Reader Reactions & Anecdotes


09 August 2008

Faraway Places

As a World War I baby boomer, I’ve been around long enough to have been dazzled by a lot of far-out stuff in a lot of far-out places, from five-cent candy bars in Depression-frozen Kenmore, NY, to a man-made rig digging ditches on Mars. I mean, for an American who was transfixed by his daddy’s 1927 crystal set radio and later marveled over the advent of his own 1951, toaster-size, single-channel TV, it’s no surprise that he’s awestricken by a household computer that can connect him — in mere seconds — with three residents of a town with the intriguing name of Pontypool Torfaen.

It may be no big deal for you young’ns, but for me it’s a mindblower. I don’t know a soul in Pontypool Torfaen — never even knew there is such a place — and now it turns out (thanks to Google) that it’s a charming village in the UK. And, incredibly, several of the villagers are regular readers of my blog.

How do I know this? Well, I have engaged a monitoring system that keeps an up-to-the-minute record of visitors. Individuals are never identified — I couldn’t find out who they are even if I tried — but the time they log onto my web site, the pages they favor, the time they spend with me, and the nations, cities, and counties in which they’re located are available to me with a mere click. There’s also a map of the world, and an illuminated dot designating each visitor’s location makes it a map with an advanced case of measles. Of course in big cities like Washington, London, and Paris where hundreds of computers tap into the blog, the dots beget more dots and become supernovae. But in really important cities like ’s-Hertogenbosch Noordbrabant, the Netherlands; or Contagem Minas Gerais, Brazil; or even Hastings, Nebraska; the dots are proudly singular. And I feel a special delight, a sense of drollery, seeing them there.

I swan. Who in the heck in such remote places could possibly be interested in the ruminations of an octogenarian klutz in St. Augustine, Florida? Eh? Whee-e-e-e!

But the counter service has a way of keeping me from getting a swollen head over all this, too. Just when I begin to think, “Holy molely, looka all them there hunderdsa dots in Philadelphia!” the monitor serves tangentially to give new reality to the old saw which claims a prophet is without honor in his own home town: this evening, as I write this, the counter shows that I have nine readers in each of Dudley, in the UK; and Vught Noord Brabant, in the Netherlands. It also shows that I have only eight readers in St. Augustine.

* * *

Changes to “Chapter 1”

There’s been considerable interest in “Chapter 1,” a regular feature given to the opening chapters of my various novels. The idea was to give readers who love to read an idea of just how a writer of thrillers and intrigues goes about snaring the readers’ interest. But I had the idea before I actually re-read the beginnings of the novels after the passage of many years, and now, like so many other of my ideas, it doesn’t seem to hold water.

Fact is, I’d forgotten that the openings of some of my novels aren’t all that “snarey.” Some of them open with narrative passages that are given more to “setting up” the story, with the “snarey” stuff held off for later in the yarn , when the deceptive droning is broken by all hell letting loose. So to avoid putting folks to sleep with assorted setups, the “Chapter 1” link will now be called “Suspense Samplers.

The section will dig into the more chewy, suspenseful areas of my works so that the reading addict can get a tiny fix without first having to wade through “the dark and stormy night” stuff. The setting up will be by way of introductory matter, laying out how and where the story was born and the various obstacles or challenges that evolved.

Of course, the whole idea, from my sneaky, conniving, wretchedly avaricious author’s point of view, is to trigger the reader’s addiction and send him reeling off to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, where he will plunge into an orgy of stocking up on these old titles and thereby help me to pay off the sneaky, conniving, wretchedly avaricious tradesmen and tax collectors who surround my circled wagons.

(A fanfare and portentous music here)

Toward that unapologetic end, we begin this week with an excerpt from Sweeney’s Run, a novel of derring-do conceived during the heyday of international drug smuggling.

Joking aside, orgy or not, we hope you enjoy it.


Copyright © 2008 by Jack D. Hunter.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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