Burn This City to the Ground
Burn This City to the Ground
by N. Daniel
GENRE: Memoir/Creative Nonfiction
As Daniel recovers from a psychotic episode and months long mental health civil commitment, he befriends a youthful quadriplegic named Samantha who is dealing with life-threatening health problems. When cohabitation becomes necessary for Sam, caregiver and client both move to downtown Minneapolis to begin a new life together. Before they can get settled in, Daniel is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and must undergo multiple surgeries. The two navigate the American healthcare system and work towards Samantha's eventual independence, however, their relationship becomes toxic when a global pandemic shakes the nation and George Floyd is murdered by Minneapolis police officers.
Based on the author's life, this endearing platonic love story is the gooey center of a turbulent world set aflame. Through the laughter and the tears, Samantha and Daniel play off each other like a tragic comedy duo that's hell bent on finding humor within the most savage aspects of their everyday lives.
“Janet,” I poked her. “Guess what I am listening to?”
“What?” she smiled.
“Damn man, you are always listening to Sade down here. Sweetest Taboo, Cherish the Day, Lord those were my glory years. Amen.”
I did the sign of the cross and got into the serving line. I dished out chicken tenders and waffles with some very thin soupy maple syrup that tasted a lot better than its consistency suggested. I glanced over at Janet who had her back turned to me. A weary, toothless woman approached the buffet. I made her plate and handed it to her.
“Son, I need more chicken than this to get through the day. Why don't you give me a few more pieces? Even just one more would be good.”
Janet's ears perked up. She turned to address the woman.
“Hey, hey! Listen. If we be giving you extra chicken, we will need to be giving EVERYBODY extra chicken. You just move along, lady. Don't hold up the line. If there is extra, we will hand it out but for now everybody has got to eat.”
The woman mumbled something to herself and moved on, slowly down the line. I saw Floyd remove a lot of disgruntled customers through the months but that only happened when they threw up a fuss. Janet kept it orderly, disciplined. Floyd took care of the troublemakers. That's just how things worked at the Salvation Army shelter.
About the Author:
N. Daniel works as a medical caregiver in the greater Minneapolis/Saint Paul Metropolitan area in the Winter and as a landscape laborer for his father in Winona, MN in the Summer. His debut writing effort, “Corners Untouched by Madness: A Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Illness,” has enjoyed modest success in certain writing circles. The Author lives with his wife and two dogs just outside of downtown Minneapolis."
Q&A With The Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I began writing in the midst of a suicidal episode in 2013. I finished maybe one third of my first book and then went full on psychotic episode. I thought people were trying to kill me and got committed in court to a mental hospital. In the hospital I wrote the final two thirds of the book and finished it off confined to my room, sitting on an upside down garbage can and writing with a pencil in a notebook at a bedside table. The book is called “Corners untouched by Madness.” I worked on that book for over five years and got it published in 2019. It got awesome reviews but I couldn't bring myself to promote it due to mental health issues and then the pandemic. I never really considered myself a real writer until my new book “Burn this City to the Ground” did well. The first one was like a fluke to some people. It wasn't a fluke obviously. Yes, I am proud.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Live a life worth writing about. You don't need to go on vacation around the world worth thousands. There are so many people who need help in this country with stories to tell. Shared stories. So many places to go and people to see. Take risks! Live the life you have always wanted to live! Be the person you admired in movies and television. You know it is always going to be more difficult to be a good person. Do it anyway. Make sacrifices for the greater good. Be an asset to humanity. It is hell but well worth the effort in the end.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
The easiest part of the writing process is thinking of random things for the characters to talk about. I am a fountain of useless and obscure information. When you are penning memoir you can't often remember what was said in a conversation. Sometimes you know people so well their characters become like a second skin. You know what they will say. You know how they will think. In “Burn This City to the Ground” there are so many scenes that are ad-libbed. We just knew each other. I am sure if the “real” Sam read the book she would say, “I wish I would have thought of that.” Memory is like a day-dream. Memoir is like a day-dream. Unless you are some kind of savant we can't remember the day to day goings on. Always remember that if you are writing about your life. Make it meaningful. Make it helpful. Help others understand what you've learned.
In your writing, what stresses you the most?
As a memoir writer with a mental illness it is definitely worrying about how people will react to my books. I literally have delusions that people are going to kill me sometimes. I would compare it to having nightmares with a severe fever. We have all been there, sick in bed and feeling like we are dying. That's life for me before a book release. It's a labor of love. We suffer for our art. We hurt for our art. It's not as meaningful if there isn't effort put in. Fear? Psychological pain? I welcome it. Less for everyone else to feel when they are reading.
Twitter/Instagram ID: MyUnsafePlace
N. Daniel will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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