I spent part of the weekend with my friend Gery Deer discussing things much more pleasant than politics, specifically literature and bullwhips. He asked me now that my most recent book Tail of the Dragon was out, when I planned to write a sequel to The Symposium of Justice. I told him that I was already planning it, the title as of now is Overmanwarrior: The Trial of Fletcher Finnegan. Gery and I go back a bit. For more info on the two of us, check out this article done at Yahoo News:
Gery loves my first book and has always been one of its greatest supporters. He showed me how he was prominently displaying The Symposium of Justice on his online bookstore which can be seen at the link below, and we reminisced about the many adventures we had over the years because of that novel.
Gery’s wife is a tremendous reader, and the last two times I’ve seen her, she had her face planted in her trusty Kindle. I told her that I didn’t understand why the Kindle was so popular and she showed me how she could download a lot of books into it and read them on the run. She absolutely loves it. She also mentioned to me that she noticed I never advertised The Symposium of Justice in its Kindle version, and I realized that mostly the reason was that I haven’t accepted the technology. I am still very much in love with traditional books that I can hold in my hands and smell. These download versions are such a new concept that I just can’t accept them the way others have.
But she did get me thinking. I hadn’t seen Gery since the Annie Oakley festival and he and I needed to talk about books, whips, TV and media appearances, and of course small talk. Mostly I wanted to show him two of the three whips that David Crain had custom-made for me which I won in the whip contests over the summer. David is finishing up the third 5’ whip now, but the other two I wanted Gery to see in his one-of-a-kind whip studio up in Jamestown, Ohio which is a great place to let them loose.
The Symposium of Justice is a favorite book among those who have read it, particularly those in our little whip community. The character of Fletcher Finnegan/Cliffhanger is an interesting twist to the traditional Zorro/Batman type of character. As written, Fletcher Finnegan is a combination of Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Zorro. He’s very complex, athletically perfect, and has a tremendous intellect. He is by all definitions a perfect man. He is the type of hero that everyone wants to be, and he lives his life without any fear. The plot tension comes not from his weaknesses but in his interaction with a society that strives to beat him into submission any way possible and the reader’s desire to see how he can survive such a social gauntlet.
My characters are all like this, because to be honest, that’s the only type of character I think is worthy to write about. In my recent Tail of the Dragon Rick Stevens has been found to be of the same caliber of strong, fearless quality as Finnegan. Although I did go out of my way to put Rick Stevens in situations that would show him to be more “human” than Fletcher Finnegan was in The Symposium of Justice, because of the incredible blowback I received from the progressive literary community, which at that time was not so well-defined. Reviewers back when I released that book didn’t know what to think about such a strong character, because socially we have become so used to whiny, snot-nosed, beta men. Nobody but children openly like and admire such strong characters as Fletcher Finnegan. However, the problem is that The Symposium of Justice is a very “adult” book so kids weren’t the ones buying it, it was adults.
Slowly, over time, people have started to show their love of Fletcher Finnegan. Maybe it has something to do with the re-emergence of Ayn Rand’s strong characters from The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged that is contributing to it. Or maybe the Obama Presidency has left a yearning for such characters that wasn’t there in the years immediately following the 9/11 tragedy which placed The United States on the defensive and trillions of dollars of over-reactionary, panic driven debt. Or maybe it’s because people have been reading my blog and are hungry for the kind of characters who live the lives I paint in the millions of words I’ve posted hoping to share my thoughts about how the world should be, and not willing to yield to in our current social state. It’s probably a little of all those elements that is giving The Symposium of Justice new life for a new generation of readers.
There is a scene that occurs in The Symposium of Justice that is so contrary to a typical action story that many who read it the first time through didn’t know what to think. The scene occurs in the chapter titled ‘Salad Bar Goddess’ where a hit man named R.L. Justice tracks Fletcher Finnegan and his family down to kill in front of a crowded restaurant in the town of Fort Seven Mile. The hit man, a traditional tough guy from the south side of Chicago, and feared as most sinister in his profession realizes that upon seeing Fletcher’s wife Misty, the town’s popular city council woman, Justice realized that he was sent to kill the perfect man, because nobody but a perfect man could have a woman as beautiful both physically and spiritually as Misty Finnegan. Once Justice figures out who Finnegan is, he makes eye contact and for the first time in his life sees a man looking back who has not one ounce of fear in him. Justice realizes that even if he could kill Fletcher Finnegan, that to do so would be a crime against humanity and suddenly Justice realizes that he is nothing but an assassin for a corrupt system that seems to only exist to stamp out people like Fletcher Finnegan. It is a life changing moment for R.L. Justice to meet Fletcher Finnegan. No words are spoken between the two men, but the communication that flows between the individual lives of the two radically different men completely alters the direction of the professional hit man. Realizing that his life has been a terrible waste, and that he is simply a puppet to his puppet masters, R.L. Justice decides to do one good thing in his life after that pivotal meeting. He leaves the restaurant, and gallantly throws himself out onto a highway in front of an oncoming truck, and kills himself instantly. That’s the kind of novel that The Symposium of Justice is.
My wife loves the character of Cliffhanger/Fletcher Finnegan. She thinks that young people should have such a positive character in their lives. Finnegan is everything I always wished Zorro to be, but lacked. Finnegan doesn’t bother to pretend to be foppish as Don Diego did in the Zorro stories. Finnegan knows that people don’t know about his vigilante antics as the masked Cliffhanger because society wishes not to acknowledge him socially. They refuse to see what is right in front of them, so there is no need to hide. It is that revelation which confronts the old, seasoned hit man R.L. Justice who considered himself an expert at dissecting human beings in order to identify his targets, and even he did not see who Fletcher Finnegan was, until it was too late. So obviously, I have thought about a sequel to The Symposium of Justice and have been anxious to begin it. My wife has been pushing me for years, and it was one of the first things Gery always mentions to me in our meetings over a long period of time.
So I am going to take the advice of Gery’s wife and embrace this whole Kindle thing. The least I can do in these tight economic times is let people know that they can get a Kindle version of The Symposium of Justice. It costs only $7.99 at Amazon.com and can be downloaded today. So while you’re out there reading my new book Tail of the Dragon, feel free to download The Symposium of Justice and enjoy the obscure exploits of Fletcher Finnegan as he fights the Dark Knights of Order. It’s a contemporary tale with an unusually strong central character that is my idea of what every human being should strive to become. It’s a fan favorite of all my whip friends who love that Fletcher’s weapon of choice is a bullwhip, but it’s not his physical prowess that defeats his enemies—it’s his mind. A man who can do both is the most lethal weapon imaginable, and a society of such men and women are what I as an author strive to see.
Click the picture to enter the world of Fletcher Finnegan without further hesitation. Even though I’ve explained one of my favorite scenes, it is not the only twist and turn in that first writing endeavor that I professionally completed. It is only the beginning of a deep and intricate story that goes to places only literature can imagine.