Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cameron Glenn ~ an interview and his novel ~ Delano In Hollyhook

Warning this material is of a young adult nature.
If you're over 18 ~ well, you’ve been warned.

Cameron Glenn

Author Bio:
Cameron Glenn grew up the third of seven children in Oregon. As a child he dedicated hours to the pursuits of basketball and cartooning, as well as waking up way too early for his paper route in order to earn money to buy toys, candy and comic books. He also loved to read and write, which he continues to do voraciously. He currently lives in Salt Lake City after having earned a BA in literature from Boise State. 


Q: If you could morph into any creature what would it be?
 A:  Probably a six foot seven super skilled NBA all star caliber basketball player.   Or a super smart person who could figure out all the scientific answers to the world’s problems, like figuring out how to create all of the earth’s energy needs using solar power and curing cancer and so on.  Or how about one super “creature” with both abilities?  
            If you don’t mind me asking, why?   
A:  I love basketball and being really good at it and playing in the NBA at a high level and being paid millions for it seems like a great life to me.  The “super-scientist” answer for less selfish reasons I suppose (although I presume such a person would also get a lot of money; not that I care about that so much, but, you know).

Q: What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all time favorite song?
A:  I gravitate mostly towards indie rock, but I like all kinds.  I love music.  Some of my all time favorites would be: Radiohead, The Pixies, Michael Jackson, and Bjork, but the list is long.  I recently discovered this Scottish synthpop band called “Chvrches” (pronounced “Churches”; the changed spelling is for Google purposes) which I’m sort of currently obsessed with.  I just saw them in concert a few days ago and it was amazing and I’ve become sort of sad that I can’t just become a groupie-ish fan boy and just follow them for the rest of their tour. Haha.  (Just kidding—kind of). 

Q: Have you ever been too embarrassed to promote any certain titles to friends or family?
A:  Yes!  I come from a pretty strict Mormon family.  By that standard some of the stuff I wrote would be considered “racy” and maybe even “disappointing” and “sinful” to them (although still tame by normal standards).  I didn’t really tell them about the stuff I wrote until my kids book “Delano in Hollyhook.”


Q: When did you start writing and why?
A:  I loved the self expression aspect of it.  I would mostly write poems and things through high school.  I decided to major in English Literature in college and took some writing classes and other classes which inspired me to try to write longer narratives. 

Q: Which of your own releases was your particular favorite?
A:   I think I personally might like some of my weirder stuff that other’s might not like as much.  I wrote a novel called “Elle and the ghost author” which felt pertinent and personal at the time, but was also filled with beatnik type stream of conscious ramblings that probably only I would “get”.  But personally I tend to like nonsensical seeming poetry stuff in narration.  I haven’t really pushed that book to get reviews or anything.  I had felt sort of similar to this book I wrote a long time ago called “Rave Girl” and only recently pushed to get it some reviews and became kind of bummed that readers didn’t seem to like that one too much (too ramble-y).  The books which have gotten the best reader reactions so far have been “Mortimer the Vampire and Drake the Dragon,” “Basketball and Dance Love,” “Amber’s Summer” and “Delano in Hollyhook.”  I guess the one which has best combined my “personal favorite/weird” with “readers seem to like okay” aspects might be “Pink Frost”.  I was actually surprised that some readers have liked that one. 

Q: Do you always know how a story will end when you begin writing it?
A:   No.  For me, part of the fun is writing is discovering what it is and where it goes as you write.  That said, I’m sure some of my books would have been better, plot wise, had I better mapped out a guide first, and then let “surprises” wiggle themselves in. 


Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A:  I’m nearing the end of writing this thing called “If you read this you will die”.  I might change the title.  I wanted it to be a type of comedy/horror, which I haven’t tried to write before, but I’m not sure if that genre fits it.  I don’t really know what genre it would best fit in, which I guess is a problem, but I actually like that.  I’m excited and optimistic about it. 

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A:  “Delano in Hollyhook” is out now.  It’s a fun kid’s book which has gotten some positive reviews so far, including five star reviews from “Litpic” and “Readers Favorite”. 

Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: Yes, I do. Here are the links. ~ 
There’s nothing glamorous about being an orphan. An obvious statement but if one reads enough children’s literature one might be persuaded to think otherwise. Delano Farnsworth had absorbed a lot of orphan children’s literature throughout his fourteen years. However while soaking in these particular stories he felt a tinge of bitterness as if just swallowing a gulp of radish juice. Seemingly, to get a fairy godmother to visit, to discover you’re a famous wizard with a secret stash of gold coins, to frolic near naked in a jungle partying with jazz riffing bears and dancing orangutans, or to grow up to become the coolest brooding bat-based vigilante superhero ever, you first need to be a parentless child. With the relatively small number of orphans in the world compared with all the adventure tales about plucky young heroes whose orphan status frees them, or forces them, to live daring, wild, large lives as they attract trouble, luck and magic, one might assume only child orphans invite the best stories. But Delano knew better. He knew orphans didn’t have zippy literary lives because he was an orphan himself.

There’s nothing glamorous about being an orphan.

Delano stared out the window admiring the red leafed stout oak tree. He thought how much more comfortable he’d be laying up in the oak’s gnarled branches rather than imprisoned by the stiff desk chair over the linoleum floor in second period English class. He had started the ninth grade about seven weeks before.

He looked back down at the test paper on his desk. “Why do you think orphans are so prevalent in children’s literature?” essay question number three asked. Delano pressed his pen against the paper and wrote: Using the word, ‘orphan’ helps the author accomplish the goal of making the protagonist both sympathetic and riddled with inner conflict. He knew that Mrs. Benz, his English teacher, expected more than one sentence to answer an essay question but he didn’t know what else to write. He thought about how he felt ashamed of being an orphan and wanted to keep it a secret because he didn’t want anyone’s sympathy.

He looked back out the window. His mind again drifted to what his Uncle Ted had told him that morning just as Delano had slurped up the remaining pink fruity milk from his bowl of Fruit Loops, slung his backpack over his shoulder and reached for the doorknob, ready to race out to catch the bus.

“Wait!” Uncle Ted had yelled.

“Uncle Ted, I’m going to be late,” Delano had answered.

“It’s time. You’re old enough now,” Uncle Ted had responded.

“Old enough for what?” Delano had asked.

“The talk,” Uncle Ted had then replied. “You’re old enough now to know the truth.”

“Well…uh…okay,” Delano had stammered. “But I have to go to school first.” And with that Delano had bounded out the door towards the school bus, now carrying a weight heavier than his backpack pressing down on him. A heavy and uncomfortable talk was ahead, and the subject was who knew what: puberty and changing bodies, expectations and disappointments, or…his parents.

Delano did manage to avoid one familiar literary trope associated with child orphan stories; unlike Cinderella, Harry, Hugo, and all of Charles Dickens’s child orphan characters who suffer under abusive and neglectful parental replacements, thus making them even more sympathetic, Delano’s boisterous Uncle Ted, Delano’s guardian for eleven years was pretty great. He encouraged action, vigorous reading, and deep curiosity of the natural wonders of the world. However, the older Delano became the more he began to worry that some of Uncle Ted’s charming quirks were really the eccentric traits of someone who blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. For example, promoting certain myths as truths is harmless fun when children are under age nine, but to push these same Santa, fairies, magical creatures and monster myths as true once a child becomes more mature starting at around age ten, might be irresponsible. Uncle Ted would constantly say things to Delano like “Magic has many names, but both literature and history prove that those who fear and dismiss the fantastical elements, the unseen and unknown, are only fools and grumps.” Whenever Delano wanted to have a serious conversation with his uncle about subjects his uncle didn’t want to elaborate on, such as Delano’s parents and his family tree, his uncle would say cryptic and nonsensical things like: “Delano, my dear boy, some things are so special that they need to be hidden from the horrors of the world. Too much sunlight can be harsh after all.”

“Delano!” Mrs. Benz snapped. “Pull your head out of the clouds and finish your essay! I’ve warned you about daydreaming!”

The class snickered as Delano pulled down on the bill of his green Seattle Supersonics cap to cover his flushing red face. A wadded up paper struck the side of his head which caused more bursts of laughter from Delano’s classmates. Delano rubbed the smooth gray face of his pebble ring with his thumb. He had always been made fun of by some rude and mean kids for wearing the ring with the gray pebble set in a sun shaped silver frame, but he could no more take it off than he could remove his own nose. His ring felt like part of him, so much so that it seemed to grow with him. It always fit sung on his right index finger. His mother had given him the ring the same day she and Delano’s father had disappeared on Delano’s third birthday.

Just then the head of a wasp peaked over the edge of Delano’s bill. Delano shrieked and tore the cap off his head uncovering his bushy brown unkempt hair. The wasp buzzed around Delano’s head, although, could it be called a wasp? It looked like a wasp except that its body shined a metallic scarlet red rather than yellow and black. Its stinger on its body was three times as big as that on a normal wasp. “Go away!, go away!” Delano yelled as he swatted at the wasp with his cap.

“Delano Farnsworth, what are you doing!” Mrs. Benz scolded and tapped her knuckle against her desk.

“You don’t see it?” Delano asked frantically.

“Sorry, dude, we can’t see your delusions,” came a voice from behind him.

The giant red wasp landed on Delano’s neck. Delano froze with his teeth grit, praying that the wasp would fly off and disappear. Instead the wasp plunged its long stinger right into a stretched out vein in Delano’s neck. Delano yelped in pain and slapped his neck. When he opened his eyes from wincing he no longer saw the wasp. If not for the lingering searing pain as evidence he might have thought that the wasp had not been real but rather some hallucination. Then his tongue felt numb and fat like it had been shot with Novocain from the dentist. He felt dizzy as if knocked on the head with a wood log.

“Delano, are you okay?” Mrs. Benz asked with concern.

“Mrs. Benz do you have an evil twin?” Delano asked as a glop of drool dropped from the corner of his mouth. “If you do I bet she’s not half as mean as you are.”

His classmates gasped, guffawed and giggled at Delano’s rude comment. Delano felt shocked himself at what he had said. He felt as if his numb tongue had moved on its own.

“Mr. Farnsworth! That is enough! Take your things and leave my classroom!”

Delano quickly and sheepishly obeyed her while his attempts at apologizing just came as gibberish mumbling, the numbness spreading to his jaw making it difficult to speak coherently. He stumbled through the empty school halls towards his locker. He didn’t have a phone to call his uncle. Or maybe I should go to the school office and call the hospital. But then, how to explain to the nurse the cause of his pain? I was stung by a giant scarlet red hornet that then just vanished? That sounds crazy. Besides the symptoms of the sting didn’t seem to be progressing beyond the initial tingling prick, face numbing and dizziness. He decided he’d just walk the eight miles over the large evergreen lined roads towards the rustic shack where he and his uncle lived. As he trekked a fast moving thunderstorm rolled in. Rain poured down and muddy water splashed up as he kicked through puddles.

He opened the waist- high wooden gate and ambled over the muddy path which led to the front door of the boulder and concrete one story shack where he and his uncle lived. He thought he saw perched high in a fir tree two buzzards looking down on him. Strange, since there weren’t many buzzards living on Bainbridge island near Seattle. Maybe his dizziness and weariness from the long soggy walk had caused him to hallucinate, he thought. Just as he was about to open the door two thoughts struck him which made him stop and wonder if it’d be better if he avoided his uncle Ted for just a little bit longer. One, Uncle Ted had threatened him with some serious talk that morning which might now take place, and two, during the long walk Delano had failed to come up with a good explanation as to why he was playing hooky from school. But the rain pounded down harder and he wanted to get inside and just face whatever potential hassle and scolding might be waiting for him on the other side of the door. He opened the door and walked in, greeted by his uncle’s taxidermy animals and the moose head looming large over the fireplace.

“Uncle Ted, I’m home!” Delano called.

No response. Delano felt some relief: Uncle Ted wasn’t home; he could lounge around and watch bad daytime TV and play video games for awhile without being badgered. His relief quickly turned to concern: something wasn’t right. The bobcat taxidermy had been knocked over. Uncle Ted would not have left it like that. The pungent odor of sulfur wafted in from the bathroom. Delano tentatively walked towards the strange smell. He gasped once he glanced in the bathroom. A pile of still steaming black ash smeared the floor in front of the mirror. Something has been scrawled over the mirror. Delano walked closer, his heart thumping, in order to make out the mirror vandalization. He had to stand over the ash and face the mirror in order to see. Written in what appeared to be either blood or lipstick, and he guessed blood because he didn’t think his Uncle Ted owned any lipstick, spelled out just two words: ‘Beware’ and ‘Divider’. What does this mean Delano wondered. With considerable understatement he then thought: What a strange day I’m having. He raised his right arm while looking in the mirror. Mirrors provide reverse images of you when you look into them he thought. Then he gasped again and tensed his shoulders. Another creature now occupied the space in the mirror’s frame with him: the giant scarlet red wasp clinging against the shower curtain behind Delano. He spun around and then the wasp zoomed right at his head. He ducked and the wasp landed on the mirror and crawled towards the mirror’s corner. It then plunged its giant stinger into the mirror making the mirror crack. A cracking sound emerged of electric buzzing followed by the sound of popping light bulbs. A faint light began to emanate from the mirror. As the light became brighter the disembodied voice of a woman speaking with a bright enthusiastic trill said: “Delano Farnsworth! Because of the unfortunate lot which life as left you, I am happy to announce that you have been randomly selected among a pool of other troubled and unfortunate children, as one of the lucky few to attend Hollyhook summer camp! Please look straight ahead and watch the video. It will explain further.”

Delano obeyed the voice. The mirror became as a TV monitor. The words scrawled over the mirror in red burned away. “Are you tired of being picked on?” a male voice, sounding like the voice which narrates late night infomercials for magical cleaning and cooking devices, began. As the voice continued black and white images from a montage of mopey and sad children flicked across the mirror screen. “…Tired of not getting your way, being misunderstood, feeling angry, depressed, lonely, or unappreciated for your uniqueness? Or are you just an orphan or terminally ill? Well cheer up!” the voice said, and the black and white images of the sad looking children burst into color as a montage of the previously mopey children, now with wide smiles and bright eyes as their faces lit up bathed in a golden light, flicked across the mirror screen. “You have been selected to join Hollyhook Summer Camp! It’s a magical place where you can enjoy the company of fellow misfits and rejects and feel free to be yourself!” the narrator said perking his voice up and continued: “Enjoy camp games on Playground Fields, splash in Gold Lake, rage out at Chaos Island, let your inner mope out at Creepy Castle, ride the Ferris Wheel along Friendship Pier, say hello to a butterfly child, and so, so much more!” Images of these locations popped up on the screen as the narrator listed them. “Gold Lake” appeared to really be made from real liquid gold, Chaos Island appeared to be an island in Gold Lake that had roller coasters engulfed in flames over it, Creepy Castle looked like those images of Dracula’s Castle used in old horror movies, Friendship Pier seemed to be a pier along the bank of Gold Lake which had carnival and arcade games, ice-cream and comic book shops and the mentioned Ferris Wheel. The video presentation showed children, from around ages ten to fourteen populating these locations, all seemingly enjoying themselves, whether it be running and yelling while holding flags across the green grass of Playground Fields, punching, kicking and scratching in a brawl on Chaos Island, lounging and listening to moody rhythmic music in Creepy Castle, running along the boardwalk of Friendship Pier or water skiing over Gold Lake, being pulled by some type of giant water eel rather than a speed boat. When the voice said Make friends with a butterfly child, the image showed a ten year old boy reaching up to shake the hands of a light pink skinned ten year old girl in a dress made from big palm leaves and flowers, floating above him by the use of butterfly wings attached to her back.

“There are just three places you can’t go,” the narrator continued: “Monster Mountain, Butterfly Island, and Counselor Castle. You’ll sleep in our comfy cabins and eat our delicious meals in our cafeteria. There’s just one main rule to follow: Enjoy yourselves! Come see what magic awaits around every corner and make lifelong friends! And it will cost you nothing! This is an all expenses paid trip as your prize reward! All you have to do is step outside and climb aboard the Zeppelin waiting for you outside, and then its full steam ahead to adventure!” The promotional video ended and the mirror returned to being just a normal mirror. Delano looked up at the scarlet wasp still in the corner of the mirror. What hallucinogen drug did you poison me with Delano thought while rubbing his neck, still feeling dizzy and bewildered.

Then he heard an engine humming, the sound coming from just outside the front door.  

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