Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fire On The Water
 A Companion To Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 

Fire On The Water: A Companion To Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 
By P.J. Parker
Category: Drama
Publication Date: 12th December 2013 
ISBN paperback: 978-1-61213-196-2
ISBN ebook: 978-1-61213-197-9

Book Summary 

Rachel, a young American biographer researching the life of Mary Shelley in Montreux, Switzerland, is entangled and consumed by the escalating threads of her investigation. Shards of Shelley’s creation are exhumed from the past. Precious memories are hacked and sutured to the unthinkable. The unblemished flesh of the one she loves is stripped back to reveal what lies beneath—aspects of Frankenstein incised and ripped from the nineteenth century and transplanted into her own.
Through a landscape of archival documents, the contents of a trunk unopened for generations, and a spiraling progression of dismembered cadavers and uncertainties, Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein interweaves Rachel’s searchwith the plot of Frankenstein and the horrific occurrences of the summer of 1816 when Mary Shelley dared to dip her quill into the ink of her darkest of waking dreams.
The truth is given life.

P.J. Parker

P.J. Parker was born and raised in rural Australia. With a bachelor of science in architecture from the University of New South Wales, he has traveled and lived extensively around the world, focusing on cultures of historic interest and buildings of architectural significance before transitioning into a career as a fraud analyst and programmer with a leading international financial institution. An avid reader and researcher, P.J. undertakes his writing with a passionate and exacting attention to detail.

Praise for Fire On The Water

The impossible has been done... a really great novel inspired by a really great novel.
-ARC Review, Goodreads

There were some particularly great moments in this story. Times when your own heart is beating as fast as that of the character you are experiencing things with. I loved that the author balanced moments of excitement with a deep back story of Shelley's research and composition of her famed novel. 
                                 -ARC Review, Goodreads

Publication Date: 12th December 2013
Sales Information
Fire On The Water is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon, B&N.com, The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House online: http://ph.thew riterscoffeeshop.com/books/detail/109, and available in ebook format on iTunes and Kobo. 

Now we get into P.J.'s head a little!

1. How does Fire On The Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein translate the horror and underlying social message of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1816) into the modern world?

The horror and underlying social messages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are as relevant today as they were in 1816. Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein reveals that the two timelines are little removed and in many ways nothing has changed. Both are periods of miraculous scientific advances, prejudices against gender and identity, the unending search for the truth and meaning of Life. The dread of death—whether by accident, murder or His will—is pervasive. All resolve to a landscape wherea creator and acreated can easily disrupt the delicate balance of social mores whenever they surface from the amalgamation of science, identity and truth.

First and foremost, like Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinFire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a horror story—exposing the horror of the world in which both Mary Shelley and we all live.

2. What are the underlying messages in Mary's book and do you think they are still revenant today?

The prejudices that society holds against the accepted, the unknown or unusual can destroy a life. We have all created something—whether a story, a drawing, a home, a career, an identity, a life. And each is unique and should be respected, no matter who or how it was created.

To create a thought, a society, a world where a woman does not have the same rights as a man, and not all men hold the same rights as those who deem themselves above him . . . Whether fashioned by procreation, by science, by wonder, or by ink, is not every woman a woman and every man a man? Regardless of how they recognize themselves by origin, gender,intelligence, or inclination, are they not deserving of whatever they settle their minds upon—whatever they create for themselves?

When Life is available, it needs to be taken and lived.

3. Would it be possible to create a monster with current technology? What do you think that monster would be?

In 1816 the scientific tests with electricity (or animal electricity as it was referred to) raised many questions about its relationship to Life—whether it was Life itself or merely the means by which Life animated the human body. The experimentations of Monsieur Aldini on cadavers at Newgate Prison—causing the dead to spasm and jerk and sneer at their executors—raised more uncertainties and questions than answers to what Life actually was. It also raised ideologies on whether man had the right to tamper with what He had created.

In the last two-hundred years science and knowledge has evolved ten-thousand fold. We have a greater understanding of the muscular,cardiovascular and nervous systems of the human body. We can join sinew to sinew, nerve to nerve, and artery to artery. We can produce artificial blood, skin and organs to enhance and prolong life. The organs and severed limbs of the dead have been successfully joined to those that still hold onto life. The face of a cadaver has given new hope to one whose own was irreparably destroyed by cancerous growths. The organ trade is booming. Driving licenses register willing humans as donors. Reports on newscasts and on the internet surface with regularity regarding the unsanctioned use of body parts to create something more.

Would it be possible for Frankenstein’s monster to be created in the twenty-first century? More to the point, if they already walk with us, would they be monsters or simply human beings that are glad to have life—to have a chance—to be happy?

4. What are the most important themes you want the reader to get out of your book?

Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is about trust. It is about stripping away prejudices, social injustices, and unfounded misconceptions so that we see each other for what we truly are—human beings attempting to survive as best we can, to achieve our goals, to be ourselves in a world that is not always kind.

5. What was your research process for your novel?

For the last few years I have been researching and writing a novel with working title America: Túwaqachi. That work follows a single family line through thirty-seven thousand years of North American history. It has been research intensive with reading thousands of pages of dry archeological dig data. Especially in the pre-Columbian chapters not a sentence could be written without extensive investigation and clarification. I needed a break from research of any kind.

The concept of Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had been nudging at the back of my mind and I wanted to dive into it without any research—pure imagination, without any kind of plan of where the story would take me. I didn’t even know that Mary Shelley would be in the work. It wasn’t until I typed the last word of the first chapter that I wondered what Mary was doing. She pretty much demanded to be in the novel. And so the research began. Months of trawling original source websites and documents, studying in libraries and wandering through book stores gave me a solid understanding of her life and the society in which she lived. The sociology, theology and science of her time are woven through Frankenstein and Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the point where the original masterpiece insisted on being mirrored in the new work. Mary’s own thought and writing process intrigued me. How an eighteen year old girl could be enlightened by the horrors and issues surrounding her and place them together for a ‘ghost story’ competition to create the first work of science fiction is astounding.

6. How did Mary Shelley's personal life impact upon her novel?

Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a champion of human and female rights. Her father, William Godwin, was a political philosopher. Their impact on Mary’s own thoughts of freedom and rights is captured within both the original work and the companion piece.

Mary and her fellow tourists (Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Doctor Polidori and Mary’s step-sister Miss Claire Clairmont) fled to Europe to escape the strictures of Mother England. In Switzerland they could be true to themselves, their own desires and way of life without retribution or scandal.

But Mary also knew the wretchedness of losing a child—unable to give life to something she held so dear, so desperately wanted to resurrect.

8. Why did you write this novel?

I wrote this novel because it demanded to be written to re-iterate Mary’s own thoughts for a new century in which the same prejudices exist.

9. Who is the target audience for your book?

The target audience is those readers who know prejudice and injustice, who have been denied any small part of their own identity and worth to society. Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is written for those that are willing to be frightened into recognizing the truth.

Personal Questions.
1.      What is a usual day in the life of P.J. Parker:

My usual day starts at 7am to get up and catch the jitney into New York where I work for a major financial organization. Eight to nine hours analyzing fraud, writing code to detect or prevent, creating detection processes and then back on the jitney to home—mentally exhausted. I have all the best intentions of writing every night but it just does not happen. Somewhere in there my stories and characters are evolving for the next three books. Sentences and characteristics form, ready for when they need to be written down. At the moments that I am able to sit and write, the words gush out as fast as I can type. Version after version has already done the rounds in my head and any chapter or sentence refuses to be written until it is ready for a good first draft that I and my characters are happy with.

2.      What’s your favorite TV show:

My favorite TV show is Bones. I admire the character of Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan with her straight forwardness and logical outlook. Temperance sees the world based on a vast knowledge of humanity and science without the artificial filters of society. The same simplistic and blunt observation comes through in my work. My chapters are usually very short, to the point, with no waffle. I'm not really sure how to waffle.

3.      Favorite novel:

At the moment my favorite novel is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The story format is intriguing, the underlying social commentary still relevant and much of the prose breathtaking—especially when Mary breathes life into her creation. Mary has a wording that is different from her contemporaries—very much that of a woman of the new age daring to enter and conquer a literary world dominated by men.

4.      Best hero and heroin of all time:

Nothing could come close to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. As a couple, even with their prejudices and pride, they are immortal. I know that a little bit of Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy have rubbed off on two of my main characters in Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Their sensibilities and ideals are hard to ignore.

5.      </ span>Greatest monster ever created (besidesFrankenstein):

The greatest monster ever created (besides Frankenstein) would be the one that is closest to reality without the need of the paranormal. For me it is Hannibal Lector—rooted in the depths of our most frightening nightmares but so very, very real. The same can be said for the monster(s) in Frankenstein and Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Despite their origins, they are real flesh and blood with underlying motives that may be seen as good or evil.

6.      If you could live in any time period what would it be:

Every age is a new age with its own excitement and uncertainties. I want to live in them all and perhaps that is why I am a writer.

7.      Favorite food:

Could anything possibly be better than a handmade pizza and a glass of Pino Grigio while overlooking Lake Lugano, Switzerland? Perhaps a pot of fondue and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at a sunny, lakeside restaurant in Montreux, Switzerland.

8.      Biggest fear:

My biggest fear is not being able to let my imagination have its own way, and not being able to let my characters lead me to where they want to go.

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