Reid Rosenthal: Ahhhh…inquisitive minds want to know?
Eve Paludan: A lot of readers have asked about this aspect of your writing.
Reid Rosenthal: I am chuckling. Would you believe I am in touch with my feminine side? Truth be known, there are portions of the female voice I think I handle well, but there are segments of the female psyche that I truly believe no man fully understands. It helps that I have spent a good deal of time with (for the most part) some truly exceptional gals during my life. I have learned from them.
I have been a rapt observer of mannerisms, thought processes—well, at least a portion of “female think”—and I have watched many women, from all walks of life and completely disparate backgrounds react to both the mundane and the serious—be it passion or pathos within their own lives and their interactions with others.
Eve Paludan: So, I suppose it’s no stretch of the truth to say that you are something of a student of Mars versus Venus?
Reid Rosenthal: I do find the differences between the genders fascinating. I spent a great deal of time writing certain sections of Threads West to ensure real and true interaction among the ladies themselves, and with the male characters.
Eve Paludan: You do it well. I keep going back to read the romantic interludes. They’re poignant and moving.
Reid Rosenthal: Ah, the steamy heat of passions, the red glow of touch, the wonder of magnetic attraction are all things I—and I believe all of us—have experienced. Those always mystical experiences are the basis for the sensuality of certain moments in the book.
Eve Paludan: Was it difficult to write in your female characters’ voices?
Reid Rosenthal: Not really, though I struggled with a few scenes in which the female reaction, both internal and external, probably could never be fully understood by a male. In those cases, I would turn for guidance to my great editor, Page Lambert.
Eve Paludan: Is that Page Lambert, the author of Shifting Stars?
Reid Rosenthal: Among many other books, including fiction, nonfiction, short stories, you name it.
Eve Paludan: So what do you and Page talk about?
Reid Rosenthal: The conversation in those instances was invariably something like this: “So, do you think that is realistic?” I would query. “No” would be Page’s response. A protracted silence would follow.
Then I’d continue, “Okay—why would she not have reacted that way? That’s exactly what my reaction would have been if I was her, based on her personality.”
Page’s reply: “You can’t be her. You are not a her. Draw on your experience, metamorphose into the state of being of the other, and then write the scene again.”
And with that, I would start over, trying to put myself in the mind and heart of a woman in a particular situation, drawing deep into the energies around me to ferret and sift out the essence, the true essence of thought, emotion and action of a lady in such a setting. Sometimes I play-acted, unilaterally acting a dialogue and a scene down to props.
Eve Paludan: That sounds like a great way to connect with your characters. The women felt genuine to me.
Reid Rosenthal: I am pleased you thought the female voices rich, non-stereotypical, and believable, whether in joy or dangerous adversity from a female reader’s perspective.
Eve Paludan: Readers want to know: In Threads West, which one of the men characters is you?
Reid Rosenthal: I am laughing. There have been scores of folks—no, make that hundreds—who have earnestly inquired as to which character I am, or most resemble. They usually await my answer with a slight forward lean and intent stare. I am none of them. I am all of them. We are all a part of them and they of us.
Eve Paludan: It is true about readers connecting with the characters in the book, relating to their passion and their pain.
Reid Rosenthal: That each reader and the author can identify with traits, actions, thoughts and feelings of the personalities of Threads West might be why I find readers truly care for and about these characters.
Eve Paludan: I do care about them. I wonder why they did this or that, when they could have done things differently.
Reid Rosenthal: We cluck disapprovingly when they make poor or disappointing decisions, scream warnings as they head obliviously into danger, shake our heads when they miss their cues in personal interactions—particularly with the opposite sex—tremble as they encounter adversity, and cheer when they exhibit courage.
We feel their passions, palpably sense their yearnings, and identify with the turmoil of their inner conflicts—In Rebecca, Sarah, Reuben, Johannes, Zeb, and Inga, we see ourselves, perhaps in some more than others depending upon the reader. But there is undeniably an empathy, that mirror and portal, time and energy warp that we spoke of earlier. We truly care about them and for them. And this interest extends even to Jacob, though that may be more of a wish to see justice served.
Eve Paludan: The characters are passionate, not just about each other, but also about the land.
Reid Rosenthal: Some begin that way, others will learn. The land is the source of energies, and the creator of moods. It is the mystical stage that shapes the personalities, ambitions, duplicities, and triumphs of the players who line dance fleetingly upon it until retired by the shoulder taps of successive generations. It can be the catalyst of enmity, greed and conflict, and is always the backdrop of love, passion, lust and personal interaction. The Land is all this, and more.
Eve Paludan: You paint such a seductive land, as well as its people.
Reid Rosenthal: I will borrow a paragraph from the inside back cover of the book: If the mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, shiny flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze, and crimson tendrils of dying sun...if the fingers feel the silken skin pulse of a lover and the lips taste the deep hot kisses of building passion... If nostrils flare with the conjured scents of gunpowder and perfume, sagebrush and pine, and the ears delight in the murmur of river current...if the heart pounds with anticipation of the outcome in the realistic clash of good and evil...if the gut boils with care about the lives, conflicts and interaction of the characters...and if the head nods with understanding at the authenticity of the scenes and personalities, then as a fiction author, I have accomplished my mission.
Eve Paludan: That’s the kind of imagery that makes your novel breathtaking.
Reid Rosenthal: I appreciate that thought, Eve, thanks!
Eve Paludan: I think when readers finish a book and feel like it was true, that speaks of the author’s talent for realism, especially in relationships. The male characters in Threads West are just so appealing.
Eve Paludan: Very few male authors can pull off a romance, but you did it with finesse and, dare I say, with heart?
Reid Rosenthal: Romance is the universal language, and in my personal opinion, it’s the interpersonal energy that most resembles the energy of land. Perhaps that is why stories that mingle those two very primal forces, which are essential parts of us all, resonate to some deep and meaningful inner core of our beings.
Eve Paludan: That’s beautiful. If I could take away one thing from your book and inject it into my own work, it would be the indefinable but real energy that surrounds these characters and their physical settings.
Reid Rosenthal: It is all energy! Steamy, exciting, absorbing insight into the real American West, and the life threads of these driven men and feisty women—the vanguard of generations who braved the unknown, and shaped the heart of a great nation! This is our story.
Eve Paludan: You had me at “This is our story.”
Reid Rosenthal: As it should be.
Eve Paludan: I know that you love to hunt and fish and ride. I know you'll also jump in a bush plane to go see the aurora borealis or ride miles on horseback to get a photo of a rainbow. Can you share one or two of your exciting outdoor adventures that inspired a scene in Threads West?
Reid Rosenthal: Life is an adventure. It is to be lived. My grandfather once told me that we all have a million miles to burn and we can burn them fast or slow. I don't plan on sliding into home plate with a clean uniform. It is the quality of the experience—although when speaking of places wild and remote, qualitative aspects range from good to great. Sometimes one must travel far to find the truly special. Generally speaking, those are places without people and the seldom if ever seen human footprint. It is locations where the only lights in a never-ending expanse of black night are stars peeking over ridge tops. I suppose some would say it’s adventure, but to me it’s just life.
Eve Paludan: I heard a rumor that some people in high places are interested in your Threads West series for its many messages of love, hope, and struggles for the American dream, which is to own land of their own. How is the Threads West novel series a backbone or inspiration in that regard?
While I hope that this novel will capture the hearts of female romance lovers, and ignite the macho adventure streak in the men who read the book, in macro context I want this story and the entire Threads West, An American Saga series to remind people of our origin, of the fire and struggle that have shaped our American spirit. Perhaps it is that recall that will help rekindle the fervor of pride, hope, and the can-do, can-overcome attitude that has been—and can be again—the marrow of America.
Eve Paludan: Thank you, Reid Lance Rosenthal, for this amazing interview series.
Reid Rosenthal: The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for the interview and for the book review. And thanks so much to Jodie Renner for allowing us space for this guest blog.
Readers, October 12th, TODAY is the book launch! Threads West will be available for the first time in print on Amazon.com. Other outlets will carry the novel as well, over the coming months. However, this is the very limited first printing, just 4,500 copies, and as of this interview, it appears that more than half have already been reserved. So, folks should go to: http://www.threadswestamericansaga.com/