I’m chatting it up today about a new thriller out by Trevor J. Houser: Pacific.
Here’s the scoop:
On a remote Puget Sound Island, police chief Bell navigates his job and marriage in the wake of his son’s near-death brain surgery. When his wife no longer wants to tempt the fates of experimental medicine, he takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his spaced-out fisherman friend, Bell kidnaps his boy and sets sail for Guatemala in search of the mysterious Dr. Haas. On the way, they’ll brave the seventh biggest storm, befriend two behemoth fly-fishing Nords, and try to outrun the ex-Navy captain hired by his wife to find them.
Inspired by his own son’s health battle and the beauty of his home of the Pacific Northwest, Houser seamlessly captures the heartbreak and desperation all parents of a sick child feel, while still maintaining humor and playful language that gives them hope.
“Parents of children with diseases face horrible mundane realities on a daily basis; the bus-station like sameness of all the hospitals, waiting, and calls to insurance,” says Houser. “But there’s also beauty and hope in mundane moments, if we’re just willing to go and look for it.”
Today I’m hosting a Q&A with Mr. Houser:
Question: This is your debut novel. How did writing a full-length piece differ from the short stories and other pieces you have published?
Trevor J. Houser: Although this is my first published novel most novelists have a closetful of novels they’ve already written that didn’t make it for one reason or another. For me the biggest difference in writing a novel is maintaining the energy of that initial idea. To maintain the consistency of that voice, of that style over the course of many months.
Q: Family and fatherhood is a major theme throughout Pacific. Did your own family life inspire your writing for this book?
TJH: I have a son who was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. After years of navigating all the unknowns and not really writing there was suddenly some light at the end of the tunnel with his prognosis and soon after I found myself writing this book. Pacific is somewhat based on the experiences we’ve been through with our son, but a lot of it is the made-up fantasy of a parent who wishes they could do something more just than talk to a million doctors and not sleep at night. Even though the way in which Chief Bell shows his love for his son might be considered unconventional, it demonstrates how fathers are just as capable as mothers in the depths of their feelings and devotion.
Q: How did the Pacific Northwest influence your story?
TJH: I grew up in Oregon, but afer leaving for college I lived for years in places like New York, San Francisco and Argentina. When I returned to the Pacific Northwest with my family a few years ago I think I forgot just how exotic and rich this place is. It took being away for so long to appreciate the strange beauty of it, which is what I hoped this book would be: strange and beautiful.
Q: Fans of which authors/books do you think would enjoy Pacific and why?
TJH: Hopefully fans of authors such as Kate Jennings and Jenny Offill will like it because of their sentence level precision in telling stories of hope and heartbreak. Donald Barthelme and Richard Brautigan for their playfulness with language and form, and their sense of humor. Denis Johnson for his melancholy strangeness. All my favorite writers tend to elevate the everyday through their language to make the mundane transcendent. To make regular life almost mythic. It’s something I try to accomplish on a sentence level and keep building it so that courses through the entire narrative
Q: What’s next for you and Pacific?
TJH: My second novel is coming out in 2023. It’s about a math hobbyist, who believes he’s discovered a theorem that might predict when and where the next mass shooting takes place.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Trevor J. Houser is an advertising copywriter living with his family in Seattle, WA. He studied creative writing under Thomas Beller at Columbia University. His stories have been published in dozens of literary journals, including Zyzzyva, Story Quarterly, and The Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review. He’s been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He also received special mention in Best American Fantasy Vol. 2. You can find the author on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and at http://www.houserfiction.com. Pacific is his debut novel.
This sounds SO good! Thanks for letting me highlight your novel, Mr. Houser, and thanks to Smith Publicity!