MILWAUKEE May 24, 2019
Author Bill Zaferos did not know he was suffering from bipolar disorder when he wrote his first novel, Poison Pen, in 2000. All he knew was that the title popped into his head and he became driven to write day and night until the novel was completed.
The plot of Poison Pen centers on Jerry Most, the acerbic host of the game show Die Trying, in which contestants perform death-defying acts to win fabulous prizes. The dangerous stunts never really work but the highly popular show gives Most riches beyond his belief. Still, his wealth isn’t enough to keep him happy and he sinks into a dangerous depression. Seeking solace on a cross-country trip during the show’s summer hiatus, he winds up in Hammertown, a miserable Wisconsin burg, where he decides to end it all while getting drunk in a local bar.
It is in the Hammertown jail that he meets the protagonist, a beer-drinking, cheese-stick eating misanthrope who makes a subsistence living writing poison pen letters for hire. Along the way Most also meets a cast of characters that includes a kangaroo, drunken baboons and Pinky Lee, the muse and bane of every man she meets.
Called a “brilliant tour de force” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Peele, and “funny, outrageously so,” by Dave Luhrssen of Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express, Poison Pen is a tale of redemption that offers an off-beat look at American culture as well as life, death and the deeper meaning of ‘60s television shows like The Beverly Hillbillies.
Bill Zaferos is a first-time author and writer who managed to channel his mental illness into creativity by writing Poison Pen during a manic high. He wrote the novel in a few months and then left it on a closet shelf for 15 years before allowing friends and family to read it. With their encouragement, Zaferos finally sought publication of the novel and, well, here it is.
Zaferos is a former newspaper political reporter, political consultant and public relations and advertising executive. He grew up an asthmatic kid who watched a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s television, and he especially loved the “Beverly Hillbillies,” the original “Star Trek,” “The Outer Limits,” “The Twilight Zone” and the Watergate hearings.
Zaferos is a journalism and political science graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he received his M.A. at Marquette University. He lives in downtown Milwaukee – not the suburbs – with his wife, Tracey Carson.
BILL ZAFEROS, AUTHOR, (414) 737-9103
KIRA HENSCHEL, PUBLISHER, (414) 486-0653
HENSCHELHAUS PUBLISHES POISON PEN,
A NOVEL WRITTEN DURING AUTHOR’S MANIC HIGH
Bipolar Author Bill Zaferos Channeled Mental Illness Into Creativity By Writing About
A Suicidal Game Show Host Who Seeks Redemption on a Cross-Country Odyssey
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