Thrillers, Chillers andDarn Good Books
Today’s spotlight is on Larry Enright, an author whose books are receiving rave reviews. His books are heartwarming, humorous and revealing, and if you haven’t sampled his writing yet, this is your chance to get a sneak peak and discover a great new author.
Author Bio: Larry Enright was born to Irish Catholic first-generation immigrants and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After college, he moved to the Philadelphia area where for the past 40 years he has filled his life with many careers including teacher, musician, computer programmer, researcher, and writer. He has written four novels. The best seller “Four Years from Home” (2010) is his first published work. “A King in a Court of Fools” was published in September 2011. “Buffalo Nickel Christmas,” his newest work, will be out this Thanksgiving.
Genre: Mystery, humor, nostalgia.
You have a continuing character in your novels. Give us a bit of background about him/her:
Both “Four Years from Home” and “A King in a Court of Fools” are about the Ryan family. Tom Ryan, the oldest of the five children, is the narrator and protagonist in “Four Years from Home.” In that work, he is an unlikable man in his 20s, thinks of himself as king, bully extraordinaire, and the only one with a clue. This comes from his experiences as a boy and his decisions as a young man. This self perception is laid bare to the reader’s examination and judgment throughout the novel as the dark mystery surrounding Harry, the youngest brother, unfolds. “A King in a Court of Fools” takes the family back to when Tom was in 6th grade and leader of the Caswell gang, a loosely knit association of kids and siblings. This story is told by Harry and is much lighter in tone and content than “Four Years.” “A King” is a period piece with nostalgia, funny kid situations, and a view of the simpler life of the 50s. My newest work, “Buffalo Nickel Christmas,” will also be a story about the Ryans. Those who have read “Four Years” will understand an underlying irony beyond what I have described, but am unable to divulge.
Your books “A King in a Court of Fools” and “Four Years From Home” are selling quite well. Do you think people crave a simpler time and place?
There is definitely an audience for psychological mystery, which is what “Four Years from Home” is. It is a dark and twisting story about a person you cannot help but hate. It requires some perseverance to listen to his story in its entirety, but you will not be disappointed. There is also an audience for a simple, funny, and heartwarming story, which is how “A King in a Court of Fools” has been described in reviews. People enjoy the uplifting and simple just as people enjoy reading about personal sacrifice and the extent to which love will take us.
Did you have any special inspiration for your books?
My inspiration is my life, things that have happened, things that could have happened. And when blended, reformed, changed, they become a story.
Tell us a little about your books.
“Four Years from Home”
Tom Ryan — firstborn of five children in a large, Irish Catholic family, smart and acerbic, a cheat and a bully — calls himself the future king of the Ryans. There are other opinions. His mother calls him a holy terror. Mrs. Ioli calls the police on him. His father says that had Trouble been a saint, that would have been Tom’s middle name. But his parents, neighbors, peers, and siblings all must bow down before him or suffer the consequences. Just ask the Christmas turkey leftovers he buried in the side yard.
Harry, the youngest Ryan, was the shining star of the family. Bright, sensitive, and caring, he was protected by parental radar, called by God and Grandma Ryan to the priesthood, and was in Tom’s eyes, a brown-nosing little punk who had become a threat to his kingdom and the primary target of his search and destroy missions.
Then Harry changed. He abandoned his vocation and quit the church, and when he left for college, he left for good. He never called. He rarely wrote. His picture disappeared from the mantle. It was as if he had ceased to exist and his shining star had been but a passing comet. The enemy had retreated and Tom’s war was over.
“Four Years from Home” begins on Christmas 1972 during Harry’s senior year at college. The Ryan family has gathered without Harry for another bittersweet holiday celebration. When an unexpected and unwelcome gift arrives, the family demands answers and Tom Ryan, bully cum laude, must make a reluctant journey of discovery and self-discovery into a mystery that can only end in tragedy.
“A King in a Court of Fools”
A King in a Court of Fools begins with a book — The Book of Tom — a journal writing assignment from Tom Ryan’s sixth-grade teacher, Sister Jeanne Lorette. That’s what she called it. Tom called it punishment. In it, he chronicles the adventures of the Caswell Gang, a group of siblings and friends with two things in common — their love of adventure and their allegiance to Tom, their king.
The 1950s book was misplaced a long time ago, and all the children have since grown up, but Harry, Tom’s youngest brother, still remembers it and retells for us one of its stories in a nostalgic, heartwarming, and humorous way that will have you wishing for adventure, too.
“Buffalo Nickel Christmas”
This story takes place a few months after “A King in a Court of Fools,” the week before Christmas. A Monster snowstorm is on the way, and the excitement preceding the holiday intensifies with the storm. Preparations, plans, and wishes all lead to a most unlikely adventure for the Caswell gang, and adventure with magic, kings, wizards, and Santa Claus. Once again, Harry narrates this tale in a fashion that only he can.
Novel Excerpt from chapter four of the new release, “Buffalo Nickel Christmas.”
The Post Office has no official motto. The one that everyone thinks is their motto is actually just words engraved on the outside of the James A. Farley Post Office building at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” And that was actually a translation of an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted mail carriers around 500 B.C.
None of us knew anything about Herodotus or Persia or any Post Office in New York. We just knew that nothing stopped the mail. But, deep down, we were all just a little surprised when Mr. Pearson, our mailman, rang the doorbell.
Mom answered the door. “Mr. Pearson, what on earth are you doing out in this weather?”
“Only the truck routes are canceled today, Mrs. Ryan. All the walkers are still a go.”
Our post office, the one without the engraving on the outside and the Persian mounted postal carriers, was not that far from us, and we were on what they called a walking route.
“Would you like to come in and warm up a bit?”
Mr. Pearson zipped his uniform jacket up closer to his chin, covering his red flannel shirt. He was our regular mailman and always seemed to have a red flannel shirt on except during the hottest days of summer. And he always smelled like bacon no matter what time of year it was. “No, thank you, I’m nearly done. I would have dropped your mail in the box, but your Sears catalog came today and it’s too big. I didn’t want it getting ruined in the snow.”
“That was very thoughtful, Mr. Pearson. We were wondering where it had gotten to.”
“It does seem like they mailed them late this year, but that’s just more rush business for the mailmen and there’s nothing wrong with that.” He saw me peeking out from behind Mom and winked, “You might want to pay special attention to page 269, Harry. That’s my favorite.”
The Sears catalog — the most amazing book ever made, over three hundred fifty pages of the neatest things in the whole world. You could get anything from the Sears catalog: toys, men’s clothes, women’s clothes, more toys, boots, jewelry, fragrances, watches, even more toys, cowboy hats, guns, wagons, bikes, even kits to build a real house. And did I mention toys? The catalog that came every December was officially named the Sears Christmas Book but everyone called it the Wish Book. That year, the 1956 Sears Christmas Book had a picture of a boy in blue pajamas and a girl in pink pajamas looking over the banister from the steps at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and all the presents waiting for them — if only their parents would call the phone number on page 377 and place their orders with Santa.
Tom liked to call it the “Santa Gimme Book,” as in, “Santa, gimme this,” and “Santa gimme that.”
Mom held the catalog high over her head to prevent The Jumping Ryans from grabbing it. They were the world famous circus act, now in town for a limited engagement. She handed it to Dad.
“I called dibs. I get it first,” Tom complained.
“We can all look at it in the living room,” Dad said.
I wrapped myself around Dad’s left leg, and Sam tried to hold him back by his belt, but Dad was unstoppable. The catalog gave him super powers. I seem to remember a special deal on that in last year’s Wish Book. He made it to his easy chair, plopped down and extended the footrest, and the little cloud of mosquitoes gathered around the irresistible light. I got the best seat in the house.
“How come Harry always gets to sit in your lap?”
Dad adjusted me leftwards so I wasn’t sitting on the car keys in his pocket. “You’re too heavy, Tom. You can see well enough from there.”
“It’s not the same.”
“You’ll be fine.”
Kate bent over and stuck her sweetest smile right in Dad’s face. “I’m not too heavy.”
Tom used his knee and the leverage of the wall to edge her forward so he could get a better view of the book.
“Stop pushing, Tom.”
“Stop being so crowdy,” Tom said, leaning so close I could feel his breath on my neck.
“That’s not even a word.”
“You’re not even a word.”
What can your readers look forward to? Do you have an upcoming new release?
After “Buffalo Nickel Christmas,” I will be returning to Tom Ryan at a later point in his life. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for where his life goes, and I think it’s time for the pen to put them to paper.
Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
My website is http://www.larryenright.net/ . There are a couple of book videos I did of “Four Years from Home” there, samples, tidbits, that kind of thing.
I’d love for you to follow me on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/LarryEnrightAuthor . It’s the one social media site I can handle without going crazy, although I also tweet occasionally from @LarryEnright.
You purchase Larry Enright’s books at the following retailers:
Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Larry-Enright/e/B0045Z9HX2/
– also available on the U.K., DE, and FR sites.
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/larry-enright