Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Savior of Turk by Ron D Smith | Interview,Excerpt | Featured Author

YA Coming of Age

Bhanu Ganesh can’t catch a break. He comes from India with his parents to start a new life in rural Missouri where, as his American-born cousin says, a person “stands out like a vegan at a rib joint if he’s anything other than white boy or a black cow.” Bhanu arrives with everything short of a “kick me” sign on his back. His prep school getup, highbrow British accent, and pathological fear of feminine touch make him an immediate social outcast. Then there’s his little arson habit, the primary reason his family comes to America for a fresh start. What’s more, the new family business in the tiny town of Turk is selling adult movies and other products at a store along the interstate. That doesn’t sit well with some of the locals, particularly those at the Turk Everlasting Church of God.



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 The Savior of Turk. Two Winners!!
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EXCERPT




We drove the loop twice more and never saw Tony or Bill. I guessed they’d actually lucked out and gotten dates to take to a movie in KC. Or they had bought an ounce and gone off down some remote country road to enjoy it, not even bothering to invite me. I drove us up to Wal-Mart, which was just off the other exit in the “new” part of Wapatamwa.

We meandered around the store for awhile and had started sifting through shirts on the boys’ department clearance rack when I spotted a classmate walking toward the checkouts. I didn’t know Titia Torkelson that well, but we got along OK because we’d prepped for a math test at her house once. She was cute enough, except that she wore Jan Brady wire rims that didn’t exactly turn me on. I figured I could use her as a beta test for Bhanu, so I called her over. At first she hesitated, just as embarrassed as I was to be caught in Wal-Mart on a Saturday night. Then she smiled and walked toward us.

I whispered to Bhanu to call me Danny and not Devak.

“Is this necessary?” he asked. He sounded like I’d just told him he had to eat a bowl of boiled turnips. But before I could answer, Titia was right in front of us.

“Hey Tish,” I said. “What brings you to Wally’s tonight?”

She looked at me like the dumbass I was, which was when I noticed the bale of maxi-pads in her arms.
“Just picking up a few things,” she said. “How ‘bout you?”

“Uh, Tish,” I said, motioning to Bhanu. “This is my cousin. Fresh from the Motherland.”

“Welcome to Wapatamwa,” Tish said, with a warm smile.

I’d forgotten how genuinely nice Titia was to everyone. She extended her hand to shake Bhanu’s. He hesitated for a split second and then took her hand. As soon as they touched, Bhanu fell to the floor, right beside a rack of big & tall dress shirts, passed out cold.

Titia and I looked down at him, with no idea what happened. He looked so peaceful you’d have thought he was taking a nap. I tried to shake him awake. “Bhanu? You OK?” It took a few shakes for him to start to come to.

He looked at me like he wasn’t sure where he was or who we were. “What happened?” he asked.

“That’s what I was wondering, Dude,” I said. “You fainted faster than a Kansan at a Wayne Newton concert.”

“Maybe it’s the result of my long trip,” Bhanu said, slowly getting back on his feet. “Maybe I need a good night’s sleep. In Delhi, it’s already tomorrow morning.”

He still seemed a little wobbly on his feet and unsure where he was.

“That was scary,” Titia said, reaching to pay him on the arm. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
Bhanu had forgotten she was standing there. He passed out again. I felt embarrassed for him, and more embarrassed for myself. It wasn’t the kind of impression I wanted Titia to have of my relative or me. I kneeled next to Bhanu and tried to jiggle him awake again.

“I’ve got to go,” Titia said. “Maybe I’ll meet him when he feels better.” She had disappeared before I could look up.

When Bhanu came to again, he asked where she had gone.

“She didn’t want to stand around the rest of the night watching you hit the floor,” I said.

“Do you think she likes me?”

“I’m not sure you made the best impression, except on the carpet here.”

“But she spoke to me, and smiled at me. Her hand was so soft and warm, and I…”

“…passed out,” I said. “Twice. Like I said, not the best impression.”

“Maybe we can arrange to meet again after I’m well rested.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Maybe.”



How has travel played a role in your writing?


I’ve been lucky to have visited Africa, Central America, and other countries multiple times. I even came up with the start of what became The Savior of Turk while in Mexico. But my settings are decidedly small-town American. As much I would like to place my stories in exotic locales, I keep going “back home”. Plus, it’s a lot easier to spell American place names than, say,
Yamoussoukro or Shizuishan.



Tell us about your current release.


The Savior of Turk started as two story ideas. Anyone who’s driven I-75 in Tennessee knows about the enormous cross that was built next to an adult book store. I always wanted to write a story about the person or church that put up the cross. What were they thinking? The other story idea came from my childhood. I grew up in a county in northern Missouri that had no minorities. None. It’s changed a lot since then, but I always wondered what it would be like to be the first minority kid in school. How lonely and difficult it had to be. Those two stories combined to form the genesis for The Savior of Turk.



If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?


No matter what time you visit me, I’ll be a grumpy bear. But deep inside me is, well, another grumpy bear. I mean well, though.




How do you describe your writing style?


Like vomiting. I spew worthless junk onto the page and then go back and clean it up, and clean it up some more until I find any nuggets of value. (OK, enough with the vomiting analogy.) I’ve heard that some writers won’t move on to the second sentence until they’re completely satisfied with the first. I’ve tried to write that way, but I don’t have the patience.


What book are you reading now?


I just finished Candide by Voltaire, which sounds a little pompous as I say it. But it’s a breezy and entertaining satire that’s just as relevant today as it was 250 years ago. It’s sarcastic. I’m sarcastic. We make a good pair.


What is the hardest part of writing your books?



I slog through the first draft. When I was learning to be a reporter in college, I was taught to be concise yet conversational in my writing. I enjoy that part of it—cutting out useless words and phrases while maintaining the personality of the story. However, I can’t do any of that editing until I first have something to edit. So far, I haven’t found a way to skip writing the first draft.



Tell us about your favorite restaurant.


I live three blocks from Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. Bardstown road is “restaurant row”, with a broad choice of eclectic eateries. But my current favorite is Queen of Sheba, an Ethopian restaurant which is a little farther away. First, the food is wonderful. I recommend the engudai tips if you’re a vegetarian. Even better, it’s not only acceptable to eat with your hands, it’s encouraged. What could be better?




What one word best describes you?

A friend once described my personality as “dusty”. I think that pretty well sums it up. I have a dry sense of humor, I think it shows in my writing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


I started my adult life as a journalist, but gave it up when I realized I wasn't going to become Walter Cronkite. I grew up in small towns in Missouri and Iowa, which make my adopted hometown of Louisville look like Manhattan.

I envy the dialogue of Daniel Woodrell, the sense of place of Silas House, and how Wendell Berry makes writing seem deceptively easy. I appreciate Elmore Leonard for being Elmore Leonard. I don't write like anyone but me.




THANKS FOR LOOKING!

6 comments:

Debby said...

I liked your comment about the grumpy bear. Funny. Maybe you are not so grumpy.
debby236 at gmail dot com

wihockeycall said...

This book is definetly on my "to read" list!!


wihockeycall (at) yahoo (dot) com

bn100 said...

I enjoyed the excerpt and interview. The book sounds good.

bn100 said...

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Katrina said...

I feel like I now know really random stuff about the author. Like, you like to eat with your hands. I don't think I even know that stuff about my friends. lol Thanks, though. :)

Laurie said...

Winners have been chosen. The winner of the PRINT book is BN100. The digital winner is Shirley B. Congrats!