Friday, January 30, 2015

Mystery, Fantasy and Horror Novelist, Suren Fant. A look at The Author.

Mystery, Fantasy and Horror NovelistBy: Suren Fant

January 29,2015

I’m an Armenian author writing both in Armenian and in English. I write fantasy, mystery and horror stories. My bestseller book, Edge of End, is a fantasy and horrornovel about a man who wakes up in a desert his memories wiped from his head. He finds himself in the middle of an unknown.
Fantasy is something beyond any barriers as there is no limit for human’s imagination. I love imagining things – real or unreal – and some of them I write down on a paper. Fantasy is the genre by which you can create your own world with your rules and do to it anything you want. You’re God here.

In 2013 I wrote two enjoyable short stories – Passion of an Angel and Wrath of Michael. Those are paranormal stories about the beginning of time and angels who are involved in creating and supporting life on Earth. Firstly angels hadn’t feelings, they were cold and emotionless wondering about the new world and examining surroundings. But one of them learned to feel and saw the beauty of God’s creation. For that life the angel is surely ready to leave even Heaven. And the new system has begun.
I’ve written a novel based on these two short stories. It’s called Godforsaken and now it’s being edited. In a month it will be available.

I start writing at age 16. Sometimes I’m asked when I realized I wanted to write. I can’t answer this question. Writing isn’t a profession, it comes itself, the words flow out themselves when you take a pen or sit down at a keyboard to type what is on your mind. That’s why there are good and bad writers.

I only can tell you that I was inspired by Stephan King. I almost love his every book. Also there are many Armenian writers that inspired me to try myself in writing. My main problem is the language. I’m trying hard to learn English, learning and learning. I don’t try to translate my books, I write them either in English, or in Armenian. Translating is a very hard profession.

As I said above, my bestseller novel – Edge of End – is a horror and fantasy story about a man – Jonathan – who starts his new life waking up in a desert his memories wiped from his head. He is alone having no clue who and what he is, where he has come from and where he should goThere is only one way – forward when he spots a little town in the distance.
This town seems abandoned like the one where the army does its experiments or the scientists test their new atomic weapons – empty streets, old houses.

Jonathan wanders the town in search of any sign of life. Soon hecomes to the realization that he's moments from death as absolutely evil dwells in the town seeking fresh souls to suck up. The seemingly dead town is only outwardly empty.

Mysteries, fights, unearthly creatures hounding our hero and his new companion – Elizabeth – a red-haired beautiful woman who doesn’t remember anything as Jonathan; that’s what awaits the readers. Now both of them along with an old man – Malcolm –have to work their way through the most hideous town that they have ever seen in their glory and work out how they have ended up in such hellish place. But the truth about the town that Jonathan is going to discover soon carries his dark secrets and his real identity.
I do hope that the fans of horror and fantasy will find my book interesting and enjoyable. The idea of writing this story came to me with a confused man walking awkwardly along an empty street surrounded by old and dusty houses. And here it is, I’ve created a world where our hero fights for the second chance.

My new novel, Touching the Freedom, and a short story, Words of Past, were published lately. Romance and fiction fans can check these books out.
In Touching the Freedom twenty-two-year-old Isabel visits Munich over her summer holidays. She didn’t have clue her life was going change before she steps into the guesthouse she is supposed to live the next fourteen days. Here she meets the mystical guy, David. He’s cute, serious, too hot, but alone. Isabel senses a mystery hovering around David but she is unable to keep her distance from him.

To gain him, Isabel has to face the secret lurking behind his dark and cute eyes and she has to confront his night life. For the first time in her life Isabel gets to know the real taste of freedom.

This is not a story about vampires or werewolves. No fantasy includes here. It’s a love story between two young people who are lost and need some help to discover who they truly are.
As I said above, currently I’m working on my new novel called Godforsaken.

I do hope you enjoy my books. Because every author needs readers support, and with that support comes new and better ideas. Keep reading.

Twitter:  @surenfant
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Posted  29th January 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas" Part 4: Inspiration - What They Talk About in Retrospect

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas"
Part 4: Inspiration - What They Talk About in Retrospect  

January 6,2015
Many readers insist they know someone in our story. Conveniently, no one has yet claimed they see themselves. Nor has anyone been in situations like the ones in Gotcha Gas.

It is always fun to look back and ask, "Where did that idea come from?" But, when the creative process is happening, there is no alert system in the soul that declares, "Hey, you are being inspired now." Still, some of it can be recollected in reasonable fashion.

Short stories and skits can be weaved and embroidered, starting from a single thought. It is essentially the business of jumping on a good idea when it comes. Larger works, like Gotcha Gas, require more planning and long-term discipline.

 Buster Keaton in Seven Chances
Gotcha Gas outgrew from close study of the legendary slapstick classics, mingled with (of all things) engineering principles learned by Banak while in Engineering College (IIT Chicago). The key is energy. Most stories will have characters dreaming of their goals - the potential energy of desire - blended with kinetic energy in pursuit of their goals. In a movie with chase scene, sometimes the only goal is a quest for survival.

The potential energy of Gotcha Gas includes the ridiculous, massive tire mounted on the roof of the station. That and the drumbeat of pending doom draw the reader to the climactic chapters.

Gotcha Gas has four action-chases, not to mention several little pursuits that keep the plot moving. One of the action-chases is confined to the boundaries of a single location (the gas station), a device Banak calls the "circle chase." In Laurel and Hardy's classic comedy Way Out West, four people chase each other around a single room, trying to get their hands on the deed to a gold mine (see photos). The result is side-splitting. The limitations of a literary form, such as a novel, naturally preclude some of the wonderful visuals a good writer would inject into a screenplay. The literary form has to be juiced with even more incident and material to compensate for the limits of the written medium.

Harold Lloyd Chase Scene: Girl Shy

Those, who want a fresh look at comedy, would do well to dip into the movie chase scenes crafted by Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. Their secret to creating that material is to inject lots of unexpected things, and new sources of danger, while everyone is running around. Gotcha Gas follows that tradition.

Character development requires a different calculus. Before posting our e-book on the usual sales channels, we were required to include disclaimers, stating that the people in the story are not real. Supposedly, this protects us from lawsuits. Oddly, everybody knows, made up stories have characters derived from real-life, so the effort at legal protection seems, perhaps, disingenuous. Yet, with two exceptions, there are no characters in Gotcha Gas, derived from real life. Weimer’s approach to most character development is good physical description, and then have them acting and reacting. Only when we're done, do they start to look like people you know.

Our first real-life character is a zealous toll-booth collector, who chased vehicles down the road for missed tolls. We are delighted that we do not know his name; he’s probably happy, too. Although he is an inspiration, he bears no resemblance at all to our obsessive toll collector “Papa Gio.”
The other real-life characterization in Gotcha Gas is the group of town founders of Gotcha, New Mexico. They are a team of composites inspired by the hucksters and con men with whom Banak’s entrepreneur Uncle Ben regularly came in contact. Those shady, phony, and desperate personalities were unforgettable and begged for expression.

Some Entrepreneurs Think Life’s A Game Show
Uncle Ben shared an office with another entrepreneur. For a brief while, Banak joined them and witnessed how new business ideas in that environment popped and flew like spit wads in a reform school. A constant parade of "associates" passed through the office with their latest deal. For example, word rippled through Uncle Ben's network that a truck full of frozen meat broke down on Archer Avenue in Chicago. 

The entrepreneurial community scrambled to see how they could legally seize the abandoned meat, while it was still good, and then resell it into the meat distribution channels of Chicago, leaving the original owners to satisfy themselves with insurance settlements. They soon dumped that dream, replacing it with the following day's crazy deal, and the next day's ...

Uncle Ben owned patents to a molding system to make precision-cut bricks. Conceivably, they fit so tightly that mortar was unnecessary. The precision was, indeed, impressive, but no one bought into it. With several projects begging for cash, one "associate" foolishly used the molding system to create artistic figurine heads, made out of purified, processed bovine dung. In the exquisitely detailed samples, you could literally see the roughage and undigested seeds in the molded material. Like most dung, this bizarre novelty never got off the ground.

Lack of funding was always hard. Uncle Ben crafted an ingenious deal where he would raise crayfish on a farm in Belize (formerly British Honduras), feeding them off a nearby rice farm he owned. The poor people of Belize would get the rice; the crayfish would thrive on the stalks. The Belize government was delighted and the American Small Business Administration loved it. But another "associate" from Texas stole the idea and had the cash to accelerate the deal forward.

Another associate, "Goochi," owed Ben a good deal of money, which Ben needed to cover the office rent. Goochi promised to pay up upon closing a deal with Motorola. He located a specialized data cable, which Motorola desperately needed. Goochi merely had to pick up the cable (cheap) and sell it to Motorola for a profit. Everything was in place; the pickup was scheduled. A day before picking up this specialized and highly-engineered cable, Goochi and his friends got an idea. They bought spools of wire, rented a cable-winding device, and attempted to wind a new cable from scratch. This way, they could profit even more. The operation occurred through midnight in a long hallway in one of the older, shorter skyscrapers in Chicago. Knowing Goochi, he probably got the cleaning and security personal involved. Horrified, Motorola quality control rejected the kinky cable and Banak cashed a Savings Bond to cover everyone’s rent.

A Typical Floating Salesman
With Floating Inventory
Then there were the floating salesmen, who always dropped by to sell off "extra" inventory. "We just concluded a luggage sales show at the hotel down the road," they would claim, "and we want to sell off this luggage so we don't have to take it back."

"No thanks," Uncle Ben would reply. "I bought some at the show."

It's not clear why Uncle Ben put up with these knuckleheads; perhaps he was hoping for that "Big Deal" to come through the door one day. His other successes (e.g., He originated the Ama-Gift motivational program from the 1970-80’s) suggested he didn't need these bottom-feeders. He often spoke in shorthand about a past religious experience, and about "giving." Perhaps he was hoping to be there for them in some special way.

So, Banak threw this cast of characters from the private business world into a literary blender; out came the three town founders of Gotcha Gas, all of them losers in the Film Noir tradition. The impetuous, dreamland demeanor of these dodgy fellows lies at the underpinning of Gotcha Gas.

This may seem odd, but we have never suffered writer’s block. Our penchant for constant rework suggests a lack of fear. If it’s no good, we will fix it - no problem. But one incident came close to writer’s block. Our approach has always been to tell stories in unusual ways. Like all novels, important plot-setting material is dumped on the reader early in the story. Where to put that material is a perennial problem. Banak’s first drafts of that had everything rolled out in a long, intense interview setting. Though perhaps clever, early reviewers hated it. That introductory part had to be rewritten. Even the trashcan frowned when we threw out that first attempt. Banak was too close to the problem to solve it, so he asked Weimer to recraft a new approach. The result is several spread-out chapters, including Chapter 6, A Tour of the Islands, which became Banak’s favorite.

Since nearly every chapter is a cliffhanger unto itself, we should acknowledge the ghost of the old weekly serials, always there, urging us to drive the reader nuts.

Oh, yes, about that title: The original working title, when the story was first conceived, was The American Way, suggesting a cynical view of the Military and Commercial worlds. It stayed that way for ten years. When Banak and another friend stopped for gas on the Pennsylvania turnpike, his friend saw the prices and declared “Gotcha Gas.” Instantly, that registered as the correct title for the story.

We are grateful to reviewers and friendly readers who have expressed their pleasure over the high energy and tangible characters in Gotcha Gas. As far as those few real-life characters influencing us, we believe everyone is safe. If not, GOTCHA!

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas" Part 3 – Who Are These Blokes?

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas"
Part 3 – Who Are These Blokes?

January 6,2015

While battling the Auto-Format utility in MSWord, we sometimes wonder, “Why are we staying up so late? How did we wind up doing all this?”

We met in an all-boy's secondary school, a trauma-induction center called St. Rita's High School. If "St. Rita" was still alive, she would have dragged them to court. The dizzy montage in the photo (lifted from a yearbook) is exactly how we remember the place.

The Original St. Rita High School - We Paid To Go There
We shared some memorable things in that toxic environment: A Latin class where the instructor practiced clapping by using his hand and your face, if you dared to "accent the ultima," and three memorable English instructors. Messrs. Kopcinski and Brongiel urged us to appreciate the classics. But Mr. O’Malley opened the floodgates by offering extra credit for creative writing. Among other works, Weimer submitted so many Marx Brothers sketches, that he had to convince O’Malley they were truly original and not just transcriptions from the movies. For Banak, creative writing made up for deep deficiencies in fulfilling the English curriculum.

Away from high school, we absorbed another range of classics: the work of the comedy masters. Banak was more into the high-energy visual and slapstick comedy (Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Three Stooges), while Weimer was more broad based, also relishing that lose-your-breath repartee from the likes of Abbot & Costello, The Marx Brothers, and those bottomless wells of creativity, the classic radio comedies of Jack Benny, George Burns & Gracie Allen, and their rivals.

There is an attitude that takes over the mind when one is immersed in stuff like that, such that new jokes and fresh material emerge naturally. The world became an endless supply of things to joke about, except for The Chicago Cubs. Short stories of our own soon followed.

Weimer Adlibs On Live Radio
College offered new avenues for creativity. While Banak studied intensely at Illinois Institute of Technology, Weimer spent his time at the University of Illinois (Chicago) with science classes and an on-campus job with the audiovisual department. With a connection to the college radio station, Weimer invited Banak to drop by to record radio skits. Banak and Weimer soon wormed their way into shows presented by the Comedy Workshop, the comedy troupe at UIC (see photo for one of those intrusions). Though Weimer was never an official member of the Comedy Workshop, he was on very good terms with them all. Two of the troupe participated in our first large-scale radio broadcast: The Continuing Story of Cinderella.

Live On Stage - Banak & Weimer In Total Control.

Out of college – Banak with an Electronics Engineering degree and Weimer with a Biology Teaching degree – we collaborated on occasional projects that we mailed to our friends. While Banak moved about the USA making microchips, Weimer changed careers and went from teaching to IT. When he was in college, Weimer started performing magic and found work in one of Chicago’s “magic bars.” Throughout the eighties and nineties, Weimer performed regularly at night as a comic magician at Chicago area magic bars, comedy clubs, and restaurants.

Upon deciding to create Gotcha Gas as a full-length novel, it seemed natural to tackle a big project.

In writing Gotcha Gas, as with all our work, we used one criterion. If something was to be funny, we both had to think so. If an idea of Banak’s was not funny to Weimer, it was thrown out. Likewise, when Weimer’s were not funny to Banak, those were thrown out too, regardless how long Weimer tried to convince Banak otherwise. When we were both laughing, THAT’S when we knew the gag should go on paper. When neither of us laughed, we adjourned and watched the late news for fresh material.

Writing a full-length novel provides the luxury of more time for developing comic situations. Lots of payoffs appear later in the story. Some details and situations are introduced early for a comic delivery deeper in the book. Many times, as we toiled over rewrites, we thought of a new gag or funny situation to add. That meant we had to go back to earlier chapters and retrofit another setup.

Some of our characters wind up in the most outlandish situations. We had a rule for this too: No matter how ridiculous the predicament our character wound up in, we needed to use logical baby steps to take the reader from points A to B, points B to C, and so on. The situation may be implausible, but at least the reader completely understands how everyone got there.
Your Scribes - Banak & Weimer

Authors create their own worlds, regardless how real they strive to make them. Many things in everyday life are boring. When we watch an action-filled movie or program, we never stop to realize the guy hasn’t eaten nor slid past a restroom the whole time.

We often discuss things in terms of “Mike’s and Bill’s universe.” There are no set rules or guidelines, but from working together over all these years, we both instinctively know what belongs to it and what doesn’t. A hundred-foot automobile tire displayed on a gas station roof in the middle of the desert? Sure, that belongs. Our goal as writers is to invite you into our universe and give you best possible time while you are there.

Banak is an Electronics Engineer and Geomatics Professional. He has authored many articles in technical journals. He maintains the Gotcha Gas Facebook page

Weimer works by day as a Data Base Administrator, but still performs magic after hours (visit his website at He has authored the book Now You See Them, Now You Don’t – My life at the magic bars in Chicago (website: about working the Chicago magic bars from the late seventies to the late nineties; the book is also on sale in magic shops. Weimer also maintains the Gotcha Gas website (, the best place to contact us for that Gotcha Gas Big Hollywood contract. 

Currently, we are recording comic campfire songs that Weimer composed. When we’re done, Weimer will post them on his website and on YouTube. We expect dozens of hits, just in time for camping season somewhere in the world.

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas" Part 2 – Researching Our Legend - We Can’t Make Everything Up

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas"
Part 2 – Researching Our Legend - We Can’t Make Everything Up

After reading Gotcha Gas – Debacle Near Roswell, people often ask us about the research that went into the book. After all, we were both living in Chicagoland when we wrote the book. How did we happen to know so much about 1947 New Mexico?

Banak’s original story had New Mexico, and possibly Roswell, as its background. He spent many years living in Arizona and knew of life in the Southwest quite well. Unfamiliar with the geography of the New Mexico, he simply imported some things, like the pointless Road to Nowhere, from Reading, Pennsylvania (one of his many corporate relocations) and made up other geography to fit the story where needed. After all, we were creating a fictional story, not an atlas. Still, the overall framework and feel of the landscape had to be correct.

This Was Followed By Waves Of Retractions
A couple of quick clicks on the Internet gave us the story of the Roswell Incident. On the whole, stories about the incident make for a pail of contorted snakes. Once we determined how Roswell fit into our tale, we needed to determine where in New Mexico our legend would take place. With Rand McNally (his maps, not the actual person) spread out in front of us, we decided on locations for events. It was key that this mysterious place in the story, Gotcha, NM, be placed close enough to civilization to be accessible, but far enough away that no one today would dare go there to find its remains. We still have nightmares of people ringing us to complain that they cannot find it. Or else FBI agents dropping by to question us.

1940 Nash
Vehicle Of Doom For Our Hapless Robbers
More not-as-quick clicks on the Internet gave us information on the vehicles and life in general around 1947. The details concerning the crooks’ getaway car required a lot of thought, since the vehicle appears throughout the book. In what kind of car do you place four obnoxious boobs who dream of reliving gangster movies? We hit pay dirt when we discovered the discontinued Nash. The name had one syllable and was quite distinctive. We made the year of the car to be 1940; it would be seven years old by our story, emphasizing the owners did not have the money to be the newest model. Besides, 1940 has fewer syllables that the options of 1939 or 1941. The color gray also was also distinct and one syllable. The crooks’ car became the 1940 gray Nash.

In contrast to the Nash, the mayor’s wife’s car needed to emphasize its importance. Without specifying an actual car model or make, it became the cream-colored convertible with lots of hard syllables and great alliteration. Again, we had created a unique visual in the readers’ minds.

Additional, extensive research revealed a bouquet of car models, into which we could place hapless motorists, who get caught in the bedlam at Gotcha Gas. We found nothing commercially available to match the Cement Truck nor the Cowan Milk Tanker (featuring udder-shaped dispensaries), so we had to make them up.

Our helicopter in the story caused a bit of a road bump, because research showed the helicopters around 1947 were mostly one-person aircraft and certainly not the big familiar-to-us shape the story features. We solved the problem by simply describing it as “experimental.” Naming it The Pickle allowed the helicopter to become a live character. (We have wondered if this qualifies the novel as science fiction).

Typical Vendorlator Models
Further inquiries gave us more “color” to the story, such as the songs playing on the Gotcha Gas radio and the Harley-Davidson slogans. We checked multiple sources until we found a quality report on hit songs of that era, and the radio station playing them. Observant readers will find a synergy between the songs playing on the radio and hair-raising developments at the station. Motorcycle enthusiasts will relish the armada of bike models commandeered by “JL” and his budding gang. Coca-Cola Trivia buffs will recognize the “Vendorlator” at once.

 Wipeouts on research gave us license to invent things and/or reasons for things. Adding secret military bases, for example, was easy. Who could question that?

We had two other “tools” to help us with our story:

A scale model of Gotcha Gas helped immensely. With dozens of vehicles haunting the gas station, we needed to choreograph the action. Like playing on a giant board game, we pushed pieces resembling cars and trucks throughout the gas station until we came up with the right scenario. Along with a map of the area and a spreadsheet of character activities throughout that fateful day, the scale model provided focus. (Though Weimer’s wife did wonder if we were plotting a crime).

Imagine Three Days Of This

A three-day junket to New Mexico paid off handsomely. Upon landing in Albuquerque, we immediately verified there truly was a New Mexico. We were especially anxious to explore the Picacho Road (see photo, entrance to dirt road), as a prototype of The Road to Nowhere. Our choice of rental car (no thanks to Banak) was pathetic. The terrain we explored on the Picacho Road called for a Jeep at a

Picacho Road - Our Prototype Of The Road To Nowhere
minimum. Instead, we had a subcompact, low-cost, low-hanging sardine can. At least twice, the floorboard scraped rocky bottom. With that plus the large, wandering fauna, Weimer was starting to think it was a high-risk safari. We traveled throughout the state sightseeing the areas we only dreamed of with Rand McNally (again, the maps). Other than being almost pounced on by a meandering cow and a stealthy antelope in the desert, and thinking we went completely off-course when we came across a restaurant named Kentucky Fried Chicken, the trip had some revelations:

Undercover In Roswell
Rosewell UFO Museum: Free Parking

Of course, Roswell had the flaky UFO Museum (see photos). But some of the towns Mr. McNally detailed with his open circles were actually just four scattered buildings, a few trailer homes, and a post office. And we weren’t sure it was even open. Our Little League team was originally from a town that we discovered had only 20 people in it - hardly enough to support a whole baseball team! Physically seeing the area caused us to invoke the names of larger towns and to move the Road to Nowhere 40 miles to the east, within striking distance of the legendary Flying H Ranch. We fear they may call us, too.

We envisioned the Roswell library as a typical old city library, where Ramon would walk up “well-worn” steps. The Library of Roswell was quite the opposite – a beautiful modern glass and brick structure. The librarians told us we were probably thinking of the “old” library.
The Real Roswell Library

The librarians at the Roswell Library were wonderful women. Used to living in Chicago with its too-many unhappy civil servants, our story originally had the librarians crabby and reluctant to help. The librarians at Roswell were the complete opposite. After we explained our mission, they went out of their way to help us, including a tour of the place. Fearful of later calls from them, we rewrote Ramon’s experience in the Roswell Library, changing the librarians to very friendly and adding details we learned during our visit. They also confirmed our suspicion that newspaper microfilm from the era of the Roswell Incident had to be replaced more frequently.

Looking back over the eight-year project, some research fell into place nicely, others required some digging, and other elements had to be manufactured. But our job as authors was to make sure that the casual reader couldn’t tell the difference.

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas" Part 1 - The World Was Our Writing Studio, But We Had Preferences.

Weimer and Banak, Authors of "Gotcha Gas"
Part 1 - The World Was Our Writing Studio, But We Had Preferences.

January 6,2015

We believe our phone bills deferred the breakup of AT&T by several years. It sounds fishy, but we started collaborating by telephone, when we discussed translations of epic poems from our high school Latin class. Weimer purchased English translations from a downtown Chicago bookstore, and they were the starting point for our daily study sessions. In between the trials of Caesar, Cicero, and Virgil (the ancient Romans, not the long-forgotten vaudeville tumbling team), we would each interject jokes, comic scenarios, or sketch ideas to liven up the discussion. The therapy was addictive.

As The Years Go By, The Cords Get Longer

Telephone collaboration has its advantages, especially a lack of transparency as to what the other guy was doing from minute to minute. Our writing areas were as a large as our phone cords would allow. Think “long distance” (see photo - Banak). It also made every phone booth in America a potential writing lab.

An early creative effort, a series of humorous "Horrorscopes," was done largely by telephone. When crafting scripts for broadcast on the University of Illinois at Chicago radio station, some of our work migrated to lunch tables and student lounges. If they knew what we were doing, campus security would have taken action.

Our Board Game, “S. O. P.”
It Looks Even More Complicated With The Game Pieces
Some projects required us to work together live and in-color. A board game invention based on office life (see photo), with its countless pieces, long cluttered the dining room table at Weimer’s home. We scrubbed it when office automation changed everything. Several live performances at UIC comedy shows required in-person rehearsals. We're still sore from The Trampoline Act ... for which “the trampoline never arrived and we were contracted to still perform.”

Most writing for the college radio skits required last-minute on-site collaboration. Hardest part was conveying to volunteer actors and voice-overs exactly what effect we were aiming for. One radio bit featured the walk through of a haunted house for sale. The volunteer actor playing the sales agent was supposed to play it straight, with ghouls, goblins, and banshees wailing away on a soundtrack. That's a lot to ask someone headed to Poetry Class in the next few minutes.

Owing to two corporate relocations for Banak, we drafted several short stories by telephone and further refined them in Weimer’s living room when travel brought Banak back to Chicago. Before word processors, a friend recruited to type up one story didn't know it was supposed to be a comical tale, and only discovered it at her typing stand. She advised us of this finding, as if to alert us of an unintended consequence. Explaining that to her proved awkward; word processors couldn't get here soon enough.

The seminal ideas for Gotcha Gas, conceived as a visual dramatization (for film or TV), were developed behind a steering wheel in the dark of night, when Banak did extensive road travel in the eighties and nineties. After the turn of the century, the idea was shared with Weimer, who suggested that Banak write a full-length novel. Immediately, Banak offered to make it a joint effort. The outline took four weekly meetings; then each volunteered to cover the chapters he thought had potential. Initial collaboration occurred when we exchanged drafts for further enhancement. But the critical part was the line-by-line review of each chapter. And this happened in a golden place.

Weimer's Office
Where The Magic Happens
Weimer designed a special office for creative work (see photo). There he develops close-up comedy magic. The work of the great magicians and comedy masters is celebrated therein, with classic posters, reference books, and memorabilia everywhere. Further, the walls behind us have shelving, two-deep, with a vast collection of English & American TV shows, and classic films, many of them silent. Another shelving complex stacks-up countless books about the history of comic films and their secrets. In short, the room is pulsating with inspiration.

Our style is to agonize over every syllable. When we lean back to catch some fresh ideas, our eyes feast on the likes of the Marx Brothers, Blackstone, Barney Fife, Houdini, The Three Stooges, etc. Also on hand is a big assortment of joke books and writing style manuals. Oddly, the old text from our high school English class gets more usage than anything (and certainly more than our student days). While we never lifted a joke from those books, they did put the spurs in us.

The resources in the office can be ransacked at will. At one point in Gotcha Gas, an angry customer demands action from the Gas Attendant, who is being pulled in every direction with the unfolding mayhem. We needed to create the name of a game to fill the blank in this expression: "We don't have time to play (blank) while you figure out what to do!" It took nearly an hour, with dictionaries, trivia references and game books all over the floor, before we hit on the breakthrough. When you come across the words “Butcher’s Ballet” in the story, don’t e-mail us for the rules.

The office also became the holding tank for the lengthy character spreadsheet in Excel, the massive story timeline in Excel, the refined outline in Word, and the hand-crafted maps & scale model of the Gas Station, with a cutout for every vehicle in the fiasco. If it weren’t for the fun environment and writing manuals around us, surely the NSA would have nabbed us on suspicion alone.

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