Good morning writers! It’s that time again, and I have to say I’m thrilled for you to meet Curtis Deeter. He has become a good friend and great support for myself when it comes to my writing. But, if you have yet to read some of the projects he’s been working on, you’ll want to stick around. Let’s dive right in.
My name is Curtis Deeter. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and still have a lot of my work from when I was in grade school (it’s awful, but quite entertaining). I got my first degree in creative writing, but never took advantage of the mentors or resources available to me. I am now almost done with a graduate degree in geography and planning. Yeah, don’t ask. I’m not quite sure how I ended up there, either.
Thanks for joining us today! Could you tell us what you believe makes a great story? A great story is a story that doesn’t feel like a story. Some of my favorite books and shorts have engaged me so deeply I forget I’m reading. If that happens, I think you’ve won as a writer.
I couldn’t agree more. Would you say certain authors have impacted your writing? If so, who are they? Neil Gaiman. Douglass Adams. Terry Pratchett. In no particular order, either. Gaiman for being a master storyteller, Adams for being hilariously inventive, and Pratchett for being a great satirist and fantasy writer. This list could be thirty pages long, but I’ll just stick with them.
Wonderful. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your current WIP? Currently, I have a few projects I’m working on. I have finished the rough draft of my first book, Morning Blood in Mio, along with the initial revision. Set in a small town in Michigan, the book follows a clumsy, would-be detective, his near-mute sidekick Bob, and two honeymooners who can’t seem to avoid trouble wherever they go. The piece is a satire and a murder mystery with a few surprises along the way. It is a lot of fun to write because pretty much anything goes. I’ve laughed working on it and I’ve cried working on it (mostly from laughing). I have a lot of ideas of things I would like to add to it as well. I will be drafting the second book, Chasing Rapture, next month.
Wow, you sure are keeping busy. Congratulations on finishing your first book by the way! It sounds amazing. What do you do when you aren’t writing? School. A lot of school. I am also planning on opening a literature-themed pizza place and bookshop in the city I live in called The Cheesy Reader. I am really excited about it. Owning a restaurant has been as big a passion and dream for me as being a writer. I figured why not combine the two? And downtown doesn’t have a bookstore or a specialty pizza place. Economic development is starting to happen at a fast pace and the next two years or so are the perfect time to take the plunge and risk every penny I have. Ha.
What a fantastic idea. Good luck to you! If you could spend the day with one of your characters from your book, who would it be and why? Um, well they are all kind of idiots. I would probably get into trouble with any of them. Chase Cross, the detective, is the worst of the bunch, but not by much. Bob, his sidekick, is quiet and pretty much clueless about everything and anything. The deputy and Sheriff Brown aren’t the greatest cops in the world, but they care deeply about their town. The honeymooners are borderline dangerous. I’d probably want to spend the day with the statues at the shrine, the Three Jesuses and the Three Marys. Yes, they are characters, too, but only at night. It’s a bit complicated and I’m still working out the details. They are quite entertaining.
I can’t wait to read your novel. It sounds so intriguing. Is your book a standalone or a part of a series or trilogy? It’s part of a trilogy. The second book is a post-apocalyptic satire that takes place after the rapture. And the third book is a sort of restructuring of society. In my mind, they get increasingly political as the story progresses.
Great! Would you mind sharing an excerpt of your novel with us?
Morning Blood in Mio
Chapter One: Runaway Woody
And for the first time in one hundred and thirty-four years, on the Sabbath day, Mio, Michigan celebrated not the life and accomplishments of the Lord and Savior, but mourned the bloodless, premature deaths of the eldest couple in town. Their bodies hung loosely from the top of the Our Lady of the Woods Shrine, a staple of the town connected to the Catholic church. Someone maneuvered them, mid-rigamortis, into a very obscene position much like the midnight rendezvous of their Dachshund and the neighbor’s Yorky. A Devil’s joke. David and Mary Stillman still loved each other after fifty years. Even in death.
The people looked on as the sheriff scratched her head. She tried to workout the best action to take. They quickly realized no one owned a ladder tall enough to reach the lovingly dead couple. The cherry picker on the town’s only firetruck had lurched to a halt well before reaching the apex of the Shrine. The driver backed up through the crowd with his tail between his legs.
Sheriff Grace continued to scratch what her head. Not knowing what to do, Deputy Lawson mimicked her. She never steered him wrong. He squinted hard to get the dumbfounded motion down just right.
A newcomer arrived on the scene. A shrill and elongated scream announced her presence to everyone in the crowd. Members of the congregation tried to hold her back.
“Why don’t you go console the loon, kid,” Sheriff Grace suggested. At that very moment, a solitary loon flew over head towards Mio Dam Pond. Even the birds knew something was wrong. Watch them long enough and you will too.
“But, ma’am,” the deputy said, averting his attention back to his superior. “I can’t fly and I’d have to say that the loon looks quite content up there all on its own.”
“Not the damned bird, you idiot. The young woman causing a riot.” She pointed in the general direction of a tall blond woman wearing matching blue pajamas. Streaks of tears ran down her plump cheeks.
“Right, ma’am. Sorry, ma’am.”
A couple of burly men, employees of one of the local tourist traps, were doing their best to hold the blonde back. She kicked and scratched and bit at them. They struggled to hold on, clearly needing authoritative assistance.
The deputy jumped into obedient, if not sluggish, action. Sheriff Grace continued her gawking and head scratching along with the rest of the crowd. In all her years with the Mio Police Department, she never imagined such a gruesome crime possible. She had a hell of a time getting all of the children away. Before she joined the force, a couple of young men had been murdered over a game of pool. It was an open and shut case. She never thought twice about something like it happening again. And on her watch, nonetheless. Nothing open and shut about the poor Stillmans. No sir.
Why did I skip my second cup of coffee this morning? Sheriff Grace thought. She longed deeply for her second cup. She longed even deeper to be back at the bar nursing a stiff cup of whiskey. Sheriff Grace heard the calming voice of the deputy, even over the rabble. The kid might have been a blundering buffoon, but he sure had a knack for making people feel better in uncomfortable situations. Sheriff Grace just felt, well, equally uncomfortable.
“Miss, my heart goes out to you. Really, it does,” he said.
“We’re gonna’ do everything we can to ease your pains and sufferings. That I promise you.”
“Of course, Miss, justice will be swift, but now we need to pay our utmost respects to your dear grandparents and I need to make sure you’re gonna’ be okay.”
The bits and pieces of the conversation that were audible over the murmur of the crowd reassured Sheriff Grace. How effectively the deputy calmed the young woman, she could only speculate, but one thing was for sure: Mio would be in good hands when and if she ever decided to retire.
The deputy grinned at the sheriff and shot her a confident thumbs up. He embraced the blonde Ms. Stillman, offered one last condolence, and trotted back over to his partner.
“Well what?” the sheriff said.
“Did you see that? Man, I’m good… I mean, er, ma’am.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. She gonna be okay? I can’t afford any more distractions while I’m trying to sort things out.”
“She’s okay, sir. Upset, of course, but a strong woman that one.”
Before the sheriff responded, the sound of tires squealed around the corner from highway M33 and onto 8th Street. A beat up, powder blue station wagon barreled towards the church. The rising sun reflected off of wooden side panels. A cloud of cigar smoke seeped out from cracked windows.
Time in Mio, Michigan stood still.
Young Ms. Stillman’s eyes widened, her jaw dropped halfway to the ground. She quivered in her striped, matching PJs. The deputy’s stupid grin contorted into something horrifying. He planned an exit strategy, but only got as far as covering his eyes with his hands. Sheriff Grace removed her sunglasses and pointed dumbly at the station wagon. The crowd, mesmerized, held their collective breath and pointed even more dumbly.
Mr. and Mrs. Stillman continued to be dead.
Time sped up. As did the powdered blue station wagon. It sped up and lost control, jumping the curb and plowing into the center of the Our Lady of the Woods shrine. Mr. and Mrs. Stillman slid off of their perch and landed with a thud on the roof of the vehicle. The engine sputtered. Smoke came from its exhaust and from Sheriff Grace’s ears. Was this really happening in his town? On God’s day, of all days?
A chubby man wearing a gray, hand-me-down suit flung open the driver side door and stepped out. A avalanche of cans and empty Mountain Dew bottles slid out after him. All eyes watched, as eyes are want to do. He cracked his neck to each side and twisted the kinks out of his hips. He noticed the townspeople for the first time and beamed a bright smile their way. The congregation beamed smiles back before they realized what it was they just witnessed.
The sheriff and the deputy drew their pistols in unison. The chubby man averted his attention their way, but the smile never left his face.
“Hi,” he said, “Name’s Chase Cross. I’m here to solve the, um…” he turned around and saw the two bodies piled on the roof of his car. He pointed at them. “That.”
Thank you so much for sharing! What a great excerpt.
For those wishing to follow Curtis Deeter, head over to his Facebook Author page to show your support by clicking here.
Thanks to Curtis for being such a good sport and allowing me to interview him, and to everyone reading this.
Happy writing everyone.