Thursday, January 24, 2019

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Smuggler by Nicholas Fillmore @nicholasfillmor @GoddessFish

by Nicholas Fillmore
GENRE: Memoir/True Crime


When twenty-something post-grad Nick Fillmore discovers the zine he’s been recruited to edit is a front for drug profits, he begins a dangerous flirtation with an international heroin smuggling operation and in a matter of months finds himself on a fast ride he doesn’t know how to get off of.

After a bag goes missing in an airport transit lounge he is summoned to West Africa to take a voodoo oath with Nigerian mafia. Bound to drug boss Alhaji, he returns to Europe to put the job right, but in Chicago O’Hare customs agents “blitz” the plane and a courier is arrested.

Thus begins a harried yearlong effort to elude the Feds, prison and a looming existential dead end…. Smuggler relates the real events behind OITNB.


At the other end of the terminal was another set of steel doors—simple double doors leading right out to the street, daylight and fresh air strobing through each time someone exited; cabs lined up and waiting, freedom lingering out there.

I hoisted my bag over my shoulder, bypassing the baggage carousels where a cop was walking around with a dog, and headed towards the doors. A single Customs Agent was perched on a stool to the far right, reading a magazine. As I got about a third of the way there, he seemed to stir. I changed direction ever so slightly.

He roused himself. A small group was moving toward him from the right, but he seemed to ignore them.

I looked out the corner of my eyes for someone, anyone I could fall in behind, but everyone seemed blissfully out of reach—and I imagined this is what it must feel like to drown: to take one last desperate look at help swimming strongly away.

Then the agent sauntered ever so slowly out into the middle of the room. My heart raced. Then he looked up. I saw it coming, could feel it coming. Oblivious to the rest of the herd, he’d singled me out; and for a second I felt I might just swoon right there. Then some sort of instinct kicked in. I resigned myself to being questioned and headed right at him.

For some seconds he hung back as I did my best to play the part of the unassuming traveler.

“Where are you coming from, sir?” he asked, at an angle.

“Paris,” I said.

“Can I see your ticket?”

I handed him my ticket.

“How long were you in Paris?”

“A week.”

“What were you doing there?”


“What kind of business.”

“Magazine. Publishing.”

“What magazine?”

And here I faltered. Nun Civa Orcus. What the hell was that? My mind raced for all sorts of explanations. For a second I considered making something up. But that would only mean trouble. You tend to say stupid things when you veer from the script like that. Someone might ask your name, for instance, and under duress you might say Peter Rabbit or Dick Nixon, who the hell knew? Had he detected my hesitation? I had to speak.

Interview with Author Nicholas Fillmore

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

Beyond Smuggler, I’m working on Sins of Our Fathers, which attempts to piece together family history—all those things you wonder about, like your parents’ teenage lives, grandpa’s wild years, the fire, the car crash, etc.; it attempts, somewhat like historical fiction, to color in factual outlines. This is fun because it involves buying into all those tall tales of family exploits you’ve heard over the years and running with the basic premise … to hopefully get at some deeper, poetic truth in the end.

How long would you say it takes you to write a book?

It took a long time to digest the experience that went into Smuggler, emotionally and artistically. It took me a decade or more to decide how to frame characters, how to tell the story (it started as a screenplay), but once I really got started it took maybe four years of fitful writing. Maybe another year all tolled of revision.— I find that if I don’t stop myself from time to time, my story can go off the rails. Then it takes me some time to get the thing started up again. There was a moment, though, when I had a sense of ending and I committed myself to regular writing every night until I finished.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I don’t know, I wasn’t a precocious reader. Anderson’s Fairy Tales.

What made you want to become a writer?

A desire to explain myself. The nagging sense that someone is always answering for you, putting words in your mouth.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote strange, pseudo-mystical stories in sixth grade. Got caught plagiarizing Simon and Garfunkel in seventh. Did a lot of expository writing in high school. It wasn’t really until college, maybe sophomore year, that I focused on creative writing. Some of that I owe to my roommate. who was an avid reader. Some to great teachers like Jim Crenner and Ralph Lombreglia at Hobart College. But also to the writers, the writing, the great short story writing of that era: Carver and Beatty and the like. Later Isaac Babel, who is one of my enduring influences.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

I was recruited into a drug smuggling conspiracy by an acquaintance, too curious and too stupid to look away.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

Camus, The Fall. Smuggler is ultimately an existential inquiry. Phillip Lopate in his introduction to Art of the Personal Essay, particularly his observations on truthfulness. Smuggler is an attempt to discover why one does the things one does. How one supports that vision of oneself. How one explains oneself to oneself. That’s the deep, esoteric secret. Otherwise it’s just a potboiler.

Just for fun

(a Favorite song: NIN, Down In It / Mahler No. 5 (adagietto)

(b Favorite book: Camus, The Fall.

(c Favorite movie: Goodfellas

(d Favorite tv show: Californication

(e Favorite Food: Pasta aglio olio

(f Favorite drink: Frenet Branca, neat

(g Favorite website: NYT

Thanks so much for visiting with us today!

Thank you!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Nicholas Fillmore attended the graduate writing program at University of New Hampshire. He was a finalist for the Juniper Prize in poetry and co-founded and published SQUiD magazine in Provincetown, MA. He is currently at work on Sins of Our Fathers, a family romance and works as a reporter and lecturer in English. He lives on windward Oahu with his wife, his daughter and three dogs.


$10 Amazon/BN GC

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Unknown said...

Hi, Avid Reader, thanks for having me.

Unknown said...

Yeah, so I plagiarized a Simon and Garfunkel song in seventh grade … kind of knowing I would get caught; I guess I considered it an homage. But who hasn't stolen a line … or a song?

Bernie Wallace said...

How many drafts did your book go through before publication? Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Unknown said...

I lost count! I was under pressure from some editors to remove jail chapters, but in the end kept them in as they describe a longer, coherent story arc. At some point the metaphor of a bridge or a span occurred to me—that I needed to connect events in a way that would hold the story aloft from start to finish....

Bernie Wallace said...

Did you help design the cover? I hope your book is a success. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com