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MWSA Interview of Del Staecker, Red Engine Press Author of “Tard”

Reposted Courtesy of MWSA

Del Staecker is an American writer of novels, novellas, short stories, and non-fiction in a number of genres, including suspense, crime, philosophical fiction, satire, and memoir. He has received numerous writing awards and is a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts(London) and Knight of Honor, Order of St. John (Malta). He was educated at The Citadel, WheatonCollege, and The University of Puget Sound. He is a veteran, having served on active duty in the US Army 1972-1976. MWSA: How long have you been associated with MWSA?

I joined MWSA in 2009, immediately after my first non-fiction WWII book, THE LADY GANGSTER: A SAILOR’S MEMOIR was published.

MWSA: What was the inspiration for your book, TARD?

After six crime novels being published, I wanted to stretch the genre. TARD is a mix of fantasy, crime, philosophy, and theology. It is gritty, realistic, even cruel. But it is also filled with friendship, redeeming love, and the search for that something which is beyond all of us. The format includes changing points of view and can be best described as a novella wrapped around several short stories-which are the work of the main character. Also, I wanted the primary characters to be very different from anything found in crime or mystery stories. TARD's primary character, and namesake, has Down Syndrome. The principal narrator is mentally disabled. I think I succeeded. TARD is different.

MWSA: TARD may well be a "touchy" title. Why did you select it?

Right from the beginning I knew the title had to be TARD. There is no disrespect intended. Quite the opposite is obvious in the treatment of Matthias, the main character, as well as with Richard, the narrator. Several publishers passed on TARD due to its name, but as I said, I wanted the book to be a stretch. The title, as well as the entire book, is meant to challenge perceptions.

MWSA: How has TARD been received?

The reception has been tremendous. Readers love it, and TARD has yet to receive a negative review. The one I am most proud of is from UNDERRATED READS. The initial process of being reviewed by UR is selective. Once "in the mix" the reviewers are encouraged to dump anything they are not impressed with. TARD was selected, reviewed and received UR's highest rating of "five bookmarks." TARD was also honored by being named one of UR's "Our Best." The goal of UNDERRATED READS is "Discovering Literary Gems" and I am immensely grateful for their confidence and support for TARD by stating, "TARD is a unique novel and one of those literary gems that is hard to come by. A must-read!"

MWSA: What are you working on now?

Several years ago, I signed on with a publisher to do a crime trilogy set in Chicago's Southside, where I grew up. Sadly, after the second work was completed, the publisher went belly up. Currently, I am completing the trilogy, and hope to see the three related works in print as a single volume. Again, the format is a bit of a stretch. TALES FROM THE SOUTHSIDE is a trilogy comprised of a multitude of short stories based upon a quirky police detective and an array of his equally unusual friends. All of the tales are based on actual cases and/or my personal experiences. This project is important to me as an author because it began as an effort to expand my writing skills. The short story which began the entire collection was penned in response to a call for first person short stories intended to be published in an anthology sponsored by the International Association of Crime Writers. My effort was selected, but again the uncertainties of the publishing world cancelled that project.

MWSA: What are you reading now?

I'm a believer that writers should be readers and I always have several books going. I have just finished C.S. Lewis' TILL WE HAVE FACES, his last book, and his own favorite. It is extremely well-written and, as is the case with Lewis, a work that delves into the most important issues of human existence. Also, I've regrettably finished MONUMENTS, the latest Willie Black tale by Howard Owen. I cannot get enough of that series. If you want action, wit, and great observations on current life in America, you must read about the demise of journalism, all told by Willie as he solves some of the most engaging mysteries around.

MWSA: What advice would you share with other writers, especially new ones?

First, write as much and as often as you can. In my opinion, it is the finest way to improve your skills. Second, read a wide array of formats and styles. Others have met and mastered the same obstacles that you face. They are our mentors. Third, get into groups such as MWSA. Writing is a solitary life. Get outside yourself and mingle with other writers. You will be amazed at the world such organizations will open to you. In 2012, I was selected to be a US Navy Writer On Deck through my association with MWSA. It was an amazing experience to be invited to tour several bases in the Mediterranean and share my experiences writing about WWII. Fellow MWSA member Jack London was also selected, and I am certain he will echo my feelings. I am also a member of IACW, the International Association of Crime Writers, and have been involved four times in selecting the Dashiell Hammett Prize recipient. There is no excuse for being a lonely writer.

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