Returning for MIDNIGHT CLIMAX is the amazing Feodor Chin. Feo was the voice of HUNTERS POINT and I am so pleased that he was able to return as the voice of Kats, Molly, Shig and all the rest. This book features a large number of Chinese and Chinese American characters and Feo did a fantastic job in bringing them all to life.
Every year, Goodreads runs their annual reading challenge. You set the number of books you want to read in the coming year and track your progress. The average number set according to their statistics is 40 books, so I set my goal for the year at 40 books. And smashed that number reading 55 books as of Dec 9, or 138% of the goal.
“Writers are readers,” according to Stephen King who voiced that opinion in his stellar work, On Writing. I completely agree. To me reading is fuel for writing, and this year I had some great fuel!
Best Stand Alone Novel –Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo was a wonderful, unexpectedly poignant journey. The coming of age tale of a young, Chinese America girl in San Francisco in the mid 1955’s is not my typical fare, but the culture and time frame were so complimentary to the world I am writing with Kats Takemoto it truly struck home.
Firsts by My Friends – Congratulations to my friends who made their writing debuts in 2023!
A Chance to Breatheby James Gardner. Fellow Akronite and Firestone Falcon, Jim introduced me to a fascinating time period and group of men who shaped 20th century America. World War I was ending, the Spanish Flu was beginning and these men, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey S. Firestone and naturalist John Burroughs led us to the birth of the American century.
Best New (to me) Series – My friend Uwe Eickert suggested the Sean Duffy series by Adrian McKinty. Set in Northern Ireland in the 1980’s during The Troubles, the series uses a tragic yet fascinating time in history as the backdrop to police detective Sean Duffy. I have spent time in Northern Ireland and have friends on both sides there who experienced The Troubles first hand, so this fictional account helped me to better understand what they went through.
Special mention to the Lincoln Lawyer series by Michael Connelly. I watched the Netflix series and gave the books a try and they are outstanding.
Best Re-Read – In October I had a speaking engagement in Dallas, Texas. My wife, Lisa, had never been so we took the opportunity to spend an extra day in the city. We visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, formerly the Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy from a sixth floor window. In the aftermath of that trip and coming up on the 60th anniversary of the assassination, I wanted to re-read Stephen King’s11/22/63, his sprawling time travel adventure to save the President. After seeing the plaza, the book depository and standing behind the very window from which Oswald fired, the book took on deeper, more resonant meaning. I had enjoyed to book immensely when I read it nearly 10 years ago but the second time through it was even better.
Worst Re-Read – Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. When I first read it in 1993, it was ground breaking and revelatory. Stephenson coined the phrase ‘metaverse’ as the next generation internet and he was quite prescient about many aspects of the virtual world. Avatars, computer viruses. cryptocurrencies and cyber warfare; the ideas fueled my burgeoning sense of the possibilities of the virtual world. I got my first email account in 1991 and logged onto the Cleveland FreeNet during law school – telnet, ftp & gopher baby!
But the second time through the book was less enjoyable. Perhaps it is the nature of visionary ideas that they only remain visionary for a time. Some things don’t age well, including snarky pop culture references. I’m glad I read it again, if for no other reason than it reminded me of a time when I was genuinely excited about technology and the culture it would create.
Super excited to announce the second book in the Kats Takemoto series – MIDNIGHT CLIMAX!
Some friends have raised an eyebrow at the title, so lest you think I have started writing erotica (not yet at least!) I should explain that the title comes from an actual CIA operation of the same name. Operation Midnight Climax was a subset of the better knownMK Ultra project that used psychedelic drugs as a form of mind control. Midnight Climax involved two CIA run brothels, one in New York City and the other in San Francisco, from the mid 1950’s into the 1960’s that used prostitutes to lure unsuspecting ‘clients’ in and then dosed them with psychedelic drugs to study their effects.
I first learned about this strange tidbit of San Francisco history from a column my friend, Gary Kamiya, wrote several years ago in the San Francisco Chronicle. When I first read it, I thought oh my god, there is a story here! You can find Gary’s original piece here.
As previously announced, Hunters Point is now available as an unabridged audio book! Check it out on your favorite platform.
I got to work with Feodor Chin, an amazing actor based in Los Angeles. Feo also does voice work and we were connected through the production team at Scribe Media (thank you to my producer Jeff Guillott!) Feo has a great range and really brought the characters to life. I was also taken with the fact that he is originally from San Francisco and he gave the story his local blessing.
Roy Peter Clark is an esteemed journalist, a former editor of the Tampa Bay Times and a long term faculty director of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies here in St. Petersburg. He is also known as ‘America’s Writing Coach’ due to his prolific authorship of writing resources such as Murder Your Darlings, How To Write Short, and his latest, Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing.” Simply put, he is the writer’s writer.
Earlier this year I was thrilled to have him read and ultimately ‘blurb’ my debut novel, Hunters Point. Now I am even more honored to be among this year’s nominees for the Roy Peter Clark Award for Literature!
The award debuted in 2022 and celebrates outstanding contributions to the St Petersburg story and is presented in recognition of the recipient’s outstanding contribution to the greater St. Petersburg literary community.
Other nominees this year:
Third generation bookseller, Michelle Jenquin of Wilson’s Bookworld, Pulitzer prize winning journalist for the Tampa Bay Times Leonora LaPeter Anton and Lakewood High School librarian Heather Robinson.
The award went to poet and literary activist Denzel Johnson-Green. Congratulations Denzel and keep up the great work!
Thank you to Roy Peter Clark for the support and encouragement and to Keep St. Pete Lit for their work in supporting writers and publishing in the community.
All feedback is appreciated, even the less than stellar, but some is more meaningful than others. I recently received a ‘blurb’ back from someone my publisher had submitted a request to a few weeks ago.
Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar and Vice President of the Pointer Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is also the founder of the National Writers Workshop and known as “America’s Writing Coach.” So you can imagine my response to this commentary:
“I enjoy historical novels with real people bumping into fictional ones. So imagine my surprise and delight when a Japanese-American private detective befriends Jimmy Stewart in “Hunters Point.” Yes, that Jimmy Stewart. It’s a wonderful life Jimmy Stewart. And it’s a wonderful read, Peter Kageyama.”
Roy Peter Clark, author of “Writing Tools” and “Tell It Like It Is.”
I felt like a student who had gotten an A+ and a smiley face from the really tough teacher. Thank you Mr. Clark, I am honored.
Last month my wife Lisa and I were in San Francisco for a few days. We took a walking tour of Japantown (thank you SF City Guides!) and during that tour we walked past 2031 Bush St. In 1942, photographer Dorothea Lange memorialized that location in this photo:
Here we see the processing of Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps. I am struck by how well dressed everyone is and the number of small children.