Q. Are these really frequently asked questions?
A. Well, not yet.
Q. Are your novels suitable for young children?
A. It’s purely arbitrary, but I think the message of The Fraternity might be lost on people under 14—and that isn’t meant to disparage the intellect of 14-year-olds. There are a handful of sexual references and one semi-descriptive sex scene, but certainly nothing that would cause anyone to faint. (Unlike the childbirth film I watched in sophomore health class—holy cow, how about some warning next time?) The language in The Fraternity is far cleaner than what you’d hear in an actual frat house, but that’s just because I didn’t want it to be a distraction. Trombone Answers and The Rocheville Devil both have more adult language and sexual references, but again, I’d say mature teenagers would enjoy it. I’m writing with adults in mind, but not in the gratuitous sense.
Q. Are you your main characters?
A. Well, Doug Halloran and Parker Graham are both kids who have locked themselves into “a parent-pleasing groove” (as Parker puts it), and they’re both a little bit scared of the world. I remember relating to that. They’re also both decent young men trying to figure out their place in the world, and heck, 30-some years after college I’m still chipping away at that. But sure, while they’re not memoirs, these stories come from a perspective I identify strongly with, and that’s what makes them so real. Now, if you're asking about The Rocheville Devil, Tom Skolka and I were both sixth-graders in an elementary school's final year, but thankfully the similarity ends there.
Q. What’s up next?
A. Now that The Rocheville Devil is out, I'll be getting the sequel to Trombone Answers ready to publish. This one will follow Parker Graham into college and under-employment, and the working title is Love and Cornstalks and Whatnot. After that it'll be a tour de force satire of professional sports called Fluffball! Or, How Five Really Tall Guys and an Immortal Chinese Philosopher Opened the Door to a Parallel Universe and Saved a Professional Sports League, More or Less. The next three are all sort of churning around in my head, and a conclusion to the Trombone trilogy might or might not be one of them.
Q. So what is The Rocheville Devil?
A. The Rocheville Devil is a psychological drama about Tom Skolka, a man whose adult life has been full of bad luck, bad timing, and bad people, and who embarks on a journey to reclaim his innocence. When he discovers the ability to interact with his childhood memories as if he’s actually there, he decides to spend the rest of his life in the last place he remembered being “an innocent in an innocent world”: his old abandoned grade school building. Problems arise when his fifth-grade teacher and nemesis begins intruding on his visions, causing Tom to struggle with the prudence of his plan—and with his own sanity.
Q. No, I mean like what is The Rocheville Devil? Is it a thing? A person? A concept?
A. Well, it might refer to a local Bigfoot-type legend. It might refer to the mascot for the old school’s sports teams or the grinning devil face in the middle of the basketball court. It might be Tom himself or just the constraints he’s decided to live under. It’s open for interpretation.