All Things Writing

Meet Your Heroes and a review of the book "The Mussorgsky Riddle"

April 12, 2022 Bryan the Writer
All Things Writing
Meet Your Heroes and a review of the book "The Mussorgsky Riddle"
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the show all of my wonderful listeners. For those of you keeping track, this is episode 83 of the show. You could be anywhere, but you are here with me and I appreciate it. Thank you all for tuning in on this fine day.

Today we are going to talk a little bit about what happens when you get the chance to meet your heroes. No, I don't mean like Superman, Spiderman, Bat Girl, and my personal favorite, the nice lady that makes my coffee at the stand at work. And yes, she is a superhero in my book.

I am talking about the heroes in the writing world that you admire not because they have amazing abilities. Well, okay maybe they do. Amazing abilities to write that is.

Who are mine? Well, before we get to that, take a listen and I will tell you about an amazing book by Darin Kennedy called The Mussorgsky Riddle. Check it out. It is amazing and you will love it just as much as I did.

But, back to my heroes. I will point back to people like Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, and Josh Malerman. Not because of numbers of sales, but there ability to tell a tale. That is what truly matters to me. These guys are impressive because of how they weave a tale and bring you into the story.

Still not convinced? Well, take a listen. I am sure you will agree that if you have the chance you should meet your heroes; more importantly you should learn from them!


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Welcome to the show all of my wonderful listeners. For those of you keeping track, this is episode 83 of the show. You could be anywhere, but you are here with me and I appreciate it. Thank you all for tuning in on this fine day.

Maybe… and I do mean maybe, this is affine day. This winter is finally over it looks like. I am not going to say that too loudly or the winter might be reminded that we are still here and could possibly turn around and come back again. None of us wants that, do we?

Anyway. Got a question for you all. If you could meet them, would you go out and meet your heroes? They will tell you, again the amorphous ‘they’ to never meet your heroes. So, what do you think? Tell you what, before you scream out an answer to your listening device, let me just give you a few minutes to think about it and I will get to the stats as of late. Has been a few changes.

I mean of course we have the usual cast of characters in the top five. Meaning Vancouver, Hampton VA, and Ashburn. But this is interesting. Taking up the second spot is Houston Texas, and in number 5 and gaining ground is Washington D.C. Thank you guys for listening in, that makes me smile.

However, I also thought it was interesting to see Langley, British Columbia and Kitchener, Ontario show up on the list if we were looking at the top ten. Thank you Canada for all you guys do. It is greatly appreciated. 

However, if you are listening in Albuquerque or Zimbabwe, I cherish you all. And remember that if you like the show and enjoy what you are hearing, hit that like button. It is super helpful and it lets others know you have found something you really like.

I also say that if you like what you are hearing, you can hit me up on Patreon and support me that way. That money really helps out to support the show and my writing.

This is fun story. I was at Marscon recently and one of my listeners, whose name I am forgetting so please forgive me, stopped by to tell me he listened to the show and really enjoyed it. He remembered me from my voice alone. That totally made my day and I was so thrilled I can’t even begin to say how much it made my day. For that listener, I say thank you so much. You made my day when I needed it most.

Which I suppose, in many ways, is kind of the same for leaving a review. Did you know that few things can mean as much as leaving a quick review for your favorite author or podcaster? Yep, it can mean the world the them and honestly, it all translates into recognition for the hard work that we put into the books and shows.

While I confess I am not putting hours upon hours into the show, I will say I put in around three hours to make one hour of content. A little less during an interview show. But I have to write a script, do a recording, edit the recording, re-record on occasion, and then sit down and listen to the final product before posting. It does take some time to get it all together.

So, when you read a book, or really enjoy a podcast, consider leaving a review. IT is really important in the grand scheme of things and it does make a huge difference.

Brings me to my next point. What do you think it would be like to be a psychic who is hired to infiltrate the mind of an autistic child with the mission to find him and bring his psyche back out into the real world?

Well, recently I had the chance to find out by reading the wonderful book, The Moussorgsy Riddle by Darin Kennedy.

Let me paint you a picture of the Faircloth Family. Mother Caroline, sister Rachel, brother Jason, and finally Anthony are seemingly torn to shreds by the uncomfortable mix of facing the world without their beloved patriarch who has tragically passed away, the already difficult teenage years, and young Anthony who has a learning disability.

That cocktail is further complicated by the sudden disappearance of a beloved high school cheerleader who was Jason’s girlfriend.

The town expects the worse and are not shy at pointing finger at the eldest of the Faircloth children. Jason hides a secret he is unwilling to tell, or perhaps is too ashamed to, as he tries to protect his autistic kid brother while his thin veneer of blamelessness starts to wear thin.

Enter Mia. She is a well known psychic who is hired by Carline to dip into Anthony’s mind and see what she can find out. Mia, having a soft spot for families in tight situations, agrees and travels the difficult road that is Anthony’s mind, over the initial objections of the family psychiatrist.

Mia soon is pulled into another world, all its own and one that could have only been conceived in the mind of a young child. 

Anthony is obsessed with Moussorgsy’s most recognizable work, Pictures at an Exhibition and has built his world around the piece in a way to tell a tale of his own choosing.

Mia enters the little boy’s mind only to find the hallways are set up to display the pictures which served as the inspiration for Moussorgsky’s work.

While there she meets the residents of this strange world and soon discovers not is all as it should be when she was invited to step through the pictures and into the worlds of each of the characters.

Once there she is confronted by the notorious Baba Yaga who considers it her duty to protect the resident by expelling Mia from the exhibition.

It doesn’t take long for Mia to discover that not only does each of these characters have an analogue in the real world of Anthony’s life, but while in the exhibition, she has some power at her own disposal as well.

Power she derives from the role she plays in this strange world of Anthony’s psyche where she is the fabled story teller, Scheherazade.

I will confess that I was not prepared to like this book as much as I did. Once it had its hooks into me, I had a really hard time putting it down and burned through it in record time. It is well done.

To be honest, I kind of figured out who Baba Yaga was in the real world half way through the book, but I was completely wrong about who the real villain was. A fact that is not something I miss too often. I am pretty good at mysteries and dissecting themes and ideas.

So I am super impressed at the way this was put together. The thing is that Darin has to live in two different worlds with his characters and that is no easy feat since you are essentially writing twice the numbers of characters who have to bend to the rules of the worlds in which they are stuck in.

I am a sucker for a good strong central character and Mia and the fragments of Anthony’s psyche represent the way to write characters. I cared about them and that is what is so important to me as a reader. If I don’t care about your characters then I am going to put your book down. 

Of course it sounds a bit contrived when I say it since I do say it a lot as I read a lot of great books, but this is well written, well edited, and amazing 

And, as I said before, I could not have this book pried from my hands it was so good. I was duly impressed at how this tale turns out and fully intend to download other titles by Darin in the not too distant future.

The copy I read was on my Kindle after I read Necromancer for Hire. I can honestly say I am a huge fan of these books, so please consider taking a closer look at these gems. You won’t be sorry you did.

Now that I have mentioned that amazing book, let’s back to that question I asked at the top of the hour. Would you meet your heroes?

Why would I ask such a thing? Well, as an author I get to meet mine. As an indie author, I really get to meet mine. 

Authorcon 2022, which is a Scares that Care event, was an amazing time had by all. Small event, and really quite intimate, I got the chance to spend time with some of the people that I admire the most.

Who do I admire? Great question. And really, this is the reason I am so full up on telling you to go out and hit up those cons. You can meet all kinds of amazing people there. But what is better than that? You get to talk to them.

Look, celebrities, especially writing celebrities, are just like normal people in that they still read a lot of books and they enjoy hanging out with other authors, just like we do. That is it. The important part. The crem-de-la-crem. And you can spend time talking to them about anything.

Sure, you are going to have a moment or two when you completely fangirl, and that is natural. Hey, here is a handy secret, celebrities fangirl too.

You all know that I admire Ronald Malfi. But here is the thing, we go to the same shows together and we know the same people. I am happy to call him friend and I have had him on the show before. He’s an amazing guy to interview. Really enjoy it.

But what I really enjoy is his writing. Yep, he is a brilliant writer and if you wanted to study someone, you should study him to understand how to be a master of the slow burn. He is brilliant at ratcheting up that tension to the point you are completely sure you are about to go out of your mind.

Then there are people like John Hartness of Fallstaff books. He is an amazing guy and I love his work. Right now I am reading the first in his Bubba the Monster Hunter series. It is great stuff and can totally see myself reading the rest of the series after this one. It is that good.

John will be the first to tell you that the real work of writing gets done at the bar. You don’t have to drink, but you do have to mingle. Heck, last time I was there I got a beer and then drank ginger ale the rest of the night. I talked to people, hung out with writers, and just had a nice time.

What did I learn? Well, some interesting things about some cons that I typically go to. Some more information about a book show I love. Gathered some great information and more importantly I cemented some friendships because writing is a friendship based business in many ways and so you have to really get to know people.

You want to be jerk to people? Well, that gets around in this business and you don’t want that. You need to make sure you are willing to lend a hand once in a while. Be part of the community.

What am I always saying about cons? You have to get out and participate in them. Hang out with people around you and chat. Writer, you wanna make a go of it? Sometimes you have to put yourself out there.

I also ran into Jeff Strand. Now to be fair, I already knew Jeff as I am a member of the horror writers association and I meet people everywhere I go. So, I am going to meet people. He was our MC at our annual STOKER awards show at the StokerCON.

Again, at the risk of digression, which I do quite frequently, that is why you really should, as a writer, get involved in different organizations, even if you are a novice. It is not always about what they can give you or what can you give them. Sometimes it is just about the associations, friendships, and bonds you form.

So, there I was, standing knee deep in hand grenade pins, as a former supervisor of mine might say, when I heard someone greet a guy by the name of Josh. It only took a moment for me to realize they were greeting Josh Malerman. For those of you who don’t know who Josh Malerman is, shame on you. He is the author of The Birdbox and the sequal Malorie. I have not read either of those, but I did read his book Unbury Carol.

Now I’ve been carrying around that book to different events in the hopes I would run into him and get him to sign the book for me. I was excited to finally get to shake hands with him and pick his brain about a few parts of the book. He is a great guy. Really nice. And his girlfriend is an amazing singer, by the way. I only know this because she sang at the Karaoke night at the hotel. Another reason to hang out at the bar as John Hartness would advise.

Remember what I said about meeting your heroes. Well, Josh Malerman, Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, John Hartness, and many others are not what we think of as traditional heroes. They represent where I want to be in my writing life. Not just in terms of sales or movie deals, but where their writing is.

Don’t envy someone because of how much they make. Pursue them for how they do what they do. The craft and art of writing is what you need to search for. This is the reason that you need to read within the genre you would like to write in as well as occasionally reading some other stuff that piques your interest. For example, my guilty pleasure is a cozy mystery or an off the wall thriller that is just silly and fun.

This is all to say that you need to take the time to add to yourself as a writer by studying the craft and taking the time to meet your heroes. Yes, some of them may disappoint you, I personally have not found one yet that did, but don’t let that deter you. Shake hands, learn faces, and most importantly, enjoy this crazy life we call being an author.

Well, that is almost the end for this show and I remind you that if you liked what you heard, consider a donation to the show. You can either contribute directly to the show through paypal, or join me on Patreon. By the way, special thanks this week to our newest Patreon subscriber, Bill Camp. I sent him a book as a thank you. Consider joining Bill and supporting the show. And you too can get your own signed book, or an ebook, as a thank you.

Also make sure to hit that like button so you will know when I get that next show out there for you. Next week I think I have the wonderful Sirrah Medeiros on the show. You will not want to miss that one. Should be a great time.

On behalf of All things writing, I thank you for spending time with us today. This is Bryan Nowak, signing off.