Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Im Here To Help - Review and Interview

Paperback, $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-9855369-0-9
eBook, $7.99
ISBN: 978-0-615-60539-5
Fiction, 125 pages
Striped Cat Press, July 1, 2012
Seventeen-year-old Renita discovers some subtle inconsistencies in her birth certificate that put
her mother Sharon’s long held account that she was adopted into doubt. Sharon decides that it is
finally time to tell Renita about both the laudable good deeds and the lamentable oversights that
had led them to the current situation.
Using a series of old framed photos that have hung for years in the living room, Sharon slowly
reveals the complex set of events involving a star-crossed trip to Mexico, a very young stowaway
Hispanic baby sitter named Juliana, the untimely death of Sharon’s husband, the unexpected
pregnancy of Juliana, the eventual birth of Renita to Juliana and finally Juliana’s struggle with
clinical depression that leads to her suicide.
Through some sketchy paperwork filled at the county recorder’s office, Sharon was listed as
Renita’s mom.

1.    Is there any other job that you've not done yet that you've always wanted to do?

When the economy fell apart a few years ago and I had to give up on residential construction, I worked with a fabulous second grade teacher as a guest science lecturer once or twice a month.

It is so much fun to interacting with seven and eight year olds, they are naturally very curious about the world around them and especially open to discovery. Second graders have endless questions, so I would spend hours explaining obscure physics or biology to them.

If I could endure another trip through college, Id probably get a degree in education and a teaching credential. Whether there would be any jobs available in that profession when I finished up is another matter.

2: Do you write about your past jobs in your novels?  I'd love to read one where it involved the art of glass blowing, being very descriptive of the processes. It leaves me with such a soothing/calm feeling.


I started out in an Old World-style glass shop with big fire breathing open furnaces; it is so hot. Later I did move on to scientific glasswork, which is not so physically torturous.

Perhaps I will slip some hot glasswork into a future novel, it is an intense experience that lends itself well to plenty of superb description and second degree burns.

I have a main character in an upcoming novel that is a carpenter and I introduce him as he is slogging away up on a rooftop in the Oakland hills with a great view of the San Francisco Bay in the background. It is an experience that I know well.

3: What authors do you read?

Right now, being at the other end of the literary game, I try to stay away from other author's fiction mainly because I don’t want to inadvertently steal someone else’s hard work. Which is not to say that I don’t read. I pick my way through two different newspapers everyday and five or six science magazines every month.

Years ago I read one or two novels per week, being the Space-Age baby that I am it was mostly science fiction by Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I love the irony and rawness of Joe Haldemans The Forever War and the tough and resourceful female protagonist in Joanna Russs Picnic On Paradise.

Most of my non-science fiction literary influences right now trail back to many years spent in revival movie houses during the 1980s. I have a reference in Im here to help about how odd experiences sometimes have the stark and disjointed feel of a foreign film; the works of Fellini, Truffaut, and Luis Buñuel come to mind.

4: What genre would you never want to write?

I’ll try almost anything.

I don’t think that I’d do a very good job with poetry. I suspect that the distinctive styles and rhythms of the genre would pull me inextricably away from the ethereal ideas floating around in my gray matter.

Being a lifelong tinkerer, I cant say that I would never write poetry.

Maybe haikus or limericks?

5: What do you do to relax: read, hike, shop, eat??

Relax? Whats that?

I love listening to music. Currently Im revisiting my old fondness for Jazz and R&B. There are several Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles songs that Ive listened to over and over again recently: Good Morning Heartache, Cotton Tail and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Ella and You Dont Know Me, Georgia On My Mind and Feel So Bad by Ray Charles. These songs are thoroughly saturated with emotion.

Nearly everything by Nora Jones regularly wafts though my workroom. She has a great voice and I love her recent risk-taking with lyrics and styles.

My eighteen-year-old son is a fantastic guitarist so I often have the complex and melodious sounds that he produces while he practices filtering through while I write. This popped up in one of my upcoming science fiction novels.

6: Are the other books part of a series, and what are the plans for future books?

I’m in the middle of two different science fiction series right now: The MAC series that starts with Floyd 5.136 and the Free City series that begins with my next to publish novel, The Ripple In Space-Time. Both share some of the same characters but are otherwise unrelated.

I’m here to help was my first effort at literary fiction. Right now I am writing two books in tandem, the first is an intense and compact literary piece about homelessness called The Missive In The Margins and the second is a sequel to The Ripple In Space-Time entitled Torn From On High.

7: How do you do research? Do you travel or use the Internet for info?

In the past I’ve traveled to Mexico, London, the Southwest, East Africa and most of Hawaii. All of these places have been locales in various books.

Much of Torn From On High takes place in Tunis in North Africa and the Shannon Basin in Ireland. I haven’t been to either place yet so I spent a great deal of time poking around on the Internet reading about them. Pictures really help me to form a sense of the physical nature of a place.

8. What is the most difficult scene to write?

Kids dealing with death; it’s a wrenching end-of-innocence moment that I’ve tried once or twice to capture and convey to the reader. There’s a chapter in an upcoming novel about a young character who finally comes to terms with a past tragedy that causes me to tear up every time that I read it.

9. What was the most fun scene to write?

There have been a few chapters in several different books that have dealt with utterly unexpected disasters, I know that it sounds strange but they are a blast to write.

Forcing perfectly ordinary people to suddenly go through the physical, mentally and emotionally trauma of a catastrophe is the literary equivalent of the wild ride down the first big drop on a roller coaster.

Both leave me shaky afterwards.

Generally; if it is exciting to read, it was exciting to write.

 S F Chapman
Author Biography
S F Chapman has done it all. He spent 4 years as a truck driver, 8 years as a
scientific glass blower and 20 years as a building contractor. He’s a
computer geek, handyman, music lover and relentless tinkerer.
But it’s his newest venture he’s most passionate about. In the next five years
Chapman plans to release 12 books, his first being I’m here to help (July
1, 2012), a literary fiction tale about a teenage daughter looking for answers
to some inconsistencies on her birth certificate.
Family is something Chapman knows well, as he’s the third of 12 children
born to an endearing stay-at-home mother and traveling salesman father during
the 1960s Space Race.
His desire for writing sparked while working on his liberal arts degree at Diablo Valley College.
Chapman chose mostly classes in the English Department, focusing on science fiction literature,
composition and short story writing. He generated nearly a dozen short stories in two years.
Since 2009, he’s begun writing novel-length fiction tales and prepping for the launch of his own
independent book publishing company Striped Cat Press. The six works so far are the post-apocalyptic
soft science fiction MAC Series consisting of Floyd 5.136, Xea in the Library and Beyond the Habitable
Limit; the science fiction detective story entitled The Ripple in Space-Time; his debut literary novella
I’m here to help; and the general fiction tale of death and destruction called On the Back of the Beast.
Chapman is currently alternating between two entirely different writing projects: the first being a rough
and tumble literary novel about homelessness called The Missive In The Margins; and the second a
science fiction detective squeal to The Ripple in Space-Time dubbed Torn From On High.
Chapman is a Californian for life, having grown up in the northern part of the state and living the past 53
years in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife are the proud parents of an 18-year-old son and 16-
year-old daughter. They currently live in Concord.

My review:

Renita is preparing college applications and one asks for a birth certificate and she can't figure a few things out. Why was she not born in a hospital.
The mother, Sharon takes her to the living room and with the pictures on the walls proceeds to explain the events that lead up to the day she was born.
Found this light reading although intense at different moments while reading as extreme things occurred.
Love how a picture is worth a thousand words and that all the events were chronologically categorized on the walls of their loving house.
I've had similar childhood memories about our car, this caused me a chuckle.
Love hearing of the travels and what was there, what they did and people along the way.
Like how the title becomes part of the whole book and how the roles reverse to the other being the one to help.
Glad this book had a handful of characters because I feel that many more and there would be such confusion with situations.
Love the close relationship the mother and daughter have and that they can and do talk about everything.
Rate this a 5 out of 5 because it took me to places I'll never get to in my lifetime and it taught me new things-the problems after a birth.

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