Friday, June 8, 2012

Interview with Chris Mendius author of Spoonful

Michael Lira has a problem. Living in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago during the late nineties, he sees everyone else getting ahead except for him and his friends, a bunch of junkies, artists and has-beens. Between slamming dope and slipping away for trysts with Lila, a free-spirited painter who strips to pay the rent, Michael has what he needs but it s not enough. He wants to make a real move. When he meets two frat boys from Northwestern University looking to score, Michael sees his chance and takes it. With the help of Sal, his partner in crime, Michael pulls together a bundle of money. After getting the hard sell from a shady broker, he puts it in the stock market. Everyone else is getting rich. Why can t he? One hot tip leads to another until it all erupts in a bloody confrontation that will change his life forever.

First off I'd like to say thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his busy schedule to do an appearance here at the Indie Book Blog. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks for having me, Scott. I grew up in Naperville, Illinois but I lived in Chicago for a long time after college. That's where I met my wife Jayne. She lived near the Music Box, an old-time movie theater. We got married and a little while later moved to Oak Park right after our kids were born. I got a Bachelor's Degree in engineering and an MBA but I've always been creatively driven. I used to want to make movies and even took a couple screen-writing classes but then I discovered fiction. I could tell the story I wanted, the way I wanted without the need for millions of dollars of investment to get it out there.

The dedication of your book is a little vague. Is there a story behind it?

The book is dedicated to my buddy Humboldt. He was my dog who died last year. I wrote a lot of the book in my head when I was walking him at night.

How did you manage to create Michael in a way that, even when he is breaking the law it's easy to think of him as a decent guy?

I think the main reason Michael doesn't lose his appeal, even as he breaks the law, is because you understand why he's doing it. And he's no bully. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. He just wants to score. I also think it helps to see the fierce loyalty between him and his friends. They stick up for each other and as you pointed out in your review, often pay a bloody price.

Is Dante more than he appears to be? Is his presence representative of a specific type of person or segment of the population or is he just a good friend who doesn't really approve of Michael and Sal's drug habit?

I think all the characters are more than they appear to be though I can't necessarily describe how off the top of my head. One thing Dante represents is my love of of football. I played in Junior High and High School and it's still my favorite sport to watch. In many ways, football is a lot like life. Traits like skill and courage go a long way, but fate always has the last word. No matter how much you prepare, you never know what will happen in a day or game. And given the violent nature of the sport, the fortune of a player or a team can radically change on any snap. Dante also represents the bonds of lifelong friendship. Even though he strongly disapproves of all the drugs his friends do, he refuses to turn his back on them.

Did you have a guy like Dante in your past?

I know some crazy football players and some hardcore alcoholics, but nobody quite like Dante.

I really did not see the book ending in the way that it did. I've seen that you are working on a follow-up book now, can you share a little bit of the plot without spoiling anything?

I'm glad to hear the ending got you by surprise. I had a vision of where the story would go but I wasn't sure how it would get there. I love the way it turned out. My next book is called IN THE PINES, named after another old blues tune. It picks up right where SPOONFUL ends. It's hard to get into the plot without giving up too much, especially for anyone interested in reading SPOONFUL, but I will say that the bulk of the action takes place in Los Angeles.

Can you see Spoonful as a major movie?

Yes I can. The characters and the action in particular would make for a killer movie. I haven't really given the cast much thought but I've had a few good suggestions from readers. I could see Ryan Gosling as Michael and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Sal and maybe Tom Hardy as Dante. And for Lila, I picture an actress like Scarlett Johansson or even Christina Hendricks.

Well I'd like to thank Chris again for his time. I thought Spoonful was a great book and recommend checking it out for a no punches pulled look at drug addiction in Chicago in the 90's.

It's been a pleasure, Scott. Thanks for having me.

To keep track of what Chris is up to check out the Facebook page for his book.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I absolutely love that the novel is dedicated to the author's beloved dog. So sweet!