Humbug

Claus

Book 4
Tony Bertauski
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 Jacob Marley is dead. His business partner, Eb Scrooge, is left to run Avocado, Inc., an innovative technology business, all alone. An introverted shut-in locked away in a Colorado mansion, he changes the company’s mission statement. Only his servant droids keep him company.
Until the gifts arrive.

Each Christmas, a messenger forces Eb to look at his life in hopes he will change. But change does not happen in a single night. And only Eb can make it happen.

But who is sending the messengers?
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About the author

  During the day, I'm a horticulturist. While I've spent much of my career designing landscapes or diagnosing dying plants, I've always been a storyteller. My writing career began with magazine columns, landscape design textbooks, and a gardening column at the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC). However, I've always fancied fiction. 


My grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but he was a voracious reader. I remember going through his bookshelves of paperback sci-fi novels, smelling musty old paper, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died?

I'm a cynical reader. I demand the writer sweep me into his/her story and carry me to the end. I'd rather sail a boat than climb a mountain. That's the sort of stuff I want to write, not the assigned reading we got in school. I want to create stories that kept you up late.

Having a story unfold inside your head is an experience different than reading. You connect with characters in a deeper, more meaningful way. You feel them, empathize with them, cheer for them and even mourn. The challenge is to get the reader to experience the same thing, even if it's only a fraction of what the writer feels. Not so easy.

In 2008, I won the South Carolina Fiction Open with Four Letter Words, a short story inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer's Disease. My first step as a novelist began when I developed a story to encourage my young son to read. This story became The Socket Greeny Saga. Socket tapped into my lifetime fascination with consciousness and identity, but this character does it from a young adult's struggle with his place in the world. 

After Socket, I thought I was done with fiction. But then the ideas kept coming, and I kept writing. Most of my work investigates the human condition and the meaning of life, but not in ordinary fashion. About half of my work is Young Adult (Socket Greeny, Claus, Foreverland) because it speaks to that age of indecision and the struggle with identity. But I like to venture into adult fiction (Halfskin, Drayton) so I can cuss. Either way, I like to be entertaining.

And I'm a big fan of plot twists.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Tony Bertauski
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Published on
Dec 12, 2016
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Pages
316
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ISBN
9781537596419
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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See entire series

 The evolution of a vampire. 


Drayton doesn’t know what he is. Or why he has lived for thousands of years. He takes not his victim’s blood but the silky essence of their soul during their last breath. Often mistaken for the Angel of Death, his victims sometimes ask for forgiveness. Sometimes he delivers. After all, he is not without sin.


INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR


Did you ever think you’d write about vampires?

Nope. Drayton came out of nowhere when I was at a community theatre production of Dracula. I figured that an immortal vampire would more likely become compassionate and wise as he grew older. Twilight put a different spin on the vampire genre, much different than Nosferatu. Drayton’s nothing like Twilight. Or Nosferatu.


What's a downside to writing a character similar that's similar to you? 

Predictable. Boring. If every book I write is similar, it ceases to surprise the reader. That’s what I loved about Drayton, he was just the opposite of me. This paranormal being was fearless not out of bravado but the wisdom brought about by countless years of immortality. I called him a vampire because it was the word that fit him the best in his early years, but he became something much for that. Whatever a vampire becomes after the gore and bloodsucking, sort of like the caterpillar and butterfly. 


Do your characters ever resemble you in your beliefs?

Some do. But there are others that are just fun to go the other way, especially antagonists. I do find it interesting, even courageous, when authors can write very demented, sick and twisted antagonists. It’s very revealing to show the world what’s bouncing around in your head.


What do you think is the most important aspect of writing a character?

Letting him or her grow in my head. It’s when I’m driving to work, taking a shower, or lying in bed that they come to life. It’s also one of the most gratifying elements of writing. I’ve enjoyed letting this vampire walk through my mind, leaving his short stories behind.


 Socket Greeny is not normal. 


His funny name and snow-white hair are the least of his problems. When a devious prank goes bad, Socket and his friends realize they are about to lose everything they’ve worked for in the alternate reality universe of virtualmode. 

But when the data drain encroaches on Socket’s subconscious memories, some mysterious force erases the event entirely. Subtle clues suggest there's more to him than he knows and will lead him to discover why his mom is always at work. And just how far from normal he is. 

The beginning of Socket Greeny’s epic journey to save himself begins with the making. The universe is depending on him. 


INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR


When did you start writing?

My first effort started with Socket Greeny. It was a story I started for my son because he hated to read. It didn’t work, but this character – Socket – took root. It was the first time I felt possessed by a character with a story to tell. It took me 5 years and countless rewrites to get it right. I waited by the mailbox after that, but the giant paycheck never arrived.


If you can’t make money, why write fiction?

I didn’t say you can’t make money. There are a lot of people out there with a good book, whether it’s romance, dystopia, science fiction or young adult. I’m just a minnow in a crowded pond. It took a good deal of networking and research to realize just how hard it is. 


Thanks to epublishing, I can get the book out. That frees me up to write what inspires me. Writing is the true love. There’s something deeply satisfying to have characters come to life in your mind and watch their stories unfold. It’s a deeper experience than reading someone else’s story.


What do you want readers to get from your stories?

I’ve always been inspired by fearless writing that asked poignant questions; questions like who am I and what is the universe? Things that made me look at life slightly different; books that exposed a layer of reality. Writing in the young adult genre appealed to me most because that’s the age I really craved those questions and answers.


I want readers to see the world slightly different.


What is your favorite character?

I love a bad, bad antagonist that you can’t entirely hate; there’s some smidgeon of redemption you feel inside this demented, sorry character. Heath Ledger’s Joker. A despicable character that didn’t deserve an ounce of pity, but, for some reason, I didn’t hate him as much as I should have. It’s that character I find most intriguing. In The Socket Greeny Saga, the character Pike was my Joker.


Harold Ballard's breaking point came in the sixth grade.

John Lively was a mouth-breather that no one cared about. He was an over-sized sixth grader destined to be incarcerated. God wasted a body on him. 

Harold was a curious loner that sat in the back. Unlike John's family, Harold's parents loved him. They just didn't have time for him. They spent days in the basement working on something that would change the world. Sometimes it was weeks. Harold was tired of being forgotten and pushed around. He pushed back.

That day would change the world.

That day would change him into the man he was destined to become. His curiosity would lead him to Foreverland. 



INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR


HOW IMPORTANT ARE NAMES TO YOU IN THIS BOOK. DID YOU CHOOSE THEM BASED ON SOUND OR MEANING?

Almost all of my books have names with special meaning, some foreshadowing a big twist. In The Annihilation of Foreverland, Reed’s name was symbolic of his ability to tolerate suffering, bending in the face of gale forces but never breaking. 


WHERE DOES YOUR TOMORROW SPRING FROM? IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CRAZY WORLD?

Sometimes, I can’t remember how the story started by the time I get to the end. The Annihilation of Foreverland started with the premise of identity. I wanted to write it as a YA book in the science fiction dystopia genre in a way that slowly unfolded as well as questioned who we are and explore our fear of death, and what we’re willing to do to avoid it. Like all of my stories, it does have a romantic angle mixed into the action. Because it should.



GIVE YOUR BOOK THE BECHDEL TEST. IT HAS TO HAVE AT LEAST TWO (NAMED) WOMEN IN IT WHO TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT SOMETHING BESIDES A MAN.

I failed because there’s only one female in The Annihilation of Foreverland. However, the young adult sequel (Foreverland is Dead) passes with flying colors since its mostly female characters that rarely talk about men.


WHAT SORT OF BODY COUNT ARE WE TALKING HERE?

The bodies die, but not necessarily the characters. Chew on that a second.


DO YOU WANT YOUR TOMORROW TO MAKE IT BIG, AS IN JK ROWLINGS-BIG? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Believe it or not, no. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to make enough cash to pay off this house and send my kids to college, but I’ll pass on fame and fortune. Anonymity is a blessing.


YOU CAST YOUR CHARACTERS FOR A MOVIE. WHO MAKES IT?

In The Annihilation of Foreverland, I only casted two characters in my head while I was writing it. The Director is Jeff Bridges and Mr. Jones is Anthony Hopkins. It was like watching a movie as I wrote.


HAVE YOU WRITTEN IN ANY OTHER GENRES BESIDES YA DYSTOPIAN?  WHAT DREW YOU TO YOU THIS GENRE?

I’ve been fascinated by consciousness, identity and what this all means since I was young. I would read my grandfather’s science fiction books with elements of artificial intelligence and alternate realities and wonder what happened when they died? I suppose that’s why all of my writing deals with the big mysteries of life in one way or another. In a way, I write for my own exploration, in a sort of thought experiment approach, pulling apart our identities, exploring what makes us who we are. If I lost my memories, would I still be me? If I had my body parts replaced with synthetic replications, at what point would I not be me? Do I even need a body? 


What am I?


A few years ago, I figured I’d write a romance novel. Since all of my books have a romantic element, I thought it would be fun. Halfway through the novel, I found myself thinking more and more about the next project—a dystopian idea. So 40,000 words in, I scrapped the romance novel and got back to what I love. Science fiction.

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