Startling short stories explore bewildering human behavior
Rachel Frias aims her first book at readers
who enjoy analyzing human behavior
Born in Spain to an American mother and Spanish father, Rachel A. Frias found herself at a Quaker boarding school in New York when she was 14. In college, she says, she was “a very quiet person, because English wasn’t my first language,” yet she went on to earn degrees in chemistry, teaching and chemical engineering. And now, Frias has published the first of two books of short stories designed to make readers as thoughtful as she is.
Straight Up: Short Bedtime Stories, Easy Reading presents 21 short stories of strange, criminal and mysterious situations and startling human behaviors. Frias hopes the stories will allow scientists, technicians, engineers, teachers and analytical people to take a side in the underlying disputable topics, especially students heading to college who might be unacquainted with these dangerous circumstances.
For example, one character, Ambrosio, is a mechanic with a dark side. Another, Helena, is an office worker who faces the deterioration of her body while others profit from it. Professor Taylore takes advantage of Julia while he is under the influence of self-made and self-administered medication.
“These characters and stories were inspired by dreams, fantasies and common or mysterious situations that I fictionalized,” Frias says. “A discussion is an investment to live better, and these stories can easily be read on a commuter train or lunch hour.”
About the author:
Rachel A. Frias, born in Spain to an American mother and Spanish father, moved to New York when she was 14 and attended the Quaker school of Oakwood Friends. She has earned degress in chemistry, chemical engineering and teaching from Clarkson University and SUNY Cortland. She lives in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Available here at Amazon.com and Authorhouse.com
Internet Radio Questionnaire
“Straight Up” & “Spice Up”
1. How did you come to write these two books “Straight Up” and “Spice Up”?
“Being a short story fiction writer, I offer an eclectic entertaining collection of 24 short stories in Short Bedtime Stories volume 1, titled “Straight Up.” Volume 2 of this Short Bedtime Stories collection is called “Spice Up” and I offer an assorted amusing selection through 21 short stories.”
“I came to write these two books based on what is in the back burner of some people’s minds, or what people think or stress about, and help the reader decipher the motives that characters have in my two volumes of 21 and 24 short stories. “The toughest material REM (Rapid Eye Movement) dreams are made up of, is the material the mind stresses on.” Inspired by dreams, fantasy, and common, or mysterious circumstances, revealed some of the worries and anxieties some individuals’ experience. These short stories describe objectively, a specific situation or circumstance a person acts upon, how a human reacts to what is said or done, and what people do.
2. Who does the book appeal to and why?
The audience I am seeking is composed of people familiar with, and who use the Scientific Method. Usually that group of people would include, Technicians, Scientists, Engineers, Teachers and college students.
The reason for this target audience, is that scientific people make observations, collect data, analyze it and draw conclusions through a method called the “Scientific Method.” I want to entertain the scientists with the observable acts of humans and some of the character’s decisions, so the audience processes the characters through the same Scientific Method the reader uses at work. Yet, I want the reader to realize that the human behavior phenomena doesn’t necessarily fall into a pattern of cause and effect (and this my friends, is what upsets the natural world a scientist lives in). Then, I get a reaction from the reader, be that from an intersection of the reader’s cognitive intelligence with, kinesthetic, psychomotor and/or emotional intelligence. For example, why didn’t Julia in the short story “The dead end project” say anything about professor Taylore’s student’s murders? In the short story, “The swirl of a curve” Steven overreacts over a nick to his precious car, similarly, the Elvis song “Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes” allows a forseeable overreaction -if someone stepped on Elvis’s new suede shoes. What causes the acceptance of property and possession of new items to cause fights and murders? (is it emotional only?) If it was the reader experiencing the nick, or being stepped on- what would the reader do? Was the character in his/her right to take the action he/she did?
3. What one thing do you want readers to learn/take away from this work?
“What I would like for the reader to take away by reading my book, is entertainment. Some of the readers are going to identify with a stress situation, character or thought, perhaps eliciting a memory but demanding from the reader to take a side, perhaps not in all the short stories, just the ones the reader likes, or feels involved in emotionally -if not familiar with the type of circumstance written about. Also, the reader will have a conscious thought, or two, about the controversial topics that are presented in these short stories leading to prevention, options, or different character actions.”
In other words, I am inviting the reader’s possible curtailed stimulation to be uplifted, and provoke thoughts, otherwise committed to the discretion of others. What I believe is that a successful person has an opinion, is biased and can make sound decisions based on what they say, do or act upon, however can be influenced.
The “get out and vote or don’t complain” isn’t enough. In other words, one may not vote because one doesn’t like any of the candidates. So, one of the solutions, is to promote a candidate, within a professional environment. In keeping with the parallelism, my target audience is good at working with inanimate objects and, when they get to the human relationship’s interactions, they can assume a basic reaction or action. For example if a man asks Sheila out with a bunch of flowers, most likely she’ll say yes. Which illustrates the cause-effect. However, the audience, in my books, need to find the cause-effect for each crime that ruins or affects, human lives, and dissipate the cause-effect (motive). This particular target audience is good in analyzing accepted crimes, such as a trimester abortion, because the physical body and human brain, react to temperature, pressure and volume as per a cause-effect. For example, if the temperature of a balloon is increased, the volume increases, unless either the thermostat is damaged or the balloon has a hole. As an example, when one turns on a thermostat to high on a hot summer day, people in an office will complain and shed clothing or seek water. If a person can’t sense hot or cold (which indicates a possible spine injury) then one won’t react the same way. Excess hormones can cause an alpha male to go … say, murder -if jealous. Given that we know the alpha male was damaged, what caused the situation?
The target audience may apply the scientific method in solving a stress problem they experienced at some point in life, and is described in a short story, or might enjoy learning of other fictitious circumstances such as in “Given away to AA.” In a subtle way, the situation is presented and the cause-effect is what the reader has to come up with based on their cognitive, kinesthetic, emotional and psychomotor intelligences taking into account that similarly to the balloon, the character might be damaged. It’s not spoon fed. My audience is smart and has imagination and world or work experience, they are not children.
For example, does the reader know someone like Ambrosio- an alpha male, Josephina-an overweight lesbian, or Mary Crevitch-who witnesses living beings being replayed? These are characters in the first book titled “Straight Up,” or do they know someone like Mr. O’Meary- a pharmacist, Herman-a believer in chiropractic, or Mr. Merredith- an outlaw tax preparer, or even Marga Azack, the doctor taking advantage of car insurances? These characters are in the book “Spice Up.” Has the reader gotten involved in not being taken advantage of? How does one act around these characters in life?
4. What Scenes and/or Characters would you like to highlight during the interview?
There is a short story in “Straight Up” that I was told, was great. This story is titled “Play back Disco.” When I was told it was a great story, I questioned if anyone had understood what the problem was in the short story. Mary Crevitch witnesses healthy, live, organic matter go through a series of reversed movements. Sort of, as if, somehow, the forward movements had been recorded, and then played back, causing Mary to have to work harder to do laundry. The underlying topic in “Play back Disco” is the criminal act of recording a series of nerve functions, and reversing the muscular movements, to undo what had been done. In other words, is this possible? Who is responsible for breaking the intimacy and privacy of one’s own movements and then, play back the track to create more work? Her dog’s life is also intruded. Is the intrusion to one’s movements from the inside of the physical body? From the outside? Or is it the loss of memory and senses that causes these replays?
A woman told me that she wanted things like that to happen in her life. I got scared of this person and think it is odd to want to be intruded (even if it is fiction).
Another short story in “Straight Up” is the “The Twin Rabbit” where Martin is spied upon by his biological father, Mr. Begay. There is equipment available through the internet and shops for leisure spying. Each time one picks up the phone or enters another person’s dwelling one may be subjected to a spy eye or camera. Who doesn’t use their built in computer camera and motion sensor to catch a thief? However Martin is carrying a statuette which is replicated and bugged -a camera is installed in it, to facilitate Mr. Begay’s interest in the far away family, whom he let go of by letting his wife divorce him. The topic is privacy. Who can use cameras, when, how and for what purpose? Yet like a spoon that is used –not to eat- but to dig some dirt for a pot of soil, we find that cameras are used indiscriminately for any purpose.
In “Straight Up” a different short story, “The Straight snake” tells of Burt, a heavy drinker and gambler, and just like in the saying finders, keepers, Ricky finds and keeps, Burt’s stash of casino money. Burt forgets ever being in Alamogordo. How was it, that the casino did give the money to Ricky’s cousin? In other words, the identity theft that Ricky’s cousin had to offer, was accepted by the casino, causing Burt to lose his money to a stranger. Are credit cards safe? Are safes in a bank safe? Why didn’t Burt save his casino holding card in a bank’s safe deposit box? Ever come to a bank to find out someone has rummaged through your safe deposit box? If the reader was to go to a casino, would the reader drink and gamble like this?
In the second book “Spice Up” Herman in “Ah, it will go away!” a recent retiree, realizes that half of his physical problems are not going to go away. He realizes that the body must be taken care of, and that nerves branch off the spine to some of his affected organs. His back hurt, he needed glasses, he had constipation, allergies, sexual dysfunction and was balding. Within the same story, he marries at a later age, when feeling better, after intense care by his chiropractor and health advisor.
Knowing that a hurting back can indicate that information from organs is not reaching the brain entirely, would the reader go visit a chiropractor earlier than retirement age?
What does the reader do about certain aches and pains? Does the reader let others know of a good remedy? Who encourages people to get and stay healthy?
Again, in “Spice Up” we find a scary story, “Given away to AA” where Josh, a successful business entrepreneur in NYC, acquires a wife and children to help him get away from drinking too much. This ploy was suggested by his AA agent, Puppy Columbia. Yet his life has changed direction and Josh wishes it to end. Unfortunately his escape is, again, drinking.
Would the reader accept the deal from Puppy Columbia? Do AA agencies have the rights to direct AA members to live differently? Isn’t Josh’s business success enough to excuse his drinking? Do women impose themselves much? Is smoking better than drinking? Does it take to drink a lot to become a business owner?
In “Spice Up” we find the short story “The Spanish Squeeze,” where Josephina is caught being too fat, in a culture where fat isn’t seen as gracious or being well, and is certainly not excused. She is subjected to a secret psychologist’s method to losing weight accidentally. Is the Josephina’s selfishness -of eating everything at a bar- excused by having enough money to buy it? Does the reader realize that if there is a chicken cookout, offered by a fire department, and someone comes along, buying everything at once for his/her private party, then no one can enjoy the chicken cookout? Is making fun of someone who is severely obese, and a bother because of unexcused, special requests and arrangements when travelling, bad? Is Josephina, someone who is taking advantage of what is offered? Is Josephina exaggerating when calling up a lawyer to pursue a lawsuit against her forcefully losing weight? Who is responsible for Josephina being trapped and losing weight she didn’t intend in loosing? In a foreign country what lawyers does one use? How does a tourist contact one’s own country?
In another short story from “Spice Up,” “The hair dresser,” a pharmacist by the name of Mr. O’Meary takes advantage of owning a drug store, by using the drugs to find out and take good care of a town in Arkansas. He finds out of what a doctor is doing to meet the FDA approval of hair colors for human consumption. This character is using dogs which need to be register, but the doctor complains some dogs die, and he needs to register too many per year, causing an excessive expense.
If the reader is familiar with animal activists, would this story be of concern? Are people who are volunteers for these product’s essays, being subjected to a danger? Is there an explanation why dogs are better than horses? What other animals, does the reader, know of that are used for testing? Are animal musks used in perfumes legal? What chemical processes are tested? To what accuracy is the chemical tested, for a product, to be approved by the FDA? What other industries use testing on animals? If animals are not used, how is a chemical approved for human consumption? Is it okay for a pharmacist or doctor to consume their own prescriptions, or give them away without a victim’s own knowledge? -even if the drug has a… nice side effect?
5. How would you introduce your book to a friend in a sentence or two?
In brief, “Straight Up”: Short Bedtime Stories, Easy Reading presents 21 short stories of strange, criminal and mysterious situations and startling human behaviors. I hope the stories will allow scientists, technicians, engineers, teachers and analytical people to take a side in the underlying disputable topics, especially students in college who might be unacquainted with these dangerous circumstances. “Spice Up” is a second volume relating 24 short stories of different topics and same writing style.
If you would like to entertain yourself, think, derive an opinion or discuss a topic, read these books. My stories are not as grim as The Grimm brother’s story “Red Riding Hood” where the wolf is cut open to find the remains of the half-digested grandma -who survives!
6. Tell me how this book is unlike others with similar topics. What sets it apart?
These short stories are “food for thought” the right answer to the reader’s questions are not given, however they are to be derived by the reader himself. I have taken a high intensity beam light, and I have let the public know of circumstances, actions and sayings of characters which are under the beam of light for a short period of time (the REM state’s catharsis). The end of some stories are non existent because at each instant of dream time, during REM state, the catharsis is just a presentation of events. The meaning of the stories comes from the reader, who is to interpret them, by using the three modes of intelligence which are cognitive, kinesthetic and emotional. In some cases the stories are just informative, for example some people don’t know that drinking too much (lots and lots) may cause memory loss. Some readers may not know that stem cells from the umbilical cord of a fetus, may be used to generate a vertebral disk, or make collagen. Some people may not know that tazors are used more often that one may think.
7. When and where do your stories take place?
The two books “Straight Up” and “Spice Up” happen in between the 20th, 21st centuries as well as the future. The stories happen mainly in NY state and other USA states such as Texas and Arkansas. A small number occur in Italy and Spain.
8. What three words best describe these stories?
Since there are two books, I am giving you six adjectives:
Thoughtful, startling, criminal, mysterious, fictitious and demanding.
9. What was the most challenging part about writing these two books: “Straight Up” and “Spice Up”?
The most challenging part of writing these books was to keep the stories within the attention span, I have learnt, people give to written material in high, demanding, stressful situations. This was to please my target audience. Also, I had to be very curt in emotional parts, maintain a cold passion in writing events objectively, while only being the witness to passionate crimes in some cases. Each one of the character’s make, was modeled from adults I’ve known in life, and the many students I’ve taught throughout my teaching years, as well as a big imagination as to how they developed later on in life.
10. Is there anything we haven’t covered here that you feel is important for people to know about your book?
Anyone, in the USA can read (having been a teacher I know that no child left behind assures us that any USA child is educated in reading, writing and math proficiently, consequently adults can read) however, to understand what propels a person to act, say or do anything, needs understanding and thought.
Some thoughts I wanted readers to think about:
When an event is considered an accepted crime, what made it a crime, why isn’t it allowed, is there a substitute for this type of crime in a person’s life? How does a personality disorder come to be determined a disorder? Do doctors prefer certain crimes to others? Do lawyers want crimes happening? Is the saying “don’t do the crime if you ain’t got the time” only valid in NY state? Most of the population does not know enough about electronics to realize the high tech crimes ongoing. Does the government provide the public with valid domestic security for privacy? There are many other questions that require understanding of government departments, politics, law, medicine etc…
The reason I want people to think about these topics is because some laws are outdated, and new ones may surge if people rethink situations. For example: Is a helmet law more important than cutting off a human body part for insurance purposes?