Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A warm welcome to author Nell Gavin

Hello, Nell, and welcome. Please describe your current work and tell us where to find it.

Blurb or excerpt:

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn

When Henry and Anne meet in 1970, they presume they're meeting for the first time.

     They don't know they were married 434 years before. They don't know they parted on bad terms. Anne has no idea why she has a compulsion to punish Henry, a man she's only just met, and he has no idea why he can't be near her without falling in love.

      They don't know they are bona fide soul mates, bound to each other through eternity. They don't know that this meeting is a test...

     Several lifetimes ago, and hundreds of years earlier in 1536, Henry and Anne were at the mercy of influences outside their control, explosively incompatible, and caught in a marriage that ended in betrayal so shocking that Anne required lifetimes to recover.

     Henry, seemingly in defense of Anne (but more likely acting out of "stubborn perverseness", she observes), terrorized England and decreed widespread political murder in order to protect her. Ultimately, to Anne's horror, this once passionate husband turned on her and had her executed as well.
     Threads, a reincarnation fantasy, opens with Anne's execution. Her fury at her husband’s betrayal has enough momentum to survive centuries, but in Threads she learns that she has been assigned a hard task: she must review their history together through a number of past lives, and find it within herself to forgive him. This may prove difficult and take some time. The husband in question is Henry Tudor, the notorious Henry VIII. The narrator is the stubborn, volatile Anne Boleyn, who is not at all inclined to forgive. 

     It is a very unusual love story.

How were you inspired to write about such a fascinating topic?

I have always been somewhat of a religious heretic. I probably thought about religion more than most, and asked the hard questions. I examined world religions and came to conclusions. One of the things I always came back to was reincarnation, so I studied up on it, and decided I believed in it more than the religion I had been brought up with.

There were fictional books on reincarnation, but they never seemed to pull the laws of karma into the story. They didn’t ring true. To me, we’re all on a journey, and all here to learn. We’re in different grades, but we’re essentially all in school. I wanted to read a book that described the learning process, and the transformation we all go through as we evolve. No one seemed to have written it. So I did.

What is your background in this area, and what interesting information about
it did you discover during your research?

My only background in the Tudors came from living 13 miles from a Renaissance festival. We went every year. I had friends who worked the show, and I frequently helped them out, in costume. The king was Henry VIII and his queen was Anne Boleyn. In this particular festival, they were in their “honeymoon” phase before Elizabeth was born a girl, and Anne got bitchy.

I would look at them playfully teasing each other for an audience and think, “She’d skin him alive, if they met up today!” I had years of study and contemplation brewing in me, about karma and reincarnation. I started doing calculations in my head about what past actions would result in this or that, and it started turning into a story.

I began studying them when I began writing.

Probably the most interesting thing I learned about the Tudors were their toilet habits. I sat in a library and devoured a book about Tudor architecture, amazed by what I was reading.

It seems that courtiers would relieve themselves in the palace gardens, causing an unpleasant stench. Henry VIII couldn’t get them to stop, so he had crosses painted all along the fences. It was blasphemy to pee on a cross, so problem solved.

The palace also had plumbing, with hot and cold running water. Amazing to even consider, and I was astonished! Who knew? Also, It turns out, all the fine lords and ladies would relieve themselves in a unisex room, together. It was essentially a closet with a long board that had holes carved into it. The waste ended up in a bricked up container that occasionally needed to be cleaned. They hired (?) children and dwarves to clean it out because they needed someone small enough to fit into the opening. That was perhaps the worst job in history, in my opinion.

How is your approach different from others?

I don’t pattern myself after anyone else because I am not trying to be a “writer”. I get locked into a story, and I get obsessed, and the only way to tell it is to write it, so that’s what I do. I am not doing it because of a lifelong dream of being an author. It’s more like taking a dose of Ipecac. I write to purge. I’m not prolific. A book takes me years. And when I’m done, I feel better. “Threads” was a purgative for some events I had experienced when I was young. “All Torc’d Up” was a purgative for some events that happened a little later. I have another one coming that will address the years following that. No ETA. Figure 10 years to publication.

I also write differently from other people. I write the beginning, and then I write the end. Then the middle builds itself – I never know how the story will find its way to the end. I go back and forth, back and forth, abandoning chapters when I stop seeing the words clearly, and come back to them when they’re fresh again. I write what strikes me at that moment – I never force myself into a routine. I write mountains of words, and then carve away at them until the story comes out. In fact, I had most of Threads written before I even knew what order the chapters would go in. One day I sat down and put them into a cohesive order, and was very relieved that it all fit together.

The most important thing, I’ve found, is honing and perfecting just one or two chapters – make them really beautiful, and then proceed. Writing is mainly drudgery with a few precious and very fleeting moments of “inspiration” and “brilliance”. There’s a sense of hopelessness that follows you when you read your first draft. First drafts are deadly to your confidence. So I make sure to have one or two really finely-honed chapters I can fall back on, to reassure myself that I can do it. When I get discouraged, I read them.

Favorite authors?

Harper Lee, Betty Smith, Anne Frank…I prefer female authors to male authors, just because they delve a little deeper into the psyche. I’m not much for car chases.

When did you get your first ³Yes² and how long did it take you?  Did you get
your first story published after trying for a while, or did you write many
novels first?

I actually got my first yes by e-mail. I self-published “Threads” because I had serious concerns that a publisher wouldn’t “get” it. Some people don’t. So I went it alone.

When “Threads” first came out, I had a book signing and sold about 10 books. One of these books went to someone who knew a movie producer, and she passed the book along to him. He contacted me and wanted to make Threads into a movie. I couldn’t find an agent, and I’d read the horror story of Mrs. Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) who got $5,000 for the rights to her story, while Hollywood made millions. I didn’t want to do it without an agent, so I said no. Then, the second offer came about a year later, and I STILL couldn’t get an agent, so I turned that one down as well. When the third offer came, and I got two author friends to offer up their agents, so I picked one. She negotiated my contract for me. However, the movie never came to be.

Then an agent in Italy wanted to sign me. She had “Threads” translated, and sold it to a publisher in Europe.

It was very strange. I would sign into e-mail…how were these people finding my book? I never did find out.

Do you have other work out, such as short stories that readers can look at?

I’m not really a writer in the sense that I write whenever I can. I never wrote before “Threads”, and since then I’ve written “All Torc’d Up”. My profession was “Technical Writer”, so I wrote that. But that’s primarily all I’ve got.

What is your advice to aspiring authors concerning the craft of writing, a
writer¹s life or your genre of choice? Marketing?

You have to have a network. You have to have a group of people, a forum, a board, SOMETHING, that keeps you apprised of what’s going on. Things changed so quickly in the past few years. Paperback sales are dying. E-books are selling like hotcakes. You need to have a group of other authors who can hold your hand through the process, proofread your pitches, and give you honest feedback.

What should aspiring authors know about the publishing industry (besides
everything)?  Is there something important in particular that you have

I am not the sort of person who would do well with a traditional publisher. I put too much effort into it to water it down, or to consider “markets”, or what have you. I wouldn’t do well with being told to change things. I do know this: Indie publishers are making money. Traditionally published authors are languishing. The whole world is upside down.

Please tell us about your upcoming work.

My newest book is available at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38162. It will be available at other online vendors, including Amazon, shortly.

All Torc’d Up

In Chicago, 1958, a gunshot alters four-year old Holly’s life: her mentally ill mother has just committed suicide. Holly is subsequently raised by her grandmother whose abusive parenting laid the groundwork for her mother’s death.

Surviving her childhood, but still damaged and angry, 19-year-old Holly unexpectedly falls in love. Dreams of marriage and children, and a "normal" life, are suddenly within her grasp when she meets Trevor, who works as a roadie for a famous English rock band. However, as the relationship progresses she suspects that she may be more damaged than she previously thought.

Within the world of 1970s Rock and Roll, and with the bus, and the band and its entourage as a backdrop, the story takes Holly on tour across country as her relationship with Trevor gets progressively more serious, and her illness gets increasingly more difficult to hide.

Where can readers find you?

Thank you so much for being my guest today and taking time out to do this
interview! When I first heard about your book, Threads, I knew I had to have
it.  I really enjoyed it and will be looking for your other work. I
appreciate your time and insights.  Sincerely, Laura Hogg

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