The Tales of Talker Knock - An Interview with Creator Steve Carr
Many of you will know the name Steve Carr. He’s one of the most prolific short story writers around and is a familiar face on social media. Earlier this year, he released his first short story collection, Sand, which was followed later in the year by Heat and then more recently by Rain, all of which show a tremendous depth and range of creativity and a unique connection with a modern zeitgeist of haunting alienation and mystery.
Steve is a native of Cincinnati but traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. Beginning his writing career as a military journalist, he spent three years in the Army and four years in the Navy. As of this writing, he has had over 200 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies. His plays have been staged in several states. He was a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee.
I interviewed him regarding his latest book - a very unusual project, which takes Steve’s writing in a whole different direction. This is the recently released collection called The Tales of Talker Knock, a set of stories aimed at younger readers - and those who are young at heart - but also one which defies easy comparison. I caught up with him in his home in Richmond, Virginia.
GH: So, Talker Knock is here at last! How exciting is that?
SC: I’m ecstatic. This matches the excitement I felt when Sand came out, maybe even more so. Sixteen of the stories were written in one month, which was gruelling, but I’m incredibly proud of them.
GH: Talker is such an unusual hero, readers will want to know a bit more about him. How did you first think of him?
SC: It really started with his name. That came to me first. After that I had the idea that he was a young boy who lived in the Appalachians and was brought up by witches, but that seemed too limiting, so his story quickly evolved into who he is now. I wanted Talker Knock to appeal to both young adults and adults, so I wrote him imagining how such a character would be played out in the movies, both live action and animation.
GH: The stories are so amazingly free of any kind of limits - but do you see them talking place in modern day or at some point in the past?
SC: One of the difficult things about writing the stories was keeping them from being time-specific. There are indications, like the use of planes or galleons in a couple of them, or pirates or castles in a couple others, that give a sense of the time when the stories take place. Talker has adventures in El Dorado and Atlantis, which is quite a time jump to the past, but none of the stories are written as time travel stories.
GH: If I gave you an atlas, could you more or less point to where each of these incredible adventures occur? Or is Talker's world not quite like our own?
SC: I placed at least one story on each of the seven continents and clearly say where the action is taking place, the Australian outback or the Ganges River, as examples. There are stories where dinosaurs and Neanderthals still exist or happen on islands that you would never find in an atlas. I tried to cover as many different terrains and climates that I could think of.
GH: What other characters in fiction do you feel influenced you when creating Talker and his adventures?
SC: As I was writing the stories I began to see elements of some very famous fictional characters in Talker and his adventures, including Robin Hood, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, Tintin, and even some of the superheroes (without their powers), but I tried to create in Talker a character that felt familiar, but was brand new.
GH: I think you succeeded! To whom would you recommend Talker's tales? To what would you compare them so that readers had an idea of what to expect?
SC: The Tales of Talker Knock is for anyone, ages 11 and up, who enjoys fantasy and adventure stories. The stories are clean and wholesome. The closest comparison I could make would be the stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Most of the Talker Knock stories have elements of fantasy and magic realism, so in that way there are few things to compare it to.
GH: I notice that Talker takes particular care of his belongings, especially his sword, his spyglass and his satchel. Do these things have any special significance that we don't know about yet?
SC: Everything that Talker carries with him he started out with when he first left home. They were given to him by his uncles who raised him. They’re not really his uncles. It’s complicated.
GH: Talker seems to have no problems communicating with a variety of exotic and eccentric creatures. Do all animals talk in Talker's world? Do you have a favourite animal companion from these stories?
SC: Not all animals in Talker’s world talk, but in almost all them he manages to find a creature of one kind or another who he can talk to or have no problem expressing their thoughts to him. In that way he is kind of like Doctor Dolittle. In the story “Talker Knock and the Volcano” there’s a dinosaur named Totle who becomes Talker’s companion that I like quite a bit. He’s brave, funny and noble. Writing the end of that story with the sacrifice Totle made was difficult to write.
GH: Have you thought of a prequel featuring Talker's mysterious family? It seems like there are many stories to tell there.
SC: In a few of the Talker Knock stories I give indications of some of the adventures his uncles had been on when they were younger. When you read the first story “Talker Knock Comes Into the World” it’s apparent that the entire Knock lineage could fill volumes of stories.
GH: When picturing Talker, is there an actor whom you can imagine playing him in a movie version of his adventures?
SC: Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be terrific, but he’s getting a bit too old for the part. There’s a really fine young actor named Timothèe Chalamet who could play him. It has to be an actor who is athletic and can be charming and guileless. Talker doesn’t have a guile bone in his body.
GH: To save people Googling those names, I'll include pictures of those actors. Is there anything else readers should know about this most unusual character?
SC: There are a lot more of his adventures that can be told.
I’m sure that there is a lot more that could be said about Talker - we could have kept going all day! But you’ll just have to find out for yourself what all the excitement is about by getting your copy today!
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