Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Attic Piranhas by Marlin Williams : Interview & Excerpt



Max Fagan's life is in a rut until his encounter with Mr. Wong, a wise old sage with mystical powers of prophecy. But that's only the beginning. Max's life is suddenly turned upside down after stumbling across a mysterious machine that promises a quick fix to his problems. Join Max as he discovers one of the well guarded secrets of The Universe that lands him in hot water and sends him and his friend Ramir on some hilarious misadventures.

Somewhere between `Freaky Friday' and a manic Carl Hiassen novel crossed with Grimm's Fairy Tales, `The Attic Piranhas' is a moral tale of redemption. You might find shades of Mervyn Peake's `Mr Pye' or maybe Roald Dahl's `Switch Bitch' - it's a fast read and will keep you amused for an hour or so. If you're down on your luck, a little bit of magic or a hocus-pocus Nazi brain machine might help you find your way back to the straight and narrow. Good fun.

As the novel begins, protagonist Max Fagan appears as a goofy nebbish whose life is in freefall. Fired from his job, he is broke, facing eviction, wandering the streets of Camden, assailed by sage advice from a Chinese hot dog vendor named Wong and harangued by an ambiguous figure named Axon who may or may not be real. The title suggests a horror story, but Attic Piranhas is anything but. It is a quirky and very funny story of a few days in Max's life, with dreams, hallucinations, magic, and the contents of a junkyard included. It is up to the reader to decide how literally to take the various events described; this reader is still scratching his head, but with a smile.

After short-changing Max, Wong tells him, "Money no matter. Change matter," a self-serving but prophetic remark. Max's life changes for the better after buying a strange box in a bookstore with a hot check. This sounds like a tale from Twilight Zone. Such tales usually have a reckoning at the end, so you may wonder if Max will get his comeuppance. Wong would probably dodge this question with some clever fortune cookie quote. I'll simply pass.

Williams has a wild imagination and is a good story-teller. His book is filled with oddball characters like Wong who interact with Max in everyday situations that sparkle in the telling. He is a fine writer, with a crisp style, sharp powers of observation and description, and a wry sense of humor. A seriously funny book.

Highly recommended.


Paperback  |  Kindle  |  Smashwords


       The little black Volvo sputtered and clanged its way across town, chugging to a stop in the all-night supermarket's sparsely populated parking lot.
Ramir began feverishly tearing at his garbage bags.
Max looked at him and asked, "What are you doing?"
Ramir continued ripping away at the plastic. "I’m not going in there dressed like this."
Max reached out and grabbed Ramir’s hand, stopping the assault on the bags. "Stop it; I don’t have any more garbage bags."
He pulled free from Max’s grip. "Buy some." He nodded his head at the Hinkley’s Food sign.
"Even if I did buy more, putting your disguise back on would take time." Max looked at his watch. "It’s almost midnight and you can bet the dump-guy will be at work by five. That doesn’t give us much time." Max cracked his door and shoved it open with his foot. "Now let’s go get the things we need."
A buggy-boy was rounding up all the strays, forming a long line of shopping carts ready to herd across the parking lot. He stopped his endeavors to watch the cloaked Max and Ramir pass by with their tatters of plastic slapping against the wind.
Ramir ducked his head down as he passed and said, "See, now we have a witness."
Max shrugged. "A witness to what? Do you think that someone is going to report some missing garbage from the dump?"
When they reached the entrance, the automatic doors whisked open and they stepped inside to a rush of cold air and the sound of an old Benny Goodman tune pouring from the speakers.
Max stopped in mid-step. "Meat."
The closely trailing Ramir could not avoid the collision and smashed into him.
Max took off walking again.
Ramir caught up with him and matched his pace. He looked perplexed and repeated Max's statement with a question. "Meat?"
"Yeah, meat." Max repeated. He made a sudden turn and left Ramir at the Mrs. Grabnapple's Nummie Nummie Cookies display.
Ramir chased after him and his plastic shell rattled as he hurried up the aisle. He flanked Max. "We’re going to feed Demon?"
Max responded with a tilted smile that carried a touch of malevolence. He picked up a package of lean ground-meat. "That's not all that we're going to do."
"What do you mean?"
Max pointed to the sign at the other end of the store that was hanging from the ceiling. "We're going over there."
Ramir looked up. He nodded his head and smiled. "Oh, I get it now. I think." When he looked back down, Max was gone and he rushed to catch up.
A night stocker stood frozen in terror on aisle seven as Ramir swiftly approached.
Ramir's diligent pace cost him when he came too close to the shelf stocked with Tampons and raked them all to the floor. He managed to squeeze out a high pitched, "Sorry," as he breezed by the stocker. He navigated the aisles until he found Max standing among the pharmaceutical supplies.
Max grabbed a bottle of SLEEP TITE off the shelf as Ramir joined him. "Where have you been? We don't have all night, you know." He held the bottle up and silently moved his lips as he read the back of the label to himself. "This will do it. Now, let’s get out of here before we lose any more time."
Max marched up to the only checkout counter that was open. The cashier was a young girl that looked to be fresh out of her teens. Her long blond hair was neatly pulled back in a ponytail. Her blue eyes were filled with apprehension as Max placed his items onto the conveyer belt.
She nervously reached out, grabbed the package of ground-meat, and ran it across the scanner. It bleeped and she stuffed it into a plastic bag. She did the same for the sleeping pills, never taking her eyes off the men. She managed a shaky smile and asked, "Will that be all, sir?"
Max gave a gentle nod. "Yeah, that’s all."
The girl took her eyes off them long enough to look at the total and quickly brought her eyes back to the plastic-clad duo. "That’ll be ten dollars and ninety five cents."
Max smiled and reached for his wallet tucked away in the back pocket of his jeans, finding it securely wrapped beneath plastic bags and electrical tape. He stuck his butt out and looked back over his shoulder at Ramir. "Rip me."
Ramir backed up with a look of disgust, betraying his inner-vision's opinion of Max’s vulnerable position. "No way, man."
Max stuck his butt out further. "Come on, Ramir, rip me."
The young girl’s jaw dropped and her round-eyed stare was vacant of any type of reasoning at the situation taking place at her register. "I’m calling the manager," she said. "You two are disgusting."
Max waved his hands in the air. "No. Wait. You don’t understand. My wallet is in my back pocket. You see, we're undercover detectives staking out an alley for a drug bust." He tugged at the plastic bag. "These are our disguises."
"Oh my God." A huge smile blossomed on her lips. She pointed to herself. "I’m in my second year of criminology at Val Tech."
"Really?" Max crowed. "I attended Val Tech and that’s where I got my degree in criminology."
"This is the bomb. I mean, way too cool." She leaned across the counter toward him and asked in a low voice. "Are those items for the bust?"
"Yeah," Max said with a gleam in his eyes. "That’s exactly what they’re for."
She settled back behind the counter. "I thought so." She looked both ways before she cleared the register. "No charge."
They took their items, making a hasty retreat. In the parking lot Ramir said, "That was way too close for comfort, Max. I think we should forget about this whole thing before we get caught and spend a night in jail."
Max shook his head. "You know how important it is for me to get the book."
"But what if it's a book of magic, just a bunch of tricks and illusions? I mean the whole thing is crazy."
Max stopped walking and looked Ramir in the eyes. "I've got to bring Kenny back or maybe do a murder rap. I can't do prison. Look at me."
Ramir shrugged. "I don't know, you get free room and board. And workouts." He acknowledged Max's belly with a pat. "You could use a few workouts."
"If I go, you go too. Accessory to the crime or something like that. Comprende?"
Ramir nodded his head. "Let’s go."

Welcome Marlin! Thanks for stopping in and allowing me this opportunity to ask a few questions so we can find out more about you.  How did you start your writing career?

I began my writing career as a freelance writer for online publications about health and fitness. In 2011, I expanded to writing fiction short stories for Hubpages and decided to enter the Hubpages Patron of the Arts Contest. My short story, The Agency, won the overall Grand Prize. One aspect of winning the contest was to have Smashwords format and publish the short story for ebook distribution on their site. They not only published The Agency, but they agreed to format and publish my novel, The Attic Piranhas. My writing career has now become my primary focus. At this time, I have published with Amazon and Smashwords a novel and three short stories.


Where do you dream of traveling to and why?


My wife lived on the island of Kauai for many years. Her descriptions of the beautiful scenery and way of life there, has piqued my interest in visiting. I'd have the advantage of having the best tour guide and see some places rarely seen by the average tourist.

Tell us about your current release.


My inspiration for the novel The Attic Piranhas came from my collection of short tales whose main character was challenged by inner bullies and self sabotage and decided to combine them into a novel. I wrote and reworked and deleted and wrote some more over four months. My wife and I edited along the way. It was more difficult trying to get multiple stories to gel than to start a novel from scratch with a clear outline. I chose the title, The Attic Piranhas, because sometimes, our thoughts can eat away at our mental state.


When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?


I start my writing day in the morning right after coffee and catching up with on-line correspondence. I keep at it most of the day unless other obligations interrupt the flow. When we are in the editing and polishing stage, we can be at it well into the evening.


At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?


I've always wanted to be a writer. My parents gave me a typewriter for Christmas when I was twelve. For many years, life obligations didn't allow much time for creative writing. Now that I am retired I can focus on my dream.


What is the next big thing?


A second novel. It's a techno-thriller. I've carried this idea in my head for awhile, but I now have about twenty-five thousand words down. It's still in the infant stage, but I feel like that I can quickly develop it into a novel. I also continue to write and publish short stories.


Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Living a dream.


About me




Producer and Director


Liberty,Texas,United States


The only thing that I can tell you about myself is that I love to write and I'm self taught. I'm also looking to connect with others in the publishing industry.


I love to have fun--bottom line! I enjoy the moment, there isn't anything else.

Favorite Movies

I've seen a lot of funny ones lately.Bandits and Happy Texas are two of my favorite fun films. The African Queen is one great classic and to Kill a Mockingbird, and The Birds. Those were some of the great classics. Those guys really knew how to lay out a film on black and white.

Favorite Music

I guess I like the older stuff. You know, lots of good memories linked to songs of the 70's and 80's to who I was with and the things that I was doing during that time. I really like to listen to a new movie sound track and conjure up a scene in my mind.

Favorite Books

I love Mark Twain, Neal Doanld Walch, Neville, Sanaya Roman.


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