Thursday, 21 January 2016

Russell’s Revenge by Dennis Fishel

About the Book

Title: Russell’s Revenge
Author: Dennis Fishel
Genre: YA Humor, Adventure

Fate has been messing up Dennis’s life for as long as he can remember. It was Fate that decided Russell Folmer—the biggest, ugliest, and meanest kid on earth—would live only two houses south of Dennis’s. Fate was also responsible for making Russell the same age and placing him in the same school. So who else but malicious Fate would arrange for Russell to be in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time when the bombs crafted from the only product a dog manufactures fell from Dennis’s experimental kite? Now, with dog dumplings decorating Russell’s extremely large and angry face, it looks as though Dennis’s days of successfully dodging the well-known bully are over. As the sound of Russell’s pounding feet gets ever closer, two questions flare up in Dennis’s panicked mind like neon in the blackness of a cave: What has he done to make Fate hate him so much, and how is he going to get out of this fix?

Author Bio

Owned and managed by dogs for most of his life, Dennis shares a home on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with his four-legged boss, Sally. Together they pursue their interests in wooden boats, fly fishing, chasing down obscure historic sites, and hiking to remote places just for the fun of it.

Q&A's with Dennis Fishel

Please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My background is pretty mundane. I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and attended the University of Washington in Forest Management for a while, but enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and never went back to school but for classes that interested me–mostly in English and Archaeology. After my return from military duty I worked for the US Postal Service, from which I retired in 2002. I was married to a wonderful woman, Arleen, for forty-two years. She passed away five years ago due to cancer. I have a son, Jeramy, and three grandchildren–Alex, Gracie, and Landon. I currently live on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where I spend my days writing and working on the construction of a small wooden boat.

When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Many years ago I read a particularly lousy novel which was not only published, but became a made-for-television drama. I figured if that author could be successful with that horrible story, there was no reason I couldn’t do the same. There were, of course, many reasons–learning just how to put a story together, for one thing. But the success of being paid for short magazine articles fueled my enthusiasm to stay with it as well as sparking the notion that I might be capable of producing a book. I’ve been at it ever since.

Do you have a specific writing style?
My style depends on topic and genre. I’ve written non-fiction articles, an adult humor book, and now a young adult humor book. The subject matter of those efforts required that my characters possess a certain cockiness. For my next effort, though, I wish to segue into crime fiction, which will require a different voice. So in the end, it’s the genre that drives the style I try to develop. I must remain flexible in that regard as I like to write in several genres.

Tell us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
I’ve never felt that there’s a sure-fire routine that leads to success. We are all different and have our own methods. My routine, if it can be called that, is as flexible as my style. I prefer to write in the early morning, shortly after I get out of bed–and always with a cup of steaming coffee. But I’ve never felt that always following the same routine is necessarily the pathway to creativity. Nor is the admonition to “force” myself to sit at the computer and write for X number of hours a good idea for me. Some days it’s there, some days it isn’t. Recognition of that fact is paramount to my abilities to produce something I’m happy with. When inspiration isn’t there, I find it’s best to just leave the project for the time being and do something else. That project is always swimming around in the back of my mind, though, sometimes waking me in the middle of the night. I did try keeping a pad and pen on my nightstand for a short time in order to write down ideas that might come from subconscious cranial activity, as some writing instructors suggest. Sadly, I couldn’t read what I’d scribbled when I finally woke up. To me, the important thing is to remember that we are individuals and have our own habits and motivations. There is no universal formula for writing success other than having the desire to write combined with a willingness to constantly work on improvement.


Excerpt from the chapter, “The Bomber Kite”

Mr. Freeland opened his backdoor, poked his head out, and scanned the area, finally spotting me on the other side of the fence.
“Say, Dennis,” he shouted, “did you see someone throwing rocks out here a minute ago?”
My dad had always said that when opportunity knocked, only a fool wouldn’t answer. “Uh–yeah, Mr. Freeland, I did. Some kids on Ninety-Seventh were trying to hit my kite.”
“Well, let me know if you see them again. I’d like to have a talk with them, if you know what I mean.”
I knew what he meant.
Jay reappeared two seconds after Mr. Freeland went back inside. “That was quick thinkin’, man,” he said. “How’d you come up with that story so fast?”
“I didn’t come up with it, Mr. Freeland did. I told you rocks might get us into a mess and they came close to doing it. What if we’d hit the windshield on Mr. Freeland’s car?”
Jay shrugged. “What else can we use? Rocks are all we’ve got plenty of.”
He kicked at an object on the ground as he tried to think of something better to use for bombs. It took a moment, but he soon realized just what he’d been nudging with the toe of his sneaker and recoiled away from it. Our dog, Frank, had been in the area–in a major way. It was a downright miracle one of us hadn’t already stepped on one of his land mines. I was dimly remembering being told to clean up after the mannerless beast when Jay looked up, his evil grin betraying that a new thought had formed in his diseased mind. Purity not being one of my own flaws, I caught on right away.
“Oh, no! We’re not using that–that stuff,” I said.
“Why not? C’mon, man, it’s mostly dry on the outside. And you got’a admit it would make great bombs. It’s the right size, it’s lighter than rocks, it won’t make a bunch’a racket when it hits…”
“It stinks, Jay! It’ll get all over my kite and I’ll have to burn it. Then how do I explain the missing sheets to Mom?”
“Man, that horse already left the barn. You smeared rubber cement on ’em, you punched holes in ’em, you sliced the corners off of ’em…”
“You said I didn’t need corners!”
He shook his head, suddenly the innocent bystander. “I don’t know what difference missing corners on your bed sheet could make with all the other stuff you’ve done, but listen–get off this cleanliness kick and think of the possibilities. Picture Old Man Abernathy getting smacked with a load of the stuff.”
That image did have a lot of appeal, given Abernathy’s nasty attitude over a few smart-mouthed insults and maybe some minor rock damage to his mailbox. The thought of dog fudge sliding off the old man’s brow and into his bug eye was too good to ignore. “Yeah,” I whispered. “Dog flop from heaven.”

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