I hope you’re ready for a grand adventure, because this book and its much-ti-his-surprise Hero, promise just that.
West From The Cradle by Brigid Amos, narrated by James G Charron, released in June last year in the Historical Fiction genre.
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Travis Cooper was never meant to be a prospector. But when shopkeeper Raymond Hillerman shows him a copy of the California Star in the fall of 1848, one shining word jumps off the page: gold! That one word changes everything.
Undersized and bookish, Travis isn’t the sort who would leave his home in Missouri to make the perilous journey west to California. Not much help on the farm, he’s certainly not likely to take up the backbreaking work of a gold miner. Besides, it’s his older brother Jonas that Mr. Hiller-man has hired as his partner in the diggings. But when their father is injured, Jonas must stay behind to work the farm, and Travis sets out on the trail in his brother’s place.
Along with adventure comes danger, and Travis discovers that staying alive is more difficult than he ever imagined. Keeping his partner from getting himself killed may be downright im-possible….
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About the Author: Brigid Amos
Brigid Amos’ fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. Her historical novels are set in the old California mining towns of the nineteenth century and include A Fence Around Her and West from the Cradle (Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Finalist). A produced playwright, she co-founded Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the board of Angels Theatre Company. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.
Hi Brigid, and thank you for being here with us today!
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
I honestly believe that reading leads to writing. At least that’s probably true for writers. Sometimes I envy people who can just enjoy reading and aren’t always thinking “how did the author do that?” When I read, I’m always very aware of the writer’s craft, and I’m always thinking in terms of what I can learn as a writer. I’d recommend to any writer who feels burned out to turn off their computer, close their notebook, and go read a great book. That will get you fired up to write again!
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
I was actually really surprised at how much I enjoyed hearing James read the buffalo hunt scene. I’ve used that scene in readings I’ve done myself, but it was an “ear-opening” experience to hear it read to me. People have told me how exciting that scene plays out, but it’s hard to hear that when you’re the one trying to engage the audience in a reading. I never think of myself as an “action writer,” but hearing that scene makes me think that I actually am!
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
I’d have to go a bit back in time to when these actors were much younger, but I can never think of anyone else other than Elijah Wood as Travis Cooper and Antonio Banderas as Joaquin de la Rosa. So in addition to all the other movie and TV technology, we’d need a time machine for that production!
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
I’m also a playwright, so I also work in a medium that is specifically written to be spoken in public. I never make this distinction between audiobooks and physical or ebooks. The text is the text, and it doesn’t matter how you receive it. What matters is how the reader then processes it, how it affects them, or even how it might change their life.
What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
Some writers hate writing prompts, but I love them. During this time of self-isolation due to Covid-19, I’ve been doing these playwriting sessions on Zoom where the teacher gives a writing prompt, we write for a while, and then share what we’ve written. I’d be doing that in person if it weren’t for the current situation. It’s been a bit of a silver lining to be able to do that with people around the country that I haven’t met before. Getting out of a reading slump is easier. My husband and I, despite our efforts to pare down our library over the years, still have tons of books around our two-bedroom apartment. I just wander around, pick up something that looks interesting, and start reading. If I don’t like it, I’ll put it back on the shelf and keep trying. Eventually I’ll make that connection with an author that is so satisfying.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
I only have written stand-alone novels. I’m always amazed at how other authors keep writing that really, really, really long story! I don’t think there’s a con for writing stand-alone novels, but there certainly is a very obvious pro for writing in series. It’s a great way of building a fan base and marketing books. I do envy writers who can pull that off, but since I also write for the theatre, it’s been hard to find the time to write a series.
What’s your favorite:
Food I am so fortunate that my husband is an amazing cook, so my favorite food is whatever he’s serving!
Song Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. I’m so lyrics-oriented when it comes to songs, and I never get tired of those lyrics.
Book The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, an author who has broken my heart more times than I’d care to admit.
Television show I have this special fondness for Northern Exposure, and have been revisiting it on DVD lately. I know it never existed, but down deep I still want to move to Cicely, Alaska.
Movie Breaking Away. I love coming of age stories, which is probably why I write them. This is my favorite. Plus, the bicycle racing!
Band I could say the E Street Band, since they’re Bruce Springsteen’s backup band, but if a backup band doesn’t count, then a shout out to the Asbury Jukes. Can you tell I’m from New Jersey or what?
Sports team The Lincoln Salt Dogs! (They play baseball, by the way.)
City San Francisco. I spent a lot of time there when I lived in the Bay Area. It’s a city I never get tired of looking at.
Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
Yes, in my novel A Fence Around Her, the protagonist’s mother is from San Francisco.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write in a notebook with a pen. Don’t look at that text as you write, just keep the pen moving. Don’t self-edit on this first draft, write whatever comes into your head. Your first draft is a secret, no one else has to see that. Type it up from your notebook. Then you can start editing what you’ve written. Whatever makes your first draft feel like it’s coming freely from your heart, do that. These are just suggestions based on how I write.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
Your narrator is your ally. Make friends with that person through social media. Keep the lines of communication open.
What’s next for you?
I’ve returned to Bodie, California the setting of A Fence Around Her. My work in progress involves a young teacher tasked with opening the first school in the rough and tumble mining town. And it’s a love story…
About the Narrator: James G Charron
I am a Civil engineering technologist by trade, however I have been a voice actor for the last 3 years, narrating 5 audiobooks, radio commercials, and now producer of The Interview Dudes Podcast hosted by 3 eleven yr old boys (one of which is my son). The podcast has interviewed 2 Oscar winners, an Emmy nominee, a NYT bestselling author/illustrator, Canada’s first astronaut in space, NASA research engineer on the Cassini project, a oceanographer from NOAA, a volcanologist from NASA and many more!