Q&A with Paul Flower, author of The Great American Cheese War: A laugh-out-loud comedy thriller
1. Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Michigan and still live there. I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 40 years. Most of my career has been in advertising and marketing. I have one previously published novel to my credit. My wife and I have four grown children and a rapidly evolving number of incredibly beautiful and intelligent grandchildren.
2. Give a brief description of your book, The Great American Cheese War: A laugh-out-loud comedy thriller.
The Great American Cheese War is a political satire/black comedy. I’d like to think it would be at home on the shelf with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.
It’s rooted in the idea of a not-so-bright conservative Michigan governor who is susceptible to conspiracy theories and his powerful father’s influence. This leads to a potential war between Michigan and Wisconsin ignited by weapons of mass destruction (prairie dogs infected with the monkey pox virus), which leads––of course––to cheese. It’s really logical, but only in a world where crazy conspiracy theorists thrive.
3. Why did you write The Great American Cheese War?
I wanted to write a funny book, but I also wanted to make a point about the current political environment. This story evolved a great deal as I wrote it over several years, but the heart of it is this notion that we can’t agree on what the truth is anymore. That’s pretty scary. (Which is why I made it funny.)
4. How would you describe the book’s target audience?
This novel, like all satire, appeals to readers who have an appetite for a bit of zany absurdity. But my goal is to broaden that appeal to include those who enjoy thrillers or action novels. I think it does that. Of course, it’s also for political junkies; that goes with saying. But there, I said it.
5. How would you describe your writing style?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I like to think my style is conversational, that the narration and the dialogue are easy on the mind. There’s also a certain Midwesterness about it. Smart-alecky. But in a way my late mom would approve (sort of).
6. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
7. What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
All of it. I have written every day for decades, and it’s still the most-challenging thing I do. If forced to pick the most-sinister challenge of this project, it was wrestling it to a conclusion.
8. What other books have inspired you?
Besides Heller’s masterpiece Catch-22, I’ve always been inspired by two serious literary giants: John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. They mastered the craft.
9. What is your favorite passage in the book and why?
There’s a tragic moment at the beginning of chapter 13 in which a character dies in a way that’s, well, kind of funny. No writer likes to admit this, but I fell in love with the way the passage came together, word-wise and story-wise. Sometimes you get it right. It feels like I did there.
10. What aspects of your own life helped inspire this book?
I’m a former journalist and lifelong political junkie. So, I tend to consume a lot of news. A book rooted in current events was natural for me. The settings are all pulled from my life in West Michigan. And the people, well, I’ve met every one of them in one form or another. Reality is crazier than fiction. So, I just wrote down my reality.
For more information about Paul Flower, you can find him on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7137509.Paul_Flower
The novel is available here in ebook and paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Great-American-Cheese-War-laugh-out-loud-ebook/dp/B07R1S25SG