Welcome to the blog, Tony! Could you tell us a little bit about The Boston Connexion?
The Boston Connexion is a revenge-thriller that takes place in the 1960's and 1970's in Ireland. It is about a man named Eugene O' Neill who witnessed his parents' murder by a serial-killer/terrorist. While we know little about the killer at the beginning, we come to learn that he is a villain whose trail of victims are stops on the journey to find a man known only as "The Boston Connexion". Eugene O' Neill does everything in his power to meet the killer of his parents, so that he can exact his revenge. This mission forms the basis of the story.
What led you to write this novel?
This strange amalgamation of kung fu, Irish culture, gang warfare, politics and drinking set in the 1960's and 1970's is the fantasy world I've always wanted to create, in some way. For a history buff interested in the select cultures at the time and the corresponding events, it's a fantasy piece; even though there are no dungeons and dragons.
What was the toughest challenge you faced when writing The Boston Connexion, and how did you overcome it?
The toughest challenge in writing The Boston Connexion was uniting all of the characters I wanted to have in the story into one cohesive narrative and justifying each character's personal and political motivations.
Lucky for me, real events and history made this rather easy to do. What I'm speaking of is the very real connection between the Troubles in Ireland and the figures in the Irish gang war in Boston in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Irish-American gangsters in Boston were shipping guns to the paramilitaries in Ireland, including the recently arrested "Whitey" Bulger.
As a parallel, the Hong Kong riots of the late 1960's and the crime and politics of that period in that city are interesting and likewise important to the novel. In Hong Kong, the connections to British politics and Chinese nationalism--issues which do come up as motivations for characters in the novel--cannot be understated. The seeds of these conflicts are covered pretty well already in fiction, in a novel by James Clavell called "Tai-Pan," which I confess was pretty inspirational to some aspects of this novel. But my connection of the Hong Kong unrest to the other conflicts is mostly fictional. It merely serves the purpose of inserting a kung fu master into the madness of the Irish conflict.
So, that's how I was able to connect a Chinese nationalist kung fu master, a young Irishman with a revenge-complex, a theatrical Irish terrorist villain like The Cleaver, and their gangster counterparts in Boston. If I hadn't been helped by history, I don't think the associations of these characters--whom I really wanted to have all in one novel together--would have been believable.
Why did you choose a non-linear form for this novel? How did that choice impact the writing process?
I came upon the non-linear form of the novel by chance, actually. I had no intention of writing a non-linear story, but found that it was the only way to capture each character's essence and motivations without ruining the points of suspense for the reader. I think the story hangs not on the violence or whether or not Eugene O' Neill gets to enact his revenge, but rather why each character does what he or she does; each character's modus operandi is more or less revealed and hopefully explains a lot about previous chapters and the choices made and actions taken. But without the non-linear story format, those aspects of the narrative would have been cheapened.
What is your best advice on writing?
Recently, I have been realizing that the story tells itself, and sometimes you don't know what kind of creature your story ultimately will be, or how it is going to end. In other words, the characters, not the author, tell the story. And if the characters are fully formed in the mind of the author, the story will tell itself.
We all have different things we as authors may want to say, or stories we want to tell. But in the end, good characters will tell the story for the author. If the author listens to the characters, he will not be betrayed by them. However, if the author takes the characters hostage to write for some pre-conceived purpose, or agenda, or message, then he or she will forfeit the real story that was there, waiting to be discovered, in the process. All that I will say about the end of The Boston Connexion is that I NEVER intended it to end the way that it did, but that if the story was going to be honest about who the characters really were and what would really happen to them, it could only end in the way that it did. I've received some criticism, as well as some profuse praise, for the ending. But it isn't my ending, really; the ending is the result of believing that I know my characters enough to know what they would do, rather than what I wanted them to do. It's their ending, not mine. If I would have written the ending I originally conceived, I would have cheapened the novel's narrative, though I might have made a couple of readers a little happier. :-)
Thanks so much for stopping by, Tony!
Thank you! I enjoy your blog, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to share about my novel and my thoughts on writing.
Tony Deuce is the co-host of the Back Seat Producers podcast. The Boston Connexion is Tony Deuce’s first novel.
Tony also will have a short story in the wuxia genre titled ” 商君書 (Shangzi): Or Engine of the Species” which will be released with the “Built for Speed” anthology by Unasked Question, LLC later this year. He is also working on a forthcoming two-novel series with Tony Mast that hopefully will see release at the beginning of 2012. The two novels will be a medieval action-adventure epic.
Tony Deuce can be found on Twitter under @TonyDeuce!
The Back Seat Producers: www.backseatproducers.com
The Boston Connexion is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!