Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Interview with novelist and poet Antonio J. Hopson

Writer Antonio J. Hopson joins me today to talk about Nefarious, it has a bit of adventure, literary fiction, contemporary, and humor.

Antonio J. Hopson is a fiction writer, poet, teacher, and father. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in environmental science, and is a biology teacher at Lakeside Middle School in Seattle. He has always had a love of writing, poetry in particular. His works of poetry, speculative fiction, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, and he was a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. He has also been the recipient of a Reader’s Choice Award from Farmhouse Magazine and was an EPIC e-book Award finalist. Antonio is the author of numerous short stories, several novels, and a collection of poetry, Seven, which was published in 2016 and spent three weeks at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases.

When he isn’t writing, he likes to spend his free time painting, cooking, playing ping pong, and scuba diving in the cold waters off Puget Sound. He also enjoys taking road trips and camping with his two sons in their 57 Security trailer. He was born and raised in South Seattle and now lives north of the city in Shoreline, WA. 

Welcome, Antonio. Please tell us about your current release.
Max Rigby is a middle-aged, aloof writer stuck in the past when he falls in love with the pit-girl from S/V Nefarious, a sailing vessel that lives up to its name. The woman who has awakened his heart is the fleet's most fierce sailor, Robin Mac Bradaigh, aka "Mac", a young, fiery, unapologetic sailor who refuses to be pushed around by a fleet of scoundrels. But Nefarious carries a dark reputation, and Max soon finds himself caught up in a sailing race that is as dangerous as it is thrilling. Unburdened by the necessities of polite society, the sailors aboard Nefarious are forced to defend their title during Race Week, a rowdy and rough competition in the Salish Sea. The devil himself has stakes in the race, and he must keep his skipper, Dan Swardstrom from distractions: the mysterious pregnancy of his fiancée, a hung-over crew that keeps blowing their starts, and a mutiny led by the pit-girl. During the race, the devil has been forced to live the life of a mortal and can only sail for Nefarious. He desires the Race Week trophy, centerpiece to a hedonistic party that requires animal sacrifice

What inspired you to write this book?
In a word: sailing. Racing, in particular. It is a unique way of life that not many of us have access to. I found myself fortunate enough to join a crew, and instantly I was caught up in the drama.

Excerpt from Nefarious:

For no good reason, people tended to become a friend or a foe of Dan Swardstrom. He was not particularly benevolent, nor was he physically or intellectually intimidating, but there was something chancy about him. Perhaps it was the crookedness of his smile, the boyish, cocksure gleam in his mercury eyes, the way he positioned his body while sailing as if he were about to take a punch on the chin, or the way he somehow, through no fault of his own, ended up with your girlfriend sitting on his lap at the end of a party.

Despite his modest demeanor, Dan Swardstrom stood out among his peers; a consummate gentleman among pirates, assholes, vandals and picaroons–words that accurately describe every one of his friends. His wintery hair and smart, mercurial eyes were deceiving. Your only warning of what he was truly capable of lay just below his right eye where a broken halyard once lashed out and left him with a compelling story to tell over a drink. When he smiled from the other side of a bottle of rum, the little scar frowned at you.

Today, he proudly steered his race boat through picturesque Lake Union, a Farr 30–a class of sailboat well regarded in the Seattle fleet. It was sleek and fast, designed to carve through water as smoothly as a Ferrari devours blacktop on a racecourse. The wind was at his back, blowing his thinning hair out in front of him, obscuring a fresh, excited face. Only a few scattered cumulous clouds speckled the sky. The sun was out, and the day was young.

“Sir, I need you to kill your engine!”

Harbor 1, the Marine Patrol unit that operates a 37-foot, cabin cruiser with twin diesel engines patrols the busy waters of Lake Union. It was called to the area to intercept a party boat, but what the captain found instead was S/V Nefarious; its sails stowed, motoring speciously along the cut at an easy pace. No wake. Five knots, not fast enough to disturb the charming houseboats or the posh, floating restaurants with diners enjoying an early lunch. Why would a broken dock be tied to the hull of a sailboat? The captain put away his binoculars and picked up his bullhorn.

“Sir, did you know...”

“Yes,” Dan said, nodding at the flotsam. “It’s mine. My bowman neglected to untie us, and my crew didn’t notice it until you started tailing us.”

“Well, that solves one of our problems.”

“Problem two?”

The captain motioned his pilot to close the distance.

“Have you been drinking, skipper?”

“Most definitely,” Dan said. “Problem three?”

Harbor 1 drifted closer and the captain was not amused by the smirk on the skipper’s face: a handsome face with a neatly trimmed, silver beard stuck to it. He set down his bullhorn and turned off his flashing lights.

“A woman reported that someone on your vessel yelled ‘hot soup’ and then emptied a bucket of urine overboard onto her kayak.”

Dan scratched his beard.

“Yes, that’s true,” he said, “but, to be fair, she did not give me right of way while approaching my vessel.”

The crew was quiet, like refugees caught in the night, and it was a miracle that they resisted the urge to sip their beers or drink from the lucky bottle of rum.

“Isn’t your vessel equipped with a head?”

“Let me ask you this,” Dan said. “Would you ask the owner of a Ferrari if there was a commode under the seat?”

The captain boarded Nefarious. When he stepped on a beer can, he sneered. This was unsafe. This was sloppy yachting. He removed a fresh citation from his pocket and looked hard at the refugees as they pretended to be sober.

“Skipper,” he said while scratching his pen on the citation. “What is the destination of this vessel?”

“Race Week,” Dan said.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am completing a book of poetry for Anaphora Press. At the moment it’s titled, “The Cartographer”. I enjoy writing poems that come from the heart, a complicated organ. I attempt to map its complexities and nuances using some of experience as a sentimental man.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first thought of myself as a writer when CJ, a high school friend, proposed that we write a play. We worked on it all summer and the next year it was selected by our drama department as the spring performance. We knew that we would be playing the main characters, so, of course we wrote in as many kissing scenes as we could get away with. Lol.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I only write full time in the summer. During the rest of the year I am a biology teacher.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is a fun question. I would say that in every story I MUST include some type of “magic”, or surrealism, that can’t be explained by the main character. There is nothing worst (or more uninteresting) for me than reading a book where the author explains the monster away, or the magic, or any situation that has a mystic feel to it. I think you can detect this in all my books. In real life I want Bigfoot to exist, but the facts add up against it. In fiction, it doesn’t have to, now does it?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I totally wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still a space cadet.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d like to thank them for their support—especially if they are willing to take a chance on a writer who works through an independent press like Anaphora. The extreme bottleneck that happens with establishment presses means that 99.9 percent of authors are doomed to a slush pile, aka, junk pile. Many agents and editors are blinded a narrow definition of what they think is a worthy MS. Just sayin’!


Thanks for being here today, Antonio.

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