Hello, book people. If you’re anything like me, then the first thing you do when you wake up is to check your phone to see what day it is. I no longer care about the time, but I need to know what day it is and I still seem to forget. I’m reading more but sleeping less. I’m not necessarily stressed, anxious, or depressed, although I do worry about all of my family and friends that are deemed “essential” and are out working every day during this pandemic. My prayers go out to all that have been touched by COVID-19.
Sorry, went off on a tangent there…that’s the other thing, my brain seems to be going off in multiple directions all at once. I can’t imagine how authors, musicians, and artists are maintaining their creativity during these trying times. And today’s guest, Gabriel Valjan, author of the recently released Dirty Old Town, will be discussing just that. Thank you, Mr. Valjan for stopping by today.
Creativity in the Time of COVID-19
We’re living in difficult times. Anxiety, uncertainty, and fear have become real demons in our lives. All of us are experiencing an uncomfortable vulnerability and yet compassion and kindness abound. Thousands are making personal protective equipment for the courageous doctors and nurses in hospitals and nursing homes. Millions of Americans are learning anew how to spend time alone, together and rethink how we relate to each other, as Nature has created an unnatural pause to our daily rhythms of school, work, and other stressors.
We’ve learned simplicity is not so simple. We’ve learned the interdependency we have with each other and the poignancy of what we have forgotten but should remember. Teachers are important. We may thank them, if at all. Cashiers at the local market are important. We thank them, as we take the receipt, if at all. The delivery person, whom we’ve thought as a provider of convenience because we didn’t want to cook tonight, is now yet another person our lives depend upon to bring us food and supplies. And our elders, who have been mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, veterans and workers, who had laid down the metaphorical pavement for the next generation, are now our most vulnerable. We learn, we forget, we learn what we’ve forgotten. Everyone matters. Common decency matters. Contact matters.
All of us have been asked to sacrifice our routines and our daily freedoms. Some of us are not responding to it well. Most of us are experiencing and living all those questions posed and pondered by philosophers, whom we dismissed. What matters? What is important? How am I living my life, and how will I live my life after this?
I’m a writer. Most of my writer friends have had to cancel appearances, readings at other venues. Most of the conferences where I meet readers and get to raise the glass and congratulate my friends on their successes in the past year have been canceled. Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Thriller Fest have all yielded to the times. I fear other writer conferences will succumb. These literary occasions are not just about awards, just another opportunity to sell books and sign them, or just an excuse to party. Writers value readers. We love meeting them. A kind word of appreciation validates and makes up for the hours of the anguish of self-doubt, and the despair of feeling like a cork bobbing on the relentless sea of anonymity.
Writers too numerous to name here have written, under the threat of death, imprisonment, and torture. We have read them. The reality of their creative efforts was artificial. Conquest. Politics. War.
Writers have also crafted masterpieces during times of contagion. Boccaccio. Defoe. Porter. Far more writers have looked to the past or to the future to convey the human condition under duress. Camus. P.D. James. le Carré. London. Mandel. Manzoni. Mary Shelley. Saramago.
Technology avails us of means unheard of in the past. Crowd. Zoom. Writers around the world have done readings online, often to aid the very bookstores that have hosted them for readings. Libraries have made available virtual books, and streaming movies and music. Musicians have given concerts or performed solo.
Contact matters. Art matters because it is not an escape from life, but a means to confront the most difficult moments in all our lives, and a way to document all our emotions for posterity, near and far. In these troubled times, as we are reminded of our mortality, we must remember what defines us is how we respond to adversity, conflict, and other difficulties.
We exist. We endure. We recover. We remember.
on Tour March 1 – April 30, 2020
“Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book—tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talent—impressive and skilled—providing knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.”— Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List
Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.
Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 162
ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329)
Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery
Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.
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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2020, and runs through May 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.
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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Gabriel Valjan – DIRTY OLD TOWN”
Thank you for allowing me to post this brief essay. Stay Safe and Healthy. All the best, and thank you again. – GV