“Say Not What If” is about a man on death row, and has as its theme the concept that time is our most valuable commodity. As someone once said, “waste anything but time, because we really are promised no tomorrows.” This theme is explored through the life of a man who sacrifices his marriage and everything else for his career. He realizes much too late the terrible consequences of this decision, and then desperately tries to regain those lost years by making a much worse choice. The resolution of this latter choice involves an additional examination of the concepts of accountability and responsibility, redemption, and the morality of the death penalty.
How would you describe “Say Not What If?”
“Say Not What If” is a nearly 10,000 word story written as a long rhyming poem, but is nonetheless very easy to read and understand. It is about a man on death row, and has as its theme the concept that time is our most valuable commodity. As someone once said, “waste anything but time, because we really are promised no tomorrows.” This theme is explored through the life of a man who sacrifices his marriage and everything else for his career. He realizes much too late the terrible consequences of this decision, and then desperately tries to regain those lost years by making a much worse choice. The resolution of this latter choice involves an additional examination of the concepts of accountability and responsibility, redemption, and the morality of the death penalty.
Which of your characters do you feel you relate to the most and why?
I identify most closely with the warden of the prison where the protagonist is put to death. The warden embodies and reflects my own views on the death penalty. He supports believes the death penalty is an appropriate or at least morally defensible punishment for truly heinous crimes. But he also understands the claim that its imposition at least arguably makes the state no morally different than the person being executed. This is why he despises those who stand outside prisons and cheer while someone is being executed. He questions his own morality just for presiding over executions, and wonders if by doing so he has the same blood on his hands as murderers being put to death. He notes the awful stench of death, and the gasps of those being executed that accompany the death penalty. This guilt is ultimately one reason why he quits. He also quits because the demanding nature of his job prevents him from spending enough time with his wife and son. He wants to avoid having the same regrets that were ultimately why the protagonist ended up on death row.
Were you a reader in your teen years and if so, who was your favorite author?
School and studying took up a lot of my time as a teenager, but I read when my schedule would allow. Both my parents were readers, and there were always many books in the house. We made frequent trips to the public library and to local book sales.
My favorite author was George Orwell. “1984” seems more and more relevant now as our privacy is continually being eroded by the same technology we insist is necessary for a meaningful life. I also loved “Animal Farm.” Some of my other favorite authors and books as a teenager were Ray Bradbury and the “Martian Chronicles,” and Arthur C. Clarke and “Childhood’s End.”
But my favorite book then and now is “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” by the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The book is literally a day in the life of a prisoner in a Soviet gulag. Harrowing.
What one 2012 release are you most looking forward to reading this year?
My current situation unfortunately does not allow me to purchase many books. I am therefore unable to buy new releases. I buy most of the books I read at local book sales, or even more unfortunately, when book stores decide to close and therefore discount their inventory. Borders is a recent example.
I am currently reading “The Big Burn,” by Timothy Egan, which I did buy at a Borders that was closing. The book is about one of the worst forest fires in American history, in August 1910. Egan skillfully relates the frightening size of the fire, as well as the desperate attempts to contain it by a nascent fire service, overwhelmed forest rangers, and a collection of completely inexperienced immigrants, college boys, day workers, and miners. Many died. There are stories of heroism and bravery, as well as cowardice and greed. He shows us the best and worst of people, qualities that strangely seem equally likely to appear during a crisis. He also explores the broader conflict between the desire Teddy Roosevelt had to establish permanent national forests, and that of corporations and industry who wanted to harvest those same forests for their timber.
Egan is the author of “The Worst Hard Time,” another excellent book, about the dust bowl and its consequences.
I also recently read “Big Coal,” by Jeff Goddell, about the coal industry in the U.S. Another very good book.
Are you currently in the process of writing a sequel or newer book?
I am not currently writing a sequel to “Say Not What If,” but do have some ideas about writing a second part, or another story written in the same format. It is simply a matter of finding the time I suppose. But the importance of not wasting time and procrastinating is something I should be familiar with after writing “Say Not What If.”
Andrew is offering one lucky reader a chance to win a print copy of “Say Not What If”.
Just leave a comment with a way to reach you and you are entered.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing! I wish you the best of luck and the most success!