Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Simon Plaster, author of TRACKS: A Curious Tale of Who's Her Daddy?
FQ: Simon Plaster...the King of Satire...I missed Henrietta a great deal. Please tell me how the "Who’s Her Daddy premise came about; and when you decided that American Pickers would play a great part in this new book?
PLASTER: Is that you behind that mask, Amy? What the hell, we’re on phone TV, thousands of miles apart. Am I in danger of catching something? I am kinda techy about...As a matter of fact, the “Who’s Your Daddy?” idea came to me same way it came to Buford Bailey in the tale. Fellas of our generation lived in fear of being told we were somebody’s daddy, on account of gals setting down on unwiped toilet seats. As for the Pickers angle, I put it in the book with hopes of catching the TV show’s attention. I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff I would like to get rid of, but so far, no luck.
FQ: I have to ask, because of the cavalcade of characters you create, is there ever a time when the journey gets confusing? Or, do you have your notes all collected and drawn out before each character comes into play?
PLASTER: I am not one to plan ahead, so for me, all journeys are confusing; not so much in a cavalcade as in a stroll through a boardwalk penny arcade, where characters jump out at you from every which direction. I have dropped many a merlot snow cone in startled surprise.
FQ: In addition, where do you come across these titles? Balls: A Tale of Radical feminism and a Girl; BOO! A Chilling Tale of Too-Too #MeToo, etc. Were you born with with this gift — pen and paper in hand as a boy — or did the need to write come along at a later date? Do you title the work before you begin, or at the end?
PLASTER: Like most boys, I reckon; it wasn’t a pen or paper I had in my hand most of the time. As for book titles, they come at the end when I read what I wrote, but my publisher, Marty Lowry, puts them at the front.
FQ: When you began Henrietta’s books, did you know this was going to be a series starring a recurring character? In addition, is there a particular character you’ve taken a shine to that will, perhaps, earn their own set of books one day? I would think Maximo Morgan would make a great modern-day P.I.
PLASTER: Writing down my first tale, titled SUMBITCH!, I thought Henrietta was a minor figure I would likely never come across again. Only when I read what I wrote did I see that she stole the show, which is why I changed the sub-tile to A Tale of Bigtime College Football, and a Girl. And it’s funny you would ask about writing more about Maximo Morgan. I would like to tell private detective tales, but dang it, having got a taste of gumshoe work, Henrietta is now set on becoming a private eye her own self.
FQ: Many author’s say they are not in the driver’s seat when it comes to their books. So, along those lines, has Henrietta ever shocked you? Was there a time when you were typing away and suddenly what you thought you were going to write went off in a completely new direction and you were left “following” Henrietta to see where that character was going?
PLASTER: Well, yes and no. Henrietta is what you might call “grounded.” She is not well educated but smart. She has plenty of self confidence, but is not uppity. She has character, and in that way is predictable. On the other hand, while not shocked, I have been disappointed in her choices of boyfriends; not a one of them have been worthy of her attention. In that way and others, she can’t be “grounded,” not by me. Whereas I am glad she has put aside notions of a journalism career — also not worthy of her — I have my doubts about how she is going to do as a private detective.
FQ: Do you travel to book events, shows, etc. — or even have a blog — where readers can contact/meet you? If so, can you share with us one of the most memorable stories you have between you and a reader/ fan?
PLASTER: I will not travel, do shows or etceteras, not since Marty Lowry sent me down to the Mexican border on a bus for a book signing. The convenience store had only two copies of my book, both wrote down in Spanish, and I did not make a dime for my exertion. My tales are my blog. Anyone wanting to say something in my direction can write to email@example.com, which is what my reader/fan — Bennie Hana — does from Osaka, Japan. Bennie also sells knives that will cut through steel, though lately — thank the Lord — I have had no need of them.
FQ: Besides your own, do you have a particular present-day series of books starring a P.I./detective that you explicitly like to read? Because of your quirks and intelligence, I would think Lincoln & Child’s, Xavier Pendergast would be a favorite.
PLASTER: Never heard of ‘em. But Julia Child was once a real life spy; I watch re-runs of her TV cooking shows. And I still listen to records made by Xavier Cugat’s dancing singer, that gal named Charo who rumba dances to Cuchi-Cuchi tunes.
FQ: How important do you feel the facets of publishing are in regards to book covers, editing, marketing, etc.? And which do you find the most difficult of them all to master?
PLASTER: My particular publisher — Marty Lowry at Mossik Press — makes editing, marketing and etcetera impossibly difficult for himself. On the other hand, he works with a gal named Kristen McGregor at Astrea Creative, who creates covers worth buying a book to frame and hang on a wall.
FQ: Can you please give us a sneak peek of what you’re working on now; and whether you have a new Henrietta from Henryetta idea already percolating.
PLASTER: Already percolated and in the can, so to speak, is GREEZERS: A Tale of Establishment’s Decline and Fall, which will come out soon as readers have had a chance to fully digest and put behind them — so to speak — the TRACKS book.