Hooray! The sun is out in Yorkshire today, and it’s helping my visitor feel right at home. Author Gordon Rothwell has come all the way from sunny California to talk to me, and we’re sitting outside in my back yard, listening to the buzzing of the bees in the herb patch, drinking cool lemonade and eating ginger biscuits :)
I’ve been looking forward to meeting Gordon for ages. He’s lived a most interesting life, and has plenty of intriguing stories to tell us. In fact, I was left wanting to know much more about Gordon after our interview. Please listen in…
Whereabouts in California do you live, Gordon? I live in a small northern California town, nestled in a valley surrounded by forests and mountains. Majestic Mt. Shasta looms over the city of Redding like a giant vanilla ice cream cone. It is a popular area that attracts many Californians, especially from the San Francisco Bay Area, to come up for boating, fishing, hiking and camping. Redding was originally a railroad depot for trains carrying lumber down to ships waiting at San Francisco docks. The climate is mild in the Spring, but it can get rather hot in the Summer. So be sure to bring your floppy hat and your sunscreen.
I’d love to visit California some day. Apart from your home, where is your favorite place in the world? That’s easy. I’d have to pick Paris, France. Years ago, when I was fresh out of college and newly married I was stuck in a shitty job as a proofreader in a downtown Seattle department store. You know. Making sure the price was $1.99 and not $19.95. That the tee-shirts came in blue, red, white and yellow. And if they were out of yellow, cross that one out. I used to escape at noontime to a nearby record store where a sympathetic clerk let me listen to platters for free in a glass-enclosed booth. They did that in the olden days. I would stand and moon over the soundtrack recordings of Gene Kelly’s latest Technicolor film, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, as he did a fractured French version of I’ve Got Rhythm, and George Guetary belted out I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise. I felt I was stuck and would never have adventure like that in my life. Then BANG! I got drafted into the Army and my wife had a baby. I went to basic training at Fort Ord near Monterey, California. Before I knew it I was on a troop ship bound for Germany. I was assigned as a clerk typist to a former Gestapo Headquarters in Orleans, France. When I settled in, my buddies took me along by train north to Paris. We slept in the basement of an old church in quarters provided for American soldiers away from home. One morning I got up, left the church, walked a few blocks, and I was suddenly standing on the sidewalk looking at the Place Etoile, the Eternal Flame, and a mob of little taxis scooting down the Champs d’Elysee. What a difference two years made. The thing I was certain would never happen was dropped into my lap. The Gods smiled on me. You never know what’s going to happen in life. That’s what makes the journey so fascinating.
What a great experience. A most exciting time to be in Paris.
Being a writer is a great job. Apart from your time as a proof reader, what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? My father worked for Carnation Dairies back in the late 1940’s. I was just getting out of high school and needed money for college. I planned to attend the University of Washington in Seattle. Dad said he had an in with company big-wigs and could get me a great job at the company’s original farm in Carnation, Washington. Even though Carnation was a huge operation, the family had kept their old house and turned it into a tourist attraction. People came from all over the world to admire the Victorian house, the dairy operation and the lush grounds. The farm was famous for its rose gardens. I was assigned to a bunk in the bunkhouse and told to report to the head gardener. Well, I didn’t get much of chance to clip roses, or do flower arrangements in lovely vases that Summer. My job was to shovel cow excrement off the back of a truck and spread it over the ground around those award-winning roses. I was up to my knees in you know what that entire Summer. Thanks a lot Dad.
Haha! Actually, that sounds better than the proofreading!
What book do you wish you’d written? I didn’t have Harper Lee’s experience of growing up in a small Southern town. But I think she did a marvelous job of creating a time and place, and capturing a marvelous cast of unforgettable characters. I would be proud if I could write a book as wonderful as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
What’s your happiest memory? As a young child, sitting by my mother’s knee on the floor playing with my tin soldiers and listening to comedy shows like JACK BENNY, FRED ALLEN, EDGAR BERGEN and CHARLEY McCARTHY and dramas like MR.KEEN TRACER OF LOST PERSONS, THE SHADOW, I LOVE A MYSTERY, THE WHISTLER, ESCAPE and SUSPENSE. As an adult, sitting in the kitchen watching my young bride bake her first cake and cook her first Thanksgiving meal. I’ll always remember her that way because she was doing it out of love for me, even though she’d never done it before.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be? And what would you say to them? I would love to have met Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). I think he was a brilliant humorist and a dedicated seeker of truth and justice. I’d ask him to tell me some whopping yarns about life on the Mississippi and in the gold fields of California. And I’d tell him his works got me interested in books at an early age and for that I am eternally grateful.
I bet Mark Twain would have some great stories to tell! What would your superpower be, if you could choose one? Probably the ability to time travel. That would allow me to have adventures both in the past and in the future. I have always been fascinated with those kinds of yarns. I guess I am a real romantic at heart.
If you won 20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? Set up trust funds for my great-grandkids so they can have a college education. Get any close relative out of debt so they don’t have to worry so much. Donate to some worthy charities I feel deserve help. Maybe set up a couple of writing scholarships at colleges I admire. Writing sucks when it comes to making a decent living, especially if you write essays or poetry. And then in the end, I’d find a super getaway place—like a Greek Island, Portugal, Bora Bora or Fiji—and spend the rest of my life with a straw hat over my face and my bare feet propped up.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? To enjoy the moment. And not sweat the small stuff. My wife was a big worrier. She fretted about everything. And none of her greatest fears ever happened. I think you should definitely stop and smell the roses. And count your blessings. I am an old man. And all those job worries that plagued me from Monday through Friday are lost in the dust. What I do remember and cherish now are the little joys and those times I spent with my family and loved ones.
And, finally, please tell us about your latest story, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
The story is entitled The Seventh Bull, and it goes like this:
Robert Dunne, a once respected journalist, is now a drunken hanger-on following a famous bullfighter on tour. Paco Garcia’s fans call him “The Matador Who Can’t Be Killed.” Robert hopes to get on the bestseller list with a book that will reveal the mystery of Paco’s ability to avoid death in the afternoon. In Tijuana, Paco fires his beautiful agent, Dolores, despite her warnings. In a dramatic bullfight, Paco cheats death yet again and thrills the crowd. But at a party after the fight, the matador drunkenly falls off a high diving board and breaks his neck. Robert suspects foul play by the agent. When he confronts Dolores, she seduces him with promises of fame—but is he willing to pay the price?
The Seventh Bull is available at the MuseItUp Bookstore. Http://tinyurl.com/bnb4dh8
At Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/c33v7al
Or at Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/bql85t
It is also available at: Smashwords, KOBOBooks, Omnilit and Bookstrand.
Gordon Rothwell’s blog address is: http://olddognewtricksblog.wordpress.com
His Twitter address is: @Gordon_Rothwell
Thanks so much for coming all this way, Gordon. It’s been so interesting getting to know a little bit about you. Perhaps our rare sunshine might persuade you to stay and chat a little longer!
If you’ve enjoyed Gordon’s interview, or if you have any questions or comments, please let us know. You know I always love to hear from you!