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Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Memories: Coffee Time Interview with G. Mitchell Baker

Today on Monday Memories, All Authors brings you a throwback of Coffee Time Interview with G. Mitchell Baker, which was featured in Issue 4 of All Authors Magazine.

Y: Hey G! It's such a pleasure having you here sharing coffee and a chat. I'm bracing myself for a good a laugh. I know how funny you can be. (giggling)

Mr Baker: Y… I hesitate to point out that … Well okay. I am actually drinking a CafĂ© con leche. How’s that for starting this interview out with a true confession…?

Y: So, we've been friends now for how long? A year'ish, or some such. Can you believe that in that time I've learned very little about you. So permit me some freedom to pry a little.

Mr. Baker: I have already started with a Coffee Confession Y … Why oh why would you want to continue to pry?

Y: Here we go... Indulge me if you will please. Could you share with us a little story about your childhood and please, no holds barred. Go for gold my friend?

Mr. Baker:  All right … Intuitively, my tendency had been to resist these kinds of question in the past. Odd enough, your timing with this question is perfect. I am anxious to answer this question at this time in my life, and I will share with you how this has come to be, and what a ‘no hold barred’ answer to this question includes for me in this moment.

How this has come, to be is that only recently, I have re-entered the baseball world in a very small way, but enough to have very large questions resurface for me to consider and perhaps gain complete insight and understanding. First, I decided to write a book about baseball. A lighthearted family values story entitled Soccer Tommies baseball Mommies (Master Koda Select Publishing, Forthcoming April 2014). It is a story about how these junior athletes should see things, for what they are, especially when the challenges are up close and personal. Second, and for the first time, I coached. So powerful has been this recent experience, that I am considering writing another book about prodigy. The gist of this experience all began when I was in my mid-teens, and tragedy found its way to my family. Thereafter, I started playing baseball. As much baseball as I could possibly play.

Within a short period, I excelled at the sport and particularly the hitting aspect of the game. I could say I taught myself a lot, because there wasn’t much coaching, but then my performance became so unusual, so extraordinary that I became too good for anyone to believe my consistent performance. Nevertheless, and without anyone really saying anything about anything, the team competed for the National Championship for three years running, and with a victory in the third year. During that time, and again, my performance was unusual and extraordinary, but wholly unnoticed. I was mostly left alone, and expected to do my thing.

Thereafter, indeed noticed, my performance scouted, and deemed so exceptional became the subject of analysis to the extent that any lesser performance was suspicious, deemed a drop-off, and considered a disappointment. There was the expectation to fail.

Then there was the attempt to remove me from the toxic situation, and keep me playing, but I burned out. I walked away from the game. Now, from this childhood, this teen-to-adult experience, it is about thirty years later and I volunteered to coach the development of ballplayers about the same age I was. They will never know how much they contributed to my well-being, by triggering recollection, good and bad. How they provided me with a sense of confidence for going back to remember those days, and to enjoy ‘The Game’ once again.

Indeed, I was a prodigy, who had no notice from family, friends, or team alike. Perhaps that was the most confusing aspect of it all. Then, after the prodigy in me discovered, there was so much that was wrong. There was expectation to fail, when in fact I was consistently succeeding at such high and objectively proven levels. There was that inability of those already in ‘The Game’ to accept that a new standard of performance was not only possible, but attainable as well. There would be no comfort level, where the distance from the established definition of ‘success’, was so far below what I had established as ‘success’ at a number of different playing levels and over time.

Y, you asked for a little story about my childhood and my response is to tell you about my experience, as a prodigy who burned out after playing a game beyond the wildest expectations of those who remain stuck believing baseball is a game of ‘failure’. I am here now, to tell you baseball is not a game of ‘failure’, if played as I played it and that I have recently learned as much is sad, but will never be a reason for me to be sad. I can truly say that as a kid, I played the game hard, used all the gifts in me to the fullest, and could honestly present to the kids today, and before every game my ‘Championship Glove’ that symbolized, at least to me, the game of baseball is not about failing. Rather, and I truly believe, whatever achieved on the field of play can indeed be unusual and extraordinary, and without doubt. I believe this, because baseball is the kind of game with that potential for a prodigy to fill and play every position.

I believe that ‘The Game’ must never again allow for prodigy to remain unnoticed, or doubted, by those who do not believe in the kind of potential I know about, and can write about from first-hand experience. I often wonder what baseball would be like today, with prodigy permitted. Would there be more or less malfeasance with drugs. Would there have been thirteen ‘Babe Ruth’ style players, a couple more ‘Mantles’? Were they prodigy? I believe the last may have been Mantle, who had such a hard time fighting the burnout that came along with his ‘successes’ and ‘failures’. No one has ever said as much, despite the players’ unusual and extraordinary experience in the game, but I believe there seems a fear of prodigy to overcome. There is so much room for prodigy in baseball. Room that is, if the timid gatekeepers will allow ‘The Game’ to be defined as a game, where those who play hard enough to succeed, given their true gifts and abilities, will be allowed to play as prodigy. If allowed, the prodigy will prove ‘The Game’ is one of ‘successes’ and not one where the expectation of ‘The Game’ is perpetual ‘failure’.

Y:  Oh goodness, I certainly got a kick out of that one. Awesomeness for sure. Alright, so, changing the subject completely—please forgive my abrupt randomness—tell us a little about the premise of Lethal Believers: The Innocents. How did you come up with the story?

Mr. Baker: Years ago, when I lived in Seattle, I came across some research about how villages protected their own from predators … the sociopath and psychopaths within … Those who emerged among them as evil. I was intrigued given the dynamic processes initiated by village elders who sought to protect “The Innocents” from those determined to be successfully sinister.

Later, when I was researching something unrelated, I came across the term “Lethal Believers” in a CIA Report. At the time, it was not a mainstream term. It was new to our vernacular … our way of thinking. It was the result of our post 911 experience. When I saw the term ‘Lethal Believers’ I knew it was describing a concept that was not only related to the notion of battling the successfully sinister, but continued to fuel my interest for writing stories about a character committed, perhaps obsessed with protecting ‘The Innocents’ from the onslaught of the Lethal Believers. I envisioned the protagonist, Malachi Danta-Mercadel would provide necessary protection, given we no longer live in ‘all-knowing’ villages, despite the ongoing persistence, and motivation of the successfully sinister to pervade the overextended, perhaps fractured fabric of or modern, social existence.

Of recent and particular interest, is that the CBS Television show ‘Person of Interest’ has recently introduced a character who is “The Protector of ‘The Innocents’’’. I view, and have publically alleged CBS has violated my copyright for my published, ‘Lethal Believers’ series of novels. Without having received a response from CBS, I can only assume I am only supposed to be flattered by the imitation.  CBS should really understand that this retired attorney takes a very dim view of their copyright infringement, and I look forward to a trip to New York in the very near future to discuss these matters in detail.

Y: Fantastic. Thanks for sharing, and how about Lethal Believers: DVM, also what does “DVM” stand for?

Mr. Baker: ‘D.V.M.’ is the abbreviation for ‘Doctor of Veterinary Medicine’. This ‘Lethal Believers’ series begins with Malachi Danta-Mercadel protecting ‘The Innocents’ or the innocent children. ‘DVM’ being the second novel in series is about Danta protecting horses (animals) as another kind of ‘The Innocents’. The Third novel is ‘Lethal Believers: Cave Ravens’ (Forthcoming, Master Koda Select Publishing) and is the story about another kind of ‘The Innocents’, who may not make the best decisions for protecting themselves against persistent ‘Lethal Believers’. For example, the exploitation of ‘suicide Bombers’, who we often might not often think about as addicts and compulsive people simply exploited for the purpose of destroying themselves, and others. I chose to write a story about the kind of exploitation of ‘The Innocents’ that can lead to destruction, whether the destruction of the person, or a segment of society.

Y: Intense. I read some reviews and people seemed intrigued by your ability to “blur the lines” if you will. I am seriously going to have to pick myself up a copy sometime soon.

Mr. Baker: I appreciate how readers have noticed the uncertainty, perhaps unpredictability of the writing in this series. Of course, there are readers who miss the challenge all together and simply frustrate. In any event, in an attempt here, to be honest with my paranormal, visionary and metaphysical readers, the ‘Lethal Believers’ series is definitely not ‘Cozy Mystery’. There is not a lot of ‘bright line’ storytelling. I seek to engage the reader to have a more ‘real’, perhaps edgy experience, given the dark, controversial topics I choose. To genuinely nudge or in some cases blast the reader from their comfort zone(s) is my challenge and I pursue as much by providing authentic storytelling that will prompt an emotive response. One will not find in my writing the formula mystery. I believe my writing tends to relate more to the Scandinavian Noir, and the darkness that allows for an appealing, scattered edginess that everyone hopes they can return from, in the event they chose to go all-in. For those who accept and relate to the gritty unpredictability that may often be associated with the obsessed protagonist, who actually believes he has the capability for protecting any and all of ‘The Innocents’, I am thinking that kind of reader will enjoy the story telling of ‘The Lethal Believers’.

Y: Random change of subject yet again. If you were forced to pick between life as a writer, doing nothing else, or life as a blue collar employee and nothing else, which would you pick and why?

Mr. Baker: Well … It is always nice to have a choice. Fortunately, I’ve had direct, real experience working ‘blue collar/union’, ‘white collar’, licensed post graduate professional, and as an ‘author’ now with about six novels having been published, and with two presently scheduled for release in 2014 (‘Soccer Tommies baseball Mommies’ and the ‘Special Edition of Emerson: Involvement’ both forthcoming from Master Koda Select Publishing U.S.A.)
Now, the question is interesting as you are asking if I were ‘forced to pick between life as a writer…” As in all life decision-making there is the fundamental decision regarding what we want to do and what we have to do. Therefore, is it really about being ‘forced’ to shift from a dream to an activity for paying bills and keeping things going? For me, I have considered education as the one way to preserve choices … to have as many choices as possible so there is not the feeling of being ‘forced’. I also wrote for about fifteen years (while practicing law) before I ever ventured out into the public domain. Having rambled on as much, I did choose my passion for writing, while balancing that with what I had to do. By doing as much, there was no pressure to shift away from the favored activity and while remaining as productive in both realms as possible. I guess what I am saying is it did not have to be an all-or-nothing choice for me and I don’t believe it has to be for most writers who do it because they have a passion that will keep them doing it as the years go by.

Y: Good answer. * giggling * Random: Tell me a joke! I know you are good for one.

Mr. Baker:  Here’s a good one … My first royalty statement.

Bad um crash! Ha!

But seriously, Mr. Past, Mrs. Present and Sir Future wait to meet with their publisher, about a work in progress.

It was tense.

(Is this off the hook or what?)

Y: Ha! I knew it! You're a trip G! Alright, so as a writer and a reviewer myself I’ve gotten tons of dumb questions asked to me. The question that hits the top of my list as the most annoying question asked to me by people is “You're a writer, really?” “Um, no. I just said that to see the look on your face.” (snickering) What is the number one most annoying/dumb/absurd question ever asked to you about your writing or your books?

Mr. Baker:  Well … the most annoying/dumb/absurd exchange has to be this part of interview as I recall it,

Interviewer: “Where was the lousiest book signing you ever had?”
GMB: Over there … It went on and on…
Interviewer: “Bet that felt like it went on forever.”
GMB (Chuckled) “Felt like I spent a week there one day.”
Interviewer: “You mean you actually stayed there?”
GMB: “Yep,” (shook my head), “Way over there.”

Note: I suspect the Interviewer was looking to generate something controversial in that interview, but just could not find it. I, and thankfully, do not suspect Y of repeating the same effort here.

Y: If you were on a deserted island, what three things would you have to have with you?

Mr. Baker:  Oh this is an easy one … why “Dis, Dat, and Dee Udder Ding” of would be essential.

Now, loosely translated, the essentials would remain, “This, That and the other Things” Got it?

And if pressed, I would have to confess,

The ‘Dis/This’ would be ‘me.’
The ‘Dat/That would be a ‘good friend’, and
The ‘Udder Ding/Other Thing’ would be ‘frequent visits from an ocean liner moving people back and forth from and to the island. Coming to think of it, then the island would not be ‘deserted’ anymore. Oh well, *wink and nod*   wait, can I change my island order back to: ‘Dis, Dat, and Dee Udder Ding we were talking about just a minute ago’?

Y: What is something most people do not know about you?

Mr. Baker: The Alfa Romeo glass frames I wear most of the time, I purchased in 1978. The Pulsar watch I wear most of the time, I received as a gift in 1988.

I guess when given half a chance I like to look after things. It interests me that there can be things one cannot look after, while other things may prove easy to curate. Some might consider this a complication of life worthy of interest. I like to think it is an interest worthy of life’s complications.

Y: The top two things you could NEVER live without are...?

Mr. Baker: That I probably could never live without ‘hope’; That I probably could never live and love without hope; and, That I probably could never live and love with hope, if I had to admit to a complete understanding of the danger the concept of ‘hope’ harbors over time.

Y: Okay, my last question, so I will make it a good one. In a small paragraph, tell us WHY people should read Lethal Believers.

Mr. Baker: The Lethal Believers stories I wrote surprised me. I never expected to write with that Scandinavian Noir feel, or with the amount and depth of insight. The Noir feel came about when I wrote in the elements of a dark, Greek myth, to interact with the more usual criminal elements. The insight or the capacity to discern the true nature of a situation is what has always interested me and may be attractive to the reader. The penetration, and perhaps the act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things and events, or of perceiving in an intuitive manner of a favorite character, is a challenge for the reader if they choose to delve into the darkness, and mine the work for the kind of insight that may indeed be rewarding. These stories are for the reader who will appreciate the merger of Greek Mythology with a protagonist bent on taking on major social issues at any cost. These stories with their blurred, edgy drama may provide the reader the means of tapping not only strong emotion, but plum veins of insight and intuition that will be necessary to consider, if one is to begin to truly understand the complexities of the ‘Lethal Believers’.

Y:  Awe man G. This has been so much fun! I like to mix it up a bit. The same old “author interview questions” can get real boring sometimes. At any rate, thanks so much for being here with us. It was great. I look forward to visiting with you again soon.