drey: Hello and welcome to drey’s library, Tony! Thank you for taking the time to visit us this month.
I'll start off easy. Who is Tony Bertauski?
Tony: I’ve been asking the same question since I was a kid. Who am I and why am I here and what happens when I die? Unfortunately, these profound questions didn’t make me any smarter or life any easier.
Right now, I’m a husband, a father, a college teacher, and a part-time writer. I enjoy walks on the beach and a cozy warm fire. Actually, no I don’t. I live near the beach but don’t dig it. Sand gets in everything. I’d rather watch a good movie with my wife or drink a good beer. And I’m still interested in knowing what this is all about.
drey: Well, when you figure that out, let me know. I could use all the help I can get!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Tony: I suppose it was high school, although you wouldn’t know it from my grades. One of my friends had this natural ability to write. He’d pass notes in class that were hilarious or write a paper the night before it was due and get an A. It was ridiculous. I wanted to do that.
I had to work long and hard to write coherently. It took me forever to finish a Masters’ thesis. Most of my early efforts were technical, such as trade magazines and textbooks. I wrote fiction in my spare time but in hindsight it was abysmal. I read and studied the craft for years before I got recognition with a short story in the South Carolina Fiction Project (2008).
Much of my writing is seen in a bi-weekly gardening column (Post and Courier, Charleston, SC). The past six years I’ve worked personal anecdotes into an otherwise technical column about gardening that has gained regional popularity.
drey: Tell us about Socket Greeny and his books.
Tony: This sounds cliché, but it’s true. Swear to God.
I started writing a story for my son when he was young because he hates reading. My daughter started reading before she could read. I’m not kidding. She’d sit there with a book propped on her knees and make up words as she turned the pages. But my son, he hated it. So I figured maybe I could write something he’d get into.
I failed. Miserably.
But then I got hooked on the character, Socket Greeny. Don’t even remember how I came up with the name. All I had was this character, this teenager that was struggling with the meaning of his life. I can’t say the story was easy to write – I must have written dozens of drafts – but I thoroughly enjoyed the writing experience. There was frustration when I got stuck, but then the story would unfold in my head while I was in the shower or lying in bed and I’d rush to a pen and paper to jot down the details.
In the end, it was a three-book journey of self discovery in kickass fashion.
drey: Kickass is always good! *grin*
Where do you find inspiration for Socket Greeny?
Tony: I suppose the inspiration really came from my own life. By the time I hit my 20s, I was struggling with daily life. Call it depression. I worked through it in counseling, but it was Zen practice that really allowed me to make some sense out things.
My first efforts at the Socket Greeny story were preachy. Disgustingly so. Blech. I wanted readers, especially males, to relate to the struggle and perhaps find some inspiration to seek meaning in their own lives. But without the preaching. Besides, I’m no Zen master.
The story eventually transformed into something entertaining and fun and exciting while holding a trace of Zen and the Search without bashing the reader over the head with it. In the end, it makes you ponder what life is really about. Are we just a collection of thoughts and memories? Are we something more? What?
drey: What do you do to recharge your batteries?
Tony: Daily meditation. An absolute must. And a good cappuccino doesn’t hurt.
drey: Smackdown: Your favorite character faces off against a Marvel superhero. Who’s the character, which superhero, who wins, and why?
Tony: I liked superheroes before they became movie stars. I was a big fan of Frank Miller’s Batman because it was gritty and all too human. But in the movie, Batman just seemed to be a strange dude wearing a costume that wouldn’t kill anyone but wasn’t opposed to breaking every bone in their body.
But if I got to pick a superhero, it’s Spawn. He’s a superhero, right? I mean, he works for Satan, sort of, but doesn’t seem to like it. But the cape and the chains are just badass.
Every. Single. Time.
He has the ability to stop time through accelerated metabolism. How can you fight that?
drey: What’s up next for you?
Tony: Lately, I’ve been writing columns and posting on my blog. As far as fiction, I’m focused on marketing the Socket Greeny trilogy. One of these days I’ll get to Socket prequels. I’d love to flesh out how some of the characters in Socket’s life came to be.
drey: And, last but not least, the quickie 5:
- Favorite movie? Blade Runner
- What should you never forget to take to the beach? Reclining beach chair. Best place for napping.
- Yoga or tai chi? Any but yoga!
- Jazz or alternative rock? Old school alt rock. Jane’s Addition. Pixies.
- Chocolate: Solo or paired (& if paired, with what)? Chocolate, peanut butter and cold milk.
Everyone, find Tony online at his website, http://bertauski.com/, and on his blog In the Self-Centered Dream.
Tony has one hard copy and one e-copy of The Discovery of Socket Greeny for you, if you live in the US or Canada. To enter, fill out the form below before 6pm CST April 28th. Good luck!