When I started this series it had been my intent for authors to interview other authors about their books. Between my own writing, being one the organizers of GayRomLit, and the EDJ, it’s been a little more difficult to keep up. I do plan to continue to conduct these 5.4.8×5 interviews – but it will likely be just me interviewing authors when I run across a book I enjoyed reading.
The interview below is one Z.A. Maxfield did with me well over a year ago after I first dreamed up the idea behind these interviews. I’ve been sort of holding onto it all this time, waiting for the release of the paperback edition which recently hit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Book Depository. As it may end up being the final guest interview I post – I wanted to say thank you to Z.A. for taking the time to sit down and read my book – let alone come up with such thoughtful questions.
I hope everyone enjoys the interview!
ZA – First let me start off by saying that I LOVE stories where a great, and passionate love gets the timing right after ending earlier, when the timing was wrong…the way they kept ending up in bed together just to SLEEP. They brought each other such love and comfort.
I loved the fact that Sadie is a vital, living character throughout the entire book even though she’s actually an urn filled with ashes. Were you thinking of her as a character, and placing her in scenes so she could interact with the living characters? Because she certainly did interact, which you don’t usually see done, and I might add, done so beautifully. Was that a conscious choice on your part?
ED – Thanks Z! That’s most likely more generous a compliment than I deserve, but I’ll happily accept it anyway. : ) There’s an older movie with Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster from ages ago called Stealing Home. In the movie, Foster’s character has committed suicide leaving the responsibility of her ashes to Harmon. I won’t get into the entire back story of the film – y’all can go find it and watch it if you like – but it’s one of those movies that inevitably gets to me each time I go back and watch it. The urn and Cassidy’s interaction with it at the beginning of the book is an idea that sprang from that film. I think it was a useful tool for me when it came to telling this story. A way for me to showcase Cassidy’s solitude in the beginning – even with his best friends he’s forever holding part of himself back. His time spent with the urn becomes less and less the farther into the book we go. The more we learn about Sadie, the less isolated Cassidy becomes. He’s learning new things about her and letting go of the guilt he’s been stifled by with regard to her final years.
It was very important for Sadie to be remembered as a living breathing entity all her own. Having those memories revealed by individuals other than Cassidy helped her character become more three dimensional for me. That was crucial to making the essence of who she was come alive for me during the writing of it. Sadie’s character had little pieces of my own Gran woven into her DNA – that likely aided me in bringing Sadie to life on the page as well. She certainly became a very real individual to me.
ZA – Love, love, love those settings. The island itself is a character in the book, in the great tradition of all location stories. It’s a place of quirky characters and good friends and long memories…LOVE THAT. Is that a real place, somewhere you’ve been, someplace you went on holiday as a kid?
ED – No – I wish! I’d be moving there if it were. I did spend a good amount of time reading about the North Carolina coast and the Outer Banks. Because it was a fictional location and an island unto itself, I knew I didn’t need for Hart’s Island to be identical to the rest of Carolina coastline, but I wanted it to feel as if it could be there – that if there were an island like this off the Carolina coast, it would be just like Hart’s. I tried to present enough history to make the location seem tactile to the reader while not allowing myself to go overboard and become heavy handed. It’s difficult to know when to say when sometimes – and it will never be right for everyone, as individual readers enjoy varying amounts of setting and back story. When it comes to that, I think each writer has to worry about making themselves happy. It’s your name on the cover and you have to be the one out there pimping it. Difficult to do if you’re not happy with the final product. I find that having a fully fleshed out world in which my characters can move around in helps me better visualize the story – but that’s just me.
ZA – Cassidy’s family is awful and he has to make some pretty gutsy choices about them. Even though he’s full of all kinds of anxiety and issues, he’s extremely healthy with regard to what love means. He knows what good relationships are, and cherishes them. Was that tough to balance? Did you have some hard decisions when writing his character and when you did the rewrites did they change? (I’m trying not to give spoilers)
ED – I think for Cassidy, it was Sadie and his summers with her that altered who he became as an adult. The things that drove Lionel away from Sadie and everything she stood for are the same ones that drew Cassidy to her. Without those external influences growing up, Cassidy would have likely become a much more unlikeable character. Unlike his parents or grandparents for that matter, he had the benefit of growing up with a side by side comparison of both worlds. Lionel hated Sadie for keeping him away from his father’s side of the family during his childhood, while Sadie was raised with her father’s prejudices against the exceedingly wealthy Winter’s type of lifestyle. Cassidy was given a unique and unparalleled all access pass that allowed him to better pick out the flaws of each and taught him how to spot genuineness in others. It was intentional on my part to show that Cassidy was smart enough to recognize that money isn’t everything. Life with his parents, which held financial security, was also cold and lonely for him. It also threatened to change him in ways he neither wanted nor appreciated. Life with Sadie filled him with love, warmth, & kindness. It’s what brings him back to his true love. : )
ZA – To me, Cassidy is a saver and a recycler, when he’s finished with boyfriends he recycles them, never quite satisfied until they have their own happy endings. He takes in an injured dog even though its injuries revolt him. What do you think it is (about him) that makes his boyfriends stick around even though they’ve been dumped? (I know what my answer would be; I just want yours.)
ED – Personally, I think there’s simply an inherent goodness to Cassidy. He’s an exceedingly earnest individual. When he screws up he genuinely wants to make it right. And I think he’s always seen himself as a stray of sorts. Sadie was the only person who ever made him feel like he was the most important person to them. And I think Sadie was a forever wounded bird who felt driven to reach out and help others. The way she took in Natalie, the way she always made herself available to the other people on the island, these were part of the beliefs she instilled in Cassidy – not via lip service but through her own actions. It’s easy to tell a child something, but leading by example is much more tangible.
It also ties into his own guilt and feelings of failure over being able to protect Sadie. That level of disappointment in himself altered who he became. I don’t think he’ll ever throw in the towel on anyone without doing everything within his power to salvage the relationship. He was an interesting character for me because he was warm and kind – people were naturally drawn to him. At the same time, he keeps most at arm’s length – even the men he’s dated over the years don’t really know him – at least not while they’re dating him. That’s part of the draw of Nate for Cass – they share a history and Nate knows who he is. Cassidy can’t keep him at a distance because of that history.
ZA – At Pipers Point is hilarious and heartbreaking by turns. If I had gotten it in print format I’d have hugged it to myself at the end. What did you feel when you finished that book? Was there a catharsis? Was it a whew, it’s over, or darn, I can’t live there anymore? Were you as invested emotionally in this book as I believe you must have been to have written it with such exquisite emotional involvement?
ED – This is actually somewhat interesting and it changed throughout the entire process until right before the book was released. It wasn’t an easy book for me to write to begin with, mainly because of my personal history, experiences, and guilt over my relationship with my real life Gran that got wrapped up in Cassidy’s story. It took longer to finish and there were many times throughout the process that I was pleading with the writing gods to let me be done with it already!
It was fun at times, and sad – emotionally draining at others. When it was done, I sent it off to my editor – happy to be rid of it, lol. Not the usual response when finishing a book. I re-read it a few weeks before it was released and I’m so happy I did. My entire perspective changed. It was as if all the turmoil that writing it had put me through just melted away. I was very happy with the end result – I think it’s probably the best book I’ve written – overall. It’s a bit more well rounded in the sense that is has more emotional depth than anything else I’ve written and released, but still has all the laughs. The entire tone of the book ended up being exactly what I’d imagined from conception – Cassidy’s journey was satisfying for me as reader and writer.
ZA – My only problem, my dear E, was how to make all those things I was so enthusiastic about into questions…? You are perfectly awesome, and I LOVED this book.
ED – Thank you again for taking the time to read the book, Z! The interview was just extra icing on that cake. : )
e-book available Here or at most retailers
At Piper’s Point
Available in e-book & now in Paperback
from MLR Press
Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy’s plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel as interruptions run roughshod beginning with Neil who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one when the little dog he rescues from the hounds of hell brings him to Ben, the hunky vet who rescues Cassidy right back. News of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love Nate Sommers to his doorstep – leaving Cassidy spiraling into a multi-layered love snafu. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.
Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis as Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie’s life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly what he wants. While he’s certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he’s ready or able for love and life…At Pipers Point.
What people are saying about At Piper’s Point:
5 Stars and a Recommended Read from Dark Diva Reviews
"Wacky, loving characters, snarky humor, and screwball antics perfectly balanced by emotional depth make At Piper’s Point by Ethan Day the best book he has written to date."
Click here to read the full review
5 Stars from Aunt Lynn @ Reviews by Jessewave
"Run, don’t walk, to pick up this latest story by the wonderful Ethan Day. You won’t be sorry."
Click here to read the full review
5 Stars from Michele-n-Jeff Reviews
“Ethan Day’s quick wit and talent for character development makes At Piper’s Point a genuine pleasure to experience.”
Click here to read the full review