What prompted you to write this book?
How did you come up with the idea?
First and foremost, I want to thank those readers
who have made my first novel, Point and Shoot, such a success.
My focus at Sarah Lawrence College was in creative
writing. I wrote many book-length manuscripts, only to discard them, knowing that I could do a better job. That is a process
many authors go through: they write thousands of pages as "ramping up" to reaching the stage where they can produce professional
quality work. Ray Bradbury has written that the inspiration for Fahrenheit 451 was the night he took all of his prior
faltering attempts to compose a professionally done short story or novel, threw them in a pile and burned them. It is the
moment of liberation for a writer.
Accordingly, the turning point for me was when I took Henry Miller's words to heart.
He has said that the process of becoming a writer involves a commitment to speaking with an honest voice. When we censor ourselves,
we obscure our character and undermine the very reason for writing in the first place: to communicate the better part of ourselves.
It is literally an act of liberation to speak with a true voice and put behind us the fits and starts that are, as he puts
it, "the grand tuning up of the instrument".
I have now done so. Point and Shoot is a book about the way men
and women disappoint and hurt one another in the process of finding the better angels of their nature. At one point, the main
character says to his girlfriend, "are you going to stay or leave?" She replies, "[i]s there a third alternative?" This is
a book about third alternatives.
It is also a love story. The main character, Lock Tourmaline, is a flawed man who
has finally found the love of his life, only to learn that she is suffering from advanced cancer. The two of them nevertheless,
take on the blessings and burdens of a passionate relationship that will burn brighter, as it starts to flame out. Any reader
who has found love in spite of the odds will understand the commitment these two feel for one another.
The murder mystery
unfolds against that backdrop. Characters are killed and others seek to find out who killed them and why. This works into
the theme of the tension between living and dying as reflected in the internal and external philosophies of Eastern martial
arts. In that tension, lies the paradoxical truth that as we age, we have the capacity to increase the intensity of our life
force; that in approaching death there can be a greater life.
This is also a book containing authentic descriptions
of martial arts practice. In it, I seek to take the reader into not just the fists and feet of the martial artist, but also
the warrior's heart and soul. I seek to explore the depth and honesty of dedicating oneself to the peaceful chivalry and spiritual
development inherent in these arts.
Finally, this book is, above all, meant to entertain. I have sought to write it
in a fast-moving light prose. I have also tried to inject humor into these life and death situations. I have received positive
feedback from those that have read it and I am currently working on the second installment of this series entitled, Cross
and Cover. I would welcome reader comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does this book have a special link to something that happened
to you in your life?
Point and Shoot is describes a struggle I have faced in my forties. It is
something experienced by many in our culture: the imperative to protect those who have contempt for you. I have utilized the
main character, Lock Tourmaline, to explore that feeling vis a vis the women in his life.
We look to strong people
in our lives, whether at home or at work, for leadership. Yet, while we value that leadership, it also creates the uncomfortable
implication that we are somehow lessened by their primacy. We resent our own need to have them perform the heavy lifting,
since it implies that we cannot lift as much as they.
did you dedicate this book to and why?
The book is dedicated to three people:
It is dedicated
to Joe Papaleo, my writing teacher at Sarah Lawrence College who showed unbelievable patience and skill in guiding me along.
He never gave up on me, and I will be eternally grateful for his trust that I could develop my skill as a writer.
is also dedicated to my martial arts instructor, Sifu Rick. He has spent ten years helping me hone this art and make it my
own. He taught me the relationship between the internal and external martial arts.
Finally, it is dedicated
to my son.
Who is your favorite author and why?
favorite author is Henry Miller. He utilized writing to lift himself beyond the routine of daily life and attain a level of
vitality that had otherwise eluded him. I feel inspired by his words, especially his novel, Tropic of Capricorn.
many books have you written and if you have written more than one book, what are the subjects?
This is my first published novel. It is part
of a series with the same main characters, which I am calling the Lock Tourmaline series. I am currently writing the
second installment called, Cross and Cover.
Have you received any special comments back from any of
your readers and can you share them with us?
I would like to share this review from ForeWord CLARION:
“At forty years old, I could still be stubborn and make mistakes. The difference was I
knew I was making them and went forward anyway.”
In the North Jersey shadow of the George Washington Bridge,
former cop Lock Tourmaline is struggling to hold together a semblance of a personal life. His girlfriend’s cancer treatments
aren’t working and a cokehead ex-wife has vowed to sleep with fifty other cops, but still demands regular rescuing.
His personality evokes something besides good will from others. Lock’s small martial arts school hasn’t proven
as lucrative as expected, so he pulls bodyguard duty at a sit-down of rival Korean-American crime families. When a shooter
slips by, he has a lot more to worry about than doomed, disappointed women and existential anomic drift.
reliable rock since childhood is his Shaolin Kempo Karate teacher, an Oprah fan employed as a bondage club bouncer who goes
by the name of Grandfather. This invincible enigma serves a similar purpose as the Bubba Rogowski character from Dennis Lehane’s
novels, except Grandfather’s arsenal is his total mastery of the more mystical martial arts, rather than a literal arsenal.
Of all Baum’s characters, only he operates beyond the rules of realism, downing attackers from a distance with invisible
energy waves. All the story’s other players exhibit reasonable failings.
The nimble dialogue includes
dry humor as a defense mechanism when the situation is spinning askew and smart-alecky quips during intervals of low tension:
[Pauline:] ”You need to make the distinction between toying with the fringes of sexuality and violence, as opposed to
actually engaging in sexual violence.” [Lock:] “The first one is better?”
Point and Shoot is
as much a study of compromised people in states of distraction and irrationality as it is an action novel. In a place where
no adult is morally pristine, the author handles the repeated theme of disdain for the helper with a reflective intelligence.
Unappreciated gambles and sacrifices are part and parcel of this book: “I want to be the guy who does the heavy lifting
for those around me who cant, even those who have utter contempt for me.”
Interplay between North Jersey’s
ethnic communities is rather interesting but too briefly visited. The inner dynamics of Korean-American crime organizations
are somewhat under-explored. Trouble has been taken to elucidate the strategies of successful physical attacks; depictions
of martial arts are far from cartoonish. Explanations of fight details, although obviously expert, could be pared down modestly
in future outings without diminishing the readers’ understanding.
The author, now a Tai Chi instructor,
was once nationally ranked in Shaolin Kempo. His writing training comes from Sarah Lawrence College. Although Point and Shoot
is Baum’s first published novel, he avoids rookie mistakes and presents readers with a high caliber, tightly woven story.
There is no doubt a sequel is in the works. Considering Baum’s depth and handle on human complexity, it should be just
as worthy of attention.
Reviewed by Todd Mercer
is your favorite part of the book?
favorite part of the book is whenever April appears in a scene. I found her to be a truly pleasurable character, full of warmth
Can you give us a 2-minute commercial about
yourself so our audience can connect with you? (background –
I am currently a professional living in Northern New Jersey. I have a teenaged son. Both
he and I have had a lifelong interest in the martial arts. I am currently studying Tai Chi Chuan, and I teach it from time
I also have a strong interest in civil rights work and have volunteered to assist in a number of challenges
to some of the excesses of the current government initiatives to protect the homeland. I have also started a non-profit foundation
that works in the inner city to help the disadvantaged start and maintain small businesses.