In 2014, JP worked with a small local publisher to put out his debut novel, a semi-autobiographical tale called “Birding in the Face of Terror.” Let’s just say that no part of the publishing process went as planned, and by late 2016 their relationship had ended, their contract was voided, and JP’s urge to publish was crushed.
Birding in the Face of Terror began as a short story completed a few months after 9/11/01, with little beyond a journalistic account of the events on and around the bus trip with the American Birders Association to the three sites we visited. Upon finishing it, I knew there was an avalanche of related material and many thousands of words left unsaid, so I started expanding it into a novel. But sometime in mid-2002, my efforts hit a major psychological wall, and the project went on the shelf, not to be picked up again until 2009.
In Act IV of “Birding”, I spent a good deal of time describing Pedro’s bus trips with Chinese tourists to Yellowstone and many other national parks of the West in the summer of 2001. I’ve always wondered whether readers would assume this was one of the fictionalized elements of the novel, with a workload thatContinue reading “Birding — From China with Love: The Landmark Tours”
The earliest drafts of “Birding,” dating back to late 2001, were written by my colleague here at Not Two, who prefers to be known simply as “JP.” As many of you know or might guess after reading it, both narrators, Joseph and Pedro, are based on JP, but Pedro is the main vehicle for theContinue reading “Birding — Pedro and Nadia”
Yes, I know. Typically a book is written first, then the movie is made based on the book (and the book is inevitably better), and in the process of making the movie, someone throws together a soundtrack from any music included in it. But in the case of Birding in the Face of Terror, the soundtrack was finished before anything else.
In this scene, Pedro is alone, heading out for his third tour of duty on an account that his company has been serving through the summer of 2001. It involves driving Chinese tourists from the Bay Area on grueling week-long excursions to various national parks in the Western states. (JP once racked up over 220Continue reading “Excerpt from “Birding in the Face of Terror” — Act V”
Pedro spent much of Act III ruminating on the very limited knowledge he had of the national crisis on the East Coast, and his incredulousness over the group leaders’ decision to keep the information from the fellow passengers. Only they, Pedro, and Betty Pickett know at this point. (She found out accidentally in Act IIIContinue reading “Excerpt from “Birding in the Face of Terror” — Act IV”
At this point in Act III, everything that will crash and collapse in New York City on 9/11/01 has already happened. Pedro and his birding crew have left the Central Valley location and are headed toward Azucar Mountain, the highest peak in the mountainous coastal region northwest of Los Angeles (actual location was Mount Pinos).Continue reading “Excerpt from “Birding in the Face of Terror” — Act III”
At the end of Act I, the reader is reminded of something subtly mentioned in the Prologue: this entire story takes place on September 11, 2001. There is a second narrator named Joseph d’Angelo, a Brooklyn native living in New Jersey, who in Act II is an eyewitness to the planes crashing into the WorldContinue reading “Excerpt from “Birding in the Face of Terror” — Act II”
In keeping with the theatrical motif established by the Prologue, “Birding” is divided into acts rather than chapters. Act I begins with the introduction of the primary first-person narrator, Pedro, and his wife Nadia. Pedro drives charter busses for a motor coach company in the Central Coast region of California. His job keeps him veryContinue reading “Excerpt from “Birding in the Face of Terror” — Act I”