Wanderlust is as deeply ingrained in our DNA as is the quest for reinvention and the opportunity to test one’s own limits. Such is the premise of Neil Perry Gordon’s new book, Hope City – The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope, which follows the adventures of two teenage boys in 1898 who set out for the goldfields of the rugged Alaskan wilderness.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Let’s start with a chat about your upbringing and the influence(s) it had on your journey as a writer.
A: My education began at the Green Meadow Waldorf School, where I learned that subjects such as music, dance, theater, writing, literature, legends and myths were not simply things to be read about and tested but lessons to be experienced. This, I believe, nurtured my cravings to express myself creatively. I did struggle for many years, decades actually, trying to find my voice, and in my 60th year, I discovered writing and, thus, became a novelist.
Q: Were you a voracious reader growing up?
A: I’ve always loved reading and spent my early years reading the classics, as most do while in school.
Q: What titles might we have found on the nightstand of your adolescent self? As a teenager? As a 21st century adult?
A: In my teens, I consumed science fiction, and in particular Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Today, I jump around from writer to writer, seeking more to learn the craft rather than reading for pleasure. Though if pressed, I would say I enjoy: Stephen King, Phillip Pullman, Delia Owens, Don Winslow, Kristen Hannah, David Gregory Roberts and Philip Roth.
Q: When (and what) did you first start writing?
A: I’ve been writing business articles and industry specific books for many years, though it wasn’t until 2017 that I began fiction writing.
Q: Is your primary focus the adventure genre or have you explored other outlets for your storytelling?
A: Four out my five novels are historical fiction. My third novel, The Righteous One, explores the genre of metaphysical fiction. My upcoming novel will explore the historical romance genre.
Q: Accuracy in research for works of historical fiction is paramount in educating readers as much as you entertain them. How did you go about ensuring that you have kept all the facts straight rather than serving up an alternative history which tweaks the truth to accommodate the plot?
A: I seek to tell the truth by keeping the dates of events accurate as to when they’ve occurred. For example in The Bomb Squad, the Black Tom Island explosion happened on June 30, 1916. In my story, I kept that date and would never “tweak” it for convenience.
Q: Have you been to Alaska or is it a destination on your bucket list?
A: I’ve been there over a dozen times. It’s my happy place.
Q: What motivated you to write Hope City?
A: Last summer while in Hope, Alaska, I was dining at The Dirty Skillet, a local restaurant. The owner shared a tale of its history of how she came up with its name. I took this seed and planted it into my consciousness and Hope City – The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope bloomed forth.
Q: If you could meet any three adventures from history, who would they be and what would you most like to ask them?
A: Jack London – What was it like climbing the Golden Steps in your journey to the Klondike?
Wyatt Earp – In all of your gunfights, why do you think you were never shot and killed?
James Cook – How did you react when the natives thought you were a god when you landed upon the Hawaiian Islands?
Q: What governed your choice to go the route of self-publishing?
A: Ego and expediency.
Q: What did you learn about the DIY process that you didn’t know when you started?
A: That I needed to learn an entire new industry.
Q: Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next 10 years?
A: Considering I could have never predicted the events of the first six months of 2020, I dare not venture 10 years into the future. Perhaps one day, I’ll dip my pen into a dystopian novel.
Q: Plotter or pantser?
A: Panster! I love the idea of my writing taking me on a journey. I begin with a situation and watch it grow into a world where characters live and interact. It’s this process which excites me about working organically.
Q: What gives you the most satisfaction as a wordsmith?
A: Communicating my story telepathically into a reader’s mind.
Q: Conversely, what is it about writing that causes you the most stress?
A: My personal limitations of the craft. I know I can be better.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: Sadie’s Sin – The Zwi Migdal’s Reign of Terror
Sadie Wollman, a young Jewess in 1924 Warsaw, Poland, has fallen in love with a handsome university professor—Alexander Kaminski. But when her traditional parents learn about this possible unholy matrimony to a gentile, they hastily arrange a brokered marriage to a wealthy Argentine Jewish business man—Ezra Porkevitch.
Believing they sent their daughter off to a glamorous life of wealth and luxury, this young woman instead faces a new reality of becoming a Polaca, a sex slave to the Zwi Migdal, a Jewish organized-crime group trafficking young women into forced prostitution throughout brothels in Buenos Aires.
When her lover Alex, a war hero of Poland, learns of the deception, he, along with his life-long friend Jan Mazur, seek to rescue Sadie from the grips of this wicked group of men protected by the Argentine political and law enforcement establishment.
Sadie’s Sin is an epic-romantic tale of an innocent woman’s torment as she is sold to the city’s most prestigious brothel—The Tango, and the hero’s journey across three continents, seeking her rescue.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: My website – NeilPerryGordon.com
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I love the Jack London credo:
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glo than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.