The Brubury Tales is your first book. What’s it about?
The Brubury Tales is a modern version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales set in Los Angeles just after the riots. Instead of pilgrims, The Brubury Tales follows 7 security guards on the graveyard shift, who agree to have a storytelling competition to determine vacation time. That is, whoever tells the best story receives the best vacation days, the week from Christmas to New Year’s Eve.
The judge of the competition is the narrator, J.T. Glass, an English major at UCLA who describes the events and some 13 stories (“word for word” ) that are told throughout the night. The stories themselves (based on classic writers’ works) are funny, sad, serious, political, romantic, religious, literary, satirical and downright dirty pieces that explore family, love, religion, race, marriage, government, education, sex and most importantly, friendship and our responsibilities to one another.
Why did it take so long to write?
I never expected or even planned to write a book like The Brubury Tales, and I never imagined that would take almost 8 years to complete. The whole thing started as a personal challenge. I only wanted to write the General Prologue as a kind of homage to Chaucer and his classic work. But my General Prologue won some awards, was published by Indiana University and started to get some serious attention. So I ended working with a Chaucer expert at UCLA on a special class designed just for this project. At the same time I was also working with Carolyn See, my mentor, who encouraged me to finish the book.
But still. Why did it take so long to finish it?
Well, The Brubury Tales, like The Canterbury Tales, is written entirely in rhyming verse. That’s 233 pages or 65,000 words (8,000 lines) – a full-length novel written entirely in rhyming poetry. I also paid special attention to make the poetry fun and accessible, just like Chaucer’s. If I was going to ask readers to read 233 pages, I wanted to make sure the poetry (while challenging thematically) was easily understood and enjoyed – unlike a lot of today’s poetry, which can be challenging and difficult to understand without the help of a professor or expert.
What if the readers have never read or even heard of Chaucer or The Canterbury Tales?
Since this is a modern version of Chaucer’s story, readers do not need to have read the original to enjoy The Brubury Tales. For those who have, however, there are hundreds of references in the Brubury Tales that you may enjoy discovering throughout the text that link back to the original and other classic works. Hopefully, my book will inspire readers to return to or check out Chaucer for the first time.
Where is your book available?
The Brubury Tales is available in paperback and eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Borders.com.
Besides Chaucer, who are some of your favorite writers?
My top ten right now would probably be: John Fante, Charles Bukowski, Carolyn See, Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, Knut Hamsun, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Pushkin, Salinger.
What new projects are you working on?
My next book will be a collection of the short stories I’ve had published over the years while writing The Brubury Tales.
What else do you do when you’re not writing poetry or short stories?
I’m a technical writer (financial writing), and I’ve been a book reviewer and author interviewer for many years. I guess most of my time is spent writing, reading or writing about what I’ve read.
Really? Who are some of the authors you have interviewed?
Some of my favorite author interviews are: T.C. Boyle, Lev Grossman, Lisa See, Charlaine Harris, Elif Shafak, Cristina Garcia, Paul Levine, Rafe Esquith, Robert Dugoni, Seth Harwood and Gint Aras.
What authors would you like to interview?
Right now, I’d say the top five are Junot Diaz, Terry McMillan, Christopher Moore, Cormac McCarthy and President Obama.