We are having a giveaway going on for a free paperback or e-book copy of Face/Mask. (Anyone can win the item by going to the rafflecopter on the right hand side of the pg.)
First why dont you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m happily married with two sons who are threatening to eat me out of house and home as they move through their teenage years. I live with my family in Montreal, where I practiced criminal law for 24 years. I love to read all sorts of styles and genres of books, and I think this has served me well in my fledgling writing career. Along with two full-length novels, I’ve written a novella and several short stories, in genres that range from horror, to fantasy to crime fiction. If I like to read in all sorts of genres and styles, you can be sure that I also write that way.
My latest novel is Face/Mask, which I call “a brainy dystopian drama.” It’s a story that is set in Montreal 25 years into the future, and is about everyday people living in a decaying and oppressive society, and how the poisonous environment around them is reflected in their own behaviour. In writing Face/Mask I was more interested in examining the actions of normal people placed in impossible circumstances, than in heroes with special powers who try to overthrow tyrannical governments.The title refers both to the masks people have to wear in order to survive the toxic air, as well as the masks they wear to hide their true natures.
What can we expect from your stories: action, drama, romance, sex, blood and guts?
My stories are not very action-filled. I think of them as dramas, about realistic people who are faced with decisions that can have consequences for themselves as well as for many people around them. In my first novel, The Guilty, the lead character is a lawyer having doubts about his profession and the violent people he represents. In Face/Mask, the lead character lies to his family and cheats on his wife in order to find some excitement in his monotonous life, then has to deal with the fall-out from his actions. There’s some sex, but no blood and guts beyond the way we tear ourselves up inside over the things we do to each other.
Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who? and Why?
In Face/Mask my favourite character is named Giuseppe (Uncle Joe) Pizzi. He is the uncle of my main character, Allen Janus’s, wife. When I originally conceived him he was very two-dimensional. He was a very kind, if somewhat interfering older relative, whose main purpose was to act as an irritant to Janus, leading Janus into doing something to hurt him. However, as the story unfolded, I began to develop a back story for Uncle Joe, which had him being much more active in anti-government actions, and he became a much more strong-willed person with hidden depths of character. He stopped being merely a victim to events, and became someone who could take control of what was happening around him.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
In Face/Mask much of the story revolves around the increasingly toxic environment on Earth and the health problems caused by this. I knew absolutely nothing about this topic when I set out to write the book, but I learned a lot as I researched topics such as damage to the ozone layer, various respiratory diseases, and so on. I found many quite scary scientific reports about what we’re doing to our planet and how this affects us; I incorporated fictionalized versions of these reports into my story, taking the facts they set out and projecting them 25 years into the future to show what might happen if we don’t change many of our polluting habits. I haven’t become an environmental activist by any means, but I am certainly more aware of the problems our planet faces than I was before. (OK, those facts weren’t really fun.)
Have there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped you out with your stories?
This isn’t an easy question to answer because it makes me feel that, if a writer “inspired” something that I wrote, then maybe I was trying to do what he or she has already done. I’ve read and loved a wide variety of authors who wrote in many different genres. While I admired their work, whether because of the stories they told or the quality of their prose, I’ve had to be careful to not unconsciously imitate them. Perhaps I would have been more successful if I did, but it was always important for me to write in as distinctive a voice as I could, and to avoid telling stories that have already been done before and better by others.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Like most authors I would like readers who enjoyed my book to tell others about it, whether it’s directly to their friends, or to the on-line community through reviews and comments. Most indie writers, like me, work on a limited budget, which means no expensive marketing campaign. So, word of mouth, especially through comments on Amazon, Goodreads or blogs and sites like this one, are essential to us.
Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
For readers I would only say read with an open mind; don’t limit yourself to one genre or style of books. You’d be surprised what you might like if you give it a try.For writers, especially other indies, when you finish writing your manuscript, reread, revise and rewrite it again and again. And then get it proofread and edited by someone else. It’s vital that we put out polished products for those readers who are willing to spend their money on writers who aren’t conventionally published. If our books are full of typos or badly-written, readers will simply ignore self-published writers, and many excellent, deserving books will fade into obscurity.
Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
One? Why does it have to be one? I love Charles Dickens for his empathy and understanding of the human condition; I love Stephen King for his lurid imagination and his knowledge of what scares us all; I love Raymond Chandler for his clean, spare prose; I love Frank Herbert for his vision of new worlds and his creation of new mythologies; I love Ian Rankin, and Margaret Atwood, and Joseph Conrad, and John Le Carré, and on and on.What all these writers and so many others have in common is their ability to tell stories. They may be silly or serious stories, they may be written in a florid or a simple style, they may be about external forces that attack us or internal forces that motivate us; but they’re all simply well-told stories.
Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?
I wrote a short story in high school, which I think I still have in a shoebox somewhere. What I remember is that it was a satire about politics, told from a very ignorant and innocent point of view, and that I tried to shock my teacher with my non-conformist opinions. If memory serves, she was not impressed.
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?
In my first novel, The Guilty, I drew on many of the experiences I had as a defence attorney. The book was about a murder and the ensuing trial, and I based it on a case that I actually defended in my practice, although I changed some of the facts (and names, obviously) for dramatic purposes.
In Face/Mask many of the minor, household problems that my main character confronts were drawn from my own life. But this character is not a very nice person (I like to think I’m a bit nicer than him), so what I did was imagine myself reacting to these problems in the worst possible way, and that’s what I wrote in the book.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies, pets or stories you would like to share?
Nope. I’m a boring guy, which is why I write fiction. If my life were more interesting I’d write a best-selling memoir, but that’s unlikely to happen. (Did I mention that I’m a huge fan of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team? But in Montreal that isn’t a hobby, that’s a religion unto itself.)
Favorite places to travel or visit?
Any place where there is sun and a beach. We had our first snow storm this year in mid-November, so you can believe me when I tell you that by January the only thing anybody will be thinking of is getting away to sunnier climes. Ask me this again in June, I might give you a better answer.
And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us: (Include links to where we can find your work)
Montreal in the year 2039. Like most major cities, the air is poisonous. On the other side of the planet, the war on terror rages with no end in sight. A devastating attack on Canadian soil leads to the installation of a militaristic administration. Civil rights are curtailed and the justice system is rife with corruption. In the middle of this decaying world lives Allen Janus: husband, father, bureaucrat and backstabber. In a moment of petty vindictiveness he will betray the people who love him, setting the lives of everyone in his family on a tragic course.
Face/Mask can be bought on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Face-Mask-Mr-Gabriel-Boutros/dp/1500994383/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
or on Amazon.ca at: http://www.amazon.ca/Face-Mask-Gabriel-Boutros-ebook/dp/B00Q644AWI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420063513&sr=8-1&keywords=face%2Fmask+boutros
You can read about all my fiction on my author site at: http://storiesbygabrielboutros.weebly.com/
Or follow me on Facebook, at:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stories-by-Gabriel-Boutros/1727472844143732?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
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Julie Ramsey & Theresa Fehse
ADM of JBR
Along with many reviewers (which we could not do this without)