Today Shorehouse Books (HOPress-Shorehouse Books) is proud to release Heartly God? by the mysterious and talented Wil 3. If I had to create a genre for this book, it would be Spiritual Thriller. From the moment I read the first draft, I was hooked and it takes a lot to hook me –mystery, suspense, humor, etc. When you read this book you might think about miracles, their power, their existence and what would you do if one was thrown your way. Also, I want to give recognition to Tony Brandstetter, whose photography and cover design adds to mysterious element of this novel. Heartly God? is available in paperback and Kindle. Wil 3 will be at Classic Lines Bookstore for a book signing with fellow Pittsburgh authors John Chamberlin (Above the Fries) and Nancy Berk (College Bound and Gagged) on Wednesday May 10th from 7 PM to 8:30 and then in the Philly area on June 24th at Narberth Bookshop in Narberth, PA and on June 25th at Towne Book Center and Cafe in Collegeville, PA for the Lawyers of HOPress event. Details to Follow on all signings.
Below is our print interview with the author Wil 3 (a mysterious name as well).
1. Tell us about Wil 3 (where did you grow up, education, family, etc.)
I grew up in Penn Hills, PA, just outside city limits of Pittsburgh. I was raised by my mom and dad and I have a younger brother, Mark Plain. After high school, I attended Washington & Jefferson College and graduated with a double major in Political Science and Secondary Education. After college, I attended Duquesne University School of Law. I have worked as a teacher, a curriculum designer and as an attorney.
2. Have you always had the desire to be a novelist
Not sure that I wanted to be a novelist, but I always enjoyed writing stories, especially funny stories, unlike Heartly God? My fifth-grade teacher, Bob Hudak should be credited (or blamed) for starting me on the path of writing. He was one of the best teacher I have ever had because he truly inspired me as a young student to pursue writing. Scott Frank, my freshman English professor, mentored me a great deal (as he continues to do so to this day) and convinced me that with hard work and continued learning, I would be able to write something that people may like to read.
3. Tell us about your writing experience (plays, articles, etc.)
Just before I turned 21, I had an editorial published in the Pittsburgh Press that dealt with First Amendment Rights and flag burning. During my junior year of college, I wrote my first one-act play and was lucky enough to have it performed by the student theater group. I never experienced such a feeling of accomplishment and excitement as I did when I watched my original words transformed into action on a stage by brilliant actors. I keep chasing that feeling with every story or play I write. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have a few more one-act plays performed. I have written a couple of children’s books and other short stories, but “Heartly God?” is the first to get published.
4. When did you get the inspiration for this story and how did it come about?
That question could be a story by itself. The short version is that I started to write a screen play about five or six months after 9/11. Five years later, the screen play was finished and was filed in my desk drawer. When my son, who loves to read, was old enough to realize that I had written some stories, he would ask me over and over to let him read them. Some I have shared with him, but “Heartly God?” I will not, until he is older. But he inspired me to take the screen play out from my desk and turn it into a novel.
5. Even though the novel is fiction, it will bring up questions for a lot of readers. What questions did it bring up for you as the writer?
“Heartly God?” has gone through such a transformation from a finished screen play to a novel, but the underlying theme has remained the same—can we still believe in miracles and if so, do we possess the ability to recognize them when they occur, or have we all become too jaded and cynical for such things. What if science and technology fail to provide us with explanation for events. Can we believe in the possibility of a miracle at that point?
6. What do you like best about Nico your protagonist? What do you like least?
Nico was never intended to be the protagonist. Originally, he was one character out of many who had an experience and changed as a result. In time as the novel was developed, Nico became the protagonist. I like two things about him: 1) He reluctantly accepts a change from having a powerless and meaningless life to one of great power, then he completely lets it all go to his head, and in the end, squanders the opportunity he was presented. I think he portrays a very realistic human experience in that regard. 2) I like his character arch. To me, it seems very classical, at least compared to the other characters in the novel. Although the specifics would obviously need to change, I think Nico’s character would fit in well in a Nathaniel Hawthorne story. What I dislike the most about Nico is that he takes no ownership of his life in any regard. He blames himself a lot, but does nothing to try to remedy his situation.
7. Is Nico your favorite character? Do all of your characters have a piece of you in their personalities or are they totally separate from you?
My favorite character is the priest, Father O’Toole. Sometimes I regret that the story was not written from his point of view, because I think he has the potential of being a both funny and tragic at the same time. I think it is impossible to write any character without including parts of the writer in each of them. But I try hard not to do that. If the characters were like me, the story would be terrible to read and would be over in 15 pages. However, Jessica is very much me, until the end. You have to look past the obvious distinctions, but the way she delivers a line and her mannerisms are me. One of my very dear friends who was reading this story in development almost picked up on it—she asked me to expand on Jessica because she felt that Jessica was very important to me. My friend was right, though the way Jessica exits the story leaves room for debate.
8. How difficult was the writing process for your first novel? What was the most important thing you learned in the process?
I really hate to use a trite expression, but life gets in the way pretty much sums it up. Student loans, mortgage payments and raising a child can make it difficult to write when writing is not a full-time job that you get paid to do. I can only hope that my second novel does not take 14 years to write as this one did. I was introduced to the phrase, “Killing your darlings.” It is hard seeing my best writing not make the book, but at least now I understand why it couldn’t be there. But the biggest lesson I learned is that I have surrounded myself with truly talented people who I can trust and I need to trust them through the process, even if my initial reaction is not to agree at first. Nico would not do that. Nico would have told everyone in my small circle to “pound salt,” but you see where that got Nico.