Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Andrew Barger Interview About Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849

Interview with Andrew Barger on the makings of his latest anthology: Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849.

Q: Last question first. What is your favorite science fiction story in the anthology?
A: I love them all or I would not have included them. But I would have to say that "The Iron Shroud" by William Mudford is right up there.

Q: The only headshot of William Mudford is from a painting until now. How did you get the image used in the anthology.
A: I always try to include the face of the author so readers know what they looked like. Many anthologies would increase their quality if they would only do this, but so few do. What I did was I commissioned an artist to take the pixelated painting of Mudford and do a new illustration. That is what is in the anthology.

Q: What were some of the prevailing themes you found in these early science fiction stories?
A: Hot air balloon trips. They were all the rage in Europe and America. People dreamed of crossing the Atlantic with this new technology that would only take them a few days instead of the weeks required to cross the Atlantic by ship.

Q: Was there much science in the fiction stories from 1800-1849?
A: I was surprised to find that terms like electricity, aeronauts, mesmerism, androids, perpetual motion, velocipedes, diving bells and parachutes were commonly used in the first half of the 19th century. Robots were called automatons  Today we think of those people as simpletons, but that was not the case. The science fiction stories reflect that.

Q: Why are there no Mary Shelley stories included in the collection? Isn't she the godmother of science fiction?
A: Surprisingly, the author of Frankenstein did not write any short sci-fi stories. One would think she would have dominated this space. She wrote a very good novella called The Last Man, but her short stories did not contain science in them despite some mystical elements. If you reread Frankenstein you will see that there is not much science in the novel, either. Mary Shelley was not an engineer or scientist and it shows in Frankenstein

Q: Who was the first female to write a science fiction story in the English language?
A: Assuming none of the anonymous stories found were penned by a woman, then Lydia Maria Child--the abolitionist author--wrote the first science fiction story by a woman.

Q: Were there any key years for short science fiction stories in this fifty year period?
A: In looking over the publication dates, there were two very important years out of which a number of the best stories came. The first was during 1835 when people on both sides of the Atlantic had dreams of crossing the ocean in hot air balloons. Writers latched onto this public enthusiasm to create sci-fi tales where the balloons went ever higher, with some reaching as far as the moon. The stories were: "Leaves from an Aeronaut" by Willis Gaylord Clark; "Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel, L.L.D. F.R.S. &C. at the Cape of Good Hope" by Richard Adams Locke; "Glimpses of Other Worlds" by Thomas Charles Morgan; and "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe. Nine years later, in 1844, there was another remarkable surge in science fiction short stories: "Recollections of Six Days' Journey in the Moon," which was published anonymously; "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (first biological science fiction story); "The Aërial Burglar" by Percival Leigh (perhaps the first steampunk short story); and "[The Balloon Hoax]," "Mesmeric Revelation," "The Premature Burial," and "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" all by Edgar Allan Poe (later being perhaps the first physical time travel story). So 1835 and 1844 were banner years for short sci-fi stories in the English language.

Q: What other surprises did your research uncover?
A: I may have uncovered the first steampunk short story: "The Aerial Burglar." I found it in the iconic London magazine called Punch. It was the Mad Magazine of its day. I was also surprised to find that Lydia Child wrote the first cryogenics story: "Hilda Silfverling, A Fantasy." No one speaks of Lydia Child today when talking about science fiction stories, but she was a true pioneer.

Q: How did Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne change the genre?
A: Both figure prominently in the early science fiction stories. I like to say, as with the horror genre, that Poe did not invent it but he came pretty close to perfecting it for this 50 year period. I call it the Poe Complacency. He wrote so many stories at such a high level, it is easy to grow complacent with them . . . that is until you put them shoulder to shoulder with the best stories being written by his peers. Then it's jaw-dropping. Poe wrote about one-third of the best horror and science fiction stories for this period. That is amazing. Both of these American authors have multiple stories in the collection. Hawthorne wrote the biological sci-fi short story.

Q: You have edited a number of anthologies that include the best short stories from 1800-1849 such as the best werewolf, horror, ghost and vampire stories. And you have found a number of stories that are quite good but have not been republished in nearly 200 years. Did you expect this?
A: Actually, no. I expected the anthologists to have found stories like "The Lighthouse" or "The Black Vampyre" or "The Deaf and Dumb Girl" or "The Rival Mechanicians" the later story being included in Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849. But I have been unable to find them in any other anthologies. I am excited to be able to uncover these great stories and shine a light on them so that they can be rediscovered again.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review of Sineater by Elizabeth Massie

I was drawn to this book because of the title and since I read a horror book every October, I thought I would give this a spin for 2013. And it's not a very good sign that I finished it around Christmastime.

What I liked about Sineater were the "keep you guessing until the last chapter" ending and the realistic voice used by the young characters when writing letters to each others, complete with misspellings. The novel is a Bram Stoker award winner after all. Unfortunately, the novel dragged for me. I never felt emotionally attached to the young protagonist. It's as if there is an unwritten law that no humor can be used in a serious horror novel. Who started that, Lovecraft? At times some of the horror was over the top and some of it felt cliched like the use of rats in one chapter (Every modern horror book just has to have them!). There were also a number of typos that were annoying (yes, they make me lose my train of thought) and surprising for a hardback edition.

For these reasons I give Sineater middle of the road marks and wish it had been more in several areas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spin's 2013 Best Music Books Leaves One Dizzy with Dismay


This week Spin Magazine published its list of the "best music books of 2013." After browsing the list, it is readily apparent that the title is misplaced. The list would be better called "The Best Music Biographies of 2013" or more aptly, "The Finest Non-Fiction Coffee Table Rock Books of 2013 with a Few Graphic Pictures Books Thrown in for Good Measure."

Coming up with the list must have been heart wrenching. One can hear the drama in the editorial room now.

Spin Associate Reader Dude: "I liked reading Michael Connelly's Trunk Music and have you ever heard of The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades? It's about this two person band that has broken up and the guy goes off to Europe searching for her to get the band back together. Its the first book in a trilogy--"
Spin Grand Pooh-bah Editor: "Are there are lots of glossy pictures in the books?"
"Uh, no. They are novel.s"
"Then they deserve no place on the list!"
Spin Associate Reader Chick enters the editorial room. "I just loved The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy. The cover could use some work, but I liked it. One Night with a Rock Star by Chana Keefer rocked, too. They are nice romance novels that involve rockers."
"Are there loads of cartoon drawings in the books?" asks the Spin Grand Pooh-bah Editor
"Uh, no. They are novels."
"Then they deserve no place on the list!"
"Oh, no. We forgot to put Gabba Gabba Hey: The Graphic Story of the Ramones on the list. Can we republish it?"
"Not a chance. Maybe next year the Ramones will publish a sequel. Yo Gabba Gabba: I Wanna Be Committed to the Ramones but Only in Graphical Way."

No one expects literary comments from those who review the lyrics of Mariah Carey and Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys for a living. But Spin readers deserve to at least be turned on to a few rock novels for their literary pleasure. There's always hope with the new year upon us.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Papier Mâché Poe?

My daughter recently brought home from school a scary Papier Mâché Edgar Allan Poe she made in art class. The sculpture is complete with a beating heart on the floor and a gold bug crawling up Poe's leg! Maybe I've been talking a little too much about Poe while writing Coffee with Poe and editing Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Annotated Works. But then again, a kid cannot go wrong with Poe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What was the First Vampire Story Set in Venice?

It is common for the setting of modern vampire stories and movies to be placed in the haunting city of Venice, Italy. With its Gothic palaces and watery landscape, Venice is perfect for those who wake at night and seek their prey. In 1836, however, only a handful of vampire stories had ever been written. That's when the popular French author Theophile Gautier wrote "Clarimonde" and published it in the French magazine La Morte Amoureuse. The tale is undeniable as one of the first vampire short stories and it was included in BlooDeath: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849.

Friday, November 29, 2013

30% Off My Books This Weekend at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Those of you procrastinators who have been holding off on buying my books until a good deal comes around are in luck. Get 30% off any of my books at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble through Sunday, December 1st. The coupons are good online so you won't even have to fight the holiday crowds to bag the discount.

At Amazon use coupon code: BOOKDEAL

At BN.com use coupon code: BFRIDAY30

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Answering Questions on The Divine Dantes This week

The nice folks over at the New Adult group on Goodreads are hosting a Q&A with me all week about my latest novel The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades (Infernal Trilogy #1). You can ask questions here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1582616-q-a-with-andrew-barger-open-for-new-questions

What is The Divine Dantes trilogy?

If "The Divine Comedy" and "Catcher in the Rye" met on a smoky lawn at a rock concert, "The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades" would be the outcome.

Reviews: “. . . a lively and good-natured work with a great deal of humor and wordplay . . ..”
—Publisher’s Weekly Reviewer

“ . . . reminds me a little of the fun I find in Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Moore, but he definitely has his own vibe . . . .” —Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

This New Adult novel is the first in a trilogy of laugh-out-loud books paralleling Dante Alighieri's classic poem, "The Divine Comedy," where the characters of The Inferno are encountered in modern times with surprising results. At the center is Eddie, a young rocker who is heartbroken after his girlfriend, Beatrice, leaves for Venice. This not only ends their relationship, but also the world's greatest two-person rock band. At Beatrice's request, Virgil-their erstwhile manager-cum-travel-agent guides Eddie to Europe to meet her without Eddie being in on the secret.

Will Eddie want to see Beatrice? Will the band get back together? And if it does, can Eddie settle on a name for it?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Asteroid with Comet-Like Tales and the First Comet Science Fiction Short Story in the English Language

The Hubbel telescope has recently spotted a strange asteroid with six comet-like tales. Whenever I hear interesting scientific news like this I always want to know if (and when) science fiction authors first wrote about such an event.

Turns out in 1835, Sir Thomas Charles Morgan (1783-1843)--husband of the popular novelist Lady Morgan--came pretty close. He wrote the first science fiction short story where the protagonist rides on a comet that he controls by a "filial or two" of concentrated gravity. The tale is called "Glimpses of Other Worlds" and you can find it my recently published anthology - Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849.

Friday, November 8, 2013


There has been much discussion about John Polidori, the young Italian doctor that travelled with Lord Byron and who wrote the first vampire short story in the English language. Polidori titled it "The Vampyre" and the story was published in 1819.

But who was the first American to write a vampire short story? That honor belongs to Robert Charles Sands, a lawyer and poet. His excellent story was titled "The Black Vampyre: A Legend of Saint Domingo" and it was published only a few months after Polidori's vampire story in 1819. "The Black Vampyre" is difficult to find. I spent time at UC San Diego spooling through microfiche and then copying the individual pages, which then had to be scanned into a computer. I included it in the award-winning BlooDeath: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849, along with a lengthy introduction about Sands and the interesting bond that joins these earliest vampire stories in the English language.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Balloon Trip to the Moon - Only 193 Years in the Making

For only $75,000 balloon trips to the moon are being offered. Will it actually work? Check out this video. Technology has finally caught up to a science fiction writer who described of these types of trips in 1820.

Years before Edgar Allan Poe' popular "[Balloon Hoax]" tale, another was published that not only sent the first earthling to the moon in a balloon, but when he arrives, he meets the first lunarian whose name was Zuloc.

What was the name of the first sci-fi short story of a trip to the moon in a balloon and who wrote it? You can find the story and my thoughts on who the author was in Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Classic Vampire Anthology is a Finalist in the International Book Awards

BlooDeath: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849, has been selected as a finalist award-winner in the anthology category of the International Book Awards. Pretty cool. So what's in the book?

The collection unleashes the greatest early vampire tales in the English language. Unearthed from long forgotten journals and magazines, I uncovered the very best vampire short stories from the first half of the 19th century. They are collected for the first time in this groundbreaking book on the origins of vampire lore.

The cradle of all vampire short stories in the English language is the first half of the 19th century. I combed forgotten journals and mysterious texts to collect the very best vintage vampire stories from this crucial period in vampire literature. In doing so, I unearthed the second and third vampire stories originally published in the English language, neither printed since their first publication nearly 200 years ago. Also included is the first vampire story originally written in English by John Polidori after a dare with Lord Byron and Mary Shelley. The book contains the first vampire story by an American who was a graduate of Columbia Law School. The book further includes the first vampire stories by an Englishman and German, including the only vampire stories by such renowned authors as Alexander Dumas, Théophile Gautier and Joseph le Fanu.

I added my scholarly touch to this collection by including story backgrounds, annotations (physical book), author photos and a foreword titled "With Teeth." The ground-breaking stories are:

1819 The Vampyre - John Polidori (1795-1821)
1823 Wake Not the Dead - Ernst Raupach (1784-1852)
1848 The Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains - Alexander Dumas (1802-1870)
1839 Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter - Joseph le Fanu (1814-1873)
1826 Pepopukin in Corsica - Arthur Young (1741-1820)
1819 The Black Vampyre: A Legend of Saint Domingo - Robert C. Sands (1799-1832)
1836 Clarimonde - Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Who was the First Woman to Write a Werewolf Short Story?

Who was the first female to write a werewolf short story in the English language? In researching my anthology Shifters: The Best Werewolf Short Stories 1800-1849 I uncovered a tale by Catherine Crowe (1790-1872). She called it "A Story of a Weir-Wolf" and published it in 1846. Despite the rather boring title, its a fine lycan tale. At first she appears to be the first woman to write a werewolf story in the English language, but them I remembered that "Hugues the Wer-Wolf: A Kentish Legend of the Middle Ages" was attributed to Sutherland Menzies (1806-1883). That tale was published eight years before Crowe's story. There are some who believe Menzies was a pen-name for Mrs. Elizabeth Stone. If so, she was the first woman to pen a lycan story.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Came Back Haunted is Classic NIN Flash Fiction

"Came Back Haunted," the new single by NIN, gets my vote as one of the best song titles to come around in a very long time. Much more than just a song title, though, it's flash fiction. Those three little words conjure three hundred ghost stories in this spectral month of October. "Need more coffins," is one I thought of...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Announcing "Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849" My Latest Anthology

Andrew Barger, award-winning author and engineer, has extensively researched forgotten journals and magazines of the early 19th century to locate groundbreaking science fiction short stories in the English language. In doing so, he found what is possibly the first science fiction story by a female (and it is not from Mary Shelley). Andrew located the first steampunk short story, which has not been republished since 1844. There is the first voyage to the moon in a balloon, republished for the first time since 1820 that further tells of a darkness machine and a lunarian named Zuloc.

Other sci-stories include the first robotic insect and an electricity gun. Once again, Andrew has searched old texts to find the very best science fiction stories from the period when the genre automated to life, some of the stories are published for the first time in nearly 200 years. As expected, the founding fathers of the short sci-fi story are present including Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Read these fantastic stories today!

Best Science Fiction Stories on Amazon

Best Science Fiction Stories on Barnes & Noble

Best Science Fiction Stories on Google Books

Best Science Fiction Stories on iTunes Bookstore

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Best Rock Novels List Posted

I have just posted a list of some of the best rock novels on Amazon, including The Divine Dantes (of course). You can check it out here and rock on: http://www.amazon.com/lm/R13D9XL3NXX3YM/ref=cm_lm_pthnk_view?ie=UTF8&lm_bb=

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cover Reveal for "Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849"

Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849 Edited by Andrew Barger

It's a holiday weekend here in America and what better time to reveal the cover for my latest book: Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849? Soon I will announce what great sci-fi stories I have uncovered, some of which have not been republished in over 150 years. Meantime, the ebook is out now if you simply cannot wait. You know who you are!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - A Maniacal Masterpiece of Literature

Product Details

My literary hat is off to Ken Kesey for writing one of the best English language novels of the 20th century! It belongs on the shelf next to Flowers for Algernon, The Catcher in the Rye, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, and other great American novels that took characters to new heights in the past century. The title of novel is taken from a children's rhyme:

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest shines brilliance in every corner of the dark asylum in which it's based. It's a place where patients are hosed down, tied to their beds at night, their mouths stuffed with colorful pills to make them behave and if they don't, if they should dare challenge the bulking nurse--Miss Ratched--they are given a ticket to the amusement park funland called the electro-shock therapy lab.

The novel is told from the POV of an American Indian who has no business being in an insane asylum other than to escape his oppressive upbringing. Times are hard until McMurphy enters the asylum. The Jack Nicholson movie of the same name is quite good, too, but even the great actor cannot measure up to McMurphy, the character he plays in the movie. He lands in the looney bin for no other reason than to escape a hard labor sentence for his crimes. That's when the fun really begins as he incites the others to stand up for themselves against the oppressive regime.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was published in 1962, nearly 120 years after Charles Dickens toured the North East insane asylums of America, which he recounted in his "American Notes." There he told of a cruel system that did little to rehabilitate the insane. Edgar Allan Poe and many others felt Boz did American wrong when he returned to England and wrote his unflattering account. Three years later Edgar Allan Poe would pen one of the first English language short stories set in an insane asylum ("The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether"), in which he lampooned many politicians of the day as analyzed in Edgar Allan Poe's Annotated Short Stories, which I edited.

Sadly, little had changed from the Victorian Age of Dickens and Poe, to the early 1960s when Kesey published OFOCN. The novel, however, did what Charles Dickens was unable to do by changing the way the insane were treated in America. It's still not a perfect system and probably never will be, but one that is less reliant on drugs and that has nearly eliminated lobotomies. So says my aunt who spent nearly her entire career as a nurse in an insane asylum. I can still remember as a boy, sitting wide-eyed around the table, while she told of the many fascinating things that when on there. Some of them were funny and some were downright creepy. I thought it would be impossible to attempt to capture these fascinating characters into a novel. Heck, I thought it crazy to even try.

Yet, Kesey has somehow accomplished it. He has distilled the experience (based on his own time spent working at an asylum) into one fantastic novel where freedom triumphs over oppression and conformance, when it is coherent and not drugged up or sent smoldering to bed after a few hundred volts were applied to the temples.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Why I Transcribed a New English Translation of the Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains (Pale Lady) by Alexander Dumas

In 1848 Alexander Dumas published "The Vampire of Carpathian Mountains" (also called "The Pale Lady") in his French short story collection One Thousand and One Ghosts. It is a fantastic book that contains some of the best supernatural tales Dumas ever penned. And if you have at least a reading knowledge of the French language, it is well worth the effort of flagging it down on Gutenberg.org or some other site.

Of course if your French needs a bit of a refresher from high school, it becomes a more difficult task. This is especially true of what I believe to be its signature horror tale: "The Vampire of Carpathian Mountains". When I published BlooDeath: The Best Vampire Stories 1800-1849 in 2011, I included an 1848 translation from the London New Monthly Magazine. It was the rag, after all, that printed John Polidori's "The Vampyre" in 1819, which is also contained in my collection and is considered the first vampire short story to originate in the English language. So I figured the New Monthly Magazine knew a thing or two about vampire stories and would give the English translation the attention it rightly deserved.

Only after I published the classic vampire anthology did I realize I was wrong. It was brought to my attention that the original French version by Dumas included a poem that was nowhere to be found in English translation by theNew Monthly Magazine. Not only that, but the ending seemed rushed. I turned paler than a person under the throes of vampirism. I had done what is a no-no for one of my collections--I had published an abridged version of a classic short story and fallen victim the horrible magazine practice of trying to save space on the printed page.

With the aid of a translator in Montreal and a little help from online translators, I went to work. A month later I had in front of me an English translation of the "Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains" in a form that is much closer to what Dumas originally intended. I immediately updated the ebook versions of the collections and they are live now with the non-abridged story. I hope you enjoy it and forgive my faux pas

Friday, July 5, 2013

Azra'eil & Fudgie - Free Short Story on Kindle This Weekend Only

Azra'eil & Fudgie, one of my favorite short stories, is free on Kindle this weekend only: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006K1G21O/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006K1G21O&linkCode=as2&tag=bottletreeboo-20

In Azra'eil & Fudgie a group of marines stationed in Afghanistan meet a cute little girl who is not all that she seems. This only adds to the tension for Private Fudgerié ("Fudgie") who is on his first mission to diffuse IED roadside bombs that the team calls "skulls". The question is, can Fudgie overcome the demons of his past and those of the present to triumph in the ever shifting sandscape of Afghanistan?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Strange Video of Tasha Found on the Internet, Claims she Used to be in Eddie Nad's Band

This webcam video was found on the Internet by someone named Tasha. She says she used to be in a band that Eddie Nad had going. I thought I would post it here. She references The Divine Dantes trilogy.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review of The Annotated Alice

book cover

The Annotated Alice contains both "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and the follow-up book "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There" by Lewis Carroll (the penname of Reverend Charles Dodgson). "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" gives us a number of whimsical characters that we all know (the hookah-smoking caterpillar being my personal favorite) and manages to turn the machinations of a queen who wants to chop off everyone's head into comedy. There is no greater modern portrait of the queen than North Korea's Kim Jong Un. "Fire a nuke!" is his frequent phrase, though just like the queen, he never follows through with it.
Queen Kim Jong Un - Off with his head!

But back to The Annotated Alice. The later book is much better than the first because of how its underlying theme follows the movement of characters on a chess board. This likely the first time that has been accomplished in the literature, or at least to such a level. And for that alone Carroll deserves his place in history. Carroll even gives a nice foreword regarding the particular moves. Beside the underlying theme, what I liked most about the second book is the "Jabberwocky" poem. Its creation of words, introduction of a new literary monster, and rhythmical structure make it one of the finest things Carroll ever wrote. It has been tagged a "nonsensical poem," which makes no sense in itself. Carroll defines the words he has created in the story. The poem has a setting, characters and a monster. What is nonsensical about it? The creation of new words pushes languages forward in time and is vital to any language or it will die off like so many ancient languages have over time. If Carroll gave us nothing more than "Jabberwocky" he would have earned his rightful lofty place in our Hall of Literature.

As for this edition, the annotations are wordy and the editor, at times, seems to be searching for something to annotate in these children's books. It is a little much at times and distracting from the actual story. The addition of more photos of Carroll and the Liddell children and Alice Liddell as an adult, etc. would have made this edition more interesting such as the many photos in Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems. For that I give this edition middling marks.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Interview About My New Novel - The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades

Andrew Barger Interview


The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades

(Book #1 Infernal Trilogy)

Q: Dan Brown has written a novel called The Inferno that includes symbolism from The Divine Comedy. Are there any similarities between your book and Dan Brown's?

A: I say this without having read his book, but I am pretty sure no two novels that draw from the same poem could be any farther apart. I wrote the first draft in 2008 and revised it in 2009. The book was also registered the copyright tin the book. Then I shelved it and finished off my first short story collection: Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles. My wife, Kyra, kept referring back to the characters and different scenes in The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades. After a few months of this I finally got the hint that she wasn't about to let me quit on the novel or the trilogy. In 2011 and the early part of 2012, I finalized book I. With the dialogue and idiosyncrasies of the characters fresh in my head in 2012, I immediately wrote The Divine Dantes: Paella in Purgatory (Book II) and The Divine Dantes: Cruising in Paradise (Book III) in the last half of 2012 and first half of 2013, respectively.

Q: What is your favorite English translation of The Divine Comedy?

A: The Henry Wadsworth Longfellow version is the one I favor because there you have a nineteenth century poet translating a poet from the Middle Ages. To me, a poet stands in the best position to understand where another poet is coming from even though centuries divide them. It takes one to know one.

Q: Why did you include some of the classic illustrations of GustaveDoré in the books?

A: I think Doré has come the closest of any illustrator to getting it right, to drawing on paper what Dante must have been envisioning in his mind. Ray Bradbury in Something Wicked This Way Comes said that "Hell never looked better," when referring to the Doré illustrations of The Divine Comedy. There is a scene in book I where Edward T. Nad is forced to walk around Washington D.C. in his bathrobe. This fit perfectly with the illustration of Dante walking in his robe. I had to use it for that section of the book.

Q: Speaking of Edward T. Nad, you did a great job capturing the unique speech and actions of a twenty-something rocker. Were you ever in a band?

A: Unfortunately, no. It would've been a lot of fun, but the problem is I can't play any instruments. As Eddie would say, "That never stopped the Backstreet Boys!" My youngest daughter is crazy good on the piano. I have no idea where she got it seeing how I can't play one note.

Q: Do you have a dream band you would have liked to be in?

A: The Cure. I even blog about the band once in a while at disintegrationnation-cureblog.blogspot.com. The four hour, epic sets they have been playing from their extensive back catalog are unbelievable. I wish they would put out a new album, but I won't get into that here.

Q: In The Divine Comedy Dante does not meet Beatrice until the end of the second book. How was this a challenge in drawing parallels to the original poem?

A: That was one of the biggest obstacles I faced when starting to write The Divine Dantes. Eddie is a larger than life character. I wanted Bea to be even larger. The problem is, as pointed out, that Bea does not make an appearance on the chariot until the end of the second book. To introduce her sooner I used back-story and introduced her right in the prologue. Certain flashbacks keep her in Squirt Guns in Hades, along with the lyrics she wrote for the band's songs.

Q: You mentioned the songs of the band. Edward Nad has trouble settling on a name for the band.

A: Boy, does he ever. I had a lot of cool band names kicking around in my head and so I incorporated them in the story. There are over sixty of them. I dedicated a page on my Website that contains the entire list. For any fledgling band that adopts one of them, I give them free advertising.

Q: Do you have a favorite?

A: "Beelzebubbas" for a Southern rock band always puts a smile on my face. "Apocalips" for a girl band is cool, too. Don't get me started!

Q: Why did you set book I in Florence, New York instead of Florence, Italy?

A: There are a couple reasons. I wanted Eddie to be an American rocker and to be from New York. I set the start of book I in the fictional city of Florence venued in Upstate New York. Eddie, who has never flown, is not a Big City guy.

Q: You created a Facebook page for your main character, Edward Nad. Why?

A: It's a way for Eddie to live on outside the pages of the trilogy. Maybe it's digital therapy for me. I was sad when I finished the trilogy. I felt like I knew the characters better than most of my friends. When Eddie posts at facebook.com/Edward.nad.9 about all things rock-n-roll, it allows him to live outside the books and to have friends in the real world.

Q: Is there any Edward T. Nad in you?

A: (Laughs) More than I would like to admit.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My New Novel - The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades is Published!

The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades

My new novel is now published! A heartbroken young rocker. A bunny costume. Former girlfriend in Venice. A literary romp across continents to get her back while meeting the characters of Dante’s The Divine Comedy in a messed-up, modern world.

Eddie is a frustrated twenty-something rocker who is heartbroken after his girlfriend, Bea, left for Venice. This not only ended their relationship, but also their two-person rock band. Eddie’s so down and out he has taken to dressing up in a bunny costume and waving to traffic in front of a travel agency to make ends meet. At Bea’s request, Virgil—their erstwhile manager-cum-travel-agent—guides Eddie to Europe to meet her once again without him being in on the secret. Will Eddie get (back) his girl, settle on a name for the band, and rid himself of the bunny costume chaffing?

If "The Divine Comedy" and "Catcher in the Rye" met on a smoky lawn at a rock concert, "The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades" would be it.

Sample Reviews: “[A] lively and good-natured work with a great deal of humor and wordplay . . ..” —Publisher’s Weekly Reviewer

“[R]eminds me a little of the fun I find in Carl Hiaasen or Christopher Moore, but he definitely has his own vibe . . . .” —Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

About the Trilogy: THE DIVINE DANTES is a trilogy of comedic—rock—love story novels paralleling The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso of Dante Alighieri’s classic poem,The Divine Comedy. In it the characters of The Divine Comedy are brought to life in modern times through a series of laugh-out-loud events.

Buy today: $9.98 Book $2.99 e-book

The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review of The Great Gatsby **Spoiler Alert**

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

This is the second time I have read The Great Gatsby and it will likely not be the last. The first was for the extreme pleasure that the novel yields and this most recent time was to study how Fitzgerald did it. As a writer I am constantly peeking behind the literary curtain of others writers to see how they did it; how they pulled off the fictional magic trick. In this instance it was to see how Fitzgerald levitated Daisy through this Jazz Age classic novel.

To me, Daisy is the most interesting character in TGG and the most damning. She is infinitely complex and impossible to nail down just like the varied guests that float in and out of Gatsby's parties. Daisy drifts through rooms and people's lives as she does life. It's not a stretch to realize that Fitzgerald based her on his wife Zelda who he called "the first American flapper." Both Daisy and Zelda were from Southern states: Kentucky and Alabama, respectively. They were unrestrained and had a thirst for living a wealthy lifestyle. For Gatsby, he was driven to bootlegging in an effort to quench this insatiable desire by Daisy. Fitzgerald took to writing novels, which after a number of years of writing them myself I can tell you of their many similarities. The difference between writing novels and bootlegging is that one can get you thrown in jail, cause you to drink heavily, and make you become associated with criminals. The other is bootlegging.

It's easy to imagine Zelda and F. Scott flying down some New York back road in their coupe, off to partying another Jazz Age night away. Easy indeed. Fitzgerald can, after all, write a party scene like no one else in the literature. He had lots of practice in his life. In TGG the party scenes never stop, each one is bigger than the last; each gala trying to outdo the other. Still, Fitzgerald wrote even better ones in his short story collection Flappers and Philosophers that is not to be missed.

TGG is unsurpassed in capturing the Jazz Age, one of the most wild and reckless (and fun!) periods in American history. It could only have been captured in the way that it was in TGG by a great artist who had lived it in spades. In my view Gatsby is one of the most sympathetic characters in literature. Why is he vilified? He was just a guy, like millions before and after him, trying to impress his girl. He wanted her unconditional love and never got it. Ultimately she got him killed. Daisy. The one who was guilty of vehicular homicide and love suicide. Daisy. The one Fitzgerald magically levitated like the Zelda of his own life. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Free eBook Prologue to The Divine Dantes: Squirt Guns in Hades

I've only published one book in the last year. I know, right--slacker! Why? Because I've been hard at work on The Divine Dantes trilogy. To whet your appetites, I'm offering the prologue for free. This is the OTHER modern book based on The Inferno. Synopsis:

A heartbroken young rocker. A bunny costume. Former girlfriend in Venice. A literary romp across continents to get her back while meeting the characters of Dante’s The Divine Comedy in a messed-up, modern world.

Eddie is a frustrated twenty-something rocker who is heartbroken after his girlfriend, Bea, left for Venice. This not only ended their relationship, but also their two-person rock band. Eddie’s so down and out he has taken to dressing up in a bunny costume and waving to traffic in front of a travel agency to make ends meet. At Bea’s request, Virgil—their erstwhile manager-cum-travel-agent—guides Eddie to Europe to meet her once again without him being in on the secret. Will Eddie get (back) his girl, settle on a name for the band, and rid himself of the bunny costume chaffing? Check it out today!

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-divine-dantes-a-prologue/id641931615?mt=11

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-divine-dantes-andrew-barger/1115218783?ean=2940044494510

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Divine-Dantes-A-Prologue/book-SeGo-JVQnUKGB2s3CsR_IA/page1.html?s=JxTTjmKmBE-bNTsv7IVuSw&r=1

Kindle ($.99): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CCGF41A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00CCGF41A&linkCode=as2&tag=bottletreeboo-20

Website: www.AndrewBarger.com