Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview with the fascinating, incredible author, Charles Dougherty

K- Thank you so much for joining us, Bud.  I absolutely loved ‘The Lost Tourist Franchise’ and I can’t wait to read your other books!

The book was very intriguing. (read my review here) With so much detail on the Washington DC area, I wondered if any of this was based on real life experience.  How did you research for this book, and was there any personal inspiration for this story?

B:  My wife and I lived in the D.C. area for many years, so I had plenty of time to absorb the detail.  I spent much of my working life selling – ideas as well as tangible things.  Living where we did, I often encountered street hustlers, and I came to realize that they, too, were selling.  I’m not talking about the dysfunctional folks; I feel sorry for them.  I’m talking about the ones who worked hard for their handouts, and I think that they realized that they had a valuable commodity to offer in exchange for the contributions they received.  Sometimes they offered information or items of nominal value, but more often, they offered the contributor the opportunity to feel good for having helped someone less fortunate.

K: The story could be perceived in a couple of different ways.  I guess it all depends on whether you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” type.   Where do you find yourself? 

B:  I’m the one that drank the top half of the glass, most likely.  I’m definitely a glass half-full type.

K:  (Laughing) That’s a good way to be, Bud.
You lead a life that most people only dream of, sailing the world.  I am just fascinated; I think about books that I have read about life on the sea, like Moby Dick, Treasure Island & Robinson Crusoe.  I wish you would set up a webcam!

Can you describe your writing style?  What is a typical day in the life of Bud Dougherty… starting with the time you wake up, meals, beverages, everything in between & bedtime.

B:  There’s a YouTube trailer for some of my books here – not quite a webcam, but you can spend two minutes in the islands, if you’d like.

Living on the boat, we’re fairly close to nature; I get up with the sun and enjoy coffee out on deck.  Our meals are dependent on where we are; different things are better on different islands, but local fruits and vegetables are prominent in our diet as is fish – either fresh or salt-cured.   Chickens are always under foot in the islands; we joke that all the chicken is free-range chicken where we live.  Both of us like street food.  In the islands that takes the place of fast food.  It may be healthier, too, but it’s often not attractive to the squeamish palate. 
I write for several hours a day, most days.   We spend most of our time at anchor in various places; when we’re actively sailing from one place to another, I don’t have much time for writing, but that’s only about 15 percent of the time.  

Maintaining and sailing a cruising sailboat is time consuming; a boat like ours requires more time to maintain than a house.  The difference is that when we tire of the neighborhood, we just sail away. 
Things that seem ordinary to shore-bound people (dirt dwellers, they’re called, in our circle) can take us an inordinate amount of time.  Grocery shopping in the islands takes at least a day a week – we’re doing it on foot or by minibus, and there are few supermarkets, so we spend a lot of time going from one small shop to another, looking for things that would be found in a few minutes at a typical American supermarket.   Most islands have interesting open air markets, as well.

I wrote a nonfiction book, Dungda de Islan’ (patois for ‘Down in the Islands’) about our voyage to the Caribbean and the first year or so in the islands.  We also keep a sailing blog that describes our life afloat.

K: Funny you should mention it, I just started reading Dungda de Islan’ and it’s hard to put downI’m mesmerized and will definitely be writing about it. I saw the YouTube trailer and it makes me want to leave for the Caribbean- right now!

If ‘The Lost Tourist Franchise’ was made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the roles? 

B: I’m at a disadvantage here, because we don’t see television and only rarely watch movies, but recalling actors from my previous life, I can’t think of any that fit.  I would see this film as an opportunity for someone to hit the streets of Washington with a video camera and find cast members from real life.

K: That’s a great idea- get the real flavor.

I like to engage my guests in a little game I the “writing exercise” I give you a scene and you rewrite it in your own fabulous style.  Are up for it?

B:  Sure.  It’s what I do.

K: Okay, here is your scene:
Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 
He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He didn't notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger

B: Anil’s anger filled the room; his fury was nearly all-consuming.  Nearly, but not quite – there was a small corner of his being given over to frustration.  The object of his anger was beyond his reach; he couldn’t strike at the one who had provoked him.  He could feel the throbbing in his temple, palpable evidence that he was losing control.  Stymied, he turned inward to that corner of frustration and began to pick at it, the way he had picked at the scabs on his childhood scrapes.
He could never react quickly enough when he was provoked; he backed down from every confrontation.  Only later, in his painful solitude, did he contemplate the things that he should have done to his antagonist, the things that he imagined a real man would have done.  But he was always too late.  For a long time, the target for his retribution had been his own self-worth.  At this stage, though, his psyche was so sheathed in protective scar tissue that his only relief was physical; he could still feel physical pain.  Cutting validated his existence; the absence of the pinky on his left hand reminded him that he could still feel.
He looked up at the mirror, disgusted with what he saw.  Smashing the glass with his maimed hand, he picked through the glittering shards, looking for a suitable one, one that would grant him relief from his suffering.

K: That was incredible!  Your descriptive prose was so deep; it’s the first glimpse of the “real” Anil. 
Thank you so much.  It was great having you here. .  I hope you’ll come back and chat about Dungda de Islan’ and please ask your lovely wife, Leslie if she’d like to join us.  I’ll make sure I serve pain au chocolat : ))

Can you please tell us what’s coming up and where we can find you on the web?

B: I just released Bluewater Voodoo, the third book in my Bluewater Thriller series, and I’m working on ideas for the next book.  I think I’ll leave the Bluewater Thrillers for a while; after three books in a row with the same characters, I want to develop some new ones.  I’ll definitely go back to the series; I’ve enjoyed it. But I don’t want to get stale.  I’d like to come back to those characters with a fresh look.

You can find me on the web at  My writer’s blog is there, as well as information about my books.  I mentioned the sailing blog – that’s at Voyage of the Play Actor.  I have an author’s page on Facebook here, and I’m on Twitter @clrdougherty.  Email is welcome at clrd@clrdougherty.comThanks for having me here – it was a pleasure to visit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Charles is truly one of my favorite authors. His words will transport you to wherever he is writing about. In addition to being a fine writer, his is supportive and kind to newcomers.