Blade of Dishonor by Thomas PluckToday it’s my pleasure to introduce Thomas Pluck, a good friend and great writer. He combines the dark and the funny in a most entertaining way. So grab your salty-sweet snacks and have a listen and, when he’s done, sign up to win the omnibus version of  Blade of Dishonor in kindle or paperback! (ePub not yet available.)

Everyone knows that peanut butter and chocolate go great together. But when you dip a chocolate covered potato chip into peanut butter, something magical happens. First, your heart explodes and you gain thirty-eight pounds. But after that, your taste buds relish the incongruity of the flavors, and your brain’s pleasure centers admit that this is the perfect trifecta of decadence.

This works with stories, too. Let’s take a look at the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They took something awesome, pirates, which we will call the potato chip, and mixed them with another fantastic idea, zombies, which will be chocolate. But that wasn’t enough. We can argue over whether Johnny Depp’s flamboyance was the peanut butter (I try not to think of Johnny Depp covered in peanut butter, but it is difficult, isn’t it?) or if it was the monkey, but needless to say the trifecta made the movie and spawned an enormous franchise that has never captured the same simplicity, perhaps because guys with a conch shell for a head aren’t the “chocolate” of zombies, or because “fun” movies shouldn’t be 3 hours long, but I’ll leave that for the historians to decide.

When David Cranmer of Beat to a Pulp approached me with the idea of a story about an MMA fighter named Reeves duking it out with ninjas over a stolen sword, I thought that was a great idea. I’ve trained in mixed martial arts (Kachin Bando, Burmese boxing and grappling, for the record) for eight years now, and the people I’ve met because of it are as colorful and entertaining as a whole boatful of Johnny Depps in sorta-drag, if not more so. I traveled to Japan to support my friend Peter during his first fight, and the Japanese Shooto fighters I met form a crazy brotherhood. I didn’t meet any ninja, but I loved the ’80s ninja craze and have watched enough Japanese action movies and samurai films to absorb all I needed to know.

But when I sat down to write this, it wasn’t enough. I had potato chips and chocolate, which are pretty damn good together. I knew something was missing, and that was World War II.

When I researched Japanese swords, I learned that the most famous of all, the Honjo Masamune that was passed down among the shoguns during the Tokugawa period, went missing during the Second World War. It was said to have been given to an American soldier for protection, but has never resurfaced.

I had found my peanut butter.

Blade of Dishonor has been described as an intelligent ’80s action movie mixed with a World War II epic with a heart-pounding romance weaved in between. It begins with Reeves coming home from Afghanistan to see his grandpa Butch, a World War II vet, when he finds him embroiled in a centuries-old battle between ninja and samurai over a stolen sword. Butch’s story, from a young park ranger drafted into the war, where he falls in love with a stoic Montana cowgirl during his training, was the final element the story needed. I dived so deeply into the World War II elements that I dedicated the book to my 92 and 94 year old great-uncles Dominic and Jimmy, who served in the war and inspired much of the tone of those chapters. (Uncle Dominic still goes dancing with his young 70-year old girlfriend. We can learn a lot from him).

So is Blade of Dishonor as good as chocolate covered potato chips dipped in peanut butter? That’s for you to decide. I won’t mind if you get peanut butter on the pages while reading it.

I don’t judge.
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