Richard Flewelling is a combat veteran and retired business owner and consultant. We’ve been lucky enough to arrange an interview with Richard about his first book Mirror Image. You can read more about Richard and Mirror Image at his AuthorHouse web site.
Without putting the plot in danger or raising the spectre of spoilers can you tell our readers a little about Mirror Image?
Mirror Image offers a new twist on the classic mystery novel involving identical persons.
Selecting a genre for this novel is difficult as it covers many.
It is an adventure story, involving the developing social and sexual awareness of our central character and tells of some of his lovemaking in explicit detail. The story is told in a way that displays his innermost thoughts. It tells of consideration, romance and folly with several women he meets.
The story tells of social relationships and follows several crimes involving kidnappings, murders, and weaves a complicated tale of causes of interrelated mysteries that all seem to point in a common direction. It evolves into the awareness of involvement of the mystical worlds of suspicion, the supernatural, and the spiritual.
The story tells how several things can interrelate to resolve a troublesome activity and injustice perpetrated upon segments of society, it’s believers, masters and followers. It also illustrates how people of different segments of society can pool ideas, ideals, and resources to solve common mysteries and dilemma. It is the story of a young mans quest to seek answers to things he is not familiar as he discovers his predictable world is changing quickly, and how it is not now as he once perceived it.
In his quest for answers, circumstance introduces him to undeniable evidence of other forces that are coming into play in his life, as it relates to the mysteries that are unleashed after he has discovered that he has an exact double existing in his own world.
With some background and scene setting information, the book begins telling the tale of a chap by the name of Nicholas Bogart, some of whose greatest pleasures in life are partying, and chasing girls.
Nick lives his life in a perfect rhythm of work and play visiting Erick’s – his favourite saloon – at every chance he gets. That is, until his curiosity and hormones get the better of him during a “strike-out” period with the ladies and he wanders across the street to Reynold’s – another saloon. At Reynolds, Nick is surprised to learn that everybody recognizes him, even an especially gorgeous girl named Jenni, but they all know him as Gary.
Because there are certain perks to pretending to be Gary, Nick keeps it up, enjoying the company of Gary’s girlfriend, Jenni. The only problem is that her crazy, estranged husband is after Gary, and a group of Jenni’s friends are finding “Gary’s” recent behaviour incredibly odd. Nick confesses his true identity to Jenni and reveals a socially acceptable means that sets him apart from Gary, but things are just starting to get complicated.
Our central character is discovering more of his inner self, as well as the realities about other people. Much of what he previously thought is demanding further consideration on his part, and he struggles with his own emotions versus common sense. This also carries over into what his spiritual beliefs have previously been, and what is now challenging him as something new.
A Talisman representing an Ancient American God of Creation he received from a American Indian friend, appears to be directing it’s presence in a fashion that mystifies, guides and effects the story direction and outcome in several ways.
Mirror Image is a fast paced, exciting tale of Adventure and Enlightenment.
Why did you decide to write the story? Was writing it an easy process?
I have been encouraged to write some of the stories I have been telling for years and finally decided to get started. I’m considered to be an “Old Guy” by some as I retired a few years ago and had been writing for a couple of Off Road Magazines and had developed a little following that has also encouraged me to “turn up the burners” so to speak.
Through some thought, I isolated what I thought to be several good ideas for story lines and content for several books. Each had a different genre and selecting the one to start with was difficult. I decided to hone my writing skills by writing a series of short stories while outlining the content for a serious attempt at a novel.
I had started writing a series of beer hall, nightclub, party and alcohol related tales that I planned to put into an anthology called “Gods in Vitreous”. (I had a lot of experience in that arena)
One of the stories was based upon a true incident (as are most of my stories) and involved a fellow by the name of Gary (not his real name). Gary was truly my exact double. Neither of our peer groups could tell us apart. You can imagine some of the troubles that particular circumstance can generate.
The fellow had a dynamite girlfriend by the name of Jenni (also not her real name) that on a chance meeting in Reynolds Saloon (real name) had totally mistaken me for her boyfriend Gary.
I was enjoying the mistaken identity quite a bit until this gal was getting so personal I decided I had better tell her who I really was before we passed the point of social acceptance. By that I mean, my accepting “personal favors” from her that surely would get me a thorough drubbing or gelding status by her very large crowd of friends nearby that surely would move so to protect this girls honor from some opportunity grabbing, look-alike cad, like me.
As I was writing the story the thought occurred to me that this story was going so well that it could easily develop into a pretty good novel providing I could expand the story overall so that it would not look like a stretched out short story.
I decided to wrap a few other incidents that were based on actual happenings locally and that had occurred about the same time into the feature story. For me, those days were full of fun and adventure so I had a lot of pieces to select from to flesh out my tale.
Once I had all the feature events I hoped to include in the story, I took off on the novel. The story really pretty much wrote itself. It was extremely fun and I loved recalling many things that happened during that period.
The hardest part was keeping the reader abreast of all the many things that were going on at the same time. In a complicated story, that is a fairly difficult thing to do. Particularly when telling it in the first person the way I did. It seemed to me it would be near impossible for that person to know certain things that were happening unless the story had a ‘source’ that could infuse the information at the proper time during the story. I think the other characters handled that part very well.
There are a lot of other things buried between the lines that some readers will see and understand. That is why the story was written the way it was. I am told the story reads easily, and there is no difficulty in keeping up with the progress.
I have never written sexually explicit things before this, and agonized about to what extent to do it. To me, these encounters were important aspects to how Bogie was evolving from a sexual maturity standpoint and had to be included. I decided to do the best I could and hope it did not fall to the pornography grade rating.
There are several scenes that take that genre on at several different levels. I could have reduced the book to Sunday School level but that is not what the book is. The final result is very close to what I hoped to achieve. There are a few recovering shocked friends out there, including my wife who has not buried any butcher knives in my chest while I’ve been sleeping…yet.
Much of the true had to be extremely fictionalized and modified to get the result I desired and for the protection of the guilty (as I say), but overall, I was satisfied with the result. Those things fabricated for the fluidity of the story worked well. I still contend that any resemblance between any person living or dead is purely coincidental. Also, that no humans or animals were injured or destroyed in the production of this book.
I am anxious to hear from those who were there during that period who have read my book. It will also be interesting to see what reaction I get from my Sioux brothers and sisters as I am part Chippewa (Ojibwa ) If you hear that the Sioux Nation has gone back on the Warpath, I may have screwed up somewhere.
Do you think we’re ever fully in control of our own life? Should we wish for someone to come along and solve problems for us?
This type of question is usually about politics or religion. With politics, I say too much politics or government is an unwelcome thing. I like the Republic from of government which strives for an equal amount of government and law seeing things through. The other side of that question involves religion.
Usually when I get to talking about “Spiritual” things, I hear the sound of kindling being chopped, tar being heated and the quiet rustle of feathers being prepped for my “enlightenment”, and trip out of town.
But since you asked so nice, I’ll give you my answer.
We are “Never” in full control of our lives. We have a lot of influence on our lives, but control? We have only partial control. The extent varies from person to person and from society to society. These things are present in both government and religion.
The reasons I feel are many. But basically, we as a creature of habit, of reason, of curiosity, of imperfections, are found with all manner of percentages of control of our lives being placed with innumerable destinations. Some are placed willingly, others are forced. Some are moved from one to another frequently. Some are permanent as stone.
If the control of everyone was all the same and complete, we would all be the same. What a boring place that would be. If everyone had complete control of their lives and no outside influence, there would be a lot of tragedy involving people as many are not capable of exercising control of any kind. No control is a loose cannon and those kinds of people can be, and are, mighty dangerous.
Each of us as individuals have different lives and as such, have different problems. No one that I know, has total knowledge of either self, other, or of the universe. To have someone to solve all ones problems lead to weakened individuals. People who have no decisions or problems to solve regress to the level of vegetable. The less one has to do with his own destiny the shorter will be his destiny. And for less purpose. And finally, no purpose. Only grief and despair.
I don’t think we have to look far to find examples of each of the levels of control, from near total control to near no control, to see the difference in the welfare, happiness and well being of different societies as well as individuals.
I think there are far too many people that expect someone to come along and solve a self-induced/self-inflicted problem. There are also people whom expect someone to come along and handle or solve a problem that was not self-inflicted or self-induced.
It is in my opinion that when a problem comes along, one must address it and seek as much as possible the solution himself. In some cases, this may be a very difficult or impossible thing to do. Sometimes the problem is too big or affects too many to address individually and must be resolved as a group. If addressed collectively, many times an acceptable solution can be achieved, unfortunately, sometimes at a great price. That is when the mettle of the collective individuals in the society can be seen.
Mirror Image’s plot involves the Native American god Iktome. Do you think deities like Iktome still have a role in modern life?
Absolutely! Contrary to what some people say, humans need instruction, clarification, and questions answered from the day they are born. No human is so intelligent that he/she can recreate the knowledge that has been grown over millennia by generations of thought without input to put them in some sort of equilibrium to the times they are born and will have to exist.
That input has to be in terms that the human mind can understand. Humans are multi-racial, live in separate parts of the world, and sometimes with little or no contact with outside groups of people. Because of this, different lifestyles and beliefs have evolved.
As mankind has evolved from pre-historic times, by his very nature he is a thinking creature. He reasons and asks questions. Mankind is a social creature that can communicate with those of his own kind. His communication skills are an evolved one as well.
As mankind’s awareness about his surroundings grows and the answers to his previous questions are developed, so does the sophistication of the levels of the new questions he asks. Sometimes the answers to those questions are not yet available. That is, mans intelligence base has not yet matured to that level.
In ancient times, Deities like Iktome (and there are many others in different religions, faiths, or beliefs systems) have been used as tools to help explain to humans the how and why things are the way they are in each their domain. Some are depicted in Fable-like stories, and others in more stringent form insisting on solid rules and ritual. Some Deities are described as all powerful and must be obeyed. Some deal with the more simplistic of things, others the lofty and complicated.
Deities fill in the answer blanks to any level that the human asking wishes to place his question. Since all humans are different, different Deities serve different levels of social presence. They will never go out of social necessity. Too often we see the apparent wish of a benevolent Deity being bastardized by humans to further a desire of a person or group that does not necessarily benefit the followers of that particular faith.
I also think that there is no “one size fits all”. Since humans have evolved the way they have, there will never be one set of Deities for all humans. Or one single faith embraced by all humans. Mankind is not that spiritually evolved for that to happen. Not at least, anytime soon. Unfortunately, mankind is also a warlike creature. He may never reach that level of development.
Hormones and Jenni play an early role when it comes to landing Bogie in trouble. Is that an observation we should all pay heed of?
I think so. In Mirror Image, Bogie is caught between what his primal instincts as a male and what “common sense” are telling him based upon what he has already learned and observed. He has observed what the failure to take heed in reality can transform into when reality catches up. This he observes this through the observable lives of several of his friends.
As Bogie evolved from being a pre-teen adolescent to an experienced man, his hormones developed and his interest in girls began as a chemical one and had it’s appropriate physical effect. It also caused a change in how he thought about things.
Of course his close proximity to grown men garnered him a lot of male input from the standpoint of advice and implied experience. We know that from Bogies circle, a lot of that advice was Braggado and Bogie was left pretty much to his own devices when it came to girls and other life considerations.
Bogies early experience with girls was fairly clumsy and experimental. He had few peers in his circle that would tell him what he needed or should know, and his own sojourns with women were inept at best. Even as such, the early Bogie mistakenly thought he was pretty well up on the ways of handling women. This he held as a truth, until he met Jenni.
Many of his friends had succumbed to lust when reason and common sense fell to the wayside and Bogie witnessed their misery. Not sure what the real answer to their problems were or where they originated, Bogie would panic when he found himself in similar situations that he could identify and developed certain paranoia’s around them.
His fears were most likely what kept him out of early commitments that he was not ready for economically or emotionally. The legal aspect also had a bearing on whether he should keep it in his pants or not. Statutory rape was, and still is, a serious situation to consider and as early as some girls are developing and presenting themselves as something they are not, enhances the chances of mistakes, or errors in judgment being made.
Suffice to say, the hormone surge today may be harder to handle than what it was during Bogies time of transition. Many social mores’ have loosened and opportunity is present like it has never been before. Attitudes towards sex are much more liberal and in reality, there is no legitimate reason for an unwanted pregnancy these days.
That is until one considers the power of the sexual drive. Or the overwhelming strength and insidiousness of a sudden bursts of passion that is almost impossible to contain no matter what the religious or academic background of the participants are.
I believe it is particularly true with the younger, less informed or immature ones that have not, or do not pre-think, or think at all about what potential dangers can lie ahead. A lot of young lives have been severely changed or ruined by the sudden appearance of unplanned responsibilities. Both male and female.
Often, as in Bogies case, there were dangers to him present even before he so much as had a conversation with Jenni. And as we see in the book, (a little plug here) those dangers grew rapidly in number and intensity as the relationship developed. Common sense had one hell of a battle with raw emotion.
What would you do if you discovered you could usurp your own doppleganger who seemed to be leading a much better life than you?
I say in my bio that things look a lot differently when you are on the outside of a window looking in, than what things truly are once you are on the inside experiencing them, looking out.
What this means is that from your original perspective, you can only witness what is presented to you. Much of what is going on at the same time are things you cannot see or even be aware of.
This is very similar to my early life in that I was told how to do many things but was rarely ever told why it should be done that way. If no one instructs you, then you are left to your own devices to learn the why’s all by yourself, or attempt to find someone that will tell you why.
When you do this, you are “looking through the window” seeking the answer or answers to your question(s). Initially everything seems to be exactly what you are looking for while you are looking that one way, through the glass. Based upon that observation, you opt to go through the door to get a better look from the inside.
Often what we find is something that is not what we are looking for. From the new perspective, we are seeing things that we could not have possibly have seen from the outside, looking in; and being on the inside is the only way you could get a more complete look.
Sometimes things are much better than expected and the person stays inside for the time being, content with what he has found. He may venture out again or he may not. It depends upon how content he is. disappointment or misunderstood. Most likely, the person looks back outside and the person looks back outside and eventually leaves to look through another window.
The width of the spectrum of the things that are found going through the doors is pretty wide. Some are bang-on, or close to what is being sought, some are not even close. Sometimes it is hard to even tell.
I have been in and out of many doors throughout my life.
Now back to your question. That pesky Doppelganger may appear to be having a much better life than I. But as I have stated, what you see is not always what reality is.
In Mirror Image, this is indirectly what Bogie was doing when Jenni mistook him for Gary. This was before Bogie was aware there was a Gary. Bogie enjoyed being Gary for a while but realized there could be a price to pay for carrying the ruse too far. Also, Bogie wanted to be appreciated as himself.
To truly usurp someone or something would involve the taking of everything the person had. In the case of a doppelganger type such as Iktome, that could turn into a pretty nasty fight. One that most likely could not be won by a mortal.
I think that because of who and what I am, I would take a really good look at my Doppelganger and his activities to see if he really is having a better life than I am. With all things considered, I may be the one having the better life.
If not, since we are so much alike, I should be able to master all those things that allow him to be that successful. I should have the same abilities and would try to immolate those things that allowed him a better life and create my own.
If that did not work, and I truly felt the Doppelganger was having a better life than I and it was really important to me to have the better life, and it was possible for me to do it,.. consider him usurped.! (as Popeye says “I yam what I yam because that’s what I am! Uk! Uk! Uk!”)
If it is not all that important to me that the Doppelganger is having a better life than I am, (which is most likely going to be the case, as I am having a pretty good life compared to most of the humans on the planet.) I would accept that fact, be happy for him, wish him well, and go on with my life. Life can be good, even if it is not as good as someone else’s.
In Pure Spirit
Thanks again to Richard for his time on the interview.
What would you do if you found yourself in the role of a Doppelganger and able to ease yourself in to someone else’s life?