Friday, October 30, 2020

Edwin Clark Interview - Stacked Deck

Photo Content from Ed Clark 

Ed Clark is a native of Seattle, Washington, attended the University of Washington, George Washington University in Washington DC, and currently resides in, yes, Washington County, Virginia. Before becoming a teacher, he served in the US Army, the Peace Corps, fought forest fires, worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, did some logging, ran a building maintenance business and managed to work his way through college.

These days Ed is a retired English teacher who lives in the Appalachian Mountains of SW Virginia with his wife, a dog, a six-pack of cats and a couple of adult kids when they come to visit. He likes to hike and fly fish, write haiku, read and write.

Interested in catching up with Ed Clark on social media? You can find him on Facebook or contact him via the contact page on this site.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
The greatest lesson I learned at school was how to get along with different kinds of people, especially ones I didn't like or have much in common with.

Tell us your latest news.
I've had some health issues that are improving.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

Gabriel Garcia Harquez and Robert Pirsig have both affected my writing. Their works were instrumental in moving me to incorporate Magical Realism and subject/object dichotomy into Stacked Deck.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having finally done it and how much it impressed my kids.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I would want them to think about how most deep psychological trauma cannot be suppressed but must instead be eventually resolved.

In your debut novel; STACKED DECK, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Stacked Deck is a tale about a middle-aged Vietnam veteran whose ghosts rise from the recesses of his mind to remind him he has a debt to pay as a matter of decency and honor. The story is about his coming to that realization and about the friends who help him discharge the debt.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I've never been one who can write on a fixed schedule. The muse must move me. Sometimes my feckless muse moves out for a while. Also, I was teaching and raising two adolescent kids while trying to write this book. Finally, I don't use story outlines when I write. I just wing it. I spent quite a bit of time trying to sleep at night with the story running around in my head.

What part of Will, Algernon, and Tran did you enjoy writing the most?
Will is loosely based upon my own growth over time. Algernon and Tran are characters grounded on men who served with me. Algernon was an Ivy League grad who taught me critical thinking based upon rationalism. Tran was a former VC officer who introduced me to the wisdom of subjective thought. I hope I portrayed this faithfully in the novel.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Algernon to Robert Pirsig.

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
I was 12 and felt too old to trick-or-treat. I dressed as a Knight Templar. An old guy invited my friends and I in for some hard cider rather than candy. The experience was memorable.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
From time to time, I carry some cash in my wallet. That's pretty unique.

Best date you've ever had?
Hmm, the best date I ever had was the first date with my wife. I wasn't born yesterday.

What did you do for your last birthday?
I went fishing and drank some beer.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
The most memorable summer job I ever had was fighting forest fires. We had mixed gender crews. The work was dangerous and hard. I was impressed with the sheer competency and stamina of my crew.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had "no regrets" what would it be?
I would not have swung at the low, outside curveball that struck me out and ended my team's chances to advance in a Little League tournament when I was eleven. I never played organized baseball again.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Swinging at low outside curveballs, no matter the game.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
The best memory I can recall as a writer was the day I realized I might actually be one and actually hit a curveball.

Where can readers find you?
I can be found at my blog, Ed's Beer Books and Bull and at

Some facts about Stacked Deck are: It took me three years to write it. I reviewed works on writing by Stephen King and Ernst Hemmingway while writing it and spent a good deal of time studying dialogue. I also read and studied the works of Barbara Kingsolver, who lives down the road a piece from me and, while being a famous author, also runs a fine restaurant. I did much research to ensure that my locations, science, and descriptions were accurate. A cute and useful trick I got from Hemingway was to leave the last sentence incomplete when finished for the day, so it is easy to pick up where you left off later. When you catch yourself staring blankly at the page and nothing is going on upstairs, it's time to call it a day. Unless you can remember everything to do with English usage, having a grammar checker is probably a good idea. Like reading a good book or working intently on a task, writing demands focus and, as a result, suspends the passage of time. Einstein was right in ways he never knew. Enjoy yourself.

I returned from Vietnam in 1969. I was 21 years old and dealing with some issues, as were most returnees. I thought about writing a book but could never get my mind away from the grind of sustained combat operations, and I didn't want to write a bloody autobiography. I put the book out of mind until I was around 30 and had graduated from college. However, during this period of my life, I worked seasonally, logging, and fishing. The lifestyle was not conducive to writing. I began teaching at 40. Then I got serious about writing Stacked Deck and the study of genre fiction. I owe my editor, Wes Kincade, a debt of gratitude for shoving me repeatedly to begin the book. After much soul searching, I concluded I didn't want to write much about my combat experiences as a young man of 20 but rather about the psychological results of it as an aging man of 50, which I have done.

If ghosts from your past haunted you nightly, could you keep your life straight? Or would you set off on a journey to find answers? Meet Will Cameron, popular English professor and Vietnam vet, with a troubling past he can’t seem to remember.

Stacked Deck is a supernatural expedition into the darkest recesses of memory for unlikely friends. Told through the eyes of three veterans—Will Cameron, the introspective English professor and past squad leader; Algernon Carrington III, an unlikely private who questions his elite station in life; and Tran Van Quan, a Buddhist Vietnamese soldier and US transplant—the men stumble into a chance meeting that leads down a rabbit hole. Fate threw them together in the midst of the Vietnam War and they survived… when the rest of the squad perished. Now the bell is tolling. Fate will have its due.

Amidst entertaining philosophical debates, quests of self-discovery, and a thrilling search for salvation that skirts everything from rural America to Triad hit men, the truth does not always set you free… or keep you alive.

Fans of the Sixth Sense, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Saving Private Ryan will love Stacked Deck. Join the supernatural journey. Read the fantastic debut novel of Edwin Clark and find out why someone would stencil “Not Insane” across the side of their VW bus.

You can purchase Stacked Deck at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you EDWIN CLARK for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Stacked Deck by Edwin Clark.


  1. Almost in a plane crash over the ocean after leaving Hawaii

  2. The most frightening moment of my life was when my husband had a brain breed and was in the hospital for 8 weeks.

  3. I was in a car accident and seeing that truck and burning car heading towards me was terrifying.