Thursday, January 24, 2013

#OBBigBang Orangeberry Big Bang - Gastien – Part 1: The Cost of a Dream by Caddy Rowland





Updated on 28th December 2012

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What is your favorite quality about yourself? My imagination. I can imagine anything. I think it comes from being almost an only child (my brother was 13 years older) and having no one to play with much of the time.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I can get the feeling that I’m not doing what I should be doing. When writing, I feel a pull to paint. When painting, I feel I should be writing. When doing either, I should be giving my parrots attention.  When relaxing, I should be exercising, etc. I tend to beat myself up that way.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” –Eleanor Roosevelt. Why? Well, I really like to talk about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going; all of the possibilities of that. I really LOVE a good, deep discussion of ideas with open-minded people?

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I’m proud that I am still married (after 39 ½ years) to my high school sweetheart, and that we’re still in love. We got engaged my senior year of high school! We married 2 weeks after graduation. We were too young, from two economic backgrounds, had four different religions between the two sets of parents, and decided not to have children. No one thought it would last, but here we are; and happy besides!

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I can’t say that my upbringing has much influence on it, but childhood and life experiences have. For instance, I was made fun of daily in 5th and 6th grade. It was relentless. I had a stomach ache most of the time, but was too afraid to tell my parents why. I reasoned that if they found out, they would see me as a loser, too, and they wouldn’t want me around anymore. I had a wild imagination and that made kids more “grown up” than me see me as odd. That came out in book 3 of The Gastien Series. The main character in that book gets teased a lot, making him feel alienated. I could write about that alienation. The situation was much different but I had legitimate experience with those feelings. I was also quite a rebel. That helped me write about Gastien, a bohemian artist who breaks all conventions and does things his way, after growing up under the abuse of his father back on the farm.

What inspires you to write and why? I wish money did. If it did, I would be writing to please whatever current trends happen. I don’t write paranormal or erotica. I do write graphic sex, but I want something other than sex to be the main thrust (pardon the pun) or my novels. I guess humanity with all of its glory and ugliness inspires me. I write drama, family saga, historical fiction. I never set out to write historical fiction, in fact, it sounded boring, but once the book was done I realized that it had a lot of historical details in it regarding the whole nineteenth century bohemian artist era in Paris. What a decadent time in history! I like to show the bad in good people and vice versa. A series gives me time to do that. To sum it up, my novels showcase the sublime joy and bitter tragedy of being human.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Yes, it taught me that I could actually finish a long novel. It also taught me that historical fiction can be extremely exciting, graphic, and emotionally charged. Lastly, it taught me that some people actually think you indulge in all of the activities you write about. Ha! I would be long gone if I had.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I am trying right now. We may lose every material thing we have in the process, but I have to try to achieve my dream. I know painting is even tougher than writing to be successful at, so I write a whole lot more than I paint. It takes time to build a readership, but it is happening slowly. I am getting good reviews and people email me to tell me how much the books moved them.

Have you developed a particular writing style? I just write. Funny, I have had reviewers and readers say that at first they found my writing a little strange, but after a few chapters they were totally immersed.  They call it Caddy Omniscient. I suppose some love it and some stop reading. Those who stop I don’t hear from! But then, that’s true of any writer. Not everyone’s going to love you.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? I will tell it how it needs to be told, even if it gets real ugly. I’m not afraid to stretch boundaries, possibly repel someone. If it’s a brutal scene, it needs to be brutal. That’s what drama is. I don’t shy away from giving main characters traits that people will hate them for at times. I want people to both love and hate my characters. All of us are part decent and part, well, assholian. Some just have greater degrees of one or the other. Even those with bigger “warts” make interesting characters. I want to make people think, feel, and react. Many people refuse to think, but I can make them feel and react. Writing that way makes people feel deeply about your work. Most times it has been positive, but whenever an author writes emotional stories, some people are going to have a negative reaction. That’s good. That means my work isn’t bland.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? I am writing the rough draft, so I won’t share it literally, but I can tell you about it. Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream is the first book of The Gastien Series. There will be five books in the series, and four of them are currently available. I am working on the fifth book right now. The series is generational, a family saga. The fourth book just released recently. I am about 25% done with the first draft of this last Gastien book.

Can you tell us about your main character? Gastien was brought up on a farm in France, the eldest of eleven children. Although they were more successful than most farmers, they were definitely peasants. His father was a tyrant, who beat and verbally abused Gastien for eighteen years. Gastien was supposed to take over the farm, which had been in the family for generations, but he wanted to become an artist. To his father, that was an insult and not becoming to a man. He has a confrontation with his father when he is almost eighteen and leaves home on foot. The story is about his determination so achieve both the dream of having his own studio and to become a great lover, in spite of the horrific struggles he faces on the streets of Paris. He learns a lot about sex, power, class struggle, betrayal, and friendship in less than two years. He has no idea what will be asked of him in order to make his dream come true. The tagline is this: “Sometimes the “impossible” is possible – but the cost can be extremely high”.

How much of the book is realistic? Much of it is. I made sure that items the characters used, wore, etc were appropriate for the times. Different historical information is brought into play. The research took longer than the writing. I want to make sure I didn’t mess up. For instance, when Gastien got introduced to sex, if I had him unzipping his pants people would be jarred right out of the scene. Zippers were not invented yet, and pants were called trousers. Still, Gastien is a rebel and an artist. This was the time of Impressionism and other cutting edge forms of art. Those bohemians were not formal, so the dialog is earthier and less formal to show how they stood apart. Their world was eons ahead of the rest of society in many ways. Dialog was one way to show that. Plus, Gastien was eighteen! There’s no way young men wouldn’t be talking trash to each other. Please!

How important do you think villains are to a story? Without villains, there would be no conflict. Although I will say sometimes “villains” aren’t actual people. Some of the worst villains live in our minds, as Gastien eventually finds out.  But villains give readers a reason to root for your character, to hope that he overcomes them and achieves his goal. If a writer can’t get readers pulling for their main character, the story will fail. Readers can hate the main character’s decisions or actions at different points, but they must care about him, too. Without conflict, the reader has no reason to become emotionally involved with the character.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? I learned a lot of history, although some of it I knew because I am an artist. Because of that I have always been interested in that period in Paris. I think the main thing I learned is that writing male POV comes very naturally for me. I actually prefer it over female POV. Only one book in the series is female POV and that is the fourth book. I enjoyed writing it, but male is easier for me.

What do you do to unwind and relax? As mentioned earlier, I paint. I also enjoy playing with our two parrots. We like to hike and walk in the woods, play Texas Hold ‘Em and other card games. We enjoy movies, especially independent films. I read. We do yoga. Kicking back with a few good friends is great, too.

Do you have any advice for writers? I will pass on the same advice I read somewhere on the internet. What had kept me from writing a novel for so many years was fear. The thought of storyboards and working over every sentence paralyzed me. Then I read someone who said, just write. Set aside a specific amount of time for a specific number of days each week and don’t break that promise, no matter what. I picked one hour a day, five days a week. The next advice he gave was to just keep writing every day, instead of going back and reading what you had written previously. Just keep going until you reach the end.  Don’t edit during this time. Why? Because until you have a completed book, there is nothing to edit. He was right. That did it for me. All of those words later, you better believe I was going to make sure it was polished up and published.

Who is your publisher? I am. I don’t have the time or patience to wait a couple of years for acceptance and then being put off for months until the book hits the market. I have always been independent about my careers. I like to control my own destiny and was self employed for years. As an artist, I see indie publishers as the excitement of the industry, just like in music and film. They aren’t bound by what others expect of them and are free to write what they want to. Yes, there are some poorly edited and proofed indie books. Read the description. Read the free sample. Read the reviews. That gives you an idea of if the work is professional. Take a chance on paying for indie books, instead of just downloading free or .99 books. Many times you do get what you pay for. I mean, seriously, what do you pay for a good beer or a movie ticket? Isn’t hours immersed in a novel worth at least that?

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Oh, yes, indeed! I have a couple of series dancing in my head and some other ideas as well. I may even switch genre, who knows? Fasten your seatbelts!

Do you have any last thoughts that you want to share with your readers? As readers, you have no idea how much it means to an author, especially an indie, when they get an email from you. It sounds like a prepared speech, but truly, you are the reason I write. It means the world to me every time someone lets me know that they loved my work.

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Genre – Drama, Historical Fiction (R)

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