Sunday, 10 November 2013

Muckydum - The Story of a Haunted Man by Stephen Chiarelli

Muckydum - The Story of a Haunted Man
by Stephen Chiarelli

Bill Hammond lives a lonely life yet shuns any intimate contact with the people around him. He is haunted by visions of people from his dysfunctional relationships, but does his best to ignore or avoid them. Conjuring up fleeting memories of his wife and teaching Shakespeare at the local college provide him with his only semblance of happiness. When he uncharacteristically befriends a withdrawn student in one of his classes he is inadvertently taken on an emotional roller coaster that sends him deeper into despair. On a frantic search for answers he comes to realize that he must affirm his own indiscretions in order to come to terms with how his life has come to pass.

Ten years later on a sunny spring morning Breanna Sutton is reluctantly meeting with Bill, who is now a recluse in an isolated cabin up in Northern Ontario. He had inexplicably started Breanna off on a rewarding and lucrative career that makes her feel bitterly obligated to the old man. She discovers Bill adrift in a world of fantasy and in severe need of medical attention. But the stubborn old man insists that she listen to his recount of his romance with his wife and its tragic conclusion before consenting to get the help he needs. Through the course of an agonizing day, Breanna learns what family truly means and about the obligations that come with it.

Muckydum will take you on the journey of a tormented man's pursuit to clear his conscience before it's too late and a woman's realization that life isn't measured solely by one's successes. 

Q & A with Author Stephen Chiarelli

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
There are two main characters to the story.

William (Bill) Hammond is a professor of an elective course at a Community College. He's approaching retirement but knows the only happiness he experiences is when he's teaching. Bill wants all of his students to feel the excitement he feels for the subject matter and will go out of his way to try and make it happen, and his students love him for it. But his private life is very lonely and full of regrets. Both his parents suffered from mental illness and left him to fend for himself from an early age. Because of this neglect he created fantasies to help him through his childhood. When he became a young man, he turned these fantasies, combined with the dark reality, into two very successful novels for which he won critical acclaim. Then Bill met his wife-to-be Joanie and what started out as a storybook romance turned choppy and sour and left Bill incapable of establishing anymore close relationships. Bill has another deep secret that he hides from everybody. He even tries to hide it from himself. Bill is constantly visited by the dead.

The other main character, Breanna Sutton, enters the story ten years after we initially meet Bill, when he is retired and reclusive. Breanna is from an Upper Middle-class family. She likes the finer things in life. Her father was the dean of the college Bill taught at and her mother was Joanie's best friend. She was raised an only child and became used to getting what she desired and she feels entitled to the life she has. Her life is full of high-end material objects and a posh social life. But she does have a conscience that plays havoc in her relationship with Bill. Breanna is Bill's publisher, and she feels indebted to him because he was responsible for helping her find her first job. Breanna woefully responds to Bill's beck and call.

Q:  What do you love about writing?
I love going through a story in my thoughts before getting it down on paper. I can spend weeks just thinking about different scenarios within the plot from beginning to end before I ever write anything down. And then when it all starts coming together and has me really excited, I sit in front of my computer and start the first chapter, or prologue if I feel so inclined to include. Then I get a new rush as I'm writing it and think of new twists to throw into the storyline. So I guess what I love about writing is the high, the discovery of new characters and the fact that I'm never exactly sure how it will end until I'm at the end.

Q:  What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice I've been given is to keep on writing, no matter how you're received, regardless of the lack of sales or recognition and no matter what the reviews say. Honing that skill and building on the experience is the best way to get established.

Q:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a hockey player as a kid. Dave Keon, a hockey player on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixties and seventies, was my idol. I would go out on the driveway and imagine myself in a game, shooting a tennis ball into a makeshift net. I always had stories in my head, imagining how the game would play out. However, I couldn't skate very well and never took the time to practice, so it was never to be.

Q:  If you could be on one reality TV show, what would it be?
I don't really watch a lot of reality TV, absolutely none of the mainstream stuff. The only reality shows I've found that catch my interest are the likes of Storage Wars, American Pickers, Canadian Pickers and Auction Hunters. It's the excitement of the find, something rare from yesteryear, especially pop culture, that has since become legend. Those would be the type of shows I'd like to be on.

Q:  What book are you reading now?
I'm currently reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. It reminds me quite a bit of another Pulitzer Prize winner, East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I'm approximately one hundred pages into the book, quite depressing so far. The book really puts you right in the middle of the Great Depression. It's not one of those books that I can read for hours on end. I'll read ten pages at a time and then put it down until the following day. If it continues along the same vein I'll eventually pick up something lighter to read at the same time, just to bring in a little bit of levity.

About the Author: Stephen was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. Currently he resides in the Niagara Region.

Stephen published his first book, The Connected, in 2008. His latest book, Muckydum - The Story of a Haunted Man, was published in March, 2012 in ebook formats. A trade paperback of Muckydum will be available soon from

All his books are available at various online retailers.

Stephen is currently working on a third full-length novel. He is also working with his editor to compile a book of his short stories.

A sample of his short stories is available on his website at

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