Interview with satirist and author Douglas Wells

Author Douglas Wells is in the hot seat
today. He’s talking with me about his new mystery farce, The Secrets of All Secrets
Bio:
Douglas
Wells was born in Seattle, Washington. His father was an officer in the U.S.
Army, and by the time Douglas finished high school he had lived in Hawaii,
North Carolina, Texas, Okinawa, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. He earned
his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of South Florida and has
taught English and Literature at several colleges.
Douglas
has a unique interest in and perspective on the comical and absurd foibles of
the human race, which inspires his writing. The imaginative pillar of his
novel, The Secrets of All Secrets,
released by TouchPoint Press on May 12, 2017, is built on Groucho Marx’s line,
“Humor is reason gone mad” and the Roman poet Juvenal’s declaration that “It is
difficult not to write satire.”
Douglas
is a Professor of English at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida.
He is the father of two grown sons, and he lives with his wife and cat in
Panama City Beach.
Please tell us about your current
release.
The Secrets of All Secrets lampoons government, corporate, and
extremist entities, while also casting a satirical eye on “the stuff that
dreams are made on.”
I have written
some previous works, but I needed to find my own style. What to write, what to write? I asked myself. Just in the nick of
time, before I fell into a full-blown existential crisis, before I ended up as
a couple of splotches on the drop cloth of life—okay, those are exaggerations—I
decided to write something humorous and satirical because everyone knows humor,
satire, and irony are my bread and butter, and I’m hip as to which side of my
butter is breaded. Based on a thought I had about USB drives, I developed the
beginning of a story. Zane, my central character receives a USB device by a
mysterious, cloaked figure on a bridge at night. When Zane takes it home and
inserts it into his laptop, an unknown entity speaks to him via writing on the
screen. The entity tells Zane he has been anointed, so to speak, to seek The
Secrets of All Secrets, which will confer upon him unlimited knowledge and
power, the confirmation of the meaning of life itself, and we’re not just
talking about unveiling the mysteries of how to properly fold a fitted sheet
and how to program a TV remote. Out of this nucleus, the entire story flowed.
Other
characters came to life: four quirky government agents who hunt Zane and The
Secrets after intimidating Zane’s friend Hazim into revealing Zane’s mission.
Dali appeared. She has also been given a USB. She and Zane meet up in Florida
and combine forces. Quarrelsome with each other at first, a romance slowly
blossoms
More characters
arrived: a corporate megalomaniac fond of quoting Von Clausewitz’s On War and Inazo Nitobe’s Bushido: The Code of the Samurai, who sends his right hand woman,
Magdalene, to pursue The Secrets. She hires Speque, a hit man/tracker, to
assist her. They make quite a pair. She’s 6 foot 2. He’s 5 foot 6; naturally,
they’re made for each other. Then there are brothers Jonah and Jeptha, crazy,
fringe-element, anti-government separatists determined to get The Secrets in
order to form a new Amerika—“Amerika with a k,” as Jonah asserts. Off they all
go, chasing Zane and Dali pell-mell across the state of Florida. Zane and Dali
become the contemporary Everyman and Everywoman, hounded by nefarious, zealous
forces. Zane, Dali, and their pursuers encounter an armadillo festival, visit a
nudist resort, and hang out with a presumed dead 60s rocker. Pandemonium occurs
at each venue, with Zane and Dali one step ahead of everyone until all parties
convene for a climactic confrontation over The Secrets.
What
are The Secrets? Well, I hope people will read the book and find out.
What inspired you to write
this book?
As a college
professor, I store my courses and assignments on USB drives. One day it
occurred to me that it would be interesting if all knowledge was on one USB,
and the question arose: Who would most likely be obsessed with getting it?
Excerpt from The Secrets of All Secrets:
The next morning, Washington awoke first. He threw on some
clothes and entered the kitchen area to make some coffee. Once the coffee maker
stopped gurgling, he poured a cup, took it to the living area, and sipped while
he checked his phone for messages, pleased that there were none. He looked out
the windows to assess his whereabouts, but darkness hadn’t lifted. All he could
tell was that they were in an RV park. He sat and drank his coffee, relishing
the warm black liquid and the solitude until the others staggered in one after
the other and poured coffee for themselves. They all joined him in the living
area as dawn ascended.
            “So where are we?” he asked Adams.
            “In Tadmor.”
            “This is Tadmor? Tadmor is an RV
park?”
            “Tadmor is a resort,” Madison said.
“Paradise Pines. The target, or should I say targets, are here.”
            “They’re in a cabin on the other
side of the resort,” Adams said.
            “Where did you get the intel?”
            “From the lady at in the
registration office. I employed a ruse.”
            “He employed a ruse,” Madison said.
            Washington glowered at him. “Oh,
great. It’s infectious, and if any one of you repeat that it’s infectious I’m
shipping you back to DC with a termination recommendation.”
            “He’ll ship us back to DC with a
termination recommendation,” Adams said.
            Washington stared at Adams, fury
flashing from his eyes. “Didn’t you hear what I said?”
            “I did,” Adams retorted. “You said
if any of us repeated that it’s infectious you would ship us back to DC. I only
repeated the shipping back part. Once again, I was only reinforcing your
authority, which I respect.”
            Washington allowed the fury to
subside and nodded in reluctant acceptance.
            Jefferson got up and peered out the
windows. “Should we go out and reconnoiter the resort? Check that the targets
are in their cabin?”
            “Good idea,” Washington said. “You
and Madison take a look around and confirm the targets are present.”
            Madison and Jefferson left the RV
and began walking toward the cabin area. The sun was up now. As they moved
along, two joggers, a man and a woman, overtook them from behind, and as they
passed by, they shot Adams and Madison hostile glances. “I know this is a
private resort,” Adams said, “but they shouldn’t be doing that.”
            “Jeez,” Madison said. “Someone might
report them and they’ll get kicked out. I’m sure it’s against the rules.”
            They made their way over to the
cabins and stopped before they reached Cabin seven, spotting Zane’s Explorer
out front. “The car is there,” Madison said. “Let’s assume the targets are
inside.”
            “Right. We’ll go back, convey the
info, and establish a protocol for surveillance.”
            They swung about. A group of a half
dozen power-walking women moved towards them.
            “There’s something odd here,”
Madison said as the walkers approached.
            When the walkers reached them, one
of the women said, “You must’ve just arrived, but you need to read the
brochure.”
            “Uh oh,” Adams said after the
walkers were far away.
            “What’s wrong?” Madison asked.
“Other than joggers and walkers exercising naked.”  
            “See those people doing yoga over
there?”
            “Uh huh. Oh.”
            “You don’t think—?”
            “I’m beginning to.”
            “Maybe that’s why the woman said
something to us—because we’re wearing clothes.”
            “You mean as they came abreast?”
            Adams halted. “That’s a good one,”
he said, laughing.
            Madison waited until Adams stopped
laughing. “Damn, though. This means if we’re going to watch the targets, we’re
going to have to be naked too.”
            “You mean while we tail them?”
            They laughed together this time.
            “We’d better get back and brief
Washington. Plus read the brochure.”
            “Are you kidding me?” Washington
asked after Adams and Madison reported. “This is some kind of nudist colony?”
            “Resort,” Adams said.
            “Whatever. Where’s the brochure?”
            Madison picked the brochure up from
the driver’s seat where Adams left it and handed it to Washington who set it on
the table in the living area and began reading. He read silently for five
minutes. The other three exchanged anxious glances. Washington closed the
brochure, inhaled a rumbling breath, exhaled, and said. “This is a nudist
resort.”
            “Right,” Madison said. “Resort.”
            “Rule number one: clothes are not
permitted when guests are outside of their cabins or RVs or trailers. Guests
wearing clothes will be asked to return to their cabin or RV and remove them if
they wish to participate in resort activities. Refusal to comply will result in
the guests being ejected from the resort.”
            “What’s rule number two?” Jefferson
asked.
            “Rule number two: guests are
required to carry a towel with them for sanitary purposes when sitting on
resort furniture.”
            Adams addressed Washington. “What are
your orders for us?”
            Washington arose. “We have to stay
with the targets, so we’ll have to blend in. I don’t like it any more than you
do.”
            “I never said I didn’t like it,”
Jefferson said.
            Washington ignored him. “’Rule
number three: lewd, harassing, and/or any sexual behavior are not permitted.
This includes staring and any unwanted physical contact. Any violations of this
policy will result in immediate ejection from the resort.’ Like it or not, when
you joined this organization you signed an oath that informed you of the
sacrifices you’d have to make. We have to do our jobs, gentlemen.”
            “Well,” Madison said. “It’s going
undercover without the cover.”
            Adams gave Madison a glance of
solidarity. “It’s a cloak and dagger operation without the cloak or the
dagger.”
            Madison and Adams giggled.
            “At least we won’t have to wear
those gaudy shirts,” Jefferson added.
            “Enough,” Washington said.
“Additionally, you are under strict orders not to experience tumescence. We
cannot have undue attention paid to us. You are trained, highly skilled, highly
disciplined, veteran operatives. Along with making sacrifices, your oath
stipulated you would likely experience physical pain and deprivation. Now is
the time to fulfill your oath. Are we agreed?”
            “Excuse me,” Madison broke in. “Our
country expects us not to have erections, not even on the first day before we
acclimate ourselves to rampant nudity?”
            “America is counting on you not to
have an erection, Madison. Once again, are we agreed?”
            “Yes sir,” Jefferson said.
            “Yes sir,” Madison said.
            “We are agreed,” Adams said.
             Eyes rolled once again.
            “Gentlemen,” Washington announced,
“take off your clothes.”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’m
working on a satire of political correctness.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
As an
adolescent, when I wrote sappy poems about being lovesick.
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 have a
full-time teaching job, which does afford me some time to write, but I
accomplish the bulk of my writing in the summer when I’m not teaching. I
usually write in the morning, eat a bite of lunch, relax for a bit, take a nap
then get up and go back at it until late afternoon. When I’m not writing, I’m
daydreaming my story forward.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I type with
two fingers–pretty fast and pretty accurately—and I get up and pace a lot.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Actually, I
was always dismayed that I would have to grow up. I’m still not sure I’ve made
it there yet.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I like to
think the kind of novels I (and others) write are needed now more desperately
than ever. Our culture is rife with such ideas as post-truth, fake news, and
alternative facts. It’s ironic that one of the places we can find truth is in
fiction.
Links:

Thank you for being here today, Douglas.

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