Name Leif and Jason Grundstrom-Whitney
Where are you from
From the beauteous state of Maine we both hail where at least one of us was raised (to skimp on detail).
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Leif is a full-time writer and former student of the University of Maine at Augusta. Jason, the father of this father-son writing duo, has worked for twenty-three years as a middle and high school social worker in the state of Maine whereas Leif has not and both Jason and Leif have been published in poetry journals.
Leif Grundstrom-Whitney is the proud co-author of the epical satire The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People; the wicked and witty character known as Facinorous contained therein is a product of his multifarious mind. He has been published in several obscure poetry journals (hold your applause). To say that he is an edacious reader would be an understatement worthy of Hemingway. If he had a spirit animal, it would probably be a raven who knows how to play a Hammond B-3 organ.
Jason Grundstrom-Whitney has been a Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Maine for many years. In this time, he has introduced meditation (tai-chi, qigong, yoga, and meditation) groups to teens when told he would fail. This was one of the most successful and long lasting groups. He developed a Civil Rights/Peer Helper course that won state and national awards (for High School) and has worked as a civil rights activist. He has also worked as a long term care social worker and now works as a Hospice Medical Social Worker. Jason is a poet, writer, and musician playing bass, harmonica and various wind instruments. Lover of all styles of music he has played classical, jazz, rock, funk, country, blues, and rap. He is very excited to play bass with his brother’s band and his son’s. He is very proud to have co-authored The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People with his son Leif.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Our novel The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People has been published on the Kindle section of Amazon.com. Huzzah!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Leif: Eons ago and because my Muse commanded it should be so!
Jason: I have been writing my entire life, it seems to be part of me.
I have to write daily, like breathing and brushing my teeth. It is a need.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Sometime during the writing of this lengthy first manuscript, long before its completion, we crossed the threshold into officially considering ourselves “writers”.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A desire to satirize a genre that seems to be running out of original and innovative ideas (whilst progressively growing bleaker) is what inspired our mammoth creation.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Our writing style is an effete throwback to the earlier writing forms and styles of the authors of the 1800’s such as Lewis Carroll, Washington Irving, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
An auspex was consulted, for a small fee, to divine which title would ameliorate the book’s profitability. No, but seriously, the title flows naturally from the plot of the manuscript. It is also an allusion to the massy tale’s satirical contents as the magical item or artifact hinted at is not as hidden as one might suspect. Things are not exactly what they seem.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Even blind Tiresias at the mystical height of his prophetic sight might not have been able to decipher a message in it that could withstand rationality’s scalding light. We leave our diligent readers to glean the message(s) for themselves and to interpret the meaning hidden within the tower of text. It is a possibly poignant puzzle to be solved by those with ample determination and powerful resolve.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The supernal landlords of the cosmos forbid there should be anything realistic to the story! To be honest (and quite possibly serious), there are societal elements and cultural components and certain characters in the beginning that are grounded in a realism familiar to modernity.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not that we know of.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Leif: A difficult question! I have been heavily influenced by a rich assortment of phenomenally sublime classic literature. The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Dante’s Divine Comedy, The King James Bible, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Paradise Lost by John Milton, The Iliad by Homer, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, and The Prelude by William Wordsworth stand among the greatest.
Jason: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Rumi, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman,
The Bible, the Tao Te Ching, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare have all had a great influence in my life.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Leif: The Bard
Jason: Walt Whitman
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Leif: Rereading The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Jason: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Our favorite modern author is this little known, relatively new writer (a real maverick of the contemporary literary scene) by the name of Cormac McCarthy. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Writing the next novel in the tetralogy we have planned. It is the sequel to The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People. The title has yet to be determined.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
We could not possibly narrow it down to just one person. We have been blessed by a sizable support group of friends, the majority of which curiously work in the educational system. This cadre of encouragement-peddling comrades includes a circle of poets and writers. They have our gratitude.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Emphatically yes! The arts are astounding in the nuances permitted both emotively and experientially. When we say this, we mean of course the subtleties of the human experience in relationship to the emotional sense and also individual experiences that help to add to “the compost bin”, so to speak, to cull from. In the above analogy, we know that a rose can come from a compost bin through the nutrients and the constitutive components forming the messy cradle it is planted in that allows it to flourish and that also sustains it. The arts are very much like this. As writers, we allow ourselves the freedom to create from collective and individualistic strains that nourish the creative process and add to the furtherance of the art in a unique and individualistic way. We pluck boldly, with the inscrutable force of afflatus as our cicerone, from the murky vault of humanity’s glorious subconscious detritus.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
We wouldn’t change a thing.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
If it was not innate at birth, the interest in writing stemmed from the love of reading at an early age.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Excerpt from Chapter Five of The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People:
The sky through the closeness of the lurid lightning bolts was astoundingly low. The boat steered towards a place in the sea where continual bolts of mute lightning struck the surface of the water. Tommy was frightened. It was as if they were going directly into the belly of the storm. The rolling oceanic expanse became violent; the waves crested twenty feet in height. The boat dipped over and over again in fjord-sized troughs of sea before it rose to the top of a massive wave. As they crested this alpha wave of apocalypse-inducing stature, a tremendous bolt of lightning struck the boat rending it in twain. An explosion of fragmented wood and torn netting sprinted out across the white-capped waves. The sundered vessel rolled over to face the depths and sank. Again Tommy was chucked and hurtled into the air before hitting the sea. He plunged downward through the brine. The tempest ceased abruptly, suffocating Lethia in a cloak of utter darkness. The constant downfall of jagged bolts sickly in coloration whimpered to a sudden close. The instant sea was now pitch-black. Tommy plummeted further down the fathoms unable at first to halt his momentum because he was dazed by the jarring manner of the inauspicious capsizing. He soon regained some semblance of bearing and composure. He found that the bronze enchantment that Facinorous had assumedly placed upon his clothes was no longer in effect. His clothes were of their regular composition. He tried desperately to swim to the surface but only found more water and blackness. After a tremendous struggle, he realized that any remaining air or sky had been swallowed up by the rising sea. There was no surface left to reach. The instant sea was somehow inescapable now. He panicked as he tried to think of something he could conjure up with his strained imagination that could save him from drowning. In the process he began to lose consciousness. His awareness flickered like a moribund flame. Moments before the loss of his creative identity, his mind limped to the acquisition of an element of a story that he needed. The whimsical element was the air bubble spell cast by an industrious mermaid on the human she fell in love with that allowed him to breathe underwater. The story was a tad saccharine and quaint but it served its purpose. A self-sustaining oxygen bubble manifested over Tommy’s head. Its translucent sheen encircled his facial features snugly. A breathable environment invisible as the silver speck of a coin in the crumbling cosmic refuse of a supernova’s insensate tide lurked within the narrow confines. He gasped in the precious air it afforded. The supply was endless, and he soon regained his breath. Crisis averted, he looked about the dark depths that surrounded him through the terrible agony blistering his thoughts. His tunnel of vision was smothered by absolute blackness. He couldn’t even see beyond his own ocular lenses. It felt as if he had been sepulchered long before the expiration of his last breath. After his recent encounter with the Tylosaurus, he realized that now not being able to see anything in the oceanic murk made him a sitting duck for whatever lurked beneath. He shuddered involuntarily. He turned warily around in slow circles with cautious strokes. The fear of the unknown drained and whittled his reservoir of courage down to an infinitesimal scintilla over-shrouded by an oppressive fog of affright. He just wished that whatever happened, it would be merciful in its swiftness. He could imagine that there were skyscraper-sized sharks and monstrosities with many mucilaginous tentacles gliding sinisterly about down here. There had to be by the law of shambolic disorder and the malevolence of Facinorous’s misrule of Lethia. He knew that at any moment the monsters could strike. There would be no warning. There could be no adequate defense. He would be just a tiny morsel to those vast shapes of horror. He gritted his teeth against the inevitably oncoming extinction.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
What is most challenging is the constant struggle against the urge to complexify (the plot, dialogue, descriptions, narrative, etc.) and how this affects the pacing of the writing process.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Leif: William Shakespeare. What hasn’t been said about the Bard? What praise and laudation hasn’t been heaped on his unmatchable genius throughout the centuries? I join a very long and distinguished line in my recognition of his greatness. Nothing leaves me stranded in the enraptured glory of awe quite like the profound sagacity, astonishing aesthetic resplendence, bold imaginative otherness and mystifying cognitive puissance of his work.
Jason: Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī. His mystical poetry goes to the heart and core of human experience and our relationship with the divine. More succinctly, his writings touch upon the longing we have to be re-connected with the divine. He offers the solution which is Love, which burns through our attachments so that we may “go back to the reed bed” as he may have put it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not as of yet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover was designed by a talented and gifted artist named Andrei Bat from 99designs.com.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The redaction process, involving a considerable amount of revision, was the most challenging part of writing the book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The most important thing we learned was that we function really well as a literary tag team. We draw out each other’s strengths and limit the weaknesses and somehow manage to temper the eccentricities of our respective styles.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Take your art seriously; refine your abilities, hone your skills and develop a habit of writing on a quotidian basis. Not necessarily something that inspires the pneuma and rattles the firmament but something that is at least adequate or decent. Practicing your craft plays a crucial role in maintaining the well-being and the liveliness of your mental character as well as improving your writing abilities. Let the sensitive fabric of your psyche become pachydermatous and persevere through all the vicissitudes that adversity can muster.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
This is rather a general statement but allow yourself the freedom to get lost in creative works no matter the genre or its expression (dance, poetry, music, etc…). Having said that, this particular book is interesting in that it presents a sequence of events that does not follow the traditional linear narrative structure; it also presents a vast elaborate fable and anachronistic writing style that are demanding but satisfying in that the action propels the plot not only in a dizzying fashion but also adds elements of world culture, idiosyncratic satire, diverse humor, and adventuresome fantasy.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Leif: Lewis Carroll’s inimitable classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the first book I remember thumbing through.
Jason: My mom had a series of anthropology and nature books I used to like to look through before I could read.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Sophisticated satire and witty humor that is not terribly demeaning or at the expense of others (unless of course they deserve it) make us laugh. Great sadness comes with the sense of separation we feel from others (metaphysical triteness to the rescue!). We are raised to believe that we must put people and things into boxes for our own edification. When we do this, we close off the full reality of the object we are classifying. If we can truly see someone or something beyond the confines of our constructs, we give them dignity and allow ourselves the fullness of an encounter with another fully realized, nuanced and complicated being.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
We subscribe to the adage that you should not meet your heroes; preferring to honor and appreciate them from afar.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Leif: “Here lies someone who knew a bit more about the art of writing than your average twit.”
Jason: “Here lies someone who cared for all beings.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Besides writing, our hobbies include reading (especially devouring with our eyes the splendiferous lines of powerful classic verse and poetry; they raise the consciousness, elevate the mind and enrich the soul), watching television shows and sports and movies, listening to music, learning about and researching new things concerning many different subjects such as science and dinosaurs which were a childhood fascination, appreciating art, exploring new places, hiking, bowling, weightlifting, running on the treadmill, occasionally surfing the great gray sea of the interweb, enjoying a huge variety of outdoor and water-based activities including tubing and disc golf and jogging and swimming and walking along the beach and shooting hoops, gaming (not just video games but also charades and card games like Uno and poker and board games like Clue and Stratego), indulging in spare moments of spiritual bliss, spending time with and caring for pets, observing wildlife, causing mirth and mischief and mayhem with family and friends, and playing music.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Kung Fu, and Fawlty Towers rank among our favorites. As for films, there are too many to list here. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is an inexhaustible source of laughter and merriment.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Leif: Favorite color: Cerulean and forest green (a shade of color far from obscene)
Favorite food: Daiya cheesecake and Beyond Meat Beast Burgers
Favorite Music: I lavish with boundless appreciation and adoration virtually all genres of music except polka and death metal (rare exceptions!). O so broad my palate! There are many musical artists that I love; everyone from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Beethoven and Mozart to The Beatles and Radiohead to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash to Ray Charles and Fats Domino to B.B. King and T Bone Walker and so on and so forth.
Jason: Indian and Mexican/ green/ all music
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Leif: I most likely would have been either a proletarian hero or a paleontologist.
Jason: I might have been a conductor/composer for symphony orchestras.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Our website: http://www.leifandjasonenterprises.com/
Our Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/Leif-and-Jason-Grundstrom-Whitney-735598526557573/
Our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/leifandjason