Teenagers Mark and Melissa meet out on the highway with Mark driving and Melissa hitchhiking he stops and picks her up.
Later she invites him to come stay with her at her father's house.
It soon comes to light that Mark may sell drugs for them.
Little did he realize that Melissa was unknowingly a participant of an incestuous scandal instigated by the father and would ultimately become caught right up in the middle of it.
Timothy Louis Baker, Author of “Fantastic Florida Fun”
December 10, 2011 — Pat Bertram
Welcome, Timothy, What is your book about?
Fantastic Florida Fun consists of a teenage boy meeting a young girl while traveling in Florida and their involvement with each other surrounding the girl’s father who is a kingpin in the crime and drug world. Who evidently is or has been having an incestuous relationship with his daughter. The young man attempts to have the girl remember so she can explain to him but she apparently can not since the method used to induce and reduce her to the incestuous rape by her father is hypnosis and she can’t over come it.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
My idea for my book appeared in my semi conscious thoughts even a few years before I began writing it but I had other works at hand. Trying to finish the other projects I kept this one on hold until I had time to write it. That only took a few months once I had set aside everything else I could and focused solely on Fantastic Florida Fun and so was soon completed.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I had spent time in Florida during the 70′s era when this book is about and I had been involved in the crime and drug world there. I knew the suject matter of one of the main topics and was quite capable of building the rest of the story around that circumstantial place setting.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
All of the characters in my book are somewhat similar to some people that I have met sometime somewhere but the one most like me is Mark, the young man that is traveling through Florida simply because he was exiled from his home in the midwest after a confrontation with his parents. I had similar circumstances in my teenage years but I had not necessarily be kicked out of the house every time, instead took off for Florida many times as a teenager simply to see what there was to see. Once at 29 years of age I was exiled from my parents home and did spend a little time in Florida then too.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
The ideal of the story as a whole showed up a couple of years prior to writing it, the entire mental outline of the book took place forming in my mind the night before I actually started writing.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
The researching I did for Fantastic Florida Fun was quite coincidentally right out of my past. Since I had traveled in Florida many times while hitchhiking and also by my own car and cars of others, it was very easy to use my creative writing abilities and write Fantastic Florida Fun.
What was the first story you remember writing?
The first story I started to put down on paper was an autobiographical look at my own life’s story and now I do have three autobiographical books out. Search my name Timothy Louis Baker
Does writing come easy for you?
After publishing seven books and a multitudinous amount of journaling writing does come easy to me now. I think, I work my fingers over the keyboard, words appear into sentences, paragraphs, chapters and I’ve got my story down.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I always have a mental list of what I want to include in my stories but they elude me while I’m writing at present and I don’t think of them until the gift of instinct says they are needed, then I take those creative ideas and expound on them in writing and soon the full thought is recorded and I proceed to the next one on the list.
What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
The ideas that make up the best stories in my opinion are those that are so real to the reader that they could actually be so and not out of a book. Keeps the reader interested in the topics if the book reads this way. Readers I think like to see what the read as though it were actually happening in front of me.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
The best advice I ever received from anybody was when a Mark Twain impersonator told me when I asked him the question of what to write about he said, “Write what you know.” I have since researched Mark Twain, the real one, and he reportedly often gave that advise to authors when they asked him the same question in real life back when he lived.
When Mark and Melissa went to bed that night, Mark tried to think of a way to ease any misgivings she might have developed by any incestuous relationship she had probably had with her father. They lay naked on their sides under the covers. She lay in front with him behind her, his arm around her as he rubbed her breasts with his hand.
He thought of something to say to make her feel blissful so he might accomplish his mission of getting her to talk about whether her father ever molested her as a child or more recently. He put his hand on her hip and said, “Mark Matthew Mitchell and Melissa May Monroe! MMM. Reminds me of Marilyn Monroe. Ever heard her called MM, honey?”
She put her hand on top of his still on her waist and replied, “Yes I have, and she has my last name too.” She giggled, “I wonder if we’re related.”
They rested a while, then Mark continued his conversation, “Melissa, I have a question. You can tell me to go to hell if you want to, and I won’t ask it anymore, but … has Allan ever approached you sexually?”
She started to speak; a high-pitched sound came out. But she lost her thoughts to the confusion. She didn’t consciously remember the encounters anymore because it had been several months since the last time it had happened. After she lay there for a few more seconds, she tried again, “Mark, I’m not sure. I have this thing I do that I don’t think about. I just don’t know. I’m not sure.”
That led him that closer to an answer but was not a yes or no as he had expected. At least he thought she was probably being honest. He reached toward her body and felt her breasts with his hand. He knew he couldn’t get any more answers that night, so he initiated the usual, asking if she wanted to make love by saying, “Want to do it?” She rolled over on her back and spread her legs. They enticed each other with sexual caressing and made gentle love to each other.
In the morning when he arose, she had his coffee and breakfast ready as usual. She had her own ready too but had waited for him. As they sat at the kitchen table, she said, “Mark, you know that question you asked me last night? About my father? Well I think …” She paused and didn’t say anything more for a few seconds.
He urged, “Yes, Melissa, go on.”
She replied, “I don’t remember anymore. I had something on my mind, now it’s gone. I can’t remember. That’s the way it always is. Or always was. I think I remembered for a second. Now I don’t remember, can’t remember.”
He consoled her, “It’s alright Melissa. It’s alright.”
“I tried, but I just can’t remember.”
“It’s alright Melissa, when you’re ready you’ll remember. I know it’s hard.” He put his arm on her back and gently rubbed it with his hand.
He thought she must have some kind of mental block but could remember anytime. He would be there when she was ready, and he would take into stride anything that it entailed. He thought that he truly loved Melissa.
He wanted to persuade her to remember and share with him what had occurred to help her get over it once and for all. He knew she had been close that morning; that the truth had lingered just under the surface of her memory. He just had to help her bring it upwards and in so doing let it breach the surface and get out in the open. Then she could face it and get on with living her life.
Professional Book Review by Randal Radic
James Ellroy wrote Blood’s A Rover, which is a kick-ass novel full of drugs, violence and dark despair. He took the title from a poem by A.E. Housman.
Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover:
Breath’s a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey’s over
There’ll be time enough for sleep.
A while back, Hollywood made a movie called True Romance, which was full of drugs, violence and romance. I don’t know where the title came from. But it was a rocket ship of a movie, blasting off and accelerating faster and faster as the plot moved along.
In the same way, Timothy Louis Baker has written a novella combining elements of both Blood’s A Rover and True Romance. I don’t know where Baker got the title for his book. Probably off the bumper sticker of some car or out of a travel brochure. It’s called Fantastic Florida Fun. Wherever the title came from, the book is full of brutality, drugs, and guns. With a dollop of amour mixed in to add spice. It starts off with a bang and then proceeds to ricochet wildly. Imagine Natural Born Killers as written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.
Fantastic Florida Fun oozes freak-patrol hell-on-wheels action for serious thrill-seekers. Which means triple F bogeys.
Triple F revolves around Mark Matthew Mitchell, who, after a violent clash with his boorish stepfather, splits from Indiana and heads for Florida. On the way there, he picks up a hitchhiker named Melissa. Melissa invites Mark to come home with her. Her father owns a bunch of orange groves, which are a front for dear old daddy’s real line of work – drugs. Mark has nothing better to do, so he tags along. Pretty soon, though, Mark finds himself up to his neck in sheer craziness.
As in his other books, Baker employs his distinctive water gushing out of a dam style of writing, which consists of strong verbs and hippity-hop descriptions of people and places and events. The verbs keep the story rolling along, while the descriptions conjure up mental images that serve to ramp up the reader’s involvement. In other words, Baker has a knack for telling a story.
Essentially, Fantastic Florida Fun is a long short story that could easily be translated to the big screen. All the necessary ingredients are present: vivid characters, lots of sizzling action, dramatic tension, and dark-secrets set against a backdrop of drug trafficking. And Baker pulls all the elements together, forming a tight, explosive package.
On the Read-O-Meter, which ranges from 1 star (avoid it like the plague) to 5 stars (get it now!), Fantastic Florida Fun earns 5 stars.
Fantastic Florida Fun (Eloquent Books/ 2010) By Timothy Louis Baker
Fantastic Florida Fun Book Review by Fran Lewis
Fantastic Florida Fun: Timothy Louis Baker
Teens find dealing with parents often difficult. Following rules, dealing with strict guidelines many often rebel. Mark Mitchell lives life on the edge. Escaping reality by drinking, taking drugs and overusing marijuana to help him as he relates get that high or buzz in order to deal with life’s obstacles and his stepfather. One simple act of violence you might say and one final fight would cause him to leave Indiana, his mother alone with this violent man and head for the sunshine state, Florida. But, Mark’s journey is related to the reader by him every step of the way. From the minute he releases the brake until he turns the bend and drives away he describes his path to what most would say freedom. What better way then to fill up his tank, make sure he has a large supply of pot to smoke and find his way to the perfect place for pancakes. But, Mark finds something else along the way that would not only change the complexion of his journey but would change his life too. Reinventing your own life, deciding on a new direction would take Mark smack dab in the center of the drug community selling it on the streets. While traveling to Florida he picks up a young girl named Melissa Monroe and immediately develops a close relationship. Meeting her father, understanding the terms of their arrangement, and becoming more than friends with Melissa, Mark’s choice to sell hard drugs, live in her house and work for her father might be the one choice that would do more than increase his depleted bankroll. Wanting to work in the orange groves he detours to the streets selling drugs. Becoming a first rate criminal and working under the guise of a legal grove enterprise or business, Mark’s world would be filled with criminals, going around or over the law. Learning more about the author I uncovered that he too lived his life in some ways the same as his main character. Depicting himself as Mark you might say that both Timothy and Mark are telling their stories together. Selling drugs, dealing with the drug world Timothy Louis Baker is recounting Mark’s story from his own personal experiences bringing to light what happens when life deals you a difficult hand and you decide to play it the wrong way.
Mark and Melissa formed their own bond and Allan seemed to encourage their relationship. Taking Mark under his wing he learned more about his illegal businesses, buying and selling drugs, arms, the dealers and the orange groves. But, something did not add up every time he went out with Allan as one man warned him about Melissa’s past as Mark wondered about their present. Repeating the words and who said them to Allan yielded a result that would end the problem once and for all. Very protective of his daughter yet having more of a business or friend like relationship Mark began to wonder just what Allan’s hold was over Melissa.
All three would bond over smoking joints, snorting coke and shooting to get high, watching television, relating their day and the end result of their business transactions. Mark becomes immersed in Allan’s business hoping to take over some of the territory, some of his business and become rich.
Looking in the mirror Mark did not see just what he had become, how Melissa really was or Allan’s true colors. Lessons in life can be learned when trust goes too far and the end result would come crashing down on him and many others. Learning the harsh reality about Melissa and her past would help him understand more about her present. Just why did her mother leave and why did she say such harsh words to her before leaving? Why did her father create a perception of Melissa that would come back and haunt her in more ways than one? Why didn’t see realize what he was doing to her and how can he be stopped? Loyalty is a big part of what Mark learns throughout the short novel. When and if someone goes against Allan’s wishes they deeply regret it and what about against Mark? Mark learns the hidden truth about Melissa and some of her actions. Memory problems are attributed to her lack of knowledge and just who is behind it and why you will have to learn for yourself. Some relationships are wrong while others bond people together but in this novel someone goes too far and the end result will shatter one and leave another to decide on that person’s final fate. Revenge: would you call it sweet when you learn the ending?
Author Timothy Louis Baker takes the reader along with Mark on many different journeys as he leaves Indiana, does not look back, bares his soul and thoughts to both Melissa and Allan and becomes a first class drug dealer, businessman and something else too. Florida orange groves, coke dealers, marijuana, LSD and much more are just part of what all three characters relish, live on and thrive on monetarily. But, is this what Mark really wants for the rest of his life? Just what negative effects will all this bring? What would have happened if he managed to rid himself of his stepfather and remained with his mother? A story that brings many issues to light not only for Mark, the reader but for our author who along with Mark was exiled as he stated in an interview that I read, from his parent’s home and did spend time in Florida. Hitchhiking, traveling, fun in the sun, Fantastic Florida Fun: What’s Your Definition? What do you think?
When the past and the truth comes out and Mark learns what Melissa has hidden away in the recess of her mind for so long, author Timothy Louis Baker hits the reader with an ending that has one huge twist, one very large curve and definitely a major surprise. What is next for Mark and Melissa? Will they continue down the same road or will life take them in a better direction?
Loyalty, friendships, love, understand and two teens caught in the crossfire created by their parents hoping they will find their way to a different kind of freedom. This is one book that teens might learn some hard lessons from before thinking that drugs, drinking and LSD will provide the good life. One interesting very book and two characters that could definitely appear again in another short novel.
Fran Lewis: reviewer