Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Robert Germaux ~ guest post - interview and his novel ~ Grammar Sex and Other Stuff

Robert Germaux

Robert Germaux and his wife Cynthia live outside of Pittsburgh. After three decades as a high school English teacher, and now a good many years into retirement, he is beginning to have serious doubts about his lifelong dream of pitching for the Pirates. Grammar Sex and Other Stuff is Bob’s first non-fiction book. You can find links to his first three novels (The Backup Husband, Small Talk and Hard Court) at his Amazon Author Page.

Q: In your own words, please tell us about Grammar Sex and Other Stuff
A: As I say in the blurb for the book, it’s one man’s take on life’s little moments, minor annoyances and unexpected delights.

Q: This book is a change from your previous books. What made you change things up? 
A: I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of local newspaper columnists for several years. At some point, my wife suggested I try writing some essays myself, with an eye towards having enough for a book. So to anyone who enjoys the book, you can thank Cynthia for planting the idea in my head.

Q: So I have to ask…was including the word “sex” a deliberate attempt to grab the attention of potential readers? Oh, definitely, and the fact that you asked that question means it worked, right?
A: Actually a year or so ago, when I was writing my first guest post, a friend suggested I come up with a “catchy” title. Since I had used the expression “grammar sex” in “The Backup Husband,” I decided to use the term in the title of the post. Incidentally, that piece is one of the essays included in this book.

Q: For those who love slice-of-life stories, Grammar Sex and Other Stuff certainly fits that category. How did you manage to recall all of your awesome stories? Do you keep a folder or do you just have an incredible memory?
A: I do have a good memory, but not that good. One thing that helped, especially with the essays related to vacations Cynthia and I have taken, is that I’m big on taking notes. When we’re on vacation, I take a few minutes every evening and jot down notes about what we did that day. After we get home, I use the notes to write what amounts to a daily diary of our trip. I put that diary with the photo album of the trip, and then we’ll get it out every few years and relieve all those wonderful moments. As for the essays that aren’t trip-related, anything I can’t remember on my own, I can usually get help from Cynthia or, in some cases, family members, especially my sister Barb, who’s become sort of our family historian.

Q: Speaking of awesome stories, what do you think makes an interesting story?
A: For me, it has to be something that I can relate to in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something I have personal experience with, as long as the author writes well enough to grab my attention. That pertains to fiction, but I also enjoy reading autobiographies.

Q: What kinds of books are in your personal library?
A: I like detective novels, of course, but also other genres, anything that is well-written and captures my interest. I particularly enjoy stories that inform me about other countries and cultures.

Q: Do you have a book genre/writing preference – fiction or non-fiction?
A: Definitely fiction. I loved writing “Grammar Sex and Other Stuff,” but I prefer writing about my private detective, Jeremy Barnes, or my police detective, Daniel Hayes, both of whom work in Pittsburgh. As soon as I sit down and start a new chapter about either Jeremy or Daniel, I’m right back in the world that I created for that book. I just lose myself in it.

Q: Do you have any new books in the works?
A: Yes, I do. I’ve completed “One by One,” the next book about Daniel Hayes. It will be available not too long from now. And I’ll also be releasing at least one more Jeremy Barnes novel later this year.

Q: How can readers connect with you?
A: You can always reach me at my Amazon Author Page. I love interacting with my readers.

Q: Since you have now had several published books completed, what advice would you give aspiring authors?
A: The most important thing is to keep writing (and rewriting). Equally important is to find at least one person whose opinion you trust. Ask that person to read everything you write and give you an honest take on it. In my case, that person is Cynthia. She knows my characters, my writing style and, well, me better than anyone else in the world. When she offers a suggestion, I end up taking it 99% of the time.

An essay from “Grammer Sex and Other Stuff"

“Davy Crockett, Jesus and The Beatles

By Robert Germaux
I’ve always loved to sing, and when I was younger, my voice was good enough that I sang in both my church and school choirs. The main memories I have of my church singing are of two very different situations. For two or three years when I was around ten or eleven, I soloed in front of the congregation on Easter Sunday, singing There is a Green Hill Far Away. I didn’t particularly enjoy those performances, mostly because I didn’t like the heavy robe everyone in the choir had to wear. However, my other church-singing experience involved an entirely different ensemble, one that I definitely enjoyed wearing. When I was nine years old, our church held a father and son banquet, and I got up and sang The Ballad of Davy Crockett. I went full frontiersman on that occasion, including, of course, the coonskin cap. A couple of my siblings claim to be in possession of photographic evidence of that event, which explains why I’ve played the role of victim in a number of family blackmail schemes over the years.

In high school, I sang tenor in the a capella choir, despite the fact that I’d never learned to read music, not a single note. What saved me in that situation was my friend, Cliff Thomas, who was able to unlock the mystery of those squiggly marks on the pages with all the lines. Incidentally, I just now went online and saw that the pages with all the lines are called notation papers. You learn something every day. Anyway, back to Cliff. Whenever we had to sing a song I didn’t know, I’d listen to Cliff the first couple of times we rehearsed, and then I usually had it. On the rare occasion when I might forget part of a song, I’d just mouth that part during the performance. Cliff was a much better singer than the rest of us, and he could have handled the tenor section all by his lonesome. Cliff, if you’re still out there somewhere, thanks, buddy.

As for the songs I enjoy listening to at home or in the car, I used to think my musical tastes ran a fairly narrow gamut from the late fifties to the mid-sixties, ending about halfway through the Beatles invasion. I kind of lost touch with the music scene from the late sixties on, mainly because I was busy getting my first teaching position, settling into married life, grading thousands of student compositions, etc. You know, life. I often had music on in the background, especially when I was working on lesson plans or grading all those compositions, but I didn’t pay much attention to who was singing. However, thanks to Sirius-XM radio, with its on-screen display of artists and dates of release, I now realize there are songs from the seventies I really like. The Eagles’ Best of My Love, Dave Mason’s We Just Disagree, Chicago’s Color My World and, of course, Billy Joel’s classic Piano Man. Great songs, all. In fact, I’m now considering venturing into the eighties. I hear good things about this Springsteen lad.

A final note. As much as I’ve come to enjoy so many post-Beatles songs, I have to admit that I find some of today’s songs to be shallow and superficial. I still think that the fifties and sixties take the prize for meaningful lyrics. As proof, travel with me back to 1958, when a little ditty called Witch Doctor spent two weeks atop the Billboard 100. Allow me to set the scene. A young man is in love with a girl who doesn’t love him back, so, of course, he seeks advice from the local witch doctor. Here’s what that individual said to the young man. Be sure to pay close attention.

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Enough said, right?

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