- Natalie Gautereaux, a recent reader of the novel Frosted Glass (Dead End Street, LLC), wrote to ask some questions about the book's inspiration.Natalie Gautereaux
Speaking of characters, I have a few questions about those in FG. If you don't mind indulging my curiosity further...Frosted Glass Man is such a unique fellow, what was your inspiration for his character? Also, when you write female characters do you drawing on information/feedback from the females around you, or are you the sole mastermind?
I also have a few questions about your artistic side --if you would be so kind. The concept of the Bel Canto is brilliant, where did this idea come from? Further, FG sparkles with gems of artistic inspiration! When/ how did your journey into the arts begin? Do you have a favorite opera?
- Michael J. VaughnI have a friend, Robert Pesich, who is an accomplished poet, and such an idiosyncratic personality that other poets were constantly using him in their poems. I began to call him Muse Boy. That is, until I came to Frosted Glass and was looking for a personality. I pretty much told him, Hey Rob, okay if I lift your soul for my character? Thankfully, he agreed.
I have had a lot of flattering accusations from women on FG, usually something like, "You're not supposed to know these things!" I would first refer to a close friendship with my late mother, and, following that, a series of good female friends. But the important part turned out to be a thought that I formed when first writing Sandy: Don't try to represent the entire gender in one character. Just write one woman. That said, Sandy is based on a "type" in Silicon Valley, the accomplished professional woman who constantly screws up her personal life, and her last name, in fact, is a combination of the last names of three Cindys that I knew at the time, who were all going through similar mid-life crises. At the first reading of FG, I surprised my audience when I failed to tell them that it was first-person female, but they figured it out soon enough when I referred to my period. Afterward, one of them had the nerve to tell me that a woman would never speak that openly about her period! Apparently, she never met my chick-friends, who share every nuance of their cycles at all opportunities.
I would combine these two questions by saying that there were points - for instance, when Sandy describes Frosty's (Rob's) ass - that I thought, "I have gotten myself into a weird space!"
- The Bel Canto is based on the Sylvia Beach Hotel, a brilliant old inn on the beach in Newport, Oregon that bases its rooms on famous authors. My pal Cindy, for instance, stayed in the Poe Room, which featured a stuffed raven and a sharp-looking pendulum dangling over the bed. (I stayed in the Somerset Maugham men's dorm.) So I just converted it all to my favorite art form, and Voila! The Bel Canto.
I went to a high school where there were 125 men, mostly athletes, in the men's glee club. The director was a phenomenal guy named Mike Patterakis, who passed away last year. We used to tour other high schools, all the way to Reno, to encourage boys to sing in their choirs. So I became a singer, then went to San Jose State, where the choir performs regularly with professional symphonies. As a journalism major, my "beat" became arts and music, and at that very same time a world-famous opera singer, Irene Dalis, began a workshop at San Jose State that turned into Opera San Jose at the same time that I graduated. That same year, an alternative paper, Metro, launched in San Jose, and they needed an opera critic. I've been doing it ever since.
The visual arts element in FG comes from my amateur's interest in such endeavors (in researching the novel, I became a pretty good mosaic artist, and in fact regularly give them as Christmas presents), and, in the character of the reflector artist late in the book, the husband of a painter I met while in residency at the Ucross arts colony in Wyoming. My landlady, Nina Koepcke, is a well-known ceramicist, and I am surrounded by her wonderful creations on a daily basis.
Favorite opera! The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart, which figures largely in my first opera novel, Gabriella's Voice, published by some dude in Nevada;-) I have always loved the aspect of comedy with serious underpinnings, something I have pursued in my writings, and Mozart and his librettists were the best at this. Also, of course, gorgeous music.