Today I’m thrilled to have over a dear friend and prolific writer, blogger, and author John Maberry, to talk about his writing and his newest book – The Fountain – Karma Can be Painful. Seven short stories in fantasy and Sci-Fi genres to captivate your imagination.
John is also the author of Waiting for Westmoreland, his memoir about growing up in poverty and surviving the Viet Nam war. I loved that book and you can read my review of it HERE. John refers to himself as a ‘lapsed lawyer’ and also formerly worked for the government.
John also runs two blogs – Johnswriting.com which is an eclectic blog where he shares pieces of his work, essays, humor and whatever else may be on his mind as well as Eaglepeakpress.com where that blog is set up as a quarterly magazine hosting a wealth of information from writers articles to current world topics such as: art, music, advice for living, Buddhism, book reviews and so much more. John also runs a Writer’s Hangout group on Linkedin. I like to refer to John as one with a great mind, wise and scholarly and a good sense of humor. So if you’re interested in all things pertaining to life, humanity, writing, or world peace, you may want to sign up for John’s quarterly E-magazine.
About John: That’s me, formally attired, a rare event even before retirement. We (the wife and I) relocated from our home in Northern Virginia–with its traffic, noise, heat and humidity–to the scenic hills of New Mexico in 2011. After settling into our dream house high atop a hill, in 2013, we have returned to our third age pursuits–quilting for her and writing for me. I had a dream of being a writer since second grade.
Procrastinator that I am, it took until retirement from that day job to really get moving on that dream. So now I can honestly call myself a writer. I am also a lapsed lawyer, a former government employee, a father of two and a 30+ year (in this lifetime) Bodhisattva of the Earth. I’m also a happy man and a funny guy (strange/weird my wife says).
Note: Let me save you the trouble of looking up the word Bodhisattva . The meaning, according to Dictionary,com
Word Origin: Noun – Buddhism
Now that we’ve learned a little about John, let’s get to know more about his thoughts and writing:
Can you share a little bit with us about what inspired you to become a Buddhist?
My illusions were shattered and innocence lost spending a year in Vietnam (1967/1968), protesting the war and living through Watergate. I went on a quest to discover how to make the world a better place. Not surprisingly after years of college and professional school, I finally learned that I needed to change myself to change the world.
I was lazy, a procrastinator and indecisive. I met a woman who had dynamic energy and powerful life condition. I wanted to know why. She took me to a meeting where I saw and heard people with hope and determination. They had what I was looking for. Books on Buddhism confirmed it. In a few months I started practicing and never doubted its value. It’s been 40 years now!
I’ve read you’re captivating memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland. Could you please share with us what it was that spurred you to want to give up law after everything you survived in life and finally became a lawyer?
Lots of reasons. If you ever saw the movie the Paper Chase, you’d understand. Many lawyers, not all, are arrogant a**holes. I need not have been one, but that’s who I would have been associating with. The law firm I had clerked at did incredibly boring administrative law AND they didn’t offer me a job. I didn’t get even get an interview at some Federal agencies I would have happily worked for. While I easily passed the bar on the first try, the challenge of “hanging out a shingle” didn’t seem a financially sensible option. Besides the fiscal uncertainty, it seemed unlikely to offer the time to be a writer. There are few part-time lawyers. J
Please tell us how you came up with the idea of turning your Eagle Peak Press blog into a quarterly magazine.
I self-published my memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland, in 2007. I managed to snag Eagle Peak Press both as a publisher name and later as a website domain. Note that I said the site came afterwards. Not what you’re supposed to do! Sometime later, rather than simply maintaining the façade of a small publisher, I decided that I should at least reach out to readers, in between books, with a quarterly magazine. Keeps my hand in on nonfiction pieces—which my local government career featured.
What sparked you to jump from memoir to writing short fiction?
I just had to write the memoir first. It chronicled my life and how I’d come to be a Buddhist—the strange tapestry of time and causation that wove through problems with people in authority, a year in Vietnam and a prospective father-in-law that wanted to kill me.
I’d always wanted to be a writer, from the second grade when a teacher sent a short story of mine to the Scholastic. I got my first rejection slip way back then. 🙂
I couldn’t be a starving writer, having lived through poverty. I needed a job. Then I needed writing time. Retirement gave me that and a secure income. I wanted to write a novel soon after the memoir. Things got in the way. I got impatient so I put out the short stories. I think that will work out for the best. A sci-fi novel is coming next year. 🙂
I’ve read your new book, The Fountain. It was a wonderful read keeping me intrigued till the end of each story with your signature twisted endings. The stories, although fiction/fantasy, all had some element of human error such as greed, self-doubt or mystery of the unknown. What prompted the ideas of these stories? Was anything in these stories taken from your own life’s experience?
Some came from unknown resources of the mind. Others were influenced by places and events. I’ve always like twists and humor, so they play a part in several. I love George Carlin, Ray Bradbury and O’Henry among others.
The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s TV show from long ago, and the books of Carlos Castaneda inspired the lead story, “The Fountain.”
Vampire stories and a common digestive problem (my wife has it) brought “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.”
My daughter had a Golden Retriever. It had no special talents other than an amazing flexibility in doing a back dance accompanied by unusual moans and other sounds. That and a wandering mind led to “Lily, an Amazing Dog.”
We’ve been to the Maine coast a couple of times. That provided the setting for “The Closet Door.” Outer Banks vacations suggested a setting for “The Flame.” Obviously, occasional writers block played a part in that story.
The rest is all imagination, except for “The Fribble,” which some might notice rhymes with a critter that caused problems on the Starship Enterprise. Trekkies know all about that.
Please share with my readers a little about The Fountain, we’d love to read an excerpt from one of the stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the opening of “Lily, an Amazing Dog.”
The first incident came on a morning walk past the retirement home, along a tree-lined boulevard. A flash of sun off a sliding glass door across the street caught Roger’s eye. A lady in a green dress stepped through the door onto her fifth floor balcony. She smiled and waved, seeing Lily with her plushy frog. It’s a retriever thing—Goldens can go nowhere without carrying something in their mouth. The matron began watering a potted ficus. He looked away momentarily.
A loud sound of rending metal drew his attention back to the building. With silver hair streaming and dress flapping like a flag in a stiff wind, the woman plunged from the collapsing balcony. Lily barked at the sight, dropping her frog. In that brief moment, a shimmer appeared in the air. The woman disappeared into the flickering space, never hitting the ground. Lily barked again, before picking up her frog and moving on with the walk as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
Thank you John, for taking the time to visit with us here today. As you know I’m a big fan of your writing and look forward to reading your future work.
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