Interview with playright and novelist Michael D. Dennis

Today’s hot
seat is filled with novelist Michael D. Dennis as he talks a bit about his debut novel, A Native’s Tongue.
Bio:
Michael D. Dennis is an author and
playwright who earned a degree in English literature from Loyola
Marymount University. Winner of a LMU Playwriting Award for his play Death
of a Watchdog
, Michael also had his play, Hen
in the Field
, produced at the Whitefire Theatre in 2012.
His highly anticipated debut novel, A Native’s Tongue, will be released in June
2014. Michael currently lives in Santa Monica, California with
his girlfriend and two dogs, Jack and Aurora. 
To learn more, go to http://www.michaelddennis.com/ or
connect with Michael on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.
Welcome, Michael. Please
tell us about your current release, Native’s
Tongue
.
The
book is about a young man who struggles to keep the woman he loves while
entangled in the sex, drugs, and tragedy of Los Angeles. It was inspired by
real events.
Synopsis:
Charlie
Winters has never been an overachiever. He is used to just getting by while
living with his single mother and working a dead-end job at a cheesesteak
stand. Meanwhile, he’s constantly grappling with the voice of his sister, who
died in a tragic car accident years earlier, echoing in his head.
So when
Violet, an older woman, sets her sights on Charlie and refuses to let go, he
follows along. He soon finds himself immersed in a destructive relationship
that still fails to fill the void within him.
But then he
meets Jennifer, a mystical young woman whose energy and life convinces Charlie
to pursue her, even through the darkest corners of Los Angeles, and sets their
lives upon a path that can’t be stopped.
Escaping to
the California coast, Charlie and Jennifer finally find what they’ve always
needed. But a sudden illness quickly pulls them both back to LA. It is there,
amid the sex, drugs, and split-second decisions that pulse through the city,
that tragedy strikes—threatening to tear Charlie and Jennifer apart forever.
What inspired you to
write this book?
I
witnessed a lot of crazy love stories and broken hearts growing up in Los
Angeles. I was exposed to a lot at a young age and thought it was time to tell
a few of the stories. I thought I would give an insider’s look from characters
that weren’t rich or famous, but lived really passionate and tragic lives
trying to find some sense of what love is.

Excerpt:
CHAPTER
1.
Jennifer
Bannister’s footsteps echoed down the hall. The uniforms of the inmates
dampened the sound. Her ears tried to follow the faint sound, if only to affirm
that she was still moving forward. There wasn’t anyone to hold her hand. She just
trusted that each sign would guide her in the right direction.
I’ll
get there at some point,
Jennifer
thought, trying to convince herself that she was doing the right thing. You
can’t get lost in here; they don’t let you go off course.
Her words slipped
away. She felt the cold air settle over her skin. She glanced at a placard
marked Visitors Only.
In the
cool air, her skin tightened. Jennifer shivered and wished she were somewhere
warmer. Seeing Violet for the first time was going to be hard enough. She was
going to look the woman she hated most in the world in the eye. She didn’t want
to be shaking from the cold and covered in goose bumps.
Jennifer
peered through the bulletproof glass at Violet. There were markings embedded in
the glass, swirls that made it harder to look directly into Violet’s eyes.
Jennifer picked up the phone and listened. Violet grabbed it and began to
speak, “It was never you that he loved. You know that right?” Violet’s voice
was raspy.
Her
expressions and mannerisms changed from static to fully engaged. She stood up
and waved her hands maniacally at Jennifer, and then she slammed her fist
against the glass.
Jennifer
hung up the phone. Her blonde hair got caught in between her hand and the
receiver as she placed it back on the black hook. Turning, she slid out of the
red plastic chair and down the corridor, guided by the exit sign’s green light.
In the stale air of the prison, she searched for a pack of cigarettes,
unsheathed a Parliament, lit it, and smoked nervously.
Two
overweight guards carrying guns in nylon hip holsters directed her to the
parking lot, where they offered her matching robotic waves good-bye. The
midnight blue 2005 Jaguar xk8, which her parents loaned her for this visit, was
the only vehicle in the parking lot row. Her parents thought she would feel
safer in their car rather than her own bright red Honda.
In
either case, she seemed to fit this car, or the car fit her a lot more. Her
lean physique matched the lines on the Jag, and it made her feel more mature.
She was constantly trying to act older than she was. Jennifer went around to
the passenger side of the car and opened the rear door. She set her oversized
black leather purse on the back seat and took out a translucent orange bottle
filled with tiny white pills. She slung her head back, popped two, shut the
door and walked around to the driver’s seat.
The
heat had melted the surface of the Jaguar’s leather seats, reducing the fabric
to a buttery texture. Jennifer’s blonde hair clung to the sides of her shoulders,
heavy with sweat. She retrieved her car key from the passenger seat, pressed
the key into the slot, and burst into tears, suddenly unable to move.
Jennifer
hadn’t eaten all day. The heavy dose of Xanax caused her to feel excessively
nauseous. She blacked out and fell forward, hitting her forehead on the
steering wheel. The car increased in temperature with the late afternoon heat.
Her powder-white skin grew red.
“Miss.
Are you alright? Miss?” A young guard, Bill Marsh, had spotted the car, and
decided to go in for a closer look.
When
Jennifer didn’t move, he took out his club and smashed the window. She woke up
from her temporary coma and lashed out.
“You
Fuck!” Her voice was barely audible, even with the window smashed. Her
energy was gone.
“Miss–I,
I’m sorry you didn’t look okay.”
“I
am! What business do you have involving yourself in my business? Do you know
what you did? You just fucked up my car, you moron.”
“Look,
I just saw you from my station.”
To
Bill, her face looked familiar, though he couldn’t place where he had seen her
before.
“You
have no idea. Sitting in your stupid box, behind that intercom.
“I’m
sorry, I know we’ll pay for the window. Hell, if the prison won’t, I personally
will.” Bill said.
What exciting story are
you working on next?
I
am at about the mid-point of my next novel. It is definitely different from the
first release. It still has some similar elements of twisted romance, and is
set in Los Angeles, but very different. It takes place after a major crisis
hits Los Angeles and follows the main character as he tries to piece together
his life. It involves some more spiritual and even occult elements that make it
interesting.
When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
I
thought of myself as a writer since I was really young, maybe 7 or 8 years old
when I would write quirky poems in school. But the moment I knew I was a writer
was my first year in college one of my professors actually dubbed me a writer,
you know like a knight. It was a funny moment, and done in a joking way, but I
decided that was when it became official.
Do you write full-time?
If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and
how do you find time to write?
I
juggle a lot of different jobs at the moment to pay the bills. I work
independently on projects so I try and make time to write everyday. Even if
it’s just for an hour, it makes the rest of my day mean something.
What would you say is
your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm…
I guess that once I put my headphones on and start writing an earthquake could
happen and I would still be writing. Also, I’m not the best grammarian. I have
to proof my stuff multiple times before I will ever let my editor see it out of
pride.
As a child, what did you
want to be when you grew up?
I
always just wanted to be happy doing something that I loved to do. I couldn’t
ever picture myself doing any real job, so I knew no matter what odd jobs I did
eventually I would be a writer. 
Anything additional you
want to share with the readers?
Enjoy
the book! Please stay in touch with me as I love to hear from my readers. I am
also having a book signing at Book Soup (W.
Hollywood, CA) on August 13th, so come say hi.
Thanks, Michael!

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