Author Interview – Caddy Rowland

Today, author Caddy Rowland joins Landra for an enlightening interview. Take it away, ladies!

1. Gastien Part 1 The Cost of the Dream is your first book, and Part 2 is available now- will there be a Part 3? 

Yes. The Gastien Series is historical fiction/family saga. There will be at least four books in the series, possibly five. Tristan Michel: Bloodline of Passion (Book 3 of the Gastien Series) will be out sometime in late spring of this year.

2. Next, I always like to ask this question- what research did you have to do for this book? Particularly the French phrases, are you already familiar with the language or was this your first experience? 

I had to do quite a bit of research to find out about the era, Paris, and the village of Montmartre. Even more time was spent in research than in writing the story. I used the internet and several books: Bohemian Paris (Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930 by Jerrold Seigel, A Mecca of Modern Art 1860-1920 Paris Montmartre by Sylvie Buisson/Christian Parisot, and Montmartre by Philippe Julian. I wanted to make sure characters did not use things or talk about things that were not available then; that they used correct words for items. For instance, men wore trousers not pants. There were not taxi-cabs but cabriolets. I made the decision that the dialog would be more contemporary to show that the bohemian artists were way ahead of the rest of society, not only in art but in thought. If something hit every beta reader as a mistake it got pulled. For example, the word “gig”. I originally had Gastien use that word several times. I had looked it up and by that time in history the word had been used somewhere else. Paris was the hotbed for all types of artists, with artists flocking in from all over the world. They would have heard that word and would have been using it. Since all beta readers highlighted it as a mistake it told me that readers would think it was too recent of a word so it got pulled.

As far as the French goes, I do not speak French. That took quite a bit of research. I talked to French speaking people (in France) for some of the words to make sure the right conjugation of a word was used. French words have a LOT of conjugations! Obviously, some of the words we all know, but I decided to list even the common ones in a glossary and use an endnote (footnote in paperback) the first time a word is used. I also knew that some people would love this addition and some would find it odd. I felt it gave a unique flavor to the book and also knew the bohemians were considered odd, so the “oddness” fit. So far, more people have said it was a nice addition than that it was jarring, so that is cool.

3. What do you want reader’s to take away from reading Gastien’s story? 

I want several things. I want to make people think. If they refuse to think, I at least want them to feel. Main characters should not always be easy to love or even like. Just like people they can have major flaws. And just like people, they sometimes can’t get past them. Gastien was an extremely damaged man who tried to get through life without going insane, in an era where there was no help for damaged people and hard drugs were legal. In addition he was an artist and in general artists are quite different. It is easy to say “grow up” or “get over it” but sometimes so much abuse has happened that a person gets stuck. It is a character study and a study about how hard it really was (and still is) for a person perceived as “lower class” to get anywhere. A story about how some people really do have dreams that are so integral to their happiness that they must live them or die, even if to live them they are perceived as selfish. Those people are so driven that they are destined to have problems with everyday life and letting people in. Doing so takes away from the reason they are here. Yet, they are human and need people. Usually their stories are the most interesting, if people can get past wanting a hero and embrace the humanness of a character with all of his (or her) warts.

4. What parts of this story were the most difficult to write? The easiest? 

The dialog between Gastien and Mic was the easiest. Gastien wrote this book and used my hands, so I was quite surprised with the male humor that came out between them. They were very young peasant men who “talked trash” to each other, much like young men probably always have and always will all over the world. The hardest was an extremely graphic scene toward the end of book one. That scene was “given” to me a little bit of a time. It was very dark and very painful.

5. Finally, do you have a special connection with painting? If not, why painting as the subject of Gastien’s dream? 

Yes, I do. I am a painter. The reason painting was the subject of his dream? Well, I had recently had breast cancer and was struggling with life issues and the question of why I had always panicked whenever I started to get immersed in painting. I knew I was supposed to paint, but would always pull back. I went and had some past life regression done through a highly qualified therapist. I was hypnotized. I found myself in a room with a table that had a candle lit on it. Gastien was kind of leaning back against the table. It was the first time I met him. Now, I am not saying if I was Gastien or if “creative energy” was released in me after those sessions, but after that I started receiving “downloads” or information in dreams and during daytime hours about his life. It would happen at work, while eating, at any time. The “downloads” were intense and detailed. The therapist said that would likely happen for a few weeks. It kept on for a month. I know Gastien existed. The name “Gastien” came to me during the first session. I picked “Beauchamp” for the last name. It was obvious he needed closure and healing; that he wanted his story known. That is why I say he wrote the story. I simply placed my hands on the keyboard for an hour every day, five days a week and let him talk. His story was much darker than what he gave me for the books. I think he told it how he wished it could have been, without losing the main core of who he was and what happened. Both book 1 and 2 were written at the same time. I think was his way of saying “I wish I could have had it a little easier” and “I wish I could have communicated to people that mattered a little better.” Still, he shared a lot of his flaws no matter how they would be taken. When I wrote the book I thought I would not share how it was written or those experiences I had. It is very uncomfortable to lie, though. I tell the truth or hint at it. Heck, I am an artist so many people think I am nuts anyway! Another reason I felt hesitant to do so was that I did not want to cheapen my experience by making it sound like a publicity stunt. It isn’t. It was real, it was gut-wrenching and it was enlightening. Ultimately, it is sacred to me. To lie cheapens it more than telling the truth. People will have to assume what they want. When I am dying it will matter very little what strangers assumed about me anyway. Staying true to my soul is what is important. Sounds a lot like Gastien, doesn’t it?

 

Thanks, Caddy!!!

Gastien Part One: The Cost of the Dream:

Available in Paperback at https://www.createspace.com/3664944
Available on Amazon.com for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/3ecu8ku
Available on Barnes&Noble.com for NOOK http://tinyurl.com/3ue4a7h

 

Review: Gastien Part One: The Cost of the Dream – Landra’s Take

Rating: Maybe/Nay

Sometimes an offer for fortune is too good to be true. For Gastien the dream of painting for the rest of his days is too strong to run from any chance at potential success. Leaving the family farm Gastien seeks his painting glory, and future, in the city of Paris. Many trials wait as Gastien encounters the hard truths of being on one’s own with no money, connections, or help beyond the raw talent and knowledge he possesses.

This story was definitely gripping at times, and there are a lot of lessons to learn from the trials and tribulations of Gastien Beauchamp. Rowland does a good job of conveying emotions and painting a setting that readers can connect with. At the same time this story has a rollercoaster of events that play out, similar to the highs and lows of one suffering from depression. For Gastien, ‘when it rains it pours’ is the best way to describe his good times and bad. Definitely a coming of age story, and appears to be a tale of reflection or a character biography.

Ultimately I found that I did not like Gastien, and by the end of part 1 his character had grown very little. Part 1 only covers about 3 years of Gastien’s life; so additional character growth may be coming in part II. He seemed a bit too perfect and lucky, but then some of his poor choices helped to balance the character. I couldn’t get emotionally involved with this character. I think what baffled me the most was the end of this book. The last hundred pages left me a bit a shell shocked. I was caught off guard, and I applaud Rowland for having the element of surprise.

Additionally, head jumping was disjointed and jarred me from the story with each occurrence; I found this more frequently towards the end. For me the ‘nay’ consists with personal preference in writing styles and dialogue. When reading I felt that in many instances the dialogue was forced, but to others this may be just a difference in speaking from French to English. As Cate recommended, I would concur that a sample read is best when considering this book for purchase.

*This book is for adult readers and does contain graphic scenes of sexual acts, which may offend those sensitive to such topics.

Review: Gastien Part One: The Cost of the Dream – Cate’s Take

Genre: Historical Fiction/Family Saga

Rating: Maybe

For young Gastien Beauchamp, a life running his father’s farm feels like a prison sentence. He’s wanted to paint since he can remember, and only his mother understands the desire. Gastien is a natural artist, a lover of color, texture, light, and life, and he resolves to do whatever it takes to accomplish his dream of not just becoming an artist, but becoming an artist in the grand city of Paris.

 Oh, and he also wants to become the best lover EVER. He just has to learn how.

When we first meet feisty Gastien Beauchamp, he’s being groomed to take over his abusive father’s farm, but this isn’t the life he wants for himself. He vows to make it in Paris, to someday own a studio, and to become the Parisian Don Juan. All of this is well and good, but there’s a problem—Gastien is dirt poor, and everything in Paris has a price.

Rowland gives us the tumultuous life of a French peasant whose fortuitous, sometimes unbelievable, ups are matched by hellatious, and often brutal, downs. Destitute, Gastien quickly goes from dirt-poor, bright-eyed peasant to a street-saavy beggar with seemingly unlimited good luck. Just when Gastien’s life couldn’t get much worse, he comes across a stroke of incredible luck that completely changes his situation, only to have his life crash around him again.

In the beginning, I had a lot of trouble connecting to Gastien’s character. He seemed too perfect, too good at everything. I hoped *cruelly* that the other shoe would drop, but I didn’t expect it to beat him into submission. Rowland doesn’t leave anything out. What Gastien endures on the streets is heart and gut-wrenching.

After a while, I started to mellow out toward him. Even though he is unbelievably good at everything, he started to become a little more human as he experienced his failures. As it turns out, though he might be an incredibly talented artist and lover, he’s not all that great at being on his own. It helps to balance him out, and made the book much more enjoyable.

Part of the difficulty connecting had to do with the writing. I wasn’t as drawn into it, even though Gastien’s story is quite an interesting one. Of course, that’s the subjective part, but I’d recommend downloading a sample to see if you and the writing get along before committing to the full book.

This Week’s Read: Gastien Part 1 – The Cost of the Dream by Caddy Rowland

Stunningly handsome Gastien has two dreams that burn relentlessly inside of him. First, he wants to become a great artist. Nineteenth century France is a hotbed of new ideas in art; unfortunately, naïve young men, hoping to achieve impossible dreams, die in the gutters of Paris every day.

Gastien also wants to become a great lover. That will not be so difficult. So far, nineteenth century women can only dream of a man who cares if he actually satisfies them!
He has no training, no money, and no connections. And, he is a virgin…so far.

What does he have? Raw, natural talent, a willingness to learn, and a face and body no woman will be able to resist. He vows to stop at nothing to make his dreams come true.

Gastien Beauchamp, Paris is yours for the taking.

Sometimes, the “impossible” is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream
Available in Paperback at https://www.createspace.com/3664944
Available on Amazon.com for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/3ecu8ku
Available on Barnes&Noble.com for NOOK http://tinyurl.com/3ue4a7h


Author Interview – Jenn Leblanc

This week, author/photographer Jenn Leblanc joins IBRU for a one-on-one. Thanks for stopping by Jenn!!!!!

1. What was your inspiration for the project as a whole, and what influenced your decision to release TRATR as a serial novel?

The book came from a dream, as kitschy as that sounds, I woke up with the first line, and incidentally, an image, in my mind. I knew I had to write the story of the girl running, I needed to know what she was so terrified of. I finished the manuscript in about three months, and I started edits with a content editor. In October I figured I needed to start querying, and I decided to shoot a cover for my book to try and stand out, maybe get some attention. When I found my hero, Derek,

Why, hello there, handsome!

we went into my studio to do just that. I knew exactly what I wanted the cover to look like, a strong portrait. Simple. But we had so much fun that I decided we should just keep going, and he was game. That’s where it went illustrated. The serial came because it was SOOOO long, and it naturally fell into a serialized format. Of course, between the illustrations and the serialization I didn’t think any publisher would ever be interested, and the answers I was getting from agents was really confirming that.

2. You’ve worked on several non-book-related (and award-winning!) projects. How did shooting for TRATR differ from these experiences?

SO very much. I have done studio and art photography in the past but my primary focus has been photojournalism, and yes, I’ve won awards for my work as a photojournalist. In photojournalism I have no control, I don’t know what I’m walking into most of the time,and have limited amount of time to find an image and shoot it, I’m not allowed to set things up, I’m not allowed to edit the images, it is about as far from studio as it can get, for those simple reasons. TRATR was also a very extended project, it really was like shooting a movie in that I had to plan the scenes and costuming, schedule the shoot to make it more efficient, cast the characters, design the sets. It was very intense. I worked on several extended documentary projects, but of course the subject matter is so different.

3. Certainly Gideon and Francine, Perry and Lilly, both couples are show stealers, but what inspired architect Amberley Shaw’s relationship with Alice?

Amberley, I’m not sure where he came from. I’m a pantser so he showed up basically without notice in the garden, just when Francine needed him. But he was such a genuine and endearing character, and I needed Gideon to feel safe with him, so I decided he needed to be one of those rare men who was undeniably smitten with a woman. One he couldn’t have. They have taken on a life of their own, my readers want to know their story now, how they met. They know just the ending, but want me to fill in the blanks. I probably will.

4. What challenges did you face while writing Lilly? Francine?

SPOILER ALERTS!!
🙂

Lilly was certainly a challenge considering her history. I was shocked when he pulled her from the carriage, I didn’t know she was in there until the light hit her face and he saw the scars. So the surprise you have when reading it? That was the surprise I had when writing it. I had to put it away for a couple days and really think about it. One, she is a servant and two, she is terribly misused. But, they spoke to me in those two days, Perry and Lilly, they told me they belonged together. Perry really did the convincing, and it took a bit because he had to make me believe he wasn’t just in it for the fun stuff. I know this must sound funny to some people. *shrugs* These people have conversations in my head that end up on paper. They are very dear to me.

As for Francine, I had to figure out how she was to survive in her new world without ending up like Gideon’s mother. That wasn’t an easy thing to work through either, but she was sure she could do it. She was also convinced, after seeing him that first day that she would do whatever it took to remain, and that he felt the same. Turned out she was right.

5. What’s next for you? Will there be more pictures?

There will ALWAYS be more pictures. Always. That isn’t something I do, it really is who I am. Right now I am shooting for some authors, and finishing up my next manuscript, BETWEEN A FRIEND AND FOREVER, which I should be shooting this summer. I’m excited about it, because the main heroine is just so different. She has a few issues, I thought originally she had tourettes but I’m now thinking she has extreme anxiety or Aspberger’s with a chaser of OCD. To top it off she is the daughter and sole heir to a Duke, who is ill, and she must secure her future and that of her mother before they are cast out of his properties. She has come to be known as Twitchy on twitter, because of her little quirks, and those who have met her have found her quite endearing. I read a teaser for an interview once, and now get asked about her all the time. After this is another epic serial novel…and the heroes of this one will be Calder and Warrick. Readers are already fighting over them. So I have to get busy.

I hear you ladies would like some of the unpubbed images? So I’ve included some of those that didn’t make the cut. Because I can 🙂

Thanks, Jen!!!!!!! 

If you like what you see, there’s more available in The Rake and the Recluse (obviously), and they are delicious.

Check out TRATR at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads. For more photographic goodness, check out Jenn’s website.

Without further ado, here are those pics Jenn promised. Enjoy 😉

 

Review: The Rake and the Recluse – Landra’s Take

Rating: Yay!

An epic romance filled with verbal and visual imagery that leaves nothing to speculation. That’s the best way to describe Jenn LeBlanc’s six-part historical romance book with illustrations. Yes, you heard correctly, there are pictures. The story centers around two brothers, Gideon and Perry. One is a Duke and the other a Viscount. Both have their own flaws, and holdups leading different lives as they’ve overcome the loss of their parents and the absence of true love.

Parts 1-4 center on Gideon, The Duke of Roxleigh, whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of the mysterious Francine. She’s been shipped to the past from the 21st Century; think Kate and Leopold…sort of. Bottom line is this unconventional lady, who wishes underwear was in existence in the 1800s, is here to stay and plague Gideon with the deepest emotions he’s ever experienced; which is a challenge for a man bent to the will of propriety.

Parts 5 & 6 are all about the Rake, Viscount ‘Perry’ Trumbull. He’s the carefree brother, determined to stay single forever. That is until the beautiful and scarred Lily appears in his carriage, begging for asylum and for release from her nightmares. The two share a whirlwind entanglement, leaving both starved for each other and wondering how on Earth they can be together when society deems they should live apart.

Both brothers are equally fascinating. They lost their mother at a young age and grew up with different beliefs to guide them. But I absolutely love their loyalty and protective natures! Their female counterparts are the complete opposite of them. As Francine is a modern women placed in a different situation, and Lily is a member of the servant class suddenly vaulted into high society. This story is chock full of excitement and emotion. The emotional experiences of all the characters are what I enjoyed the most. Though some may feel that there’s a ton of internal dialogue, I think it’s perfect. You feel as if you know each of the main characters intimately. As if you’re sharing not just the experience, but every emotional affect the experiences have on the characters.

Of course there are plenty of steamy scenes, tension, and a villainous duo that had me pulling my hair out. Really, I wouldn’t have been nearly as nice as our heroes, but that’s why they’re the heroes and I’m a reader. By the end of the story I was enthralled by Perry and Gideon’s male cousins, who I hope get illustrated tales of their own in the future. So you can catch plenty of excitement and romance from the main group, but the secondary cast is a force of itself as well.

Honestly for a self-published work The Rake and The Recluse stands in a class of its own. I will warn potential readers—this is an epic piece of fiction, and by epic I mean lengthy. So be prepared to read for a bit, but the entire story is worth it. If you’re a romance fan, and enjoy a visual aspect to your reading experience buy this now!

Review: The Rake and the Recluse – Cate’s Take

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Romance

Rating: Yay!

Francine Larabee has life figured out. Career, husband, kids. In that order. But fate had other plans.

Welcome to the world of The Rake and the Recluse. 21st century businesswoman Francine, through a fate-changing car accident, is thrust into 19th century England in the body of her ancestor Madeline Larabee. She wakes up on the estate of the delicious and stoic Gideon, the Duke of Roxleigh (AKA the Recluse), who’s just as confused by her improper attitude as Francine is by his obsession with propriety. 

This book…oh this book. There’s a lot to love about it. Francine is a firebrand in a time when women are no more than property.  She immediately grabs Gideon’s attention and holds on through a gripping story that will keep you turning pages from beginning to end.

Also, those pages? Some are illustrated. With photos. Beautiful photos. Jenn shot and designed all of her cover art. I love her deeply for it.

Apart from Gideon and Francine, Jenn gives us a great supporting cast through Gideon’s servants and extended family, including his delicious brother Perry, Viscount of Trumbull. We’ll get to Perry momentarily.

What I loved about Gideon and Francine’s relationship is watching Gideon’s self-restraint slowly, almost painstakingly, unravel.  There are deliciously seductive moments, intense moments, beautiful moments between these two people who seem so wrong for each other and yet fit just right.

There were a few parts where I felt like Francine was accepting her life a little too easily, where I wanted to see her fiery personality come out. She tries to fit in, really, she does, but she doesn’t succeed very well or very often to the dismay of Gideon’s servants and the embarrassment of the ton. But it’s impossible to deny the chemistry between Gideon and Francine, the way moments between them smolder. They’re incredible to read and some parts will leave you breathless.

 Now to Perry, the Rake.

Jenn’s book is written in six parts. Parts 1-4 are primarily about Francine and Gideon. Parts 5 and 6? Aaaaall Perry.

Perry has a bit of a reputation among the ton. He is the George Clooney of 19th century London, never gonna settle down because there’s no point. As long as Gideon is okay and able to serve his duties to the Crown, Perry’s free to do whatever he wants.

Until he meets Lilly, a servant in Gideon’s household.

Lilly offers an entirely different set of challenges than Francine. She’s been through a horribly traumatic experience that has left her fearful of a man’s touch. After her recovery, she hides away in Perry’s carriage as he’s leaving Gideon’s estate for his townhouse in London. She asks him to help her by…well…ya know. And Perry has no idea what to do. He agrees, reluctantly, at first, thinking it’ll just be casual, but as he and Lilly get to know each other, he realizes he can’t be without her.

Perry’s amazing. Normally I go for the dark and broody like Gideon, but something about Perry gripped me from his first entrance into the story. He’s hilarious, he’s sexy, and he’s wild. His relationship with Lilly adds more depth to his character than I ever expected, and by the end of TRATR, I was in love with him. I want my own Perry.

Jenn’s writing is solid throughout. She has a tendency to head-hop and gives us different perspectives from all sides of the story. However, there are frequent instances when I had no idea what was going on because there are no breaks. These changes are jolting, and a few times I got really confused. Also, there are A LOT of names, and titles and things to remember. I mention that solely because I’m lazy.

I would definitely recommend TRATR to fans of regency romances and to people who are new to that era of romance in general. Through Francine’s confusion and Perry’s unorthodox relationship with Lilly, the reader learns a lot about the courtship rules and the all-important propriety.

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