The author of VAULT 21-12, Kendall Smith, sat down with the managers at Percussion Publishing to discuss his latest work. The interview reveals a hidden admiration for his favorite rock band, and how it influenced the title itself.
PP - So tell us, where did the concept of Vault 21-12 come from?
Kendall - I’ve always been an avid fan of history, and when you start delving deeper into World War Two, there are many more layers of intrigue there to be discovered.
PP - Such as?
Kendall - The Nazis were exceptional thieves, on top of being the scum of the earth. They looted everything. Robert Edsel’s book, The Monuments Men, does a fantastic job detailing the heist of priceless artwork, for example. Vault 21-12 touches on another area of theft, one I won’t reveal here as it would be a huge spoiler for readers.
PP - Okay, let’s talk about the title. Where did you come up with Vault 21-12?
Kendall - I wanted the word Vault in the title for obvious reasons. The story swirls around a mysterious Swiss bank vault, which was opened at the conclusion of World War Two. No one, except for the paternal and heroic grandfather in the story, knows what is in it. When he dies, two grandsons have to figure out what's contained within the vault, and plan to travel to Switzerland. Unbeknownst to them, descendant Nazis have set a lethal trap.
PP - The grandfather, his name is Everett Devenger. Why refer to it as a numbered vault? Why not Everett’s Vault, for example?
Kendall - Because no one knows who Everett is, it’s vague, and remember, this is a secret Swiss vault. I wanted a number to give it a more authentic reference point, i.e. it is one of thousands, for example. There’s truth behind that, by the way. Swiss banks routinely did business and accepted deposits by Nazi officers.
PP - And the 21-12 number, we can assume you’re a fan of Rush, the rock band?
Kendall - I will admit here, in sound body and mind, that I am a huge fan of Rush. It was an indirect way for me to tip my hat to Geddy, Neil and Alex.
PP - How touching. What’s your connection with the band?
Kendall - There’s no connection per se’, I needed a number, and from a thematic standpoint, Rush’s 21-12 song touches on one of the themes in the book. It stuck out in my mind.
PP - That’s a pretty big gesture on your part, to name the title of your book after a band’s album.
Kendall - Well, I was a fan on many levels. I was a drummer growing up, I still play in cover bands in New York City when I can. It’s not easy being a dad, a writer, having a full-time job and having other hobbies like tennis. But who am I to bitch and moan, right? I aspired as a young drummer to play like Neil Peart and practiced for hours in my Mom’s basement. It literally took me three months to learn La Villa Strangato, and before that I spent a good part of my adolescence learning Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer, Free Will and what not. I Love that band!
PP - You were able to play La Villa Strangato?
Kendall - I could. Look, I did the best I could and my friends said at the time that when I played it, my rendition didn’t suck. That’s good enough in my book.
PP - So how are sales of Vault 21-12 going?
Kendall - Solid, simmering down as we’re three months past the release date. Percussion Publishing is making it available next week for a special price, a countdown deal, starting on Tuesday for the forthcoming holiday weekend.
Kendall - It’s the discount before prices are raised in September.
PP - So tell us, you self published the novel, Double-Edged Justice in 2007, Vault 21-12 came out in 2015, what were you doing between those two publishing efforts?
Kendall - Studying Buddhist-temple architecture in Laos and Cambodia.
PP - Wow, that seems surreal. Really?
Kendall - No, not really. I’m bullshitting you. I was working my butt off in New York during the great recession, and I tried my hand as a political-satire blogger.
PP - How did that turn out?
Kendall - Not too good. It takes a special skill set and a tenacious appetite to publish to be a good blogger. I admire those who can make a living at it.
PP - So, is your blog still live on the web?
Kendall - Yes, but I’m not sharing it here.
PP - Why?
Kendall - Because frankly, now the work would come off as dated, and the material was funny less often than not, to put it mildly. It didn’t take off. I returned to my first passion, novel writing. I just love it.
PP - What’s your next book about?
Kendall - Still in the works as you know. Percussion Publishing will debut it sometime next year and the independent publisher will tease the story and cover sometime in the spring.
PP - Do you plan to use another band’s album title? Is that your trademark moving forward?
Kendall - No, but every Rush fans knows what the number 21-12 means. So shoot me for picking a number that actually meant something important to me.
PP - Can you play La Villa Strangato on the drums sometime soon and feature it on YouTube for everyone to see?
Kendall - When I can find 10 hours a week to rehearse, over the course of an entire month – yes, I would back up what I’m saying with proof. Here’s video of my old band, LemonShade, playing Passage to Bangkok and Tom Sawyer from a few years back. The drum sets were sub-par, and the recordings are mediocre, but it’s better than nothing.
Vault 21-12 is also available to download and read for free via Kindle Unlimited, and free to Prime members as well who have the Kindle App.