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?
Gastien Part One: The Cost of the Dream: