Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Zed by Jason McIntyre!
It’s the waning dog days of August, 1975 and Tom Mason’s in Dovetail Cove for the last few weeks of his summer job at the group home. His boss and the home’s owner is Karen Banatyne, one of the wealthiest folks in town. It seems like she’s got it in for Tom; she’s the only one standing in his way as he scrimps for a new camera.
But Karen has her own problems. A regulatory agency might cut off her funding, plus her hubby hasn’t been seen in a few weeks, and she’s not saying why. Most ominous of all, it seems as though something’s hiding in the hot spring north of the main beach and one of Karen’s ‘houseguests’ is about to come face to face with evil. Tom is too.
A Bookaholic’s Fix Review:
This one is a little difficult to review.
First off, this one was billed as a supernatural suspense, horror genre. If you, like me, go into this one with expectations on the book falling into those categories, you are bound to be disappointed. Admittedly, I am not a horror connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination and my experiences with books in the genre are limited but there was very little that would make me think horror or even suspense. I didn’t find passages that made my heart race as I feared for the characters fate, but rather moments of intrigue. Some possible supernatural elements exist but they are so shrouded in mystery, they have no definite paranormal link. (Now paranormal is a category I have plenty of experience with so my opinion on this front is more informed.) I would also say the evil mentioned in the blurb is a little misleading as well. I kept waiting for it to rear its ugly head but nothing I read made me believe an evil entity lurked around Dovetail Cove. I would say the story is a coming of age with some mysterious elements thrown in to keep the teen angst from getting out of hand.
The story was interesting but at times it was hard to follow. The narrative switches POV often and without warning. If the story had one perspective per chapter or even per scene, it would’ve been easier to follow. I also found some of the sayings and pop culture references went right over my head. The tale was set in 1975, and I’m an 80s baby, so aside from recognizing the names of a couple of TV shows mentioned, I was lost. Despite these issues, I did find myself intrigued by the tale and I felt compelled to finish reading the story. After the conclusion, I can’t help but think there is more to this tale. It seemed more like the set up of a story, rather than a complete one. I find myself wondering what will happen to the cast of characters next.
I liked Tom, a lot. He was a genuine character that seemed a bit more mature than his age dictated at times. He had attributes you want to see from someone working with handicapped individuals. His compassion and caring nature balanced out the careless attitudes most expressed towards the group of disabled adults he worked with. Now, he was also human and a teen so some of his behaviors didn’t have pure motivations or the best results.
Zeke, or Zed, was a more complex character. Handicapped by an accident in his youth, he ended up labeled the town retard (for the record, I hate this word but I know that 1975 was before the PC movement so I’m using it for lack of a better term). He is more than he seems though and with a little paranormal (maybe) assistance, he gains enough mental acuity to tell his life story and help answer some questions about the residents of Dovetail Cove.
The other handicapped residents, the owner of the home, and some of the other characters come off as inconsistent but, considering the parameters of the story, they work. I would’ve liked to see more variance in the disabled characters. Despite the information given about their varying intelligence levels and the differences between their disabilities, they come off too similar, stereotypically child-like and simple and incongruent with the given IQ scores.
I will say I liked the creativity the author showed in some areas. The descriptions of creatures (some that don’t even exist) are wonderfully vivid and make them easy to picture. The imagery he uses to describe Zed’s scrambled brain is absolutely brilliant and it comes off poetic even when relayed by a man with diminished mental capabilities.
Overall, I’d say this one is a 3-3.5 star book. Going based on the genre description I was given, I’d say closer to 3, if re-categorized, it would be closer to 3.5. There is potential there, the author just needs to get more of the story out at a time. I may have to check out the other books in the series to find out more (hopefully) about these characters.
What has inspired you to become a writer?
Inspiration to tell stories came early. I was the kid in the fourth and fifth grade sneakily reading Stephen King novels at 800 pages apiece behind my propped-up math text book. At eight, I was the editor of a short-lived school paper and we didn’t have enough content to fill the back page. I went home and hauled out my Mom’s old IBM typewriter to begin an epic serial about two young girls who are abducted by aliens in their backyard. I knew I had something when the other kids begged to know what would happen in part two. Alas, the teacher who managed the newspaper project got a transfer and part two of the saga never made it out. I guess, in a way, I’ve been writing towards the end of that tale ever since.
How do you come up with your characters and how do you make them so interesting?
I start in a very visual way. Without even closing my eyes, I can clearly see what’s happening and, as I noodle around on the ‘what’ of a story, I eventually start to form a visceral view of the ‘who’ in the tale. The people inside that vision have to become real to me, even before I start the first sentence. If they don’t then I don’t care about them. I have to care, or else I never haul them out of trouble. And, really, isn’t that what makes fiction great? Dumping someone you care about into a heap of worry and then methodically traipsing them out of said trouble in a believable and satisfying way.
My biggest conundrum is when a dazzling or lovely person gets in a trap and they aren’t pulled out in time. It’s the biggest challenge for me — I can’t save everyone and, sometimes, a character I adore needs to die so that things keep chugging for the whole story. Forgive me, readers. I will kill again.
What makes your stories and books different than other books you have read? Everyone has their own style, what is yours?
I mix and match genres, influences and types of stories. One major thrust of my writing life is to never repeat the same kind of book twice. I want to push myself to unearth new and different pieces of myself as I tell stories. So while a book like ZED has companion books that have a flow between them, there are nearly a dozen different genres represented among them. One might be a coming-of-age paranormal while the next might be a murder mystery and then I may discover that the next works best as a straight-ahead horror. There’s noir and crime books and even a western. Now, do they all look exactly like their home genres suggest? Not at a glance. They use the tropes from each genre but usually in a new mix. They meld into something that, I guess, looks and reads like a Jason McIntyre novel. Hopefully, readers enjoy the journey through all the different places I like to play. Oh, and I hope they get scared and a little upset along the way.
Do you plan on writing any other genres?
Future genres include something that no one who’s read my work will believe. I want to write a romance novel and a deeply historical fiction that is true to an extremely ancient time period. As always, I want to have fun with what I write, and produce something unique that interests readers, but pushes me into new territory.
Anything else you would like to discuss about you as a writer?
ZED is part of a mosaic novel. The only other writer I know who’s written this kind of a work is George RR Martin. His mosaic comprised of books written by a dozen different writers all working within one world and telling stories about the same characters.
DOVETAIL COVE works in a similar way. The characters flow in an out of the background of several books and the island setting is the same place, spanning a decade in the history of one place that has a succulent past and a lurid present. The difference between Martin’s mosaic and this one is that I’m writing all the pieces myself. Each DOVETAIL book stands on its own, with a distinct beginning, middle and end. But if you read more of them, the pieces of a much larger puzzle begin to fall into place. At present, ZED marks the fourth of ten books to be released. Others available now are BLED, SHED and DREAD. Look for new ones in 2015 and 2016.
Getting to Know the Author as a Person
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I travel as much as I can and spend time with my crazy kiddos. Readers and friends from social media will likely remember all the posts about the nutty things my kids say. I won’t even mention my wife here. She has her own cult following among my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
I have built a lovely studio in my home and use it to write music, paint when I’m able and, yes, nap profusely when the spirit is not moving me otherwise.
What relaxes you when you need to unwind?
Creation of every sort is about the most relaxing thing I can imagine doing. I adore many forms of music and art and, when I’m in the middle of drafting a new book, it’s the greatest escape from life’s stresses. I peel back the page and transport to an entirely new place as I write. The process of uncovering a story is food for my soul.
What are your favorite foods?
I have always loved to travel and try new experiences and dishes wherever I go. Lately, I’ve been on a jag for Eggs Benedict and have been trying that in as many countries and cities as I can. Now, of course, lots of places don’t have that so I’ve broadened it to ordering eggs prepared in whatever style is most prevalent in the place I’m visiting. It’s really interesting to discover the different cooking methods — not to mention the different kinds of birds’ and lizards’ eggs that have been brought to my table!
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences?
I’ve had what I call ‘inconclusive’ paranormal experiences. Things have happened that, even after intense scrutiny, a rational person might not be able to form a judgment as to whether it was explicable by science or by para-science. Rest assured, all strangeness in my world (paranormal or just odd and intriguing) eventually finds its way into a story or two. Writing, I’ve discovered, has really become my own form of torture, er, I mean self-therapy. I write to understand the events of the world, of people and of my own life.
Tell us anything you would like your readers to know about Jason McIntyre.
I once shared a bottle of expensive red wine with a homeless man. The throat infection I developed the following week nearly put me in the hospital and my health insurance had lapsed so I couldn’t get a scrip for antibiotics. I went through six tubes of topical Polysporin. Yep, I gargled the stuff five times a day until I could see straight again.
JASON MCINTYRE is the #1 Kindle Suspense author of THE NIGHT WALK MEN, bestsellers BLED and SHED, plus the multi-layered literary suspense, THALO BLUE. His first novel, ON THE GATHERING STORM, earned a spot in the Top 20 Debut Authors for the Goodreads Choice Awards.McIntyre’s debut novel, ON THE GATHERING STORM was VOTED as one of the TOP 20 DEBUT AUTHORS — Goodreads Choice Awards
Learn more and connect with the author at http://www.theFarthestReaches.com