( #GarySutton, #OskaloosaMoon )
Image Credit: Tim Snell
Sometimes this little blog creates fun opportunities for me (without me having to do a thing). This post just so happens to be one of those situations. Last week a writer named Gary Sutton came across my Amazon profile and then my website (to send me a note). We exchanged emails about his most recent book “Oskaloosa Moon”. Gary kindly agreed to answer a few questions after I finished reading it.
“Oskaloosa Moon” is the story about a young man with a facial deformity growing up in Iowa in the 50/60’s. His deformity instigates a few adventures and (of course) causes issues. Other readers have mentioned similarities to Forrest Gump and now that analogy is stuck in my head. While there are similarities, Sutton’s story does not sugarcoat the harsher aspects of our society—this book is not a fairy tale.
Before we get into the book, I thought your named seem familiar. There is a Gary Sutton that writes financial books—is that you?
I’ve written a few business books. The most recent was “Corporate Canaries” by Thomas Nelson and “The Six Month Fix” by Wiley.
How did you get into writing?
Started liking the process in high school. Thought then that I wanted to write a book one day. Vietnam interrupted and then family. Took about three more decades before I had anything worth saying and it started with a series of business books. I felt I had enough literary license to the analogies that it seemed possible that I could write a novel. So I did.
Where did you get your inspiration for “Oskaloosa Moon”?
I think much of the book is what I experienced and what I saw. Some of it is what I imagined could have been. My junior high and high school girlfriends refuse to read it believing that it’s my story—it bothers them too much.
Did you have to do a lot of research to get the geography down?
No problem at all; this is where I grew up. I’ve been to every locale. But, I did have a lot of old friends scan the manuscripts for accuracy and added details…except those two girlfriends who couldn’t bear the story.
Moon is a complex character. While reading the book and trying to get into his head, I had a hard time deciding if he was an outright genius, a savant, or had a slight learning impairment. What is your official position?
With apologies, I don’t have one. He’s what you think he is.
Moon’s physical disability is a major plot point in the book—you waited a chapter to reveal that information to the readers, why did you hold off instead of giving the reader the information right away?
Telling all quickyly is journalism. Holding back is fiction. Journalism is information delivered efficiently. Fiction is entertainment unfolding.
The book gets pretty dark towards the end—why did you choose that direction?
There was an actual incident here in San Diego that inspired that. A deformed young man named Dale Akiki was wrongly imprisoned. The story reasonably tracks some of the things that happened to him.
One of the characters, Mr. Nordstrud, was written out of the book rather abruptly—was he always intended disappear or did you plan to revisit him at some point?
He’s a composite of some helpful adults along the way who nudged me away from trouble and pushed me towards better directions. No… I had no plans to revisit the character. Some of those good people disappear.
The main antagonist of the book (Dr. Throckmorton) plays like a classic comic book villain. Did he always exist as such a bastard or did you ever envision a more sympathetic (shades of gray) version of him at some point?
In fact you are so right, there was no evil guy in my small towns. But—the Superintendent and the Principle of Ames High did try to withhold my diploma.
As a writer, what is your opinion of eBooks? I read Oskaloosa Moon on a Kindle, and I am just curious what a published pro thinks of this new distribution model. Do you think it will be better for writers by cutting out the publishers (eventually)?
I view this as an inevitable business model, but feel bad about the gradual and steady loss of print and longer stories. I still don’t have a Kindle, iPad or NOOK but will soon, just to not be left behind. No, I don’t think it will be better by cutting out publishers. I’ve already had two novelas stolen and columns resold without permission, and so, the ease of digital theft will hurt the middlemen a lot but also the providers just as it did to music.
I want to thank Gary for this time and for writing a very engaging novel. Mr. Sutton is working on a few books at the moment: a revision on a non-fiction book for college seniors on how to snag that first paycheck and he is hoping to publish a new fictional novel in 2012.