Friday, April 5, 2013

An interview with Author Rodney Strange.

Before I go into the interview part of this post, I want to take a moment to say that I'm grateful for the world wide web and the connections I've made with other authors, editors, and reviewers from all over the world. This connection with Rodney Strange developed from Twitter, actually. I love how the world works! I've also learned though all of my online connections that there are many more good people in the world than bad.  Rodney Strange is definitely one of the good. Thank you all for stopping by to read his interview--I guarantee you'll smile more than once--and please take a moment to read the excerpt of his novel, "Nineteen Seventy Something".
Author Rodney Strange
 Thank you for taking the time to stop by Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Darktoday.  I appreciate your time.  Can you tell us a little bit about your newest release?

First, I'd like to share a secret with you.  The disclaimer at the front of the book states ' a work of fiction.'  Embellished here and there, skewed time lines when I found it necessary, and yes the names were changed to 'protect the innocent,' but the core of this story is true.  I know because I was there...
'Nineteen Seventy Something' is, an one would guess, a story set in that flavorful era or the seventies in a small rural Texas community.  Readers will find a nostalgic backdrop of fast muscle cars, classic rock music before it was classic, drive-in movies, and much more to take them back in time to discover the tale of a young man named Russell Garrett Steele.  At the age of seventeen, our character sets out into the real world, on his own and all alone.  Along the way, as Rusty Steele takes on some of life's greatest challenges, he discovers the greatest challenge of all...the pursuit of love.  Two women will appear in his life. One will manipulate him with her power of lust and passion, the other offers only pure love...a love of such magnitude that few have ever experienced.   Which one will win?  It's in the hands of fate! 

What inspired this novel in particular?

To divulge the events that brought me to write this story would be a spoiler...the answer is in the book.    This is the one story I'd never told to anyone until two events occurred a couple of years ago, on the exact same night, that caused me to stop in the middle of another novel I was working on and begin writing 'Nineteen Seventy Something.'  The events of that evening were just that compelling.

Who is your favorite character in this novel and why?

Whoa! Tough question.  I think that, as an author, one tends to grow close to every character in their book, especially when you reach that point of finding yourself so consumed in it. I know the answer, but I find it difficult to reveal.  The two primary young women in Rusty Steele's life are Becky Cavander, 'the good girl', and Julie Ann Mathis, 'the bad girl.'  Doubt that I have to go into any detail for you to get a clear picture of either character.  These two women, from opposite ends of the spectrum, both possess unique qualities that, I think, will leave a reader unsure who they should take sides with.  As for me personally, the favorite character I would have chosen prior to those events two years ago...might not be the same choice I'd make today.  You have to remember, I..I mean Rusty Steele loved them both.

What comes first--characters or plot ideas?

The plot comes first, of course, but, the fact is, the best plot ever thought will go nowhere if you depend on weak characters to swing it into action.  Is it safe to say that for every character we create, there is a living, breathing human being out there somewhere that inspired us?

How many books have you written?

My writing actually began as a weekly blog.  I, being a single man, found my dating experiences as an almost over-the-hill, two-steppin' Saturday night cowboy so entertaining that I shared them every single real time with, lets say, lots of readers.  In 2011, I compiled these short stories into a book titled 'The Adventures of the Rusty Goat' and made it available as a Kindle book.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of a followup book, 'The Search for the Perfect Woman,' when the 'forces beyond my control' convinced me to shelve it and begin working on 'Nineteen Seventy Something.'  I have recently discovered a hard copy manuscript I wrote before there was such a thing as a computer in every household and am considering rewriting that story as a sequel to 'Nineteen Seventy something.'  I must confess, I personally did not take my writing seriously until this current novel.

What is your favorite aspect about being a novelist?

I'd have to say the creativity.  I love the challenge of trying to paint a picture inside a reader's mind.  I'm a simple man and I choose to write using simple words.  One of my favorite authors is Larry McMurtry, a man who writes in common, everyday language, yet has the gift of being able to bring his stories and his characters to life.  I don't want my readers to have to keep a dictionary within reach while they read my books.  My challenge is to make them see the beauty and color that I see in the words I write, yet give them enough freedom to use their own creative imagination as they read the story.  For example, nowhere in 'Nineteen Seventy Something' do I give a physical description of the main character.  The reader 
is allowed to create him any way they choose.

What inspires you as an author?  

People inspire me.  Everyone you walk by at the grocery has a story to tell.  I love to watch people in their every day lives, and yes, perhaps occasionally in the process a story is born.  I've been fortunate to meet so many people from all walks of life and have been blessed to experience more of life's lessons than most men, I'd venture to say.  The stories I have written that are based on real life experiences are never about me.  They are about the unique people who have passed through my life at some point...some for a dance or two, some for a month or two, and some who have made an impression on me for the rest of my life.

What draws you to this particular genre?

I love women..why wouldn't I choose to write about love?  A woman asked me once, "Are you conceited?"  No, I just tell it like it is.  Sure, all of us wish desperately we'd fallen in love with 'THE ONE' right out of high school and lived happily ever after.  It didn't happen for me...but I must admit, as the Rusty Goat would say, "I've held more women in my arms than most men ever dream of."  You write what you know about.  I know about women.  I know about the pursuit of love, which face it, is the plot behind any romance novel.

Are there any other genres you can see yourself writing and why/why not?

I have three books bouncing around inside my head right now.  I wish someone would write them for me.  If I move forward with a sequel to 'Nineteen Seventy Something,' it will be more in the line of a mystery/suspense although will definitely have a romantic tone.  Once that novel is completed, yet another sequel will have to follow which will flirt with the supernatural.  The third novel...yeah, I might not live that long.  I look forward to the challenge of venturing out into the unknown and uncharted world of these various genres.

To you, what's the most challenging aspect of being a published novelist and why?

I'm probably going to give you the same answer as most authors...the marketing.  However, I don't stress over it.  I didn't write 'Nineteen Seventy Something' to sell a million copies.  I wrote it because I felt it was a story that needed to be told.  Truthfully, I wrote it for my daughter...and the grandkids that I'll have someday.  I want them to always have a part of me...and in my mind, this book represents the best part. And there is a very strong lesson on love to be learned from this novel.  But it would be really cool to sell a million books.

How do you feel about the writer/editor relationship? (Go ahead and kiss up, that’s what I usually do when asked this question.)

That's funny!  I've always been a one man band in any endeavor I've undertaken.  The same holds true in this instance.  I wrote the story. I designed the cover ...twice!   Then I proofread it a hundred times and still missed a glitch or two. I wanted 'Nineteen Seventy Something' to be read the way I wrote it.  It was important to me that nobody diluted the story with their input.  It is my story and I wanted to tell it my way.  Future books...yeah, I will probably enlist the assistance of an editor.

What’s your goal as an author? By that, I mean...why write? Why is it important to you?

I want to leave my mark on the world.  When I'm nothing more than a faded photograph, someone can still hold a part of me in their hand and for a moment let me share my thoughts with them.  I yearn to share, to teach, to change someone's life.  I want to make them smile...and yes, maybe even shed a tear.  Will I someday find the magic to pen that one phrase, a quote that someone will find such special meaning in that they will cling to it forever?  Perhaps a quote even more compelling than 'Lonesome Dove's'  memorable quote uttered by the beloved Gus, "How about a poke?" 

I’m dying to know about your Twitter handle, Rusty Goat.  Please share at least one story to alleviate my curiosity.

The Rusty Goat?  Where should I the age of forty five, I made the second biggest mistake of my life (You can read about my biggest mistake in 'Nineteen Seventy Something.')  After five glorious years of claiming the title of West Texas' most eligible bachelor, I found myself married to a woman who had neglected to inform me that she held the title of the Wickedest Witch of West Texas.  It took me five years to run her off...the worst five years of my life.  As I watched her drive away for the last time in a U-Haul carrying everything I owned except for the two cats she left behind, reality set in.  A half a decade into my life I found myself suddenly alone.  This was surely the end...I was doomed to live the rest of my life in solitude.  Months passed and I found myself slipping into a depression.  I didn't like who I'd become, a recluse, a hermit.  I thought about the days from once upon a time, when a younger man had his pick of the women, but that was once upon a time, a long time ago.  I sat down to my laptop one lonely night and began writing about those days.  I wrote about my memories of Psycho Sherry and the Preacher's Wife, who was more psycho than Sherry.  I wrote about other women who had passed through my life.  As the stories began to stack up inside my computer, I found myself gaining more confidence.  I found myself getting the itch to try once again.  One Saturday night, six months after my divorce became final, I shined up my dancing boots and dusted off that old black cowboy hat in the closet.  I drove to the city and with a wave of apprehension, stepped into the swingin'est country bar in town.  My eyes surveyed the hundred or so single women mingling throughout the bar and I took a deep breath and said to myself, "Okay, you old Rusty can do this!"  With sweaty palms and my heart pounding in my chest, I set out to begin my find the perfect woman.  It was at that exact moment that the Adventures of the Rusty Goat began.I created the website and began sharing my adventures.  My weekly blog became a phenomenal success overnight, with thousands of visitors stopping by every week to catch up on the Rusty Goat's adventures.  As the years passed, the site has grown to far more than just a simple blog.  In 2012, the Rusty Goat site experienced just under four million page views.  
Meanwhile, I personally have taken a twelve month hiatus from my 'wild adventures' to regroup my thoughts and realign my priorities...and to plot my next move!  But the legend of the Rusty Goat lives on! 

Tell us 5 little known facts about yourself. 

1.) I am an author!  Oh sure you know that, but do you know that I have kept my writing a deep dark secret among my family and closest friends?  Nobody within my close social circle is aware that I am a published author and they certainly have no clue about the Rusty Goat.  Only my fourteen year old daughter knows my dark secret. 
2.) My writing talent first came to light during my junior year of high school when I won first place in a Farm Bureau conversation essay contest.  The following year I was named editor of the school paper and advanced all the way to the UIL state competition in journalism.  I won second place in news writing and third in the editorial competition at the state level.   I received the third largest scholarship awarded by my school ($500) and attended college until the money ran out.  You can guess how long that took. (It's in the book)
3.) Entrepreneurship flows through my veins.  I thrive on on the challenge of success!  I have a productive pecan orchard in west Texas and market my pecans all across the country. I've  also undertaken other ventures including, believe it or not, goat farming. I currently claim ownership to several popular websites across the web.  A wise man told me long ago, "Never miss an opportunity to make a dollar.  And if you can't make a dollar, make a friend!"  I've always taken his advice to heart, and yes I have way more friends than dollars!
4.) I am a self taught 'website design engineer.'  When I discovered that everyone in west Texas had a pecan tree in their backyard, I sat down one night and decided I'd build a site to sell my pecans took six months to complete.  I have created numerous sites throughout the years and must brag that every one of them has managed to land on the first page of Google search. 
5.) I am a changed man.  The Good Lord allowed me to flitter haphazardly through most of my life without his intervention.  As most people, I always thought I'd get myself back on the right path further down the road, maybe right before I took my last breath.  A couple of years ago I began receiving hints...signals...that God thought it was time for me to straighten up my act.  I resisted at every turn.  Finally He sent in the big guns and made me a proposition I couldn't refuse.  Once I started giving God what He wanted, the doors of opportunity began opening up for me.  It is another story for another time.  
I consider this opportunity to share my story with you and your readers one more door of opportunity.  Amber, I thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you and your 
readers.  It's been a pleasurable experience for me! 

The pleasure has been all mine, Rodney. I admire you and all that you've done. Who knew being an author would be your deep dark secret?  I love that.  You're a hilarious and wonderful addition to my network of author friends. I haven't read your book yet--sorry--but plan to in the near future. Now let's all read an excerpt of "Nineteen Seventy Something".

The Blurb
'Nineteen Seventy Something'
When a naive, sheltered son of a wandering preacher finds himself suddenly thrust into the wild and untamed world of the seventies, alone and on his own, he is faced with a decision: become an adult before his time, or grab life by the horns and hang on for the ride of a lifetime! 

The Nineteen Seventies, an era which found America struggling with an ever changing culture and an increasingly rebellious youth searching for their niche in society, sets a tone of delightful nostalgia for this epic tale. Set in the fictional tiny rural community of Delight, Texas, Nineteen Seventy Something brings to life the adventures of a group of teens trapped between the boundaries of adolescence and the realm of adulthood as they set out on their journey to discover what life is all about. Nineteen Seventy Something...the story your parents didn't tell you about the good old days.

So many of the decisions we make in that turbulent, transitional period between adolescence and adulthood determine our ultimate destiny in life.

~Rodney Strange - Author~

The Excerpt

   "So, this is where you have sex." Becky Cavander made the statement in a matter-of-fact tone of voice as she paused at my bedroom door. Her eyes surveyed the room briefly then she turned and stepped into the bathroom across the hall to wash her hands.
    "I haven't had sex in a long time!" I leaned against the door frame outside the bathroom as she washed her hands.
    I followed her back into the kitchen and took a seat at the table as she flipped a pizza box open.
    "Eat! It's getting cold."
     Becky seated herself and divvied up the packages of mozzarella cheese. I took a bite of pizza as my eyes studied the blonde sitting at my table. This was the first time ever she had stepped foot in my house. The simple fact that she was actually sitting with me at my table seemed surreal. My phone had rang that Sunday morning...the morning after our bizarre meeting on the parking lot. Becky had wasted no time penciling herself into my schedule...getting her foot in the door before Julie Ann Mathis had a chance.
     "So...what's it like?" Her blue eyes cut toward me as she took a dainty bite of pepperoni pizza.
     "What's what like?"
      "You" A smirk briefly crossed her face as her eyes stared downward.
     "Oh, you ain't fooling nobody! I know full well you and Randy Parker had sex."
     "You don't know diddly, Rusty Steele...why do you think we broke up?"
     My eyes focused on what had become a beautiful woman in just a matter of months. I knew Becky Cavander well and if she said she hadn't had sex with Parker, I believed her.
     "So, tell me! I want to know what sex is like."
      I chewed on a bite of pizza as I pondered the question,
      "'s messier than I thought it'd be."
     The blonde wrinkled her nose as she grabbed another piece of pizza, "So, what makes it so good?"
    "I dunno, " I shrugged, "it's fun, I guess."
    "Fun? Do you think sex is suppose to be fun?" Becky's eyes locked onto mine, "Or should sex be an expression of love between two people? Does it ever cross your mind when you're having sex...feelings you have for that person, love maybe?"
    I may not have been the smartest person in my class but I recognized a trick question when I heard one. I washed down the last bite of pizza with a Dr Pepper and eyed the girl sitting beside me.
     "Becky, I gotta admit this conversation is making me a little nervous. It doesn't seem appropriate talking about sex with you...unless, of course, you're considering the possibility yourself."
    Becky stared at her hands resting on the table for a moment, then licked her finger and picked up a speck of cheese and flicked it in the pizza box.
    "Rusty, I am really sorry I hurt you at the Senior was thoughtless of me. I hope you will forgive me for that."
    "Done..." I gently ran my finger down her forearm as I stared at her folded hands.
    "Rusty, I haven't had much of a life lately. I haven't had a life I've missed you." She took my hand and squeezed it in hers.
    "So, what do you want, Becky?"
    "I want us to pick up where we left off...just see where it goes?"
    "We didn't have much...just a friendship."
    "You don't have much without a friendship." She paused and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, "Rusty, I may be really screwed up. This virginity thing...sometimes I wonder if it's not just an excuse. I just don't know. I need someone who will be patient with me while I try to work through all this in my mind. I know you will. Will you give our friendship another chance, Rusty?"
My eyes met hers. I didn't want just a friendship with Becky Cavander. I wanted a relationship...a no-holds barred, all out madly-in-love forever kind of relationship. I nodded my head.
    "Yes, I'll give it a chance as long as you give it a chance to become something more..."
   "I promise I will do my best." Her finger caressed the knuckle of the hand she held tightly, " this point, I don't expect any promises. I don't expect you to give up anything else in your life for me...until we are ready to move forward...if we reach that point. So, Rusty...if you see a need to have...that other woman in your life, I will do my best to deal with it for now."
    I bit my bottom lip, wondering if I should reply. I decided against it. I wasn't sure I could deal with a slow moving relationship this second time around. I wanted Becky Cavander more than anything else in the world...but I wanted all of her.

Oooo...I love the excerpt, Rodney!  Thanks for sharing.  I wish you every success for your novel. Thanks for stopping by.


Unknown said...

He sounds like a character. (1) it makes me want to slow things down and take the time to watch people at the grocery store, and (2) I am definitely checking out his blog. Great interview questions Amber, they caught my attention and I wanted to know the answers.

Amber Lea Easton said...

Yes, Molly, I agree that Rodney sounds like a character--the kind of character that makes life a bit brighter and more entertaining. Thanks for your comment and your compliment. I appreciate your stopping by!