Introducing Harry Shannon: While a newcomer to the mystery scene, his new title, MEMORIAL DAY, is sure to create a big buzz! Read on.......
Review and synopsis of MEMORIAL DAY:
Years ago Mick Callahan was riding high. As a celebrity psychologist he got all the girls, booze, and drugs that any one man could want. But of course, what goes up must come down, and come down he did. Hard. Now he’s making a guest radio appearance near his old stomping grounds, a one horse-town called Dry Wells, Nevada. Things continue to go down hill, when right after his appearance he runs across a dead body. He promises the sheriff to keep things quiet, but life gets even more complicated when the following day a girl he once knew is also found murdered. Soon Mick, who has much to atone for, sees his one chance at salvation may be to find out why. And so with the help of a young computer whiz named Jerry, and his A.A. sponsor Hal, Mick begins digging deep into the secrets of this tiny town---along the way reluctantly facing his own brutal and distressing past.
Mick’s road to redemption is wry, bittersweet, and altogether touching in this notable and brilliant new addition to the mystery genre. And Mick is all we love to see in a fallen hero; vulnerable, insightful, and just simply a likable guy. The secondary characters also shine, especially young Jerry who is funny, sweet, and charmingly naïve. Shannon picks apart this small desert town with finesse and grace, and gives the reader a poignant and stirring story that is also filled with suspense and just the right amount of darkness. We hope to see more of this wonderful cast and crew from an author who has proven he’s got what it takes to excel.
1. Tell us a bit more about Mick Callahan; his background, what has shaped him, etc…
I’ve known guys like Mick all my life. He’s a redneck at heart, but way too intelligent to be comfortable in the high desert culture that he came from—yet he is still too “country” for the city. As a result he tries all kinds of professions and pursues his varied interests, yet never feels like he belongs anywhere. His childhood was hardscrabble tough and often violent, but most of the time he takes that part in stride. After all, he’s never known it to be any other way. His ‘Nam vet stepfather abused him and made him fight other kids for money under the guise of teaching him to be a “real man.” His mother died when he was a boy, so women are a mystery to him. Mick is a mass of contradictions, as are most people I find truly interesting. He is an alcoholic who washed out of the Navy Seals, a failed pop psychologist and TV star, a young man who is an “almost” at anything he does. He’s brilliant, but troubled and self-destructive. He’s kind, but with a mean streak. His cocky, but his self-loathing keeps him oddly humble. He’s gentle, but wild in a fight.
2. Why so many demons for Mick?
One of the Greeks wrote “Of whom much is given, much will be asked.” I see Callahan as heroic because he doesn’t see himself that way. He has a lot of gifts (intelligence, glibness, looks, athletic prowess, empathy, courage), but God gave him a load of problems to go along with that fairly cool package. And that is generally the way it is in life, or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’m a therapist.
3. He’s such a fully realized character that one has to wonder how much of him comes from the three-dimensional world?
Yeah, I put enough of myself in Mick to make me cringe a bit at times, to be honest. Yet although my childhood was troubled by alcoholism, infidelity and some violence, it was not nearly as bad as what poor Callahan endured. A friend of mine named Joe Donnelly accidentally contributed a couple of personality quirks, the basic black Irish look and the broken nose, and the rest just came to me during re-writes. In some ways, Mick created himself. As for the rest, I spent my summers on my grandfather’s ranch in upstate Nevada, so I drew on those experiences (and the historic little town of Wells, Nevada) to create my mythical “Dry Wells,” its inhabitants and the Callahan family tree.
4. Where did you get the idea for this novel?
Well, the first scene that hit me was this poor kid, a fallen TV idol, and now the best gig he can land is guest hosting something like the Art Bell show, talking about flying saucers and anal probes. I imagined the station being out in the middle of the desert, like Area 51, and then realized that if it was broadcast from where he grew up, the whole thing would be even more humiliating. I started working from that point, as he is beginning to claw himself up from disaster. I liked the tragedy and conflict of that beginning.
5. Tell us a bit about the difficulties in getting from idea to print.
I started the novel right after my daughter was born, and it came out within a few days of her fifth birthday. I finished a couple of drafts, found an agent and got rejected by a couple of publishing houses, then went back to work rewriting it. Somehow I got distracted by an old “horror” genre novel I’d fooled around with in the early 1980’s (“Night of the Beast”), and that got published first, by Medium Rare Books in trade paperback. So I wrote a follow-up hardcover for them, “Night of the Werewolf.” Ed Gorman (who had read NOTB) emailed me one day, just saying “You sure can write.” Since I admire Ed, I thanked him and we started chatting. He asked me what I really wanted to do, and I told him mystery and crime fiction. He asked if he could see something for Five Star, so I sent him “Memorial Day.” That was over a year ago, and it finally came out May 13th. This writing thing is difficult, frustrating, enormously time-consuming…Yet when I finally held that new hardcover in my hands for the first time, it gave me quite a thrill.
6. What are your writing habits?
I am a therapist, but I take at least one or two weekdays off to just write, deal with correspondence, plot ideas and so on. My wife has an amazing amount of patience, and tries to give me a few hours alone every weekend. I have learned to write pretty much whenever I can steal the time. I need long stretches of time (with earplugs in) to get that first version on the computer, and that is the hardest part. Once I have a first draft, I can work in bits and pieces to rewrite and polish.
7. You have such a varied background, did any of this come into use in your creation?
Sure, since I worked in music and motion pictures for much of my life, I understand show business and the pressure it puts on people. I got sober over eighteen years ago, so it was natural to have Mick struggle with some of the same demons. As I said, my childhood in Nevada (I was born in Washoe County) gives me a great imaginary world to place Callahan in. I reckon I used everything I possibly could from my own life, and then made up the rest. Callahan isn’t me, but there is certainly a lot of me in him. I think it is always that way for a first-person character.
8. Who, or what, inspired you to write this delightful tale?
I have always wanted to try my hand at a mystery. My first four novels have all been set in some part of Nevada, because that landscape is so vivid in my memory, although a thriller I just finished is all in and around Los Angeles. I think the motivation, if not inspiration, came from the birth of my first and only child, Paige. I was 50 and my wife was 42. I realized if I was going to write, I may as well get going. Having to pay for a wedding and college had something to do with it, I suppose…I also just want her to be proud of her old (read OLD) man.
9. And finally, can we expect to see Mick again?
The second Callahan adventure is tentatively entitled “Eye of the Burning Man.” I am polishing it up this summer. I do not have a deal for it yet, but I wanted to have the sequel finished in case there is enough response to the hardcover of “Memorial Day” to generate some mass-market interest. That is where Callahan really belongs, I think. And I really like Mick. I want to work with him for a while. I have a few different novels in mind already. As of now, I may switch his stories to third person as of the second book—I just like how he reads that way—which might make the Five Star First Edition Mystery version (in first person) a collector’s item someday. Who knows, right?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Medium Rare Books.com released Harry Shannon’s first signed, limited edition horror and noir short story collection “BAD SEED” in June of 2001. His debut novel “NIGHT OF THE BEAST” was the first in a trilogy set in northeastern Nevada. It was released in 2002 to rave reviews. The equally acclaimed “NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF” won the Tombstone Award for Best Novel of 2003. The final book, “NIGHT OF THE DAEMON,” debuted in August of 2004.
Harry Shannon’s first noir novel, “MEMORIAL DAY (A Mick Callahan Novel),” which takes place in the fictional Dry Wells, Nevada, was a hardcover release from Five Star First Edition Mysteries in May of 2004. “Memorial Day” received advance praise from crime novelists Bill Pronzini, Paul Bishop, Barbara Seranella and Thomas F. Monteleone and was very well reviewed.
Shannon has been an actor, a singer, an Emmy-nominated songwriter, a recording artist in Europe, a music publisher, a film studio executive and worked as a free-lance Music Supervisor on films such as “Basic Instinct” and “Universal Soldier.” He-is also a counselor in private practice. Although primarily a novelist, he has sold many short stories to mystery and horror genre magazines including “Cemetery Dance,” “Horror Garage,” “City Slab,” “Futures” and “Gothic.net.” Shannon recently contributed a 25,000 word mystery/horror novella to a new Cemetery Dance limited-edition collection called “Brimstone Turnpike,” as well as short fiction to several horror anthologies, including “Family Plots,” “Tales from the Gorezone” and “The Fear Within.”
Readers can contact him via his website, http://www.harryshannon.com or via his
Message Board at http://www.horrorworld.cjb.net/