Jack Ketchum
June 9, 2007
Post Meeting Write-up

Well, last night marked the return of Face the Fiction to our
sponsor store, Borders GSP, and what a night it was. The
Face the Fiction crowd was the center of attention at the
center of the store, and proved once again that If you are
having fun, others will notice:)

Steve & Jim Spinosa arrived nice and early and sat back with
me for a relaxing chat. We were soon joined by our friends
Gene, Paul, and Brian. The pre-meeting discussion centered
around optics, chemistry (by the way
Brian, Mo'Larr is a
villain from
He-Man and is the Eternian
Dentist, your chemistry question was a ruse, wasn't it, lol),
the
ThunderCats, and A Dangerous Book for Boys (of which I
thinhk the store sold two or three copies, go merchandising
display!). As time passed, the crowds began to gather, with
many SFSNNJ regulars being joined by
fresh new faces.

Starting around 8:15,
Steve did a wonder job (as always)
introducing our gracious and cool guest
'Dallas' Jack
Ketchum
. Dallas took the floor and began by asking how
many people had read his books, and how many of us were
writers. Taking careful note of the responses, he then
explained that one of his goals at any appearance was to
teach writers the most vital tools that they would need to
make it. In a quick turn of conversation, he began to
describe his own, abbreviated, biography; starting with
growing up in Livingston and proceeding through the point
where he pushed a little old Jewish lady out of the way to
get a cab in the rain (which was completely out of character,
and showed him that it was time to move on from his then
employer), then on to talking with Henry Miller and deciding
to quit his job before he turned into even more of a monster,
and finally on to his writing career.

Dallas spent quite a bit of time explaining how he wrote Off
Season
, and the outcry that erupted because of that book.
The Village Voice article (written by some hyphenated guy
whose name is lost in the mists of time) that decried the
book as violent pornography helped to generate a lot of
interest, however the problems with distributors and other
editing issues (much of the book was cut at the time though
it is now available in the unexpurgated re-release) meant
that he got
stuck in '40,000 copy limbo' for subsequent books. He then
explained the processes that he went through to do books
like
Ladies' Night, Red, The Girl Next Door,She Wakes
(described by
Dallas as his Ode to Greece as the most
sensual place on Earth, as well as a really nasty book).

We then proceeded to allowing the author to talk about the
things that are the most important to writers.
Dallas
explained that the first paragraph, and first chapter are the
most important things to write. If you can catch the attention
in the first chapter, then you have the reader hooked, and
you just need to keep them on for the rest of the book. He
also stated that his old friend Robert Bloch (author of
Psycho) had once explained that you need to know where
you are going for the end of the book in terms of feelings,
but not in terms of actual scenes (
Dallas put it rather more
succinctly, and
I should have written it down at the time).
Dallas then read from several of the openings of his own
books to show exactly what he meant (and he is a fantastic
reader).

Questions and interaction (the best part of every Face the
Fiction meeting) then ensued, with really great questions
from both
Steve Spinosa and Steve Herr, as well as Mike,
Brian, Ana, Paul, Ann-Marie, Bob, Bill, and myself. We learned,
we laughed, we cried (well I got teary at the ending to
Red,
it was heartbreaking, I cannot speak for anyone else).
Eventually we left the store at about 10:45 and adjourned
to the Seville Diner with
Dallas for a great evening (which
ran till about 2AM).
Ana was reading Red for much of the
evening, staunchly refusing to put the book down.

This was a great way to kick off our triumphant return to the
Border Garden State Plaza, and I would like to personally
thank our wonderful Guest,
Dallas Jack Ketchum, as well as
Ann-Marie, Josephine, and Steve Spinosa. Your hard work is a
credit to us all!
About Jack Ketchum

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer,
teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a
former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in
1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His
first novel,
Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly
scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography.
He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you
decide for yourself. His short story
The Box won a 1994
Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story
Gone won again
in 2000 -- and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best
collection for
Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for
Closing Time.  He has written eleven novels, the latest of
which are
Red, Ladies' Night, and The Lost. His stories are
collected in
The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on
the Wheel of Sex
, and Peaceable Kingdom.  His novella
The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at  
the 2003 National Book Awards.