed a follower to do his bidding not to argue a point.
“Not on your life.” She sniffed.
“Don’t worry,” said Wasaga, his voice held derision, but his raised eyebrow said the opposite. What would it be like to sire…and be a father of a god?
Ogima held her stomach again. “Death,” she replied. “I was weak for a moment, now the father of this child has been consumed by the politics of the spirit gods.” She swallowed noisily.
“I did not love him. I was…” Ogima stared up at the sky. “…overwhelmed, and now he shares a spot with Michi Kinagog.”
What manner of man can overcome and seduce a god? Wasaga imagined a man a head taller than himself, shoulders as wide as an axe handle, teeth that can crush boulders and loins that are the envy of a bull moose. His stones reflexively clenched and withdrew into warmth.
“He was not what you think.” Ogima grinned demurely. “But that is not why I am here. Maji…” Her lips tightened. “Maji was banned from Us. We love him dearly, but he is who he is. This world is between Us and his world.”
“Pardon me, Lady, but I have been taught the tradition of the gods,” interrupted Wasaga.
Ogima stared down Wasaga’s petulance. “Yes? Were you taught Magi could open a door from his world to yours? All of the souls he has captured are waiting to return to this existence. They are vile, nasty creatures that no longer resemble the humans they once were.” The beautiful woman’s mouth curled as if to spit out sewage that had suddenly appeared on her tongue.
“I’m only a man. What do the affairs of gods have to do with me?”
“Maji used your ancestor in a curse. The curse is a lit twig during a summer’s drought. The forest is dry and the ground cover is thick and ready to burn. Maji has thrown the fire into the brush and only those involved in the curse can put the flames out.”
The first rays of dawn streaked out from behind a mountain and Ogima gripped his upper arm. “Travel west to the land of the Fox.”
Wasaga snorted awake. His right bicep muscle twinged. On his arm were four red marks where Ogima had gripped him in his…Was it a dream?
MTI: Well, that certainly caught my attention, and I’m sure there are plenty of our readers who would like to read more. For those interested, they can pick up “We Were Heroes,” or many other Martinus anthologies that contain his excellent work.