Dining With Characters: Part One: Revisited

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I enjoyed this series several years ago, and I thought it was time to revisit these posts. I hope you enjoy them.

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The other day I was thinking about which 2 or 3 fictional characters I would like to sit down with over coffee, tea, or beer and with whom I would like to have a conversation.  When I first thought about it, I believed it would be an easy choice to make, but then I realized that there were so many that I would have to do this in parts.

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For the initial meeting, I thought I would extend an invitation to Merlin from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gandalf from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (not from The Hobbit), and Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to join me over beer, mead, or even butterbeer, if that were preferable at a nice Public House.  I chose  these characters because they are central figures in three works that are deeply important to me, not only from the perspective of study but also from the enormous pleasure I have had from reading these works. I have taught all of them in different classes, primarily at  the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I love to reread these writings over the years.

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I am fascinated by the connection among the three of them, all wizards in tales of British mythology. Among the questions I would want to ask would be: Do you see a connection among yourselves? Do you approve of your portrayals in the writings? and Are you descended from the Druids?

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I think this would be a lively and enjoyable conversation, although if too much was drunk, I wonder what inebriated and arguing wizards would be like.

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Who would you choose to invite to such an event?  I would love to hear your choices.

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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Available on Amazon

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Roosevelt Franklin’s Guilty Pleasures: Revisited–from Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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Roosevelt Franklin, the protagonist in my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, is a man who does not allow himself many indulgences. Despite being able to afford almost any whim he might desire, he does not grant himself many. He does, however, have two guilty pleasures that he loves to enjoy: fine cigars and good whisk(e)y. The spelling depends on if the alcohol is American, with an “e” or Irish or Scotch without the “e”.

Even though he has a heart condition and is 68 years old, he refuses to give up smoking one cigar and drinking a couple of fingers of whisky each day. He knows that he is on the downslide of life, but he does not intend to give up these enjoyments.

Roosevelt prefers strong cigars. He is a lover of strong flavors, from coffee to whisky and cigars. His favorite is a CAO Brazilia Churchill length. This cigar is intended for experienced smokers, with a deep, rich flavor and powerful smoke. Roosevelt chooses the Churchill length because he likes to make the experience last, usually at night and paired with a good whiskey.

Roosevelt enjoys good American bourbon and Irish and Scotch single malt whiskys. His favorite bourbon is Maker’s Mark, a standard of excellence. It is rich with a strong flavor, but it is also very smooth. His preferred Irish whisky is John Powers, a very smooth drink. His favorite single malt Scotch whisky is the 18 year old Macallan, as Roosevelt calls it—the finest whisky in the world. It is smooth, rich, and strong, with no bite. It is a perfect dram of whisky.

At the moment, Roosevelt is drinking a rare single malt Scotch whisky–the 15 year old Macallan, which is very smooth and has extremely deep and complex flavors.

Roosevelt certainly understands that not everyone will agree with his opinions on these cigars and alcohol, and he respects others’ views, but he holds firm on his sentiments.

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(images from personal photographs)

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

A Guest Post for the ULS, The Underground Library Society, by Jennie Fitzkee

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Thank you to Jennie Fitzkee for her guest post for the U.L.S., the Underground Library Society. She deals with a book that is easily misunderstood as being racist, and she details that the story is really about India and not African-Americans. It is important to make the distinction between perception of racism and actual racism, as Jennie does.  Now for her post:

In 1899 Helen Bannerman wrote a children’s book, Little Black Sambo, after she and her husband had lived in India for thirty years.  Helen was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, and she fondly remembered those years in India.  The classic story is about a little boy who outwits tigers in the jungle.  I dearly loved this story when I was a child, particularly the tigers turning into butter when they ran in circles around the tree.

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The boy’s name is Little Black Sambo, his mother is Black Mumbo, and his father is Black Jumbo.  That is perhaps (most likely) the root of controversy and the banning of this book.  Over the years people have projected the story to be about blacks in the south.  Different versions were published, even a board game.  The degradation of blacks was both sad and appalling.

 

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And so, it was banned in many places over the years.  “A typical pickaninny storybook which was hurtful to black children.”  Those were the comments and reasons for banning the book.  When I heard the story as a child, I also thought the characters were blacks from the south.

 

Fast forward to 1996.  Fred Marcellino, an artist and illustrator, read the story.  He said, “There are no racist overtones.”  And there are none.  Zero.  It’s merely the perception because of the names of the characters.  So, Fred illustrated a new edition of the book.  He did not change one word of the text.  He simply changed the names of the characters to be authentic to India – Babaji, Mamaji, and Papaji.

 

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I read this book all the time in my classroom of preschoolers.  They revel in chanting the words of the tigers.  They love the book as much as I did as a child.  We do play performances about this book.  Really!

And of course, tigers live in India, not the southern states in America.  So, shame on those naysayers and book banners.  They should have known better.

I vow to memorize the words to this classic story.

Thank you Jennie for the post, and welcome to the U.L.S.

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What Do You Enjoy About Writing?

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Writers have many aspects to what they do, and creating a book is a large and arduous task. It often requires research, numerous drafts, editing, and proofreading to name some of the components.

And this is hard work.

But why do writers do this work if they do not enjoy what they do? I think most writers do take joy from their efforts, and I think they find reward in it. I would like to hear from you what you enjoy in the act of writing.

It would be completely legitimate, as I tell my students when posing a question to them, to ask me: what do I enjoy about writing?

Well, many aspects occur to me, but what I enjoy the most is the act of story-telling, of creating characters and seeing what happens to them.

So, I ask: what do you enjoy about writing?

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GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Sam’s Hot Chili–Revisited! A recipe from a character from Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French

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In my horror novels Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I,  and Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2, one of the main characters is Sam, a retired homicide detective.  In his spare time, he fancies himself a good cook of basic foods, and one of his favorites to cook and eat is spicy chili.

I was thinking about what some of my characters like to eat and cook, not necessarily because this information appears in the novel, but because the more I know about the idiosyncrasies of the characters I write, the better I can show them. This idea is similar to actors creating biography sheets for roles they are playing.

So, what is this recipe?

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Sam’s Fiery Bowl of Red Goodness

Ingredients:

One pound chuck roast,
One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes,
One Spanish onion,
One sweet green pepper,
One poblano pepper,
Four habanero peppers,
Two chipotle peppers,
Two jalapeno peppers,
One can dark red kidney beans,
One can black beans,
Ground black pepper,
Twp. cumin seed

(Because this is chili, substitute more or fewer peppers according to taste and heat preference.)

The process:

*Cube the chuck roast, then sear completely in a hot, slightly oiled pan,
*Place in Dutch oven (Sam uses a well-seasoned cast iron pot) with crushed tomatoes,
*Slice the onion and green pepper and add to tomatoes,
*use a hand mortar and pestle to crush the cumin seed, and add to Dutch oven,
*add black pepper,
*de-vein and remove seeds from chilies—BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THESE WITH YOUR HANDS!!!!! If you do, wash your hands thoroughly and do not touch your eyes. Yes, I am speaking from bad experience. Use a small food processor and make the chilies into a mash. Add to the Dutch oven,
*bring to boil, and then reduce immediately to a simmer.
*With about one hour left in the simmering time, drain and add the two cans of beans.

This is very important—do not cover during the simmering. Check the chili every 20 minutes or so, and if needed add a little water, and stir. The chili cooks best if done very slowly and uncovered.

Give it about 10 hours to become fully tender and mixed.

Sam also likes to add cheddar cheese or sour cream to the bowl when serving. Good Italian or French bread also works.

But be warned, with the chilies Sam uses, this should become a hot bowl of goodness. If you want it milder, go to one or two habanero peppers.

Enjoy!

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Interview (part 1) with K.D. Dowdall, author of The Stone Arch Secret

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It is my honor to interview K. D. Dowdall, the author of the new romance mystery novel The Stone Arch Secret. This is a wonderful book, and I will soon post my review of her novel, but I can say that I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

First, I want to thank K. D. Dowdall for agreeing to the interview. So, let us begin.

Some writers have very particular schedules and places for their writing. Do you have a particular approach?

I have a writing/library room where I read, takes notes, develop ideas for writing the next novel and then I write.  I usually have most of the story, the beginning and the end in my mind before writing, very much like a synopsis and then the characters take over. 

 

When you think of your readers, what do you hope they get from your novel?

A book that is well-written, interesting, authentic, heart-felt, and honest. And, maybe come away with a new perspective of the world around them.

 

How would you describe your writing style?

I write with a poetic touch, generally, inasmuch, as I love to write very descriptive scenes  for emotional responses to different backgrounds, whether it is a church, a country road, a forest,  or a river running swiftly under a bridge. Often, I do this so that the reader can visualize a past memory or experience about what they are reading in my story.

 

Do you have a particular genre that you enjoy reading?

I like most genres, but I suppose I favor Historical Fiction.

 

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Some of my favorites are: Stephen King, Umberto Eco, James Joyce, Jack London, Joseph Conrad, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Anderson, Libby Hawker.

 

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown, and Catling’s Bane by D. Wallace Peach.

 

What books and/or writers have inspired you?

On Writing by Stephen King, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Dubliners by James Joyce, The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Tidewater by Libby Hawker, Far From the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, The Wolf and The Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and poets like John Keats, E. E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sara Teasdale, and of course, William Shakespeare.

Once again, I want to thank K. D. Dowdall for agreeing to this interview. Part 2 will be posted soon.

You can find more information about Karen’s writing at these sites, and please treat yourself by getting a copy of her novel, The Stone Arch Secret.

The Stone Arch Secret is available on Amazon

https://karendowdall.com/

https://www.facebook.com/karenddowdall

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Helen Murray’s Homemade Chicken Soup

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Helen Murray, first appearing as a client and then a warrior in my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1, has become in Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2, a full member of this society. Originally, I had envisioned this series to be three books, each featuring one of three older gentleman who made up the group, but now there will be a fourth book, and that will focus on Helen.

Continuing with my exploration of the characters’ love of food, I will offer Helen’s homemade chicken soup, a simple, but delicious, meal.

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It begins with a baked turkey!  After cooking and enjoying the bird, Helen carves all the meat, leaving only the bones.  Then she makes her own stock.  She places the bones in a large stock pan, adds carrots, onions, curly parsley, celery, and any other vegetables she might have handy.  Then she adds water close to the top of the stock pot and brings the water to a boil. She turns it to a simmer and lets it cook  for 8-9 hours. After it is finished, Helen carefully removes the vegetables and bones and strains the broth and stores it in the refrigerator over night.

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The next day Helen makes the soup!

INGREDIENTS: (all of these ingredients are included by choice, except the stock and chicken. Use the amounts you desire)

*turkey stock

*boneless chicken thighs (1-2 pounds)

*carrots

*corn

*green beans

*other vegetables as desired

*1 lb bag of wide noodles

*black pepper and salt (as desired)

*dill weed

*touch of paprika

Process:

Combine ingredients into stock, except for noodles.

Heat slowly for several hours.

Season to taste.

With approximately 10-15 minutes to go, add noodles (if desired).

Serve and enjoy with good bread!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview