This week's Feature on Author is on Mickey J Corrigan. She has a new book out, The Physics of Grief.
Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes tropical noir with a dark humor. Novels include Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, UK, 2019).
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1. Do you think writers need to feel emotions strongly to be able to write well?
It is my personal belief that the majority of writers are driven by past experiences and the need to express their emotional and spiritual truths. Most of us feel like we need to tell our stories. To write well, however, requires lots of practice. When well-known Southern writer Larry Brown was asked to give a writing class, he said he couldn't teach anyone to write. His advice was to shut yourself in a room for ten years and write. I have to say I agree.
2. What early experiences taught you that language has power?
Miss Quirk, my fifth grade teacher, told me I had a creative mind and should consider being a writer. I realized then how I expressed myself in writing could be something that would help me in life. I didn't take her up on this for many years while pursuing an education in science and work in the medical field. But her words had power, and alerted me to the fact that mine might too.
3. What would you choose as your spirit animal?
The butterfly, for obvious reasons: I like the idea of cocooning for a while, then emerging as something beautiful and important.
Tell us about your book:
Originally the idea for the story was hatched after talking to my brother. He'd been looking for work at local funeral homes, where he was told he had the "right personality" for the job. That made me laugh. He is a bit of an obituary addict. Which led to the story of Seymour Allan and his weird job attending the wakes and funerals of people who have no friends but want to look like they do—even after they're dead. The novel began as a short story in its first published form, then I expanded it into a novel. An enjoyable book to write, the story is quirky and defies definition. Is it a crime novel, a romantic comedy, a literary tale (there's a lot of reference to dead poets), or a ghost story? Or maybe, as the poet Alan Catlin said, it's what would happen if Goodfellas met T. S. Eliot for a drink in an Irish pub.
When Seymour Allan loses his girlfriend, his depression is as dark as a South Florida thunderstorm. He hides out in a retirement community, drinks too much, and hangs with a feral cat. But when he meets the mysterious Raymond C. Dasher, Seymour's life changes as he embarks on a new career: professional griever.
Seymour's depression lifts when he spends time at the wakes and funerals of some very unpopular people. He cares for a dying criminal who loves T.S. Eliot and refuses to pass on, and he attends some unique burials that may or may not be legal. He also meets Yvonne, a sexy redhead dealing with the loss of her mobster boyfriend. Out in the Everglades, he has to face down a group of armed mourners and an alligator in attack mode.
Nothing like sex and danger, guns and gators, to make a man remember how good it feels to be alive.
The Physics of Grief is a unique, quirky crime novel presenting the upside of funerals and a hopeful look at second chances—and at death.