Jess Fisher’s latest novel is funny, a little bit ‘Dangerous’
“In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.” — Samuel Langhorne Clemens
By using that quote attributed to the American literary icon, better known as Mark Twain, author Jess Fisher lets readers of his third book — and first of comedic intent — “Dangerous” — that they are about to engage in a journey not only into the unknown, but into a world fueled by the quick-witted mind of a self-described recluse.
“Dangerous” is Fisher’s first work since publishing the highly-acclaimed “Final Arrangements,” his award-winning science fiction story for the anthology “Return To Luna,” published by Hadley Rille Books, in conjuction with the National Space Society. But it is also his first attempt at scripting a humor-based novel.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing humor,” Fisher said last week. “As a kid, I used to write puns, so doing something like this has always been lingering in the back of my mind.”
In his latest release, which debuted in the fall, readers are introduced to a character named Jack Tyler, a middle-aged business reporter from Cleveland, Ohio. “He leads an ordinary life in an ordinary town,” Fisher describes. “He struggles with aging, uses profanity with enthusiasm, and drinks whiskey when the need arises. Jack is like many of us — desirous of happiness, meaning and a place in the world.”
According to the book’s plot, Jack’s life takes a dangerous U-turn one cold winter day. Armed with only a pencil, his wit and perseverance, he starts life over as he stares down danger to uncover the mystery of who — or what — is the Sanibel Island panther.
“The ideas for this book came in clusters, some from personal experiences, others from things I overheard at the bar,” said Fisher. “That’s why I used the Sam Clemens quote at the beginning of the book. That’s Jack Tyler. I wanted him to be sort of politically non-correct… and he struggles with that.”
Included in the book are several excerpts taken from the pages of the Island Reporter and the Sanibel-Captiva Islander. As Tyler begins his quest to track down who may have seen the elusive panther on the islands, his research brings him to the Sanibel Public Library, where he browses through archived editions of both newspapers.
“At least reporting about a panther on Sanibel was not hazardous duty,” Tyler shares with readers of the novel, 284 pages filled with numerous island locales and supporting characters inspired by residents, most of them very real and still living here.
“When I finished my archive research, I had one single burning question: Just who — or what — is the mysterious Sanibel Island panther?”
“The book is compiled of a lot of ideas woven together,” added Fisher. “It’s a lot like ‘Seinfeld,’ whereas in a single episode Jerry and George will be doing something and Kramer will be doing something else, but in the end everything sort of comes together.”
Fisher wrote “Dangerous,” available at the Sanibel Island Bookshop, MacIntosh Books & Paper and online at www.amazon.com, thanks in large part to another island novelist, Randy Wayne White. According to Fisher, his desire to become a published author started around the same time White’s first Doc Ford book came out.
Presently, Fisher is working on the follow-up to “Dangerous,” tentatively titled “Desire.”
“Jack Tyler will be in it again,” he said, noting that he expects the book to be published sometime in 2012. “It’s way out there. ‘Desire’ will be about a race to find Gasparilla The Pirate’s buried treasure here on Sanibel, purportedly identified on a bogus treasure map bought on eBay.”
But for now, Fisher sees many positives coming out of his initial comedic offering.
“I enjoy reading my work… and just laughing at it,” he said. “It’s kind of cathartic. And sometimes I’ll look at a few pages and say to myself, ‘ Did I really write that?’ That’s really kinda funny!”