Your book, Flight of Destiny, is a collection of short stories. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Flight of Destiny is a book of 22 short stories with illustrations for each short story. They are dark surreal stories, which start with a strong opening sentence aimed to grab the reader’s attention. For example Black Widow begins with “Mercedes Schwartz had just had the most incredible orgasm, but her pleasure was still incomplete. While the man on top of her was still pumping away, she stretched an arm over to her bedside table and grasped the small sharp-pointed hat-pin she kept there. Rather than let him reach fulfillment, she plunged the pin into his back and killed him”). The stories equally end with a dramatic twist.
The stories are often filled with freaks, oddballs and outsiders. There are often also despicable characters, tyrants, pious preachers. There is a circus owner who is forced to sell his daughter on account of the debts his circus has accumulated. His name is Maggot and he is an oaf, as well as violent man. The final story is “Cast from Hell” the story is about a reject from Hell, who returns down to earth to wreak havoc.
What are some of your favorite stories from Flight of Destiny? What makes them so?
I suppose I will admit to having a few favorites. “Flawless” is a favorite, for sentimental reasons, because it was the first story I wrote which got published in a small literary magazine called Rat Mort (Dead Rat. It set me on the way to write other short stories. It is about a man who is proposing to the woman of his dreams, when suddenly a colorful insects arrives and he is forced to swallow it. He develops a terrible inexplicable skin disease and his life goes in a downward spiral. His fiancé soon deserts him for his younger brother, leaving him bitter and betrayed. Totally out of character he decides to take his revenge, on the day of his brother’s wedding. As he is about to enact his revenge, the insect suddenly exits and his skin is back to normal. Other favorites include “Bugeyes” (a story about a man with oversized eyes) “Opium” (about a preacher sent to rid a town of sin and opium) and “Maggot” a circus owner sells his daughter to a tyrant, to pay off his circus’ debts).
Do fans seem to have favorite stories? Do they prefer different ones than you do?
Different people seem to pick up on different stories.
This is a collection of eerie twisting tales, some of them humorous, was it difficult writing them? What made you choose humor with some of them and seriousness with others?
I think the humor comes naturally. As you start to see a story take shape you sense there is room for humor. It is not something I am conscious of immediately. I suppose it also depends on the types of characters that are in the story. Some characters can be a bit “cartoon-like”. I tend to make fun of the British aristocracy “hunting shooting fishing types”.
What would you say are your strengths as a writer? Things you'd like to see yourself improving on as you go along?
I think my strengths are my big impact first sentences. My ability to describe people or places. My crazy, outlandish plots. I think I have quite a rich vocabulary. I like to play around with the reader, keep them guessing and build up to dramatic twist at the end of the story. I like to make each sentence powerful and relevant. I would like to keep on improving my craft as a writer, widen my range in subject matter.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? Any works in progress you'd like to share with us?
I would like at least two more follow ups to Flight of Destiny and then a book with longer stories.
"Francis H. Powell is a masterful storyteller. He successfully kept me on the edge of my seat as I paged through from one story to the next in FLIGHT OF DESTINY—a fantastic collection of 22 short stories. Here he weaves humor, surrealism, and contradictions into tales that reveal errors in commonly accepted definitions. Each story is uniquely different with twisting endings and story plots that challenge commonly accepted concepts. The characters are true and undeniably out-of-the-ordinary. Such stories as DUKE and FLAWLESS will bring into question all you thought you knew about people and the universe —I know they did me. These stories kept me guessing until the last page."
"As with all great literature, these tales provide excellent food for thought. There is a bitter sweetness to humanity, in terms of what man is capable of doing to one another. In FLIGHT OF DESTINY this paradox is magnified, examined, and spit out in artful, literary way that is brilliantly captivating."
"I love the dark tone of the short stories and how the underlying theme of each is this sense of shock over what humans would be capable of if there were no reality based limits. While the stories do not tie together, the tone of the work connects them all and makes it easy to flow from one story to the next.
I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They're a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell's own unique twists. Very interesting read. "