Thursday, March 19, 2015

Interview with Chuck Gould, Author of Summertime

What inspired you to become an author?

When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents would tell me stories. Even now, six decades beyond childhood, many of my fondest memories of that time involve listening to fairy tales. It seemed that telling stories was a natural, creative and adult thing to do. I guess I was a story teller long before I ever was an author. Even now, I would probably self-define as a story teller. That “A” word seems so formal.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write in the third person, with an omniscient point of view. It’s often considered “old fashioned.” My creative process involves getting to know my characters very well before committing them to paper. A third person perspective allows me to thoroughly develop more than a single character. Additionally, I try to visualize or experience virtually everything included in a manuscript- and it has been easier for me to translate those visions and experiences in a third person format.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

“Summertime” refers to a tune written by DuBose Hayward and Ira Gershwin. It’s included in the Broadway musical, Porgy and Bess. During the early gestation of the story, and well before I met many of the characters, I was listening to Janis Joplin’s awesome rendition of the song. The lyric, “One of these moanin’s, you gonna rise up singin’, you gonna spread your wings, and take to the sky” knocked me right over. I must have heard it a hundred times before, but there was a moment that I realized “Summertime” was going to be the title. Indeed, on one level the story is about an unlikely group of friends, risin’ up singin’ and taking to the sky.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Perhaps none of us is as self-directed as we prefer to believe. We can become swept up in supernatural events. The boundaries between “good” and “evil” can become indistinct, and we cannot always avoid making choices that have profound implications and consequences.

We’d like to find a home in Summertime, where “Mama and Daddy are standing by”.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

Much of Summertime, Book One takes place in Seattle. I have physically been at every location described in the Seattle chapters, although I changed a few of the business and building names. I’ve dabbled in music for most of my life, and the members of Memphis Rail are mostly composites of various musical personalities.

Mary Towne is loosely based on Etta James.

The character in the Red Scarf is known by all of us, often far too well.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’m weighing my options. I have a 2/3 finished novel of piracy, seafaring, and political intrigue based on the life of William Kidd. It needs to be generally re-written, and brought to a conclusion. I’m leaning heavily toward completing that.

At the earliest stages of development, with only a single chapter committed to paper, is a novel based on the life of Yeshua the Nazarene. (Details drawn almost entirely from extra-canonical sources). So, either “Kidd” or “The Rabbi” will be up next. I’ll need to spend some quiet time with both sets of characters, and see which work most demands my attention.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From “Kidd”
Red Sea 1694

Captain Avery joined the crew in the final longboat. He scaled down the rounded gunwales in black shadow, avoiding exposure to even the feeble light cast by a splinter of moon. Warm rain poured from the broad brim of his hat. Avery smirked with a twisted, gap-toothed smile.  Khootab-u-Din drew closer by the moment. “It’s a proper night for the devil’s work,” thought Avery. “Looks like this bloody rain sent most of the evening’ watch into the fo’csle. She’s got barely the breeze for steerage. She’d be in irons, was it not for the Indus carryin’ her out to sea.”

Khootab-u-Din rode high on the ebb, nearly empty of tare. She carried only the dowry of the Grand Mogul’s daughter. Eleven ornate Chinese chests, packed tightly with gold, silks, pearls, and precious gems. Two of the Mogul’s most trusted guards kept watch. The huge men had arms as round and stout as tree limbs. Each wore a cordovan leather apron, a white cotton turban, and copper bracers. Both carried a two-handed scimitar, with razor edge and a mirror polish.

The Princess Sharindala, dressed in a flowing gossamer gown, sat in the great aft cabin of the Khootab-u-Din. Despite a gnawing hunger, she refused to dine on a lavish feast. “I must not eat much before the wedding. When I meet my betrothed, I would not have him think of me as overly plump. I must make my father proud. I hope the Caliph will treat me kindly, and favor me over his other wives. No, I must not eat too much before the wedding.”  
The captain of the Khootab-u-Din shared table with Sharindala, as did four of her ladies in waiting. The royal eunuch Ismael stood alongside.  A group of court musicians provided entertainment for the Princess’ diversion and a macabre score for the deadly opera about to be performed.

The Indiaman’s masthead watch observed a dark mass evolve into a defined shape.
“Merchant ship off the starboard quarter, Sir. English colors.”

English colors indeed.  Duke formerly belonged to a mercantile syndicate. In time, first mate John Avery and a band of mutineers relieved the bewildered Captain Dawson of command. The crew demanded Dawson’s death, but Avery ordered Dawson and some loyal crewman rowed ashore at Corunna. It might take years for word to get back to England. In the meanwhile, Duke enjoyed the luxury of hiding in plain sight. It was Duke now lying silent and dark, distracting the attention of the masthead watch on Khootab-u-Din.

“English you say? Noted!” replied the Second Officer from below.

“Sir, there’s something unusual about the English ship; there’s nobody on deck or aloft!”

“They are probably all drunk. The English are always drunk.
Keep a sharp watch for the Caliph’s escort ship, we should rendezvous before morning.”

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Of course. I tend to fall into passive voice and must constantly guard against it. Dialogue remains very challenging for me. It’s typically awful in the first draft, only slightly better in the second, and the final pass through the work is always dialogue specific. In the end, few will praise anything I ever wrote based on “amazing dialogue.”

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

A good friend, Larry Dubia. Larry will celebrate his 90th birthday later this year. He is a gifted artist, and enjoyed a career teaching high school art in California.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It seems that a lot of people have a book brewing somewhere. Many of these projects never achieve fruition. As a long time writer of magazine articles, I suspect that a lot of that has to do with the lack of firm deadlines. We put off writing until we get around to it, and sometimes don’t get around at all.

Join or start a writer’s group. Meet once a week. Read a couple of thousand words from the previous week’s production, and listen carefully to well-considered criticism. Such a group was instrumental in bringing Summertime to a finish, and I just started a new group of Seattle writers. I’ll finish “Kidd”, or “The Rabbi” in the new group, and try to be helpful to other local novelists as well.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

“Summertime,” as recorded by Janis Joplin

“Misty,” as recorded by Etta James.

Book One
Chuck Gould       

Genre: metaphysical fantasy

Publisher: Starry Night Publishing

Date of Publication: September 28, 2014

ISBN: 9781502523174

Number of pages: 298
Word Count:

Cover Artist: Larry Dubia

Book Description:

Wesley Perkins, successful and privileged advertising executive, makes an apparently impromptu purchase in a pawn shop. Almost immediately, he becomes immersed in a new reality. Old values evaporate. The line between good and evil seems inconsistent. Wesley is challenged to accept profound change, all the while juggling choices of enormous consequence.

Summertime, Book One, is the first portion of a story that delves into a surreal realm of metaphysical fantasy. Situational moralities are juxtaposed with omnipresent supernatural forces. Where the boundaries of our mundane lives intersect cosmic intents, events, and conspiracies, we can become overwhelmed by involuntary transformation. We look for surrogate sacrifices, and a home in Summertime.

Available on  Amazon    BN

Excerpt Book 1

Vanessa hated the basement. Even during the daylight hours, she ventured only reluctantly down the stair to do her laundry or occasionally retrieve something from storage. She knew there were rats in the basement. She often swept up their droppings, and it wasn’t unusual to hear something scraping against cardboard boxes as it ran along the base of the wall. Oddly enough, Vanessa seldom saw a rat. Infrequently, a sacrificial rat would appear- neck broken by the savage spring of Vanessa’s 17th Century style trap. Vanessa used to pretend she had caught “the” rat, and wouldn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for an exterminator. Over the years, she had accepted an unhappy truce with her resident rodents. These days, she didn’t call an exterminator because there was always something that seemed a more important use of the money.

Vanessa found her flip flops and bathrobe, and headed for the stairway. Her open white bathrobe hung from her shoulders, contrasting with her dark skin but failing to provide any degree of modesty. She was reluctant to venture underground at night, but the weird idea that there might be some unexplained connection between Wesley Perkins and her probable grandfather, Judah Jones, couldn’t molder until daylight. She flipped the light switch at the top of the stairs. The loud snap of the switch initiated a series of electrical flashes, followed by the muffled explosion of a failing light globe. “Shit. One lightbulb in the whole damn basement, and it just burned out. Hell with it. I’m going down there anyway. I’ve got to, got to, got to figure this out.”

Vanessa tied her bathrobe across the front of her body, grabbed a fresh globe from a kitchen cabinet next to the stairway door, and stepped slowly into the blackness. A 90-degree bend at the top of the stairs prevented any usable amount of light from filtering in from the kitchen. Vanessa moved her feet slowly and deliberately between wooden treads, feeling her way in the darkness with heel and toe. A few steps from the bottom, she gasped at the sensation of something with tiny paws ran across her bare foot tops, dragging what felt like a coarse tail behind. She was sure she saw a pair of glowing eyes near the laundry sink. There was definitely a rustle among the storage boxes. Vanessa considered turning around and climbing back up the stairs. She wanted to act as though her visit to the basement could wait until morning, but she was compelled to conclude it could not.

About the Author:

Seattle native Chuck Gould is a writer and musician.

Formerly editor of Nor’westing Magazine and editor emeritus of Pacific Nor’West Boating, he has written over 1,000 articles for recreational boating magazines.

Chuck plays a variety of keyboard instruments, and enjoys the “exercise in humility” attempting to master the great highland bagpipe.

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