The Piggy Who Hogtied The Author

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" gmbarlean.com

“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.

Misery's Annie Wilkes (credit: TheFilmExperience.net)

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.

Well, these certainly look comfy. (credit: Nordstroms.com)

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

70 Responses to “The Piggy Who Hogtied The Author”

  1. It’s A Beautiful Day « jmmcdowell

    [...] to accept the Beautiful Blogger Award. So I broke down and did so. Otherwise, I might have ended up in her basement like another blogger recently did…. (Now I’m sure a good fellow Midwestern girl like [...]

    Like

  2. My Italian Letters

    Delightful interview … and it’s stimulated me to read the prologue … and will get the book.
    A thought for book reviews, would be a link to Amazon’s wishlist … that way the impulse to buy is not lost in all the “noise”. (Though that is probably altzeheimer’s I’m hearing!!)

    Like

    • crubin

      That is a very good idea. I’ll see if I can rig that up in the future. Enjoy the book, and thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  3. Jennifer M Eaton

    Very funny interview, Carrie. I’ve read so many author interviews that bore me to tears. Honestly, I usually shy away because interviews are so boring. Nicely done adding some spice (and a little giggle) into it!

    Like

    • crubin

      Thank you for the nice words. I admit I haven’t always looked too closely at the author interviews myself, so I wanted to spice it up a little. Probably won’t do a lot of them, but this was fun.

      Thanks so much for dropping by!

      Like

  4. cravencreativity

    Carrie,
    Your writing and humor totally cracks me up, you have great wit :) I enjoyed this post and it sounds like a lovely book that your friend has written. Best of wishes to her for lots and lots of book sales :)
    Take Care
    Karen

    Like

  5. Smaktakula

    Do they have swimming pools in North Dakota? How about cars? The reason I ask is that I’m heading to Valley City next month. I understand the average high in Fargo in March is 25. Awesome.

    I realize my comment isn’t terribly pertinent, but if it happens to equal the nth time you’ve eaten chocolate–I’ll be a winner! God, I need that.

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes to the pools; yes to the cars; and no to the polar bears (have been asked that before, too).

      Given it’s unclear why anyone who didn’t already live there would go to Valley City, ND, you have hugely roused my curiosity. And no, March is not the best time for NoDak (as we born-and-breaders like to call it), but this year I believe the weather has been been kinder. Either way, I’m glad I relocated to the tropics of Ohio.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      • Smaktakula

        Where I live snow is unheard of and freezes are rare. Earthquakes and tsunamis (or tsunami blowback, anyway) not so much. My grandmother’s best girlfriend lives in VC, and as they haven’t seen each other in ages, I’m taking her out there.

        Like

  6. Sabrina Sumsion

    Thank you for letting Gina go. We would have missed her at writers group!

    ( Don’t count this as an entry. I bought Gina’s book already. I just wanted to say this is a GREAT interview. I LOVE it!)

    Like

  7. Perfecting Motherhood

    This has been the most entertaining book author interview I’ve read in a while, thanks for the laugh. Sounds like an interesting book too, to go on my to-read list.

    By the way, did you share some of your chocolate with Gina before she escaped? That’s the least you could have done after strapping her around like a mummy. Some booze would have helped too, I suppose.

    Like

    • crubin

      Well, do the pieces of chocolate that fell on the floor count? If so, then yes, I shared.
      :)

      Thanks so much for the nice words and for stopping by to comment. Appreciate it!

      Like

  8. Kourtney Heintz

    That was one of the most fun interviews to read. Though I’m not sure Ms. Barlean would agree. But she was a lovely sport with the hog tying in the basement. Her novel sounds like a very thought provoking read.

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes, she was a good sport. And from what I hear, she suffered no permanent scars or emotional distress. But if she did, I expect I’ll hear about it in her next novel, where the antagonist is oddly named Carrie.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kourtney!

      Like

  9. Audrey Kalman

    I, for one, am very glad you left the world of SAS and multiple regression. I love your interviewing technique. It almost makes me anxious to–er–beg to submit to such treatment myself!

    Like

    • crubin

      If you’re wondering what that disturbing sound is, it is the sound of my evil laugh…Mwahahahaahhaha!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  10. lynnettedobberpuhl

    I’m in! Sounds like a great book, if the interview is any indication. When I become a newly minted author, I am not sure I will ask you to interview me, though. Maybe instead of a torture/interrogation theme, we could do something more along the lines of slumber party? Or wine and cheese party? Instead of gangrenous fingers, I could get increasingly drunk. For when it happens. Not to be bossy or anything.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, wishful thinking, Missy. Although the drinking part might work. Hmmm, I’m envisioning an interview while paragliding over a large body of water with a glass of wine (or a bottle of beer in my case–I never claimed to be sophisticated) in hand. How does that sound?

      And please, boss away. Anything that brings visitors my way is tolerated. As evidenced by the bizarre search terms that lead people here, a topic for another post…

      Like

  11. char

    I loved this interview! Gina’s book sounds very intriguing. I’m glad you let her go so she can write some more (if her wrists aren’t too damaged)

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes, in retrospect, I now see that binding a writer’s hands is probably not the most productive thing to do.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      • G M Barlean

        This fall I had a little accident that smashed the fingers on one of my hands. The first thing that came to my mind was…”Oh no! How will I write?”

        Like

  12. starlaschat

    I could be the winner hows that for wishful thinking? Ill post this quick just in case this in fact if the number of chocolates mmmm

    Like

    • starlaschat

      Doubt has crept in that didn’t take long, shoot. Dashing my hopes to Win. I loved the interview and will check out the link. My father grew up in Kansas and said he would never go back. I’ve never been to Kansas so I’m not sure what I may or may not be missing. I did take note of the Nordstoms website Thanks! That was a Fun interview good job.

      Like

      • crubin

        Thank you very much! And thank you for stopping by and commenting. I have never been to Kansas, but I’ve been to North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, so I figure that counts! I’m sure it’s a lovely state.

        Now go buy some Spanx, but make somebody else wear them.

        Like

        • starlaschat

          I need hook up my mouse it seems when I get tired I rest my hands and shazam either my words disapear or only a small part of a comment is printed. I had a day like that yesterday too. Nothing a hot bath can’t cure.

          Like

  13. annewoodman

    Love the part about Kansas. ; ) Thanks for the informative, if disturbing, interview. Did your last job include instruction on basic knots? No, don’t tell me.

    Like

    • crubin

      Okay, I won’t. And I also won’t tell you about the various interrogation methods I learned.

      Thanks for commenting. You are officially a member of the spinach or chocolate club now!

      Like

  14. jmmcdowell

    Oh, the comments are as much fun as the post! Fun and clever take on the guest interview!

    I wonder how your guest will treat you when she has you as a guest on her blog! :D

    Like

  15. tristenerinhohn

    Well, I know I am not number nine – but I am happy to be a stepping stone for whoever wins:) A favorite female villian is a hard one. No favs here – the only ones I could think of were those that cackle in the movies. The real female villians like Esther, just make my heart ache. It sucks when the world twists us into something we were not created to be.

    I did read this though as I made an attempt to find one for myself after your inspiration…

    Ben Bova recommends to authors that their works not contain villains. He states, in his Tips for writers:
    “In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil. Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus what we know of life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them.” ~ Wikipedia

    It sounds like Gina created a character that ‘mirrors’ these guidelines and she probably didn’t even need Ben to clue her in. Esther sounds like a girl who has been tainted by someone else’s sin – lost in her own misery. I am rooting for her. I hope she finds her way out of it…

    Loved this by the way. Casting Stones sounds like a must read. You two play off each other quite well:)

    Like

    • crubin

      Thank you for the kind words, and yes, you are correct, Esther is not a one-dimensional villain. The world and her hard life helped mold her into the woman she is in the novel. Writers know that in order to make their villains interesting, they need to do more than make them merely evil. Sometimes they even make them likable, which can create discomfort in the reader.

      Thanks so much for commenting! Oh, and it’s not necessarily the 9th commenter who wins. It’s the commenter equal to the number of times I’ve eaten chocolate or spinach in the last month (depending on the amount of commenters who are kind enough to reply). I’ll reveal that mystery number when the “contest” is closed on 2/26. I’m sure you’re all dying in suspense…
      :)

      Like

      • G M Barlean

        I see a random topic commentary blog that we two could be doing together. Soon…Hollywood will be knocking on our door begging us to do stand-up.

        Like

  16. Harper Faulkner

    I collect autographed books. Is that enough of a comment or do I need to say something nice? HF

    Like

    • crubin

      Hey, anything that makes the comment box number grow works for me. I’m not picky. You could tell me about the piece of lint you pulled off your shirt, and I’d be happy…
      ;)

      Like

      • Harper Faulkner

        Hey, you were peeking! Love you, love your blog, love your comments on my blog — geeze, if I don’t get the book now, I don’t know what else to do! HF

        Like

  17. Stacie Chadwick

    If I take “aspiring” away when people ask if I’m a writer, do I get the next interview?

    If the answer is “yes” do I have to actually finish my novel?

    Great interview, interesting book, well done!

    Like

    • crubin

      Well, that depends on what other skills you possess. For example, can you juggle steak knives naked, shove a whole grapefruit in your mouth, or do any other sophisticated feat?
      :)

      Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate you coming by and commenting!

      Like

        • crubin

          Ha! Thanks for the laugh-out-loud! And if you’re not kidding, then thanks for the disturbing image (the fire-laden steak knives, I mean, not your nudity, which I’m sure is quite artful.)
          :)

          Like

  18. G M Barlean

    Thank you for hosting me, Carrie. My wounds have healed nicely and my eyes have readjusted to the light…finally.
    Under duress I poked fun at Kansas. Shame on me. I take it all back. I blame the gangrene.

    Thanks again, Carrie. Fun interview! Looking forward to giving away a book.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh good, I’m glad you are back to normal. I was worried you might suffer a few keloid scars from those wrist binds. And I’m sure those hundreds of thousands of blog readers from Kansas will harbor no grudge. In fact, I appreciate them driving my stat sites so high.

      It was my pleasure to host you. Thanks for playing along!!

      Like

    • crubin

      I think you’ll enjoy it. And may you never know an Esther Barton. (Though perhaps you do?!)

      Thanks for commenting. Let’s see, will it be chocolate or spinach? Spinach or chocolate? Hmmm.

      Like

  19. Janet

    ha ha, great interview in your unique style. It worked though, I am curious about her book. The ending sounds like something I’d like (hmmm. what does that say about me though?). One last question – just how much chocolate do you eat in one day?

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, I’ll never tell. (But if I’m not careful, my hips will.)

      And yes, after your recent post with the bloody hands, I think you would enjoy this book’s ending. But don’t worry, therapy is no longer something to be ashamed of…

      Okay, kidding of course. Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  20. fly in the web

    My learning curve about what goes on the the various states of the U.S.A. just goes up and up….more grist to the mill.
    You might find it odd, but for a lot of us in Europe America is still our ‘newfoundland’…we know bugger all about it!

    Like

    • crubin

      Happy to contribute to your global education, but I must warn you, take everything you “learn” from my site with a grain of sea salt. I may be missing a few essential neuronal pathways.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      Like

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