Name M.C. Tuggle
Where are you from
Born and raised in the country near High Point, North Carolina. My maternal grandparents’ farm was the focal point of our social, recreational, and spiritual life. The large lake was a magnet for me and my cousins, where we swam, boated, and camped. My grandfather was a deacon who let local churches baptize folks in his pond.
A little about yourself, ie, your education, family life, etc.
I was a headstrong, bored student through high school. University was pure joy for me since I could select the course of study that appealed to me. In addition to the literature, history, and French courses I loved, I surprised myself when I discovered an interest and talent in biology and statistics.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest book is a novella entitled The Genie Hunt. It’s about two old friends who stumble upon a criminal gang that includes a mutual friend and a genie who does the gang’s dirty work.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. By the time I was ten, I was spellbound by the classic (and sometimes cheesy) sci-fi movies featured on Bob Gordon Theater, a late-afternoon variety TV show from Channel 12 in nearby Winston-Salem.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until my third or fourth piece was accepted for publication.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Aztec Midnight grew out of my last visit to Mexico. My wife and daughter and I spent three weeks in a Mexican village, one untouched by McDonalds or Starbucks. A large, cone-shaped mountain towered over it. We walked everywhere on cobblestone streets, down winding alleys full of yellow adobe buildings. The folks there were eager to share their homes and stories with us. We soon learned that under the veneer of orthodox faith lives an enduring, all-encompassing system of folk magic. Add that to the tales the local priest and two nuns told us about the fearsome and utterly ruthless drug cartels, and it was clear I had a story to write.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
It tends to be physical and sensuous, with relentless effort to pare down everything to the essential details.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title for my latest book, The Genie Hunt, seemed like an obvious choice. This will be the first book in a series of adventures for the two main characters, Buddy Vuncannon and Coot Pickard, two mis-matched friends who reluctantly find themselves confronting the supernatural.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Even though it’s an action-packed thriller with humorous situations, it’s based on my growing concerns with the spread of globalism and the betrayal of the middle class. J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy made me see red, and as soon as I finished it, I knew I had to channel my anger into a story.
Another theme of the book is the disappearance of institutions that once provided folks with purpose, identity, and a sense of order. Michel Houellebecq’s Submission is a brilliant, even-handed, and eye-opening romp that explores the appeal of authoritarian ideologies in a society losing its traditional sources of civic order. In The Genie Hunt, I explore similar pressures on small-town Southern society.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In the past ten years, when I visit my old home town, I’m seeing more signs of loss and decay. Family farms are going to seed, manufacturers are boarding up their windows, and families are breaking up. I think the country is losing its population to the city, to an increasingly fractured, isolated way of life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
As far as personal worldview, I’ve been most influenced by those writers who explore the dehumanization of humanity. Robert Ardrey, Konrad Lorenz, Charlene Spretnak, and E. O. Wilson, for example. As far as writing style, I’m going to go with the works of Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, and Mickey Spillane.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’m reading Ron Rash now, and am surprised and pleased by his faithful and respectful rendering of the ways and sensibilities of backcountry folk. He manages to create honest and beautiful portrayals of rural life that come alive for anyone who reads them.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No matter how many pieces you publish, there’s an obligation to see yourself as a professional. That means not wasting your readers’ time, and that requires continuous development of your craft.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’ll let you know in 6 months.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Diab’s eyes opened wide. “I suppose we could start by you telling me what you thought you saw.”
I told him about my meeting with Danny Lockhart, though I was careful to omit his name. As I spoke, Diab’s bearing transformed almost as much as the genie I described. At first relaxed and mildly amused, he turned tense as he listened. When I finished, Diab perched on the edge of his seat, spine rigid, his face dark.
He gazed at me a long moment. “I can tell you anything you want to know about this being. But let me say one thing now: You must have nothing to do with him.”
“Problem is, Mr. Diab, that genie took the form of my friend Coot here and robbed a local business. I want to know everything possible about this creature.”
Diab swiveled his head toward Coot, who jerked back as far as he could in his seat.
“You see, Mr. Diab, I need to prove my friend’s innocence in a court of–”
“Excuse me, but I’m afraid you do not understand.” Diab raised a finger to his chin. “What you must accept is that you are powerless to stop him.” He studied me a second before exhaling and leaning forward on his desk, hands clasped. “Let me tell you why that is so.”
Diab pursed his lips and stared at his desk. The muted babble of an energetic conversation, likely Hakim’s technicians in the next room, intruded upon the silence.
He turned his gaze on me, eyes narrowed. “The being that confronted you is a Jann, a variety of jinn. A genie, as you would say. You already know he has the power of illusion. He can appear in the form of any person. He can also imitate any voice. And… his physical strength is beyond belief.”
At my side, Coot sat in his seat like a convict strapped to an electric chair, eyes wide, unmoving, waiting for whatever was coming next.
I leaned back. “So he’s a physical being? With a body like ours?”
“Not as we understand it. He can take physical form for short periods, but the Jann’s true power is that of taking over the minds of those in his presence. So, when he is within, I’d say, eleven meters of you, not only can he project an illusion, he can read your mind. Therefore, you cannot trick or defeat him.”
I chewed on that one a bit. “He can read your mind?”
Diab nodded. “Like an open Kindle.”
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The publishers. The Novel Fox designed Aztec Midnight, and Solstice Publishing did the cover for The Genie Hunt.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Stopping. I’m afraid I could revise a manuscript forever.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
I can see Chris Pratt as Buddy Vuncannon.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep at it. Rejections are part of the game, so learn to deal with them. And this is advice from someone who didn’t deal with them well in the beginning.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m about 60 pages into Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase. It’s both engrossing and amusing.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My eyes tear up with embarrassing speed when I encounter tales of courage and sacrifice from ordinary folks. A mother who shields her child from injury, a family dog that fights off bigger dogs, EMTs who risk their lives to save others — I’m an absolute sucker for such stories.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?