A very nice article in the Tri-City Citizen.
Saturday, February 16, 2008 4:53:00 PM
by L J Hippler
|Local author channels Baltimore in new book
Cathedral Street, by L.J. Hippler, iUniverse Inc., c2007, 263 pages
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
A Richland man's debut novel, Cathedral Street, is a story of three brothers who shared an abusive childhood at the hands of their father, and because of that have taken very different paths in life.
The central event in the book is when one of the brothers kills the father and makes it look like an accident. The central question thereafter is: Was the brother justified? (And does he get caught?)
L.J. Hippler's new book is set in Baltimore, the author's hometown, and started out as a lengthy short story.
"I thought (Cathedral Street) would be an elongated short story," he says. "But it's not. It's more complicated. It took me two years to write."
Cathedral Street isn't an action/adventure novel. Nobody saves the world from an asteroid or hijacks a nuclear submarine. But if you like a book about complex characters and how they interact, you'll like Cathedral Street.
"One thing that helped me out in the beginning was following the advice of an article that recommended that if you're stuck, write the first page and the last page. I did that and it really helped. That brought it together. I think it was Tom Clancy who said that finishing a novel is like sailing around the world single-handed. That's a good analogy. That pretty much covers it."
Some readers have asked Hippler if his book is biographical.
"It's really not," he says. "There are bits and pieces of my own experience in it, but the basis of the story is actually a Hemingway short story, 'The Gambler, the Nun and the Radio,' where three different people are in the same situation and they handle it very differently. So I took that same idea and expanded on it."
Cathedral Street delves into deeper themes that are beyond the structure of the story.
"Each of the brothers is a very complex character," Hippler says. "It's a story of how they interact with each other, and how they survive very difficult situations. It's been called a very dark story. But I see it as a celebration of these characters' strength, their ability to survive under tough situations.
"And they're situations I think most people can identify with at some point in their life. A bad marriage. A lousy job. An abusive parent.
The book germinated in Hippler for five years before he sat down to write.
"Reading (Hemingway's) short story gave me the basic structure to write around. When I started I didn't know how difficult it would be, but I'm very glad I did it. It was a learning experience as well. It's very therapeutic also. You put a lot of your own ideas, your own feelings out there."
Getting a novel published is a very tough world to break into, says Hippler, who opted to self-publish his book through a company called iUniverse, which bills itself as a cross between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
"You can send them your manuscript, but they won't publish just anything," Hippler says. "They have several review boards. The actual publishing process took about six months. I spent last summer going back and forth with them, making changes.
Hippler's book garnered two honors from the publishing house, suggesting that the book is very much Hippler's creation. Plus, iUniverse has placed Cathedral Street in a Barnes & Noble book store in Baltimore.
"One thing I've enjoyed since the book came out a couple months ago is that people who I've known have talked to me about my characters as though they were real people," he says. "That's the greatest compliment I can get. I have a friend in Baltimore who thinks he knows who Darla is, which is funny because while most of the book's characters are loosely based on real people, Darla never existed outside my head.
Hippler, who retired as a budget analyst at Hanford two years ago, has already started a sequel to Cathedral Street called Canton, which also is set in Baltimore.
Cathedral Street is available at The Book Worm on The Parkway in Richland and online at www.cathedralstreet.net, as well as Amazon.com.