This time i am talking to author Albert Holl about his upcoming book West Oak and about his other writing.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Albert Holl: I live in New Jersey with my wife, Jane. I enjoy bicycling, walking and an occasional poker game. I worked for over twenty-five years in the corporate world, the experience for my novel, “Is It Friday Yet?” During those years I wrote two novels which were assigned to the waste basket when completed.
New Jersey has over a hundred miles of beach and dozens of shore towns. Probably one of the more well known ones is Atlantic City. When I visit one of its casinos I always bring an extra shirt - in case I lose the one I’m wearing. There is also Cape May where my wife and I will take a few of the grandchildren for vacation. The food there is great and the waves gentle.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Albert Holl: It was a short story about a man who was so uncoordinated that he literally couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time. He wanted desperately to be one of the gang and thought that smoking cigarettes would allow him to join the gang. The story is about the inept and hilarious attempts the man makes to simply to learn how to inhale a cigarette.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Albert Holl: Reading O’Henry’s short stories in school.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Albert Holl: You start with a thought about something, develop it into a rough outline and begin writing. So often the words flow in ways you never thought of and before you have scenes, dialog and a story. Many times I sit back and wonder where it came from.
Books & Writing: How do you overcome writer’s block(if you experience this of course)?
Albert Holl: I get away from the typewriter and read the newspaper or a novel or play a game of solitaire.
Books & Writing: What does your family think about your books?
Albert Holl: They like them but don’t think they will ever be best sellers.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about your book “West Oak”?
Albert Holl: A 200 year old skeleton is removed from its grave disturbing the spiritual energy of two residents of West Oak, Michael Robinson, the editor and owner of the West Oak Chronicle and Ethel Lawson, eighty-six years old and a descendent of the town’s earliest settlers, who receive psychic impressions of an impending assassination.
The man responsible for unearthing the skeleton and the visions is Mark Storm. He hates the town for all the perceived slights and insults heaped upon him growing up.
The assassination will take place during the town’s 225th anniversary celebration. Mark is planning to kill Daniel Berkley, a New Jersey Associate Supreme Court Justice.
As the psychic visions become stronger and the planned assassination becomes clearer to Ethel and Michael, they know they should do something… but what?
As they ponder what to do, Ethel Lawson suffers a heart attack and Michael Robinson is left by himself to prevent the psychic vision of the impending assassination from taking place.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for the book?
Albert Holl: One day I drove past a very old, abandoned house with half its roof missing and most of its windows broken and its shutters askew. It stood in the middle of a big empty field and I thought that would make a good scene for a movie. And from that thought the idea of West Oak was born.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us something about the main characters?
Albert Holl: Michael Robinson – A disbeliever of things not of flesh and blood is troubled by a vision of a house that he sees in an empty field. A house he later learns once existed nearly two hundred years ago. As the owner and editor of the West Oak Chronicle he wants facts based in reality. But the visions keep coming portending some is going to happen.
Ethel Lawson – Eighty six years old, a widow for many, many years. She is the last surviving member of her family that can trace its roots back to the founding of the town. She also receives visions and they are very troubling and tries to block them but is unsuccessful.
Mark Storm – The town’s bad boy. He has a deep hatred for the town because of all the perceived slights he received as he grew up. Although unaware of it, he can also trace his roots back to the founding of the town. He and the members of the Alpha/Omega club are responsible for increasing vicious acts of vandalism around the town. But Mark feels the vandalism needs to be stepped up and so he is planning to kill the guest of honor at the town’s 225th anniversary celebration.
Books & Writing: I understand you also wrote some short stories for the book Dreams, Death and Deception.. What attracts you in short stories?
Albert Holl: Usually, in 3000 words or less you must tell a story that is compelling with sharply defined characters. Unlike a novel in which the characters and story can evolve at a more leisurely pace in a short story almost every word must advance the story.
Books & Writing: Where do you see yourself in a couple of years in relation to writing?
Albert Holl: Hopefully to have written a few more books, the nature of which I have no idea as of yet.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Albert Holl: Don’t be like me. Set aside time each day to write. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Like everything in like writing requires discipline.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Albert Holl: As I mentioned earlier O’Henry was the writer who peaked my interest in wanting to write. I liked the way he wrote and how he always ended his stories with an ironic twist.
Books & Writing: What is the last book you read?
Albert Holl: I read between one and two novels a week. They range from thrillers, suspense, historical novels and history, especially the American Civil War and WW11. One of the last ones I read was - Water For Elephants
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Albert Holl: West Oak is not published yet. Dreams, Death and Deception and Is It Friday Yet? can be purchased on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Albert Holl: www.albertholl.com
Below is an excerpt from the upcoming book West Oak!
It wasn't an image as much as it was sense, a feeling, and a mood. And it was not a comfortable one. It was unsettling and sinister and it kept Ethel Lawson from falling into a deep sleep. There was a power lurking in the shadows, encased in an aura that was both depressing and frightening. It was filled with such hatred that Ethel moaned aloud.
She tried to dispel the nightmare (although it was early afternoon) to put her mind at peace, to get some undisturbed rest but to no avail. The feeling persisted and intensified. This power was evil and it frightened her. Annoyed, knowing that sleep was now beyond her, she sat up in the chair.
A mood of depression surrounded her and her bright blue eyes temporarily lost their sparkle. She hoped her psychic powers, so long suppressed, were not coming to the forefront of her mind. Receiving psychic impressions was a very draining, extremely exhausting, energy sapping experience and she was too old to allow them to enter her mind. It had been a long time since she had felt so strong an impression. Indeed, she couldn't remember any time when an impression had such force. It was very unsettling and she feared bringing into focus whatever it was.
Her ninety pound body wanted to stay put but her mind said otherwise. She struggled out of her chair and stretched. This feeling was becoming very irritating, she thought. I need my nap. I'm going to become an old grouch if this continues much longer.
She went into the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove and paused. The warm humid air mass that had settled over the area made her think for a moment of making a glass of lemonade. Hot humid weather normally didn’t bother her but to have this type of weather at the beginning of November was quite unusual and was uncomfortable but she shrugged it off and went ahead with her tea preparation. When the kettle began to whistle, the sound was mixed with that of a motorcycle as it passed the house. For a moment, an image sprang into her mind but receded as quickly as it appeared. She tried to recall it, but failed and went back to the task of preparing her tea.