Franks and Stamatis Explore Values in Their Novel

December 12, 2022

For most people, the difference between right and wrong is something learned in childhood through observation, usually, of one’s parents. The Taming of the Loon: Discover the Blurry Line between Right and Wrong by Paul Franks and Steven P. Stamatis is a novel written during the pandemic lockdown that explores values in American culture, using the loon as the symbol of people who have the opposing forces of good and evil at war inside them. Long-time friends from suburban Chicago, Franks and Stamatis search for traditional values through their novel as their characters struggle in today’s “everything is okay” culture.

The press release for the book mentions the Native American story in which a grandfather tells his grandson about two wolves, one representing good, positive emotions, and the other evil, negative emotions, fighting within him. When the grandson asks which one will win, the grandfather replies, “the one you feed,” highlighting the importance of recognizing emotions and also choosing to “feed” the values that are important to us and make choices based on those positive values.

Steven Stamatis. (Photo: Courtesy of the author)

“We’ve combined unfolding current events where characters struggle with moral dilemmas— legal decisions, pollution cover-ups, company fraud, pharmaceutical data tampering, planned terrorist attack— to demonstrate how intentional wrong-doing is condoned, justified and accepted as normal,” Franks said of the book.

Stamatis was born in Greece, but grew up in Chicago where his lifelong love affair with the English language began. Following a 35-year business career, he began a 12-year teaching career at nearby colleges with a focus on English and Humanities. Stamatis has been writing poems for over 50 years and has been published in a dozen anthologies. His first volume of poems, Handful of Sand and Other Poems, was published in 2015. He is also the author of the novel The Janissary Factor and co-author with Jay Stamatis of Scroll Back. He resides with his wife in Addison, IL.

Of coauthoring The Taming of the Loon with Franks, Stamatis said: “Our two-year journey as a team collaborating, writing, revising, has been a most gratifying experience. Love of language, a fascination with philosophy along with my religious foundation, coupled with Paul’s abiding faith and keen insight into human behavior, led us to pen a unique adventure of epiphany and renewal.”

Paul Franks. (Photo: Courtesy of the author)

“Partnering with Steve has added positive dimension to our objective,” Franks said. “The idea for The Taming of the Loon germinated during the early months of COVID-19.”

“Characters with different backgrounds and motivation, face moral obstacles and great danger while driven by the desire to discover the ever illusive path toward doing the right thing,” Franks noted. “From moral introspection to painful challenges, the story reaches dramatic rising action where countless lives are in danger. Time stands still until an unlikely hero risks everything to make the right choice.”

“Characters seek to unravel and resolve a variety of moral dilemmas they encounter,” Stamatis added. “A North Wisconsin fishing resort stands available for them to escape the unmanageable pressures of human life; a refuge they can visit to reset their moral compass in the therapeutic confines of nature. The presence of loons and other animals are ready to help them cross over toward meaningful renewal.”

The Taming of the Loon: Discover the Blurry Line between Right and Wrong by Paul Franks and Steven P. Stamatis is available online.


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