Saturday, 9 November 2013

Muckydum: The Story of a Haunted Man

Muckydum - The Story of a Haunted Man
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 When he uncharacteristically befriends a withdrawn student in one of his classes he is inadvertently taken on an emotional roller coaster that sends him deeper into despair.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.

Author's note:
Some of the events in Muckydum are based on a true story. Back in the late seventies when I was in a college in Ontario there was a course elective called The Relevance of Shakespeare. The course had a reputation as being the best elective in the school. Everyone tried to get it as their semester elective.
This was based solely on the spirit of the professor who taught the course, Bill. He looked like an old fisherman, something right out of The Old Man and the Sea. He wore an old Greek fisherman's cap, jeans and white shirt and always drove his utility bicycle through the halls of the school to get to his classroom.
Bill's classroom was set up in a small lecture room, tiered up three or four oversized steps covered with plush red carpet. He would have the students lounge among pillows as he presented them with fascinating facts about Shakespeare and how his stories related to the present day. Bill would always video tape each student at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester to evaluate what they had learned.
The semester before I joined the class Bill had made a close friend of a shy, awkward student. During the summer break this student had committed suicide. Every class we had started out with us watching the video of this student and analysing if there was anything to indicate why he may have taken his own life.
I, being young and expecting to have fun, became bored with the class and began skipping most of them. But later in life I always wondered what Bill was hoping to find in those videos, and why he was so intent to find out why.
Muckydum gives me my explanation.

Available at:

 Stephen Chiarelli was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and currently resides in the Niagara Region. He's been an accountant, a forklift driver, a computer technician and an administrative assistant. When he's not cruising down in the Caribbean looking that one great shot, he's working on his next novel. His first book The Connected was released in 2008. Muckydum - The Story of a Haunted Man was released in 2012. Stephen is working on two new novels as well as trying to establish his photography into a new venture.

Stephen Chiarelli's Website
Goodreads Author Site


Stephen Chiarelli  (
Address - P.O. Box 1143, Virgil, ON L0S 1T0
Phone# - 905-468-8622

There is only one way to find more about someone, Interview them! Hence, a sneak peek into the writing world of Stephen Chiarelli.

1)     Was it difficult to get published? Did you ever thought to just quit it?

I would say it is next to impossible to get published without establishing a strong presence over the previous 5 to 10 years. Unfortunately, quite a few new authors can’t devote the time required to establish that kind of exposure, due to responsibilities and/or obligations. We always hear about the ‘bestselling’ author coming out of nowhere and receiving a lucrative multi-book deal, but that’s equivalent to winning a multi-million dollar lottery considering the amount of writers without publishing contracts trying to get noticed. I sent out dozens of query letters to potential publishers and agents and received responses from approximately one-third in the form of rejections. The others didn’t even bother. That’s why I went the CreateSpace route. It seems to be one of the few ways to break into the spotlight without a publishing house. And if you use the time to market yourself that you would have used on countless query letters then you may just get noticed. Anyways, it seems like the POD’s are becoming like the minor leagues for the big publishers now.

I never thought of quitting writing. I enjoy the writing process. Even if I only have ten people read my book it wouldn't matter. Writing enriches my life, I would never give it up.

2)     Writing was always your passion or you just tumbled on it?

I've been writing sporadically since I was a teenager, but never considered trying to publish anything. There were always too many distractions and wrong turns preventing me from sitting down and contemplating if writing was something I should take seriously. It wasn't until my life became more balanced that I thought about making a go of it. Now, I wish I would have taken the prospect of writing more seriously thirty years ago and attempted to get published back then, but it’s just the way things happen. It is just one of my passions now.

3)     Is it difficult to separate yourself with your characters?

When I’m establishing a story-line I find I attach myself to just one of my characters. I feel that character’s emotions, his frustrations, loneliness, heartbreak and what have you. His dialogue is how I may react given what events happened in his past and the influences of his environment. Sometimes I do find that I have to pull myself away so I can have the character follow the storyline rather than say or do what I would have done in such an instance, and that can be difficult because the character becomes unreasonable to me. The other characters in my book are usually based around a combination of the different attitudes and emotional aspects of anyone I may have crossed paths with throughout my life.

4)     Do you ever feel like you can't write another word?

Never. I've always got ideas going through my head. Currently I’m working on two novels at the same time. Sometimes I find I have to step away from a novel. I give it a rest for a couple of days so I can think about a particular scene I’m writing because I don’t like the way it’s progressing, but that’s all part of the process. Quite often if I find I have to do that I come up with some new twist within the story and I get re-energized. There are times I give writing a break to concentrate on my photography or some other project but I know that I will start writing again.

5)     How does it feel like reading a) good review b) and a bad one?

I can’t lie, a good review brings me a sense of accomplishment, some happiness that I struck a nerve with a reader. When one of your readers says that they were thoroughly immersed in your story, that’s everything you were trying to achieve, a story that made your reader think or made them happy. It is a very good feeling.

The first impulse I have when I read a bad review is to ask ‘didn't you get what I’m trying to say?’ But I know that what I write isn’t for everyone. I know my novel isn’t going to be picked up only by people who will enjoy the story or how I wrote it. Everyone is unique and not everyone will be in a place in their life where your novel will have some meaning to them.

6)     What was the first complement for your writing you ever got and from whom?

My first complement was from my wife with a look of disbelief on her face asking me ‘You wrote this?’ She went on to laud me with praise for the short story I had given her to read and encouraged me to ‘get out there and get published.’ She’s the reason I have continued to pursue my writing at this stage in my life. With everything I write, she makes me believe I can make it all happen.

Okey, dokey. Time for the Final Verdict:

Title: Muckydum: The Story of a Haunted Man
Writer: Stephen Chiarelli
Rating: 3.5/5

I guess it's pretty obvious from the title that the story have a supernatural element but the intensity of it kinda ambushes you because even though you start reading the story prepared for ghosts and demons but the normalcy, almost mediocrity of the characters derails you. There is this very old guy remembering his wife, complaining about his pot belly and joints. Normal, isn't it? We all had a college professor or school teacher like him. While complaining about the loads of homework we got or bitchy and strict checking of our test papers did we ever wonder or even considered our professors as people who actually have a life, a story? Personally, I used to go into a state of shock when I accidentally stumbled upon my class teacher buying tomatoes in super marker or my Sanskrit teacher eating kulfi in mall. We somehow assign people around us boundaries, restriction. They are what we see them as. It is almost unreal to imagine them beyond those circles. Which is exactly what takes us by surprise when we find out that the old professor have a family curse and disastrous past.

Getting in the book is a little difficult. For first few pages as readers you become extremely confused about what is happening. The fact that the story jumps between past and present doesn't help that much. But still somehow it manages to instill curiosity and a sense of foreboding which pushes you page after page. All in all, it's a good book.


Arushi Raj

PS: Don't forget to enter for the giveaway!

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