The Singular Adventures of Jefferson Ball
by David Perlmutter
Genre: YA SciFi Fantasy
She is, simply, the most powerful humanized female dog in a universe full of them. Faster, stronger, more attractive to boys. Unbeatable as a lover. Unfortunately, her brains are not up to this quality, but don’t tell her that.
About the only one who can is Major Hamilton Pomeranian, the diminutive ex-soldier who is Jeff’s best friend and conscience. When she gets too big for her limited clothing, Hamilton tells her what for. And it’s usually only after that point that they are able to escape from whatever convoluted situation they find themselves in.
This potential collection will have readers both laughing and awestruck at the events that happen. And, hopefully, you will be one of them.
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She was also, for good measure, scotched, tipsy, pickled, loaded, smashed, lit, hammered, jonesed, stoned, tippled, bashed, pixilated, looped, high as a Georgia pine, gassed, Harvey-wallbangered, flipped, up-set, just drinkin’, salted, hard-boiled, fried and [insert your own term for inebriation here. There are many to choose from.]
The most obvious evidence was that she, the most powerful human-shaped female dog in a universe chock full of them, was lying face down on the floor of the bar she was in- one of many ignominiously-styled establishments in her home town of Hugopolis. Clad only in her trademark monogrammed black bikini and black boots, she seemed much more like a typical skid row derelict barfly, someone who had long ago abandoned herself to the winds of fate, chance and alcohol, than the larger than life heroic- or, as her enemies saw her, anti-heroic figure she truly was.
Jefferson Ball possessed many virtues, chiefly of the physical variety, that she was wont to exploit in her favour, manipulative creature that she was. Fortunately for herself and the universe around her, she used most of them in the service of her kind. Centuries of breeding and body conditioning among her ancestors, coupled with some shady DNA and genetic manipulation at one point, had created, in Jefferson, a creature possessed of astonishing physical abilities, among them the ability to run a four minute mile in less than two, and powerful physical strength, enough to balance hundreds of thousands of pounds on her fingertip alone. Not surprisingly, these abilities, plus a deadly accuracy with the whip she always kept at hand, made her a very formidable opponent of the forces of evil, particularly all aliens, robots, and other supernatural beings who thought they could outfox her in the speed and muscle department, and especially those who employed those beings in a futile attempt to destroy her.
But, like most heroic types, she had an Achilles heel. Two, in fact- both of which she bore the scars of, though less than you might think given her remarkable resiliency.
The first of these was the more obvious and the more hurtful to her reputation. Boys of her race- and the males of any alien race she encountered- and plenty of them! In both the actual evidence known, and her own personal Munchausian exaggeration of her abilities, she was, indeed, a formidable lover. Mata Hari and Mae West had nothing on her! But, rather than experienced lovers, she preferred to initiate virgins- especially fine young things- into the ways of the world. It was common for her, during her adventures, to regularly slip out of a young male’s boudoir, having blown his genitals to smithereens (metaphorically) with her own, more powerful ones, and to leave him permanently longing for her touch- and/or cursing her to the heavens for tricking him into giving up his cherry for good.
As powerful and influential she was as a hero or lover, however, Jefferson had an equally colorful reputation as a drinker- or, more accurately, a lush. When boys were not available, she drank, and, even when they were, she drank. Socially and professionally, she drank as well, and this damaged her social status as much as her being a lover of renown. For this reason, most beings of her gender, despite her heroism, were reluctant to establish lasting friendships with her on two counts. She would, it was said, either steal your “man” from you with her charms, good looks, and muscular, pneumatic physique, or she would do so in a duplicitous way- by drinking you under the table!
It was at this point, almost on cue, that Jefferson’s sole female friend- indeed, the only friend of either gender she truly had in the whole universe- entered the bar-room, spotted Jefferson sprawled on the floor, put her paws on her hips, and exclaimed:
“So there you are!”
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I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed at a very young age. I wouldn’t classify it as a disability, but as a mild mental disorder, since I am still capable of doing most things other people can. I may do them in a slightly different way, but they still get done.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Loud noises that are not music, people using their cell phones and ignoring other people in public, and people saying and doing things that are wrong while believing incorrectly that are right.
Where were you born/grew up at?
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I haven’t lived anywhere else in my life, which I suspect is rarer than it used to be. Originally I lived in the West End on Sherbrook Street, then moved to Somerville Avenue in Fort Garry, then lived 28 (!) years on Montrose Street in River Heights, and now live with my parents in a condo on Victor Lewis Drive in Lindenwoods.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Quietly, at home, waiting for the end to come, preferably in my sleep.
Who is your hero and why?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was one of the most thoughtful and compassionate men who ever lived, and one of history’s greatest orators. In a terrible and violent time in American history, he seemed to be the sole voice of reason, especially looking at him now. If he had not been assassinated, I suspect his influence on the world would be even greater than it is now, and we would all be living in better circumstances because of that..
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Benevolent, fair, just and kind. The best ones in all of history had those qualities.
What are you passionate about these days?
What I’ve always been passionate about: animation, music, literature, movies and TV. Particularly in trying to show how others how important they are through my own non-fiction and fiction writing, because some people still don’t get that about any of them.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Listen to the radio (chiefly the CBC) and music, mostly.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Eager to please.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always knew writing was going to play a role in something I did professionally, but it wasn’t really until I sold my first story in 2009 that I knew it could be a career for me, even just a part-time one.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Yes. “Blazing Saddles”. I thought it was brilliant the first time I saw it, and I still think that it’s one of the funniest and most audacious comedies ever made in Hollywood. Mel Brooks is one of the few people in the world I can truly say that I idolize, and I have always tried to follow the example he set for me in that movie with what I write now.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Any of them, but they would have to be animated for them to really work; in live-action they’d look stilted and fake. But I’d have to write the scripts, if they’d let me, for them to be truly authentic.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I can’t really say I have gone on any, yet. It’s hard to do that when your literary idols all live- or lived- very far away from where you live. But, before I die, I want to pay tribute to the man who really turned me on to reading fictional prose in junior high- Jack London- by visiting his home town, Oakland, California, and seeing if there are still traces of the impoverished 19th century world he grew up in and escaped there.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The animal I have written about most in my work so far: a dog.
What inspired you to write this book?
Jefferson and Hamilton were the first characters I created when I started writing, and I felt comfortable writing about them in a way I haven’t otherwise, so I have kept doing it. What I was trying to do was the channel the comic adventure style of the television animation programs that I loved when I was young, especially “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and the early Hanna-Barbera stuff, but with enough of an edge for it to still feel relevant to contemporary readers. Which is probably one of the reasons why Jeff and Ham ended up being girls rather than guys, the way my influences had it. It also allowed me to address and parody a lot of the double standards that still exist regarding women compared to men. A man can make love to many women and drink and do drugs and things to excess, and only rarely suffer the consequences, but a woman who does those things is still considered the Devil incarnate. Jefferson and Hamilton do those things, but they still have standards for their lives and abide by them. And Jefferson dresses in a bikini chiefly to surprise and disarm her enemies rather than to simply exhibit her body. They think they’re getting one thing with her, and then they get something they never would have imagined in a million years. And, besides which, they’re funny and sharp-witted, like the majority of the characters who inspired them are, but which the vast majority of movie heroes today are not.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am awaiting the publication of my first novel, “Orthicon”, which has been locked up in the vaults of the publisher I sold it to a couple of years ago for a while now, but they assure me it will be published soon. I also intend to continue writing and publishing new non-fiction and fiction. Recently, I joined Curious Fictions, and have started publishing things I can’t sell anywhere else there, and I hope to put things from my back catalogue up there as well. Readers interested in my stuff can follow me there, as well as on my social media accounts (provided).
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Singular Adventures of Jefferson Ball?
They live in a future universe where humans no longer exist, but dogs have effectively taken their place, and are dealing with a future full of dangerous alien species and so forth. Jefferson Ball is a super-heroic figure, extremely powerful and physically attractive, but she has Achilles heels in her personal pride, bordering on arrogance, and her insensitivity to others. She started out as an ugly runt, but became who she was because of a wonky genetic inheritance pattern in her family. Major Hamilton Pomeranian is really the only friend she has. Hamilton was drummed out of the planet’s central army, the Star Soldiers, because she got injured in battle, and they don’t have any patience for anyone with a disability of any kind. So, out of options, she reconnected with Jefferson, an old army buddy who got tossed for being too insubordinate, and they try to make a living any way they can together. They don’t see eye-to-eye on everything they do, but no one does with their friends, anyway. The important thing is that they’re there for each other, since no else will be.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
The overall plot is always kept well in hand, but I let the characters have free reign in terms of what they say, and sometimes they surprise me.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It’s not very long, and I’ve tried to make it as entertaining as possible. Which is more than can be said for a lot of books these days.
What did you edit out of this book?
Profanity. Some of my editors have told me that, the younger your characters are, the less acceptable it will be to have them swear. So, since so many of my lead characters are below voting age, I try to limit their curses to the near-beer variety (i.e. “darn”) and leave the genuine stuff for the more “adult” characters. Although, even then, this is done only when it helps move the story along, and not, as is often the case now, for the joy of doing it.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
My top ten writers are, in no particular order: Jack London, Robert Bloch, Frederik Pohl, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edmund Wilson, Northrop Frye and G.K. Chesterton.
What book do you think everyone should read?
“Patriotic Gore” by Edmund Wilson. The Civil War as told by the people who lived through it. You’ll never look at those times and those people the same way again.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
It never comes completely at once. Things evolve as I write about them. That’s why I keep going back to my main stable of characters- to flesh them out and be able to tell more fully developed stories about them.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Extensive. I spend much more time doing research than writing, to make sure I get things right.
Do you see writing as a career?
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Yes. Science Fiction, Fiction and Horror. Especially the old masters and mistresses, who did it so much better than I possibly could.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I put music on and let it rip. It really stimulates my imagination.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Usually, pen first, then computer, to work out and eliminate the kinks so I don’t have to spend so much type. Occasionally, if I’m pressed for time, direct to computer.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Buck, the protagonist of Jack London’s “The Call Of The Wild”, the book that made me want to write novels. What he goes through no self-respecting dog should, but the fact that he survives it all intact is even more remarkable. It’s a real feat to write a book without a human being as a protagonist, and London did it so brilliantly. Besides, he was up in the Klondike for the Gold Rush himself, so he had absolutely no problem getting the setting and characters just right.
Advice they would give new authors?
What my half-namesake Davy Crockett is said to have had his motto: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Trying to write more than 40,000 words in one piece. Do you know some publishers won’t even read something you write unless it’s at least twice that? They need to try bring it back to the basic novel word count if they want something short, simple and accessible.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Half of one, and half the other.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Fearing that the people of that sex will reject my writing about them just because you aren’t one of “them”. Which is dumb, because the best writers can make a character believable regardless of their gender. But, in my case, there are still a lot of man-haters who think women are the only ones capable of “really” writing about women, and there probably always will be.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Certainly. It goes hand in glove with depression, which I have suffered from many times in my life. You get thinking that you can never come with anything original because it’s all been done before. But what’s all been done before, really, is the stereotypes, the false and imagined expectations of readers, and the recalcitrance of certain publishers to try anything “new”. If you write something that you really have faith in, and you can convince yourself (and then a publisher) that it has some merit, then you really can’t go wrong.
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