So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Friday, June 30, 2006

Book Chat with T.L. Hines

T.L. (Tony) Hines’ Waking Lazarus just hit the bookstores a week or so ago. I got a sneak peek at an Advance Review Copy (ARC) earlier in the month and "Whoa, Nellie!"

Tony does a great job of capturing the voices of his characters--kids, adults, men, women, Montanans, non-Montanans; they're all in here. Here's a snippet of the story, taken from the opening chapter when our hero, Jude Allman (no relation to the Brothers of musical fame so far as I can tell) is eight years old, recently dead, and waking up in ... well see if you can figure it out on your own.
When Jude awoke, he didn't move. Didn't even open his eyes. He felt the crisp linen of a sheet pressed against his face, pressed against his whole body, and the sensation made him realize his clothes were missing. Buck-naked, as mom always said when he popped out of the bathtub. And something was tied to his toe. A piece of string? What kind of game was that? Not one he liked, he decided.

From a lead character with recurring resurrections to a child-abducting creepazoid, with some genuinely moving father-son relationship stuff along the way, Waking Lazarus delivers. Medium- to fast-paced action throughout; good use of humor. Even when you can tell where the story is headed, Tony throws in a couple twists on the way to your eventual destination. An overly convenient miracle or two patch together the plot, but in no way diminish the story.

I recommend the book whole-heartedly. (I expected the child abduction storyline to be more gruesome that it was. I was pleased with how taut Tony kept it with a minimum of mess; much more psychologically intense...) Maybe not everyone’s cup of joe, but for them that’s is, it’s good drinking.

Tony did me the favor of answering five questions I sent his way. I think it's only fair to share them with you (since he kinda figured that was the deal):
  1. Which "darling" (character/scene/plot element) was most painful to kill?

    Oooh, that's a good one. We actually killed a few whole chapters in a couple sections, but I didn't really miss those.

    And, we killed one whole chapter from the Hunter's POV pretty late in the work that, at the time, was a tough darling to kill. I really liked it, and thought it may have had the creepiest scene in the entire book. In essence, it was about the Hunter spending some quality time in the basement, having a live rat snack and ruminating on the communal qualities of his interactions with Quarry.

    In retrospect, however, it was probably good to kill that chapter, because it may have put a few people over the top. And I think it almost suggested the Hunter was cannibalistic, which I'd never intended and wanted to back away from. It's hard enough to get people through a book about a child abductor; probably best not to add to the difficulty.

    Interestingly enough, however, Dave Long, my editor at Bethany House, didn't want to cut the chapter because of the content--he pointed out that nothing really "happens" in the chapter, and it only served to show the Hunter is a pretty creepy character. I think we'd already established that elsewhere pretty well.

  2. I couldn't help but think of Stephen King's The Dead Zone once things really started moving for Jude. Anything you'd like to say about that? (The TDZ connection, not the way my mind works—or doesn't, as the case may be.)

    You know, I couldn't help but think of Stephen King's The Dead Zone while writing it. You got me. I think The Dead Zone is criminally overlooked in the King canon (as is its film counterpart)--if it can be said that anything by Stephen King has been overlooked in the least.

    TDZ was certainly an inspiration, and the two books have a similar "big picture"--both are about genuinely good, common men who have to come to grips with an overwhelming power--but I think they have different flavors. King veered more into high-stakes, world in peril kind of stuff, and thematically, TDZ seemed to be a lot about lost opportunities and lost chances. My story, I think, stays more personal and rural, and thematically is more about family relationships (specifically the relationship between father and son), and how those relationships can strengthen or warp.

  3. You ever get Gregory Hines' mail by mistake?

    Only his utility bills, for some reason. None of his residual checks. I mean, think of the residuals he must have rolling in for Deal of the Century and Running Scared alone. [According to the Internet Movie Database, Greg Hines died in 2003 of liver cancer ... hmmm, where'd you say you did your research on this spontaneous resurrection biz, Tony?]

  4. Talk about the "soundtrack," free-flow, stream of consciousness, avoid prepositions.

    Better Than Ezra yes a preposition but it's the band's name Pixies much Pixies Wilco Foo Fighters Hillsong Worship Derek Webb David Crowder Band--later drafts and edits--often just hit iPod's shuffle so mixed many many songs

    I went above and beyond, avoiding prepositions AND punctuation. Kinda like my first drafts.

  5. What's next for Tony Hines? Another thriller? Broadway musical? Shadow puppets? What?

    My second book for Bethany House--another supernatural thriller. This one is set in Butte, Montana. It's tentatively titled Valley of Shadow (though we'll be picking a final title in the next few months), and it's about a woman who hears her dead father speaking to her from the shadows. He tells her the spirits of the dead occupy the shadows of our world, and convinces her to join a secret government network that communicates with the shadows. But all is not as it seems, naturally; soon, she finds out the true nature of the shadows--and the true nature of what they really want.

    This book, as you can probably tell, was inspired by The Bridges of Madison County.

Thanks for playing along, Tony. For more stops on the Waking Lazarus blog tour, info on the book its own bad self, and how to get your hands on that soundtrack, check out Tony's blog.

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2 Snarky Remarks:

Oh my goodness. I didn't know Gregory Hines died. Now I feel bad for being snarky about his royalty checks.

Thanks, dFM, for your encouraging words.
Blogger TLHines.com, at 4:41 PM  
I didn't take your comments as snarky. Running Scared is an awesome movie: Billy Crystal's "Deuteronomy" bit, TV's Jimmy Smits, and of course the late, great Mr. Greg. Not sure if his estate's getting residuals, but it wouldn't surprise me.

And then again, maybe you're covering up for unbagging the cat...
Blogger Chris, at 12:48 AM  

Get snarky