Monday, July 20, 2009

"The Story Behind the Story"--July 19th, 2009

"The Story Behind the Story, an Author Interviewed" Q & A session is my new measure to help the world of independent authors and publishers. If you have released your own book and are looking for ways to promote your efforts, your book and your soul as the creator of your work, contact me HERE to book your online interview on this blog, "Drawing Stories...With Words."


Introducing author Celia Hayes...

Q. Let's start by introducing yourself...
I am Celia Hayes; I am a retired Air Force radio and television broadcast technician, who lives in San Antonio. I am a long-time blogger, and contribute to a handful of blogs as an essayist and book and movie reviewer … among other things
Q. What is the title of your book?
A.  It’s actually three books – The Adelsverein Trilogy, which tell a continuous story, although all three are self-contained and can be read individually. But they are a bit like potato chips; it seems that readers just can’t stop at one

Q. What genre is your book? Who is your audience?
Historical fiction, although if you bend down and squint sideways in a certain light, they can pass as Westerns, being as they are set on the mid-19th century Texas frontier. The Trilogy is about the German settlements in the Texas Hill Country, so my initial audience is … well, everyone in Gillespie County who will want a copy to see if I have mentioned their ancestors. For the larger audience – anyone who loves a ripping good yarn about adventure on the American frontier.

Q. In 150 words or less, what’s your book about?
About the German-established communities, in the Hill Country, the entrepreneur scheme called the Mainzer Adelsverein, who essentially dumped 7,000 German farmers, small craftsmen and intellectuals onto the Texas frontier, and how those who survived the experience settled Gillespie, Kerr and Kendal Counties, built towns, lives and families, endured through the Civil War, prospered afterwards, and essentially became American. I did not actually have to make up very much out of my imagination – just the family that I wrote about and some of what happened to them – because what is recorded in historical documents about what happened to those settlers was completely fascinating, as dramatic as anything. One of my early fans called it “Barsetshire with cypress trees and lots of sidearms”. Oh, and cows. Lots of cows.

Q: Apart from being an author, who are you in relation to your gifts?
A.  I am a story-teller, if anything; I have an affinity for drama, I can read people well, and then create characters out of thin air, a handful of qualities and my own imagination … and I love history. History gives us hope, reassurance, and a pattern to guide us in dark times and when we are in doubt.

Q: Of all the stories you could have written…why did you choose to write this particular book?
A.  I had finished my first novel, “To Truckee’s Trail”, which was about a wagon train party, the first to bring wagons over the Sierra Nevada. They came two years before the Donner Party, also got lost, stuck in the snow, had to break up into separate groups – but they all survived – a great story, which practically no one has ever heard of. I was casting around for what to write about next, and had narrowed it down to something about the 19th century frontier (I already had all the reference books!) and I was comfortable writing 19th-century speech, and didn’t want to write about something which was already well known. So, I was racking my brains: dramatic story, American frontier, 19th century, and I slapped my forehead and realized I lived just down the road from a great and relatively unknown story – the German settlers, around Fredericksburg, with the Comanche peace treaty and all. It was going to be originally just one book, but I started to find out so much material when I started researching that I just had to go on with it.

Q: How much of your personal psyche, your struggle and your insecurities are hidden within the characters of this particular story? (Please elaborate)
A.  I have been kind of amused by the irony that I have written very movingly about happy and loving marriages, but was never married, myself. Kind of like Jane Austin, I guess – never married, never seriously courted, but wrote so charmingly and endearingly about it all. I also have had a very strong relationship with my father, and with my brothers, so some of that comes through, I think; father-son, father-daughter, and brother-sister relationships are a very strong element in the Trilogy. And I write about strong women, who still have to deal with having responsibility thrown onto them, who sometimes don’t feel quite up to the challenge of it, who do have doubts about themselves, feel their own limitations, or feel a little resentful because they are not conventionally pretty, or perhaps don’t conform to the expectations that they think others have of them.

Q. Apart from writing stories, in which direction do you see your career heading and what will you bring to the literary world outside producing new stories.
A.  Well, I do love telling stories – especially those stories which no one really knows too much about. I think I am pretty well hooked on historical fiction; it’s how most people know about our past – and it’s absolutely essential that people know about where we came from, and how our ancestors (real and metaphorical) coped. So I also try to be absolutely faithful to the historical record – to the point where my books can be sold through historical museum bookstores. All that, and tell a ripping good yarn, too; Which is really not very hard, because real history is full of just straight-up and incredible stories and characters.

Q. Who would you say is your literary mentor?
A.  If anyone – Rudyard Kipling; he told terrific stories, and wrote sympathetically about an incredibly wide range of characters. More recently, I suppose George McDonald Fraser, of the “Flashman” series – ripping good yarns, but seriously researched – to the point of having historical footnotes and notes in the back of the book.

Q. What has been your greatest inner struggle to overcome with relation to your literary career?
To finish stuff; I am, or was, the most awfully lazy person about finishing projects. I would get bored and lose interest and go on to something else. I’m just rather astonished that I’ve been able to finish projects like the Trilogy. It has as many words as the Lord of The Rings. There is another blogger that I read regularly, who speculates that the discipline of blogging regularly, and over a long period of time is good for someone thinking of tackling a bigger project. He may be on to something there; I finished the Trilogy in a little over two years, and now am outlining and researching another series of books…

Q. What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
A.  Never forget where you came from. Never


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