Permission to publish the The Sentinel feature story, ‘Hanford native writes novel as an ode to his late brother’ was granted by the author, Ms Heather Halsey, a features reporter of the said paper, who said to give credit to the Handford’s The Sentinel newspaper, as well.
In an article published earlier in this website, ‘Hubbie of a Pozorrubian releases first novel’, publication by Publish America of Richard Banegas’ novel, ‘Hands of Fire/ the Phantom Body’ was described.
In the following article by Ms Heather, the background story that drove the writing of the novel by Banegas was mentioned, including comment by his wife, Zonia, in the course of the sleepless nights of writing. The plot was briefly described, with barely enough words to enhance readers’ curiosity on the novel.
), and the The Sentinel newspaper (www.HandfordSentinel.com) for the opportunity to re-publish this article. – ginquesada
A final adventure
Hanford native writes novel as an ode to his late brother
By Heather Halsey
As trains pass in and out of town blaring their horns several times each day many Hanford natives get to the point where they hardly notice, but not Richard Banegas.
For Banegas the high-pitched whistles will forever serve as an eerie reminder of his older brother’s death in 2001, which by a twist of fate has encouraged him to write his first novel, “Hands of Fire/The Phantom Body.”
The 60-year-old began writing his novel in 2002, not long after attending the funeral of his brother, William “Champ” Banegas, who was struck and killed by an Amtrak train on the tracks that cross Hanford-Armona Road in south Hanford.
During the funeral, after the priest gave the last blessing a train came throttling by the cemetery blasting its horn and Banegas said it brought back a distinct memory from his childhood.
“It was like a flashback to when we were kids and I was 7 and he was probably 17,” Banegas said.
He remembered a conversation with his older brother from more than 40 years before when he promised that he would accomplish something more than what his older brother had.
“It was really weird because when the whistle blew it was like this whole promise came back to me in one second,” Banegas said.
From that day forward he became committed to fulfilling that promise and decided that writing a novel about he and his brother’s final adventure would do it.
He lived in the Bay Area at the time, working for an electronics firm and his wife, Zonia, remembers how he began, reading, studying and burning the midnight oil to write his first novel.
“His brother has pushed him along even in the afterlife,” she said.
He now lives in Manteca, and although he has never had a higher education or taken any writing courses, he was able to complete “Hands of Fire/The Phantom Body” in March. He worked on the novel for seven years.
“The whole story changed about 100,000 times until it finally came out to this one,” Banegas said.
He wrote himself into the role of Dr. Ricardo Marcelo, an anthropologist whose job is to help his brother, Dr. William Marcelo, on an archeological dig on a haunted island.
“Sometimes the scenes are creepy and sometimes I am scared because he has the ability to put his reader into the scene,” his wife, Zonia, said.
A third character in his novel, Dr. John Bastion, is the villain and sets in motion a series of unexpected events after he discovers an ancient charm from the grave of a man. The charm is cursed and William falls into a coma until Ricardo sets him free from a wicked sorceress and the curse.
Banegas said he did hours of research on the American Indian and Egyptian cultures for the book, which is set on a haunted site on the fictional island of Mock-ta.
The book was published in June by Publish America and is available online at Amazon.com and in the fiction section at bookstores including Borders and Barnes & Noble.
Banegas is working on his second novel “At the Shadow’s Edge,” that will take place where his first book left off.
He said that if his brother were alive today he would be baffled that he was able to complete his own novel.
“Every time I would slough off from it I’d be hearing this train go by blowing this whistle and it was like my brother telling me ‘Hey get to work,’” Banegas said.
This reporter can be reached at 583-2427