Reading in the Modern World
May 2, 2019
Weekly Photograph
August 8, 2019

Fiction and Lies

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

Earlier this year I was privileged to be interviewed by Peter Anthony Holder. He recently sent me an email after reading my novel, Eye of the Moon. I wanted to share this email with you. It has been slightly edited to remove spoilers.


I hope you are doing well since we last chatted when you were a guest on my show, The Stuph File Program.  As you may remember, I purchased your book, Eye of the Moon, shortly after we spoke in February.  Time restraints, and some other reading priorities, didn’t allow me to get to your novel as quickly as I’d like to, but I did crack it open on my Kindle in late June and just finished reading it now.  What a delightful and engrossing story!

I know when we spoke, we talked about the 1%, of which you are a part of.  My, but we do come from different worlds.  I don’t know many in my station who would so easily tolerate the full digestive properties of a Hermes scarf in the body of a bull terrier.  And I’ve never had to concern myself with complete wardrobe changes between meals.  But what a fun read!

The characters were fun.  The relationship between Percy & Johnny was delightful, and just when I thought I might have had a handle on the direction the story was going, you brought me in another direction. […]

Also, I liked reading about Alice and her plotline, plus I enjoyed Stanley’s devotion to her and her legacy.  The best thing I could say about this novel is when I got to the end, I really wanted to know what happened with these characters.  Since you set the story in the 70’s I was curious to know what the future held for Percy […] in the 90’s or the turn of the century.  Did Percy & Johnny remain tight and did he ever settle down? […] I guess the best thing you can say about a novel is that it leaves you wanting more and that’s what Eye of the Moon does.

As good a read as it is, I actually think that […] this would make an excellent stage play.  It has that drawing room drama feel to it.

For someone who is a first-time author, you really came flying out of the gate.  Congratulations on a compelling first novel.  I’m curious to see what you come up with next, and as I mentioned, I’d really like to see what happens to some of these characters in their future.

Thanks for sharing these characters with the world! 🙂


Peter Anthony Holder

Host: The Stuph File Program

This was my response to him (also partially edited):


Hi Peter,

I am delighted that you read Eye of the Moon, and even more so that you enjoyed it and took the time to let me know.

We do come from different worlds, but it is my belief that since the genetic changes in the human race take some 25 to 30 thousand years to develop, that we are all pretty much as we have been, stretching farther back than any recorded history. We are still the same people we were long ago, and the same issues that plague us and confront us are unchanged regardless of the time, space, upbringing, environment, ethnicity, culture, education, wealth, and power we have gathered. We can change locations in time and space, but who we are travels with us. We make assumptions about others, think we know what goes on in the minds of those around us, only to realize over the years that we don’t, and yet we have an inkling. It is a great paradox. Even in a story about the 1%, similar difficulties are no less present and common to all. Thus we can achieve an understanding.

I think that is ultimately what all good stories do. They hold up a mirror, and we discover that we see ourselves. Fiction is lies and make-believe that can hold within it great truths when done well that we cannot easily digest in other forms. Because it is “only fiction” the truths are more easily accepted, and perhaps by such acceptance we might change the world.

I am some 117 pages into the sequel. Many of the questions you pose will be answered, as well as some you may not have considered. I was halfway through another novel but my wife, Mary Jo (who is also my boss) sat me down and basically ordered me to put the other manuscript aside and get the sequel going as the number of demands for it by readers had picked up. I dutifully complied. It will take until the end of the year to complete. A Spanish translation of Eye of the Moon is currently in the works, and it is really quite excellent. Mary Jo and I are in the middle of our special process of checking the translation line-by-line. I think I have read Eye of the Moon some forty times and it still enchants me. I can only hope that the sequel will be even better.

I agree on the stage elements. In some ways that was deliberate. When I wrote the novel, I had five constraints. It had to be about Rhinebeck. It had to take place over five days. It had to contain the supernatural elements that I grew up with, and it had to have business elements. The “heart” of America is business, and that’s what I chose to differentiate mine from a typical English gothic mystery. Finally, it had to be about connection, which means conversation–an art that has declined in our digital age but is more prevalent in stage productions. Shows like yours also keep that vital element alive.


I enjoyed our talk to together, and I thank you for taking the time to give me your feedback on the novel. Your email was a treat I did not expect when I woke up this morning. Many, many thanks.





  1. Ivan, great reply to the original post. Even today I still recall my enjoyment in reading Eye of the Moon, and I can’t wait for the sequel. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist in your writing process. AND, once again, would love to read the ARC and critique of your narrative.

    • Thank you, Carolyn. I will let you know how I’m progressing. As the plot continues, the author has to get smarter and smarter to figure out solutions to the problems the characters get into. At the beginning of every novel the possibilities and solutions are endless, but as events happen and choices are made in the story, everyone’s options (both the characters’ and the author’s) become more and more constrained. One can always come up with what is called a deus ex machina or divine intervention, but that is cheating. A book has to be consistent and plausible. I haven’t painted myself into too many corners yet, but I’m diligently working on it.

  2. SILVIA says:

    Congratulations! Well deserved words from an expert.

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