I'll kick off The Circle with a book I just finished. It was great fun and mysterious at the same time. Michael Snyder gives his stories a great sense of humor. The mystery of a murder investigation is full of twists and turns. I highly recommend it for your consideration.
My Name Is Russell Fink
By Michael Snyder / Zondervan
Welcome to the zany life of Russell Fink---a 26-year-old copier salesman who hates his job and strives to solve the murder of his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, Sonny. His amateur sleuthing causes Russell to confront several distressing issues, including his family's dysfunction and his own long-buried feelings. Will his neurosis derail God's redemption? 368 pages, softcover from Zondervan.
I had a delightful interview with Michael as follows:
Maynard: I understand Spring Hill, TN is home for you. Tell us about where you write your books?
Indeed, we live "out in the country" in Spring Hill on adjoining properties with some close family members. My "office" (basically an architectural afterthought with some sheet rock and electrical outlets!) is above the garage. And I still use my wife's grandfather's desk. It's a behemoth, so large in fact, that I had to remove the legs to get the height just right.
Maynard: What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise you faced while writing Russell Fink?
The biggest challenge in writing Fink was actually tying up all the story threads. I knew and loved the characters pretty quickly, but the "plot" sort of evolved as I wrote the story. The biggest surprise came early...I had written three very different short stories about three distinct characters. Only after I sat down and started writing the novel did I realize that I could overlay the the three stories into one.
Maynard: Do you think this book will be helpful for librarians to get men to use the library?
I would like to think more men would find their way back to the library. And any part I might play in that process would just be groovy. I can honestly say that the "best" compliment I've received so far about Russell Fink came at a book signing in Michigan. A very nice lady sought me out and informed me that her young adult son had lost all direction in his life and hadn't read a single (non-required) book since junior high. Somehow he got his hands on Fink and she said he reads all the time now, that he's enrolled in college and things are looking much better now.
Maynard: Besides being greatly entertaining, what do you hope your readers will walk away with spiritually?
I'm one of those who is more concerned with revealing truth and beauty through story than trying to put forth any particular theme or idea. I'd like to think that any one story could impact different readers in countless ways. I like fiction that asks more questions than it answers. Besides, I'm not really smart enough to be offering a lot of answers or solutions!
Maynard: Tell us about your just released book.
I'm really terrible at synopsizing, so I'm going to use the back cover copy...
"In his second book, novelist Michael Snyder introduces us to three very unusual and distinct voices all torn by tragedy: Willy Finneran, washed-up genre novelist with an espresso maker that just won’t die and a habit of avoiding conflict even if it means putting the truth on a sliding scale. Ozena Webb, single mother and Javatek’s top customer service representative. She spends every evening playing board games with her twelve-year-old son who is mentally crippled from an early childhood accident. Shaq, a small and scraggy homeless man with trauma-induced blank spots on his memory, trying to piece together the story of his life while assisting Father Joe at the Mercy Mission. As their stories intersect, the narrative vacillates between hope and naïveté, comic relief and postmodern ennui. Startling in its authenticity, this unforgettable novel reveals that no matter how far one has strayed from hope, there is always a way to return."