Q&A with Chuck Redman, A Cottonwood Stand
How did you select your narrator?
I listened to auditions of about a dozen narrators, all talented, but as soon as I heard Mike’s I knew that his voice and character were the voice that I’ve been hearing in my head ever since I started writing my first rough draft. Even the inflections and timing were perfect, better than I had even imagined! It made me smile, big time.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
Mike is such an amazing actor and narrator, with such sharp instincts and intuitiveness, that he needed no real “direction” from me. There were only a few Nebraska-related words or names that we needed to talk about. I hereby declare that Mike is now an honorary Nebraskan!
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
My home town in Nebraska and my current town in California both played big roles in shaping the idea for the story (the special magic of small towns and big trees). And some of our memorable friends from my youth in Nebraska may have helped shape a character or two.
What's your favorite:
Song: Stranger in Paradise
Book: A Tale of Two Cities
Television show: All in the Family
Movie: (that’s a tough one) Doctor Zhivago
Band: My son and daughter are in bands: Cave Babies, SOAR, and Coherence. Check them out!
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Ah, that’s easy: read good literature, as much as you can get your hands on! Browse the library for forgotten classics.
What’s next for you?
The next story is set in California, not Nebraska. It’s about a retired couple confronted with the loneliness of too much togetherness. They begin to realize that, sometimes, two’s not company, it’s a crowd. She wants to make new friends, but he has grander ideas. So he goes overboard with a certain guilty promise and an obsession to keep that promise. I just have to figure out whether he sinks or swims (so to speak).
Please list a couple books that have been published by other authors that are similar to yours in style and substance (for instance, “if you liked that book, you’ll like my book.”).
Huckleberry Finn, Little Big Man, Forrest Gump (I know this list seems pretentious, but these are the books that definitely inspired me.)
What are some of the criticisms that your book might receive?
It is not an easy read (or listen), because of the narrator’s dialect, and also because details of the plot are not always directly spelled out. The reader or listener has to do some inferring and analyzing along the way. And of course, not everyone appreciates satire
Anything additional you want to share?
I worry that technology is robbing us of our human nature, our humanity. Some aspects of science and technology are beneficial and beautiful (I’m kind of partial to modern plumbing). But I’m not so sure that cars and television haven’t done way more harm than good. Don’t get me started on those sinister gadgets you put on your kitchen counter and you call them by name and ask them who invented mouthwash or to tell you a joke about St. Patrick’s Day. I wouldn’t want my kids to end up having a best friend that you plug in, instead of one you can play hide and seek with in the park. Sorry to end on a preachy note, but this sort of goes back to the reason I wrote the book in the first place: Trees and nature, GOOD. Big screens and pollution, BAD.
Audiobooks, by and large, are a good thing, though. They represent the positive uses of technology. Blogs, too! Thanks a million for giving me the chance to be interviewed on your blog.