While I’m supposed to be on my May-cation, synchronicity worked in my favor and I received an Advanced Reader Copy of, “Fall in One Day” by Craig Terlson from his publisher. After posting a shorthand review on Goodreads, direct messaging on Instagram connected us and what resulted is this clever and talented author graciously granted me my very first author interview. This issue of Bookisshh is a one-hit, we’ll explore one novel exclusively and follow up with an author interview. Enjoy!
Fall In One Day
During 1973 Garsen, Canada is like any small town in America. There’s a main street, a few streets big with stores, a skating rink and bowling alley. There’s a poor section and a middle class section to town. The big difference is that Watergate was not happening there but LSD testing to cure alcoholism was.
Narrated in first person point of view, young Joe Beck takes readers into his confidence as he tries to puzzle together why his best friend Brian and his father have disappeared leaving behind Brian’s hospitalized mother and a lot of unanswered questions.
Joe enlists the help of his hippy brother and local disc jockey Karl and another buddy to take road trips chasing down leads and clues left by Brian. As Joe’s world falls apart, so too does his understanding of the truth. To preserve his understanding of the truth, Joe decides to tape record recollections of prior conversations with Brian and his dad which may aid in an investigation or court case some time down the line once Brian has been found. Within the narrative the tape recorder functions to condense story time and to cross cut with the happenings during Watergate in the States as viewed through Canadian citizen’s lenses. Terlson holds right up to the reader’s face, that the truth is manufactured for believers and that a believer’s power lies in questioning the truth’s representation and potential hidden benefits for those who manufacture the truth. Additional truths explored during the narrative stem directly from the religious beliefs of Joe’s frenemies and twin brothers who challenge Joe’s lack of Baptism and potential atheism. The twins joke, harass, and offer support to help Joe find meaning in religion and baptism and though I’m not a believer, these scenes are entirely well-played and inspiring.
Fall In One Day opens the discussion of how LSD was employed in institutional settings in Canada in past years. Readers visit the “Mental” a so named institution where a key character has resided, underwent treatment and improper care. Terlson demonstrates to the reader how improper care can foster further addiction and a troubled path for a person and their loved ones.
Drugs and alcohol are not idealized in Fall In One Day but friendship and brotherly love are because quite frankly sometimes that’s all a person has. The power in these relationships remind me of the work of S.E. Hinton in The Outsiders and That Was Then And This Is Now. Friends and brothers have an innate commitment and understanding of one another and this becomes their saving grace as they get one another through the arduous task of growing up.
Question everything. Seek answers. Find and create your truth and be the change you want to make. Relationships are a critical part of success in life and the individual’s contribution to relationships is every bit as important as education, leadership and financial gain. Fall In One Day is incredibly timely. It shows us what values have drifted out to sea and what flotsam and jetsam has returned to us. It is worthy of an Young Adult’s time while they are over mediated by every agenda for their faith, their dollar and their future participation. It gives them a way in and a way out while seeing what some choices are.
As synchronicity would have it, I posted a shorthand review which Craig read and sent me a DM via Instagram. Since the interview we have fun repartee and I’m looking forward to one of his upcoming novels. Let’s learn a little bit about Craig Terlson.
Betsy: Something I’ve realized about your book is that as it’s shelved into my mind, relevance keeps pulling it off for further consideration. Pretty cool effect you’ve got going there. So what made you write this book?
Craig: Several ideas floated around for a number of years, and these ideas kept popping up in the short stories I was wrting at the time. At some point, the memory of Watergate, and what it meant in history, intertwined with the idea of family secrets and somehow the LSD therapies conducted in my home city in the 1950s was thrown into the mix.
Betsy: There’s a lot of boy types in various states of development in your story. How did you model these characters?
Craig: Any writer that tells you their characters don’t have roots in their own beginnings is lying (or has a much better imagination than me). So sure, these characters were familiar to me at first-but all of them go through what I call the “fiction filter” and they become their own peop;le. My memory of that era is pretty strong, as it was significant for me. One of the challenges was to not just take a fifteen year old from our era and plunk them into 1973, Teenagers are very different now, both culturally, access to information and in some ways maturity wise.
Betsy: During your story you float the idea of subversion for your readers? What is it you’d like them to question or challenge?
Craig: This is a complex question, and does get at the heart of the novel. There are times when we wonder if we are getting the whole picture of something-we wonder what is underneath, what is hidden? An extreme example of this would be conspiracy theorists, but all of us experience it on different levels. Is that politician telling us the truth? What are drug companies really up to? What are my parents doing when I’m asleep? Can that legal or religious authority be trusted? It’s true that too much focus on subversion can create paranoia, and if you watch movies from the 70s (a prime influence for the novel), that subversion and paranoia is everywhere. For me, it shows up in a lot of places, even say, in the lyrics of Steely Dan.
Betsy: In the book you touch upon the use of lSD to cure alcoholism. Why this topic and what kind of research went into being able to make this play out as well as it did in your novel?
Craig: There were times when I thought I should just write a non-fiction book about LSD therapy on alcoholism. Thankfully, actual scholars way smarter than me are writing those books. Actually, I worked in the hospital where this treatment was first developed in the 1950s. I actually met my wife there. One of our close friends worked at the hospital during the time of the LSD trials, so I was able to interview here. I read a lot of books by the usual suspects, Leary, Huxley, Kesey and essays by some of the doctors.
Betsy: Watergate is the backdrop for your story and history being a solid judge of character working with fiction, how are you trying to portray former president Richard Nixon?
Craig: Watergate was a watershed in terms of our awareness of political corruption. We may have been aware of politicians lying before that event, but at this point in history, 1973, it was broadcast live into our living rooms. This was significant to me, even though I was younger than Joe in the novel. Watergate continues to be significant, and I am not surprised that the suffix, “gate” is still added to current scandals, even though younger people may not know why. I have no fondness for Nixon, or for what happened to him and all the others involved in the crime. I do wonder about how one event, the break-in, began his collapse, his fall really. There is a deep sadness that so many people were hurt and that comes through in his final speech to his staff, quoted in my book. I think my commentary is about the consequences of his lying and that in a way, Joe understands that too. He sees a humanity in Nixon that his brother Karl does not, or cannot. In a sense, Joe realizes what it means to fall.
Betsy: How do you think your book appeals to girls given that there are two women characters in the periphery who suffer the ill effects of traditionalism?
Craig: This is an important question. The 70s were a time of changing roles in the family but those changes created a lot of pain and turmoil. I think that you are referring to the two mothers in the story. Each of them were strong persons that were trying to not only find safe haven, but emerge into their own independence. The cards were stacked against them. The guys played poker and golf and the women made the sandwiches. Quite frankly, it was bullshit. One of the biggest challenges for a writer is to create characters of the other gender, and do it with integrity. My hope is that in the two moms, I created characters that could rise above that brotherhood of boys and become the strong people they were meant to be.
Betsy: If I was looking at your video queue what are some of the movies I might find there?
Craig: Pretty much every important movie of the 70s, or current directors that make movies like they did in the 70s. In the first group would be “3 Days of the Condor”, “The Parallax View”, “Night Moves”, “and of course, “All The President’s Men.” In the second group, Tarantino, especially, “Jackie Brown”, “American Hustle”, and sharp crime movies like Guy Ritchie or Shane Black’s, “The Nice Gus.” Lastly, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because who doesn’t love Ferris?
Betsy: Finally, how would you complete this phrase: If you really knew me you’d know?
Craig: How easily I cry. No wait everyone knows that. I think I’d say if you really knew me, you’d know how much I value authenticity.
**Craig Terlson’s book, “Fall In One Day” hits the shelves tomorrow! Give it a read and give it to someone who you think places a high premium on the truth; the good, bad and ugly truth, but the truth nonetheless.