A few months ago, SAS code, multiple regression, and epidemiologic computations colored my world, though admittedly, the hue was a little gray. Shuffle forward five rainbow-paletted months, and here I am interviewing an author on my blog, a concept as foreign to me then as non-parametric testing may be to you now.
Sure, I’m still a lost little piggy. But at least I’m a peaceful little piggy, snorting and stomping my way through the mud.
And with that analogy, can you imagine G. M. Barlean (a.k.a. Gina), a lovely woman, supportive of my blog from the start, dared venture anywhere near my drivel-filled trough? But here she is! Just ignore the ropes dangling from my laptop. I had to tie the woman up. Oh, come on, you didn’t think she’d come willingly, did you?
And now that I have both your and Gina’s attention (What’s that, Gina? The binding is too tight? Oh, toughen up.), I want to tell you about her recently published book, the wonderful “Casting Stones”. This will be followed by a few questions, which I assure you, will be of the utmost literary quality.
Gina has also agreed to mail a signed copy of her book to a lucky recipient. The winner will be the nth commenter equal to the number of times I’ve eaten chocolate in the past month. If the comments fall below that, not only will I be sad, but I will change the winner to the nth commenter equal to the number of times I’ve eaten spinach in the past month (I will announce the winner in a post update on 2/26/12 and notify him or her by email).
Clear as an acne-prone teenager’s complexion? Good.
“Casting Stones” is a dramatic story, set in rural Nebraska and Missouri in the 1920s through the 1940s. It is “a story about struggle and survival, retribution and redemption”, where a split-second error sends farmer James Raven’s life into a spiral of heartache, cruelty, and despair. Central to this good man’s pain and that of his child is the harshly raised, bitter and vengeful Esther Barton, a wicked woman who might very well be an ancestor of my own Mr. Nasty Pants. With each page, the reader sinks deeper into the story, anticipating the blood shed most certainly to come.
Oh, hang on a second.
What did you say, Gina? Oh, your wrist binds are just fine. Blue is a healthy color for hands.
So where was I? Oh, for more detail of “Casting Stones”and a chance to meet the main characters in a creative, short story prelude, you will want to visit Gina’s website.
Now, before I untie Gina, allow me a brief interrogation.
Me: Gina, welcome to my blog. I am very pleased to host you! You’re comfortable, yes?
Gina: Certainly. Sitting on a cold cement floor in a dark room whilst bound with twine is always such a joy. So very delighted you decided to remove the gag from my mouth.
Me: Well, I’m a softie at heart. So, first of all, I notice you reside in Nebraska. Growing up in North Dakota, I experienced many misconceptions about the state. For example, “Do you have swimming pools there?” Any misconceptions about Nebraska? Or have you been too hidden in the cornfields to notice?
Gina: Once upon a time, I left the cornfield long enough to work as the director of my community’s Chamber of Commerce. A new business came to town from the metropolis of Omaha (all the New Yorkers are laughing at that designation for Omaha), and the young woman representing the business seemed proud of me for having a copy machine. She said, “Hey, good job!” I thought that was pretty funny. I remember thinking, That’s just what I needed today – office machine confirmation from a 28-year old who can barely stop texting long enough to ask me if there was some way to make copies in “this” town. Yes. We have all of the basic modern conveniences.
Another misconception is that there isn’t anything to see when driving through the state on I-80. That’s not true. I challenge you to drive through Kansas and then get back to me. By comparison, we’re quite colorful.
Blog moderator’s note: Sorry, Kansans.
Me: As described above, Esther Barton is quite the baddie. In fact, she brings to mind another classy dame, Miss Good Old Hobbling Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s “Misery”. So I’m curious. Esther and Annie enter a ring. Who comes out?
Gina: Oh. I always bow to Mr. King. His mind is creepily delicious. BUT…in Esther’s defense, I think she would be a hair puller and a biter. Annie would rely more on tools to do her dirty work. Annie is the bigger of the two, but Esther’s wiry, and she’s used to taking a beating both mentally and physically.
Here is what the two have in common: they are both painfully unaware they are a few inches off plumb. They have this peculiar confidence in their own insanity. Esther isn’t as smart as Annie, though. Esther’s anger – in her mind – is justified by the belief system pounded into her brainwashed gray matter. Her brand of faith doesn’t bless her with God’s approval, of course.
I think Annie and Esther would fight long and hard. The ring would be strewn with snatches of hair and bits of torn clothing. They’d certainly both be bloody and bruised, and I believe Esther would probably lose a few teeth in the process of biting Annie’s tough hide. If Esther won, it would only be because Annie got all sentimental about a story or something. Esther has no time for weaknesses like that. So I’d think we could totally run bets on this fight and make serious ching. In the end, I believe they’d both crawl from the arena like crocodiles slithering up onto the land. They’d turn and salute, deeming each other a worthy opponent.
Blog moderator’s note: If you would like more of this mental image, watch some “Women in Prison” films.
Me: In the inevitable movie version of ‘Casting Stones’, what actor would play James?
Gina: Jeff Bridges. I just love that guy. I mean, how do you not love The Big Lebowski?! But, what I really like about him is how he can change his look and the way he plays a character to be just what the role requires. I loved him in the new version of True Grit. Bawled like a baby when they had to kill the poor horse. He’d have to dye his hair dark though. James has dark brown hair. I don’t know how we’d make Jeff young. The story starts with James young and ends with him as a middle-aged man. I originally thought Joaquin Phoenix for the part. He’d be a good choice, too.
Me: In the novel I’m working on now—or rather, not working on now seeing as how I have you captive in my lair—the surname of one of my characters is Barton, just like your villainous Esther. Do you think we telepathically communicated?
Gina: That has to be it. I mean…coincidence? Pshaw. I hardly doubt it! Probably a Midwestern thing we got goin’ on.
Me: Or maybe we’re both just weirdos. Anyway, Esther’s crankiness got me thinking. Spanx weren’t around in her time, and I believe petticoats were passé. So why is she so darn tight-assed and mean?
Gina: Yeah. That would be the years of manipulation and abuse at her father’s hands. It takes the wind right out of a gal’s sails. She never learned how to cope and she’s always judging others…but ultimately, like most judgmental people, they’re really avoiding facing their own failings.
Me: Do you think a little action would’ve improved her mood?
Oh, don’t shrug your hogtied arms and wave those gangrenous fingers at me; you know exactly what I’m implying.
Me: Okay, okay, I’ll retract that last question. But before I release Miss Gina, er, I mean, say good-bye, I’d like to allow her the opportunity to add any other details about her book which might interest the readers. You know, in a more dignified manner. See, I’m no heartless Esther.
Gina: Readers tell me they find the book to be an emotional roller coaster, a quick read, and hard to put down. I warn you, it is a sad story. I think the end resolves issues in a way I hope will make the reader think about when wrong is right and when sin is justified. Mostly, I hope the reader catches the underlying idea of judgment being, not only, something that can tear others down, but also, erodes your own potential as well.
I think the reader can obviously see how ugly judgment looks on Esther and Jonas, but will the reader see who makes the final and ultimate judgment? Blood is spilt and the ultimate sin doesn’t come from Esther or Joe. We all judge each other, although none of us have the right to do so. Why is Esther’s casting of stones so much less tolerable? I’d be interested to hear readers opinions.
Ouch. That gave me a headache. Or…my restraints are too tight and I don’t have enough oxygen flowing to my brain.
Wah, wah; go cry to Momma.
So there you have it, dear bloggees. “Casting Stones” by G. M. Barlean. Despite my horrible (or, if you will, innovative) interviewing skills, I recommend this page-turning read, dramatic and emotional, disturbing yet uplifting. And by uplifting, I mean you will embrace your family and rejoice in the clan you’ve been given.
And please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of the novel. I truly love and appreciate hearing from you. In fact, why don’t you share with us your favorite female villain!
Good-bye Gina. You are free to go. Hey, don’t give me that look! You knew perfectly well what you were getting into!
My thanks to Gina for being such a good sport!
Cartoon credits: Microsoft Clip Art