08 June, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: What makes 'Pup' different? by Christopher Slater

*** Special Feature - June 2015 ***

What makes 'Pup' different?

        I am always my worst critic. I have a problem with accepting things that I do as “good enough” because I always want them to be better. It’s a constant struggle for self-improvement that I don’t think that will ever end for me. However, I am at a point to where I am very ready for Pup to be published. I’m satisfied with it, and that is an unusual thing for me.

So what’s different about Pup? Honestly, I think that what is different is the main character and namesake of the book, Pup. Only after having written the story and revised it and reread it have I truly started to realize things about Pup that I should have known all along. Pup may seem comically ridiculous at times. He is clumsy. He is very socially awkward. He doesn’t have enough common sense to figure out how to properly lace his boots. It seems like he is a character that was written for the purpose of a comedy movie. However, I have looked at the character and come to understand how much reality has gone into him, his actions, and his views on life. In fact, after some time, I’ve come to realize that Pup is, in fact, an amalgamation of myself, my son, and my students.

I don’t have a lot of unusual quirks. I am an unusual quirk. The issues that Pup faces in the book turn out to be different versions of issues that I have faced or even have been afraid of facing. To give an example, I am terrible with names and faces. I mean absolutely terrible. In college, my friends introduced me to a pretty young lady one evening. The next day, I was having a quick meal in the cafeteria by myself when that same pretty young lady walked up, said hello, and asked if she could join me. I was absolutely flabbergasted because, to the best of my memory, I had never met her before, and pretty young ladies don’t just come up and ask to join me for lunch. She seemed to know me, however, and I stumbled my way through a 45 minute conversation with her and managed to never let on that I had no idea who she was. I pointed her out to my best friend later. He smacked me on the back of the head and told me that I had met her the night before. I ended up marrying that pretty young lady. This is the type of situation that Pup would face and probably even how he would handle it.

My son is a very different story altogether. While he does share many of my same quirks, his approach to things can be very different. He has a habit of vocalizing things that others either don’t want to or that they think might harm their reputation. My son doesn’t care. If he truly feels some way about something, he lets you know. There is a certain bravery to it. When Pup is asked by another soldier if he was going to cry the first time that he kills an enemy soldier, he truthfully replies, “I might.” I can see my son saying that as well. The great thing about it is that he voices what others are thinking but afraid to say.

My students are always a source of inspiration. Their inspiration for the character of Pup is more intangible than the others. My students all have potential, but it is often difficult to understand what that potential might be. It is hard to see where their talents and abilities might truly lie. No one, least of all Pup, could ever imagine him doing anything heroic. Even at the end of the story, Pup refuses to see his own potential, but it is there. I see that potential in my students to do amazing things even when they don’t expect to.

So what is different about Pup? I feel like I created a reality show, where I have placed three people into one character and put them in an awkward situation to see how they respond. However, unlike most reality shows, these reactions are much more realistic. I know, because they are how I or my son or my students might respond. It makes for an entertaining, touching, and worthwhile time.

About the Author:
My name is Christopher Slater. Born and raised in Tennessee, I've been politely referred to as "imaginative" all of my life. It always depended on who was saying that as to whether or not it was meant as a complement. I was always very talkative, and that usually got me into some trouble at school. It took a while before I learned to pipe down. It isn't that I stopped thinking about all of the things I wanted to say, I just learned to stop saying them. Most of the time. 

I started reading a lot of novels in middle school. Some of the first novels that I read were required reading for one of my classes. These included classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Outsiders, and  Fahrenheit 451. All of those books had a big impact on me. I still have the copy of The Outsiders that I read in 7th grade. Yes, they had paperback books back then, not stone tablets. The first novel that I chose to read on my own was Day of the Cheetah by Dale Brown. I don't remember how I came across that particular novel, but it was pure action and excitement from beginning to end, and I was hooked. I spent the next few years reading any novel that fell into my area of interest. Unfortunately, that area of interest tended to be rather narrow and consisted of combat aircraft and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Still, there was plenty to read and I went after a lot of it.

Poor eyesight meant that I wouldn't be able to try and fly A-10s like I wanted to, so I made my plans for college. My Freshman English professor was the first to ever complement my creative writing. He said that I should take whatever opportunities I could to improve on my creativity. College gave me several more opportunities, though rarely as part of a class. Instead, I found myself writing short stories in one notebook while taking notes in another. I still don't understand how I kept that organized. I had some friends that would critique what I was doing, and I fed off of it. It was rather addictive.

Being a husband, father, and teacher takes up most of my time now, and I love it. I wouldn't change it. However, I still try to create as much free time as I can to split amongst my past-times. Those last-times are reenacting and airsoft. No, writing isn't a past-time. It is a part of everything that I do. I write as a teacher. I write as a husband and father. I even write as a reenactor and airsoft player. I stopped talking as much (believe it or not!) so now it gets written instead. A glimpse inside my writing is a glimpse inside my mind. Now tell me that isn't spooky!

Contact the Author:
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About the Book:

This is not the story of a hero.

So begins the story of one of the most distinctive heroes you'll ever meet. Drafted into a war he barely comprehends with no taste for combat, Pup will find himself thrust into the very center of the conflict. How he affects that conflict, and how this changes him and everyone around him, is the soul of this utterly unique war story.

Equal parts adventure and farce, tragedy and comedy, PUP introduces an unforgettable accidental hero to war literature, and announces Christopher Slater as a resonant new voice.

1 Signed Copy of Pup by Christopher Slater (US Residents Only)
1 Signed Copy of Pup by Christopher Slater (Indian Residents Only)

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