Interview with Joe Klingler, author of suspense novels Mash Up and RATS

Novelist and software developer Joe Klingler, in conversation with Synchronized Chaos Magazine:

What makes RATS and Mash Up unique? Why should someone read them when there are so many sci-fi and thriller books out there? 

Writers essentially have a sort of living fingerprint that they bring to their work based on their personal experiences, insights and attitudes constructed over years of seeing the world from their unique perspective. This they share with us when putting pen to paper.

My own work tends to be layered; not because I plan it that way, but because I see life to be interconnected in that way. In Lean Manufacturing (sometimes called The Toyota Way) there is the Five Whys that require asking Why five times in order to reach the root cause of a problem. The Whys is one method for digging down through those layers of interconnectedness.

For example, in RATS Claire Ferreti is a young sniper trying to do her job. When her mission goes sideways, she is faced not only with the physical challenge of staying alive, but also with challenges to her core beliefs. At the same time, her prey is on his own mission based on events that took place decades ago, and his personal conclusions about what needs to be done about them. Fine so far. But these two exist in a world of RATS (multiple kinds, but none with four legs), where a hawk versus dove political battle rages for the Presidency, with the 600 billion-dollar United States defense budget at stake, while a young boy’s curiosity pulls him into this larger world. While following the action and wondering what will become of Claire, a reader who is interested in such things might think to themselves: this isn’t about the past, it’s describing a possible future—this could really happen. So RATS can be read, and I hope enjoyed, on several levels.

Mash Up has at least as many layers, though the players are college music students, Silicon Valley executives who think greed is a sacrament, software engineers, YouTube, and computer viruses in a world that shifts between cyber and physical reality. There is a horrible crime, its aftermath, a new crime, and two detectives: Qigiq (the Alaskan detective from RATS) and his new partner Kandy Dreeson (who strikes fast and takes no prisoners) on their first case together trying to sort it all out.

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Short story from Evan Almon

“A Life After Bungee”

At some point in everyone’s life, they must ask themselves the question: what would Batman do? I did so when conferring within as to decide whether or not to bungee-jump over the Zambezi River, and the obvious answer brought with it a brave determination I had never felt before. I was not a risk-taker, and felt out of my element. My mom insistently discouraged the idea, my younger brother said he would if his arm hadn’t been broken while skiing two weeks prior to our African excursion, and my Dad said it would probably be a hell of an experience but that you could count him out.

The constant baritone rush and roar of the mighty Victoria Falls was ubiquitous when standing on the Great Victoria Bridge that connected Zimbabwe to Zambia.It was Christmas day, but it was technically late Christmas Eve still in America.

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Interview with poet Mary Mackey, on her new collection Travelers with No Ticket Home

Cristina Deptula interviews Mary Mackey, poet and author of the recent collection Travelers With No Ticket Home:

 Cover of Mary Mackey's latest poetry collection

 

CRISTINA: I noticed that in the middle section some of the poems spoke to or addressed a character known as ‘Solange’, such as the environmentalist piece when she encouraged the river to break the dam. Please tell us more about her. Who is she, where did she come from and why did you decide to incorporate her as a character?

MARY: Solange is a mysterious, ambiguous character who appears in a number of my poems. I never consciously decided to incorporate Solange into my work. She just appeared spontaneously when I was writing the poem ”Sugar Zone.” “Sugar Zone” was published in my previous collection of poetry which is also called Sugar Zone. So, as you can see, the appearance of Solange was a very important event for me creatively. Solange takes on different roles at different times: she may be an incarnation of the force of nature, a priestess, a goddess, a shaman, an ex-lover, or even the wilder side of Mary Mackey. I’ve deliberately avoided pinning her down so that she can move fluidly from one poem to another. In the poem “Solange Encourages A River To Destroy A Damn,” which you mention, Solange is dressed in the garb of a priestess of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé and is speaking to the river as a shaman/goddess.

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The Birth of a Healer – Holly Sisson reviews Linda Baron-Katz’ Surviving Mental Illness: My Story

 

The Birth of a Healer

Surviving Mental Illness” by Linda Naomi Katz

By Holly Alexis Sisson June 10, 2014

 Linda Baron-Katz' Surviving Mental Illness: My Story cover image

In the digital age of snapshots and youtube videos, decentralized news sources and social media, where the minds of so many can connect at the drop of a wifi connection the mental health field is quickly diverging into the many voices of our global human village. We can see this in Brene Brown’s Ted talk on the power of vulnerability (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability), in the critical examination of the inter-sectionalities of human existence in academia, the changing way our hi-tech world influences how we relate to ourselves and each other, and in the return to an earth-based indigenous worldview where each individual is vital to the whole and one person’s illness is a reflection that something is out of balance in the entire community. The will of one to break down the barriers of stigma, ignorance, misunderstanding, systematization of models of illness and health affects the many.

The modern field of psychology is taking bounds and leaps from a model of pathology and illness to a model of health and wholeness that changes the very foundation that guides us in our search for mental health as individuals, communities and a global village. Linda Naomi Katz so valiantly brings to us her own journey of recovering her health and wholeness as she recounts her persistence as a strong woman suffering from a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in her book, Surviving Mental Illness: My Story. Her recovery from illness in a world of hyper-individualism and standardized models of health reveals a powerful message in times of extraordinary transformation of the human consciousness that hope is alive and well.

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Asteroid monitoring: Gerald McKeegan’s talk at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center, reviewed by Cristina Deptula

Gerald McKeegan

Gerald McKeegan

Meteorites can thrash our planet with incredible force. Arizona’s Barringer Meteor Crater, created by an iron-nickel alloy from the core of an asteroid, lies a quarter mile across and 600 feet deep. Russia’s Tunguska impact blew trees down for over 200 square miles.
The strength of the explosions from the sudden dissipation of energy during these impacts ejects the rock from the craters, throwing it up around the area in reverse order. The presence of ejecta clues geologists in to the presence of a meteorite crater, rather than a sinkhole from a drained underground aquifer.

Youths, Save Nigeria: essay by Ayokunle Adeleye

 

ONE Chance

“They have said you cannot pass JAMB at one sitting. That is not true.
They have said you must write WAEC, NECO, GCE, and whatever similar
exam you can find so you may at least pass one. That too is not true.
They have said you must permutate your WAEC, NECO and GCE results to
gain admission into university. That cannot be true.”

…That is how I strike the chord. That is how I gain their attention.
That is how I interest their intellect.

I happen to be a Member of Faculty of one or more NGOs whose primary
duty is the development of our teenagers, the encouragement of our
youngsters, the dedication to our collective future as a State. And
when it is my turn to speak, it is my turn to unearth their fears and
expose their anxiety, to illuminate their demons and brighten their
hope, to give them another chance, another thought, another
perspective.

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Poetry from Hannah White

 

Disappointment

Disappointment. Head to the wall horizontally in a series of repetitive motions. Pee in a cup wrapped in hospital gowns deposited at the nurses’ station with glazed-over 5am eyes. Disappointment. Five minutes alone at the computer feeling nothing but the impending sense of always being alone. Head to the wall. Nail into skin. Chipping away at the tender flesh of your left thumb until the blood stains your homework and your fingers. Disappointment. Every moment that the universe gets bigger and every moment you get proportionally smaller. Disappointment. Rolls of fat over waistbands that used to be baggy and loose around your hips. Disappointment. Another discourse on discontent calculated to be empathy-inducing and measured for shock value. Empty old phrases stained with STALE in red pen across the raw manifesto of your being. Disappointment. In a bathrobe on the front stoop at sunrise waiting for the world to stop spinning you nauseous. Alone in the shower with your flesh and your scabs wishing the hot water to never run out. But for now, disappointment.

 

Better

1. I’m not better than you.

2. I’m not better than you.

3. I never said that.

4. I never said that I’m

5. I never said that I’m better than

6. of you never suggested you’re sicker than

7. me let’s not play games I hate measuring

8. it ends awkwardly

9. and that’s not my inten

10. tion I’m caught in

11. ner turmoil but that’s nobody’s

12. and it’s nobody’s

13. my lack of connection my

14. of trust I don’t trust you

15. want to show you my lack of

16. or to tell you my fears about

17. or admit that I’ve never had

18. we stick to the surface but I can get

19. now I can get elsewhere the truisms

20. ven what’s underneath I can speak now

21. I can speak now.

22. I’m not

23. better than

24. but I am better than I was

25. because

26. now

27. I can speak.

 

Time Elapsed

My intestines are boiling hot and sticky as I stand on thefrontier of this discharged life with empty palms, no manifest destiny just dead space that threatens and leers and mirrors my beating heart my blood pressure no longer recorded in the book of my instability. I stand here in lieu of the chair that while mostly for show was also a prop of our unbearable frailty and the stiff little gowns we’d wrap twice around our bodies baring shoulders and vulnerable thighs I stand and long for the relapse.

The shame of it shakes me but still I long for dead-end days and time elapsed of hackneyed sap along the walls we’d already smeared with fingerprints of urine samples and crumbs in crumpled napkins, crumbs, that cold clandestine sweat of midnight push-ups in the dark, your eyes alert, I, sleeping on the other side of the wall though not so innocent I’d done planks on my bed as I read I’d done wall-sits while brushing my teeth while watching the hands tick two minutes on the clock and time elapsed in weekend misery we’d sat together in stewing silence, grease like stones in our third-world stomachs, one of us contractually obligated to be crying in a corner at all times. We’d spent four precious minutes of our slow slow slow Saturday flat on the couch with the cuff strapped to limp left arm and I’d taken pleasure in the sound of the velcro ripping apart as the bones of my left arm rejected medical confinement there on the couch feeling the dead space soft and stable between my thighs.

And you with the sideways glances, the can’t-you-just, the holier-than-thou, may you never feel the weight of the world in a teaspoon of butter, may you never see your roommate abandon her faithfulness for the price of a quarter cup of cheese. May you never may you never may you never may you never in all sincerity but also in admission of the fact that we still feel jealousy for the dying we still feel envy for the one with the tube dangling in one nostril we still feel whole-body desire for an inability to take the stairs we still have tangled knots of stomach-suctioned relapse buried deep under layers of supplements and pasta things we never wanted there latent impatient for the ticking clock to blow for me to slip from this predator-bait caravan back to the devil I know.

Hannah White is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and an incoming M.F.A. student at Temple University. She works at the Kelly Writers House, in Philadelphia, and has interned at the University of Pennsylvania Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, The Sensible Nonsense Project, Cleaver Magazine, Gadfly Online, Apiary Online, Penn Review, Rainy Day, Thickjam, and The Birch Journal.