Monday, 8 April 2013

Introducing Gordon Rothwell -author

Introducing the author of The Seventh Bull, a dark short story dripping in glamour and gore. Spellbinding.

Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek

Gordon Rothwell

As an advertising copywriter—one of the original Mad Men— Gordon wrote material for over 100 major firms in California, including PR for the Apollo lunar space program. He received numerous awards including a CLIO (the Oscar of advertising).

He’s a sportswriter and screenwriter. Many of his screenplays have won and been finalists in the Motion Picture Academy's Nicholl, Acclaim, Chesterfield, Hollywood Symposium, and FADE IN competitions. He’s published articles and stories in numerous men's magazines as well as youth-oriented publications like BOY’S LIFE
He enjoys the fanciful and macabre on screen and in books. Gordon now lives in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, surrounded by a loving family and one sweet pit bull named “Dreamer.”

Gordon, when did you realize you were more inclined to writing than to anything else? Did something happen at an early age, or did someone say something to open your eyes.

I grew up in Seattle, Washington in the 1930’s and ‘40’s.  I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid.  But I did love radio dramas like Escape, Suspense, Lights Out, The Shadow and I Love A Mystery.  And movies were dirt cheap.

I’d go off on the trolley to downtown every weekend and see swashbuckling epics and spooky thrillers at a variety of movie houses.
It wasn’t until I entered the University of Washington, and attended the School of Journalism, that I started writing seriously.  I was encouraged by a professor, Bob Mansfield, who had carved out a career early in his life in the young adult field.


 Mansfield’s wife, Katherine, had established a record of sales at The Saturday Evening Post with 13 stories published in a single year.  They helped me to find my voice.

For a moment I thought you were referring to the great NZ short story writer Katherine Mansfield, but I checked. Mansfield was her maiden name. It wouldn't have surprised me, though.

Who was the biggest influence in your life?  Why?

 I suppose it was my mother, Mary.  She always had her nose in a book. My father never read a book in his life.  Mom liked to tell me stories of her young life in Pennsylvania and talk about books she was reading.  We had radio and listened to shows together. This was long before TV robbed us of our imagination.  When I became an editor and humor writer for school publications at the U. of Washington, Mom was thrilled.

 Is writing ever a chore?

 I’m a real lazybones.  I love doing research and plotting out stories.  I can really get into developing the characters, hearing the dialogue passages inside my head, and figuring out all the scenes and plot twists and surprises.

 I know exactly how this is. We should be more diligent because we are depriving the reading public of some exquisite work. are, for sure.

But when I have to sit on a chair day after day writing it, I balk.  I’ll try to think up any excuse so I don’t have to write that day.  And I often engage in the real no-no.  I stop in the middle of the writing and don’t go back to it for a long time.  I lose my momentum, my feeling for where I was and where I was going.

 That’s probably why I never sold much in my life.  I didn’t fill the pipeline all the time with new work.  But I’m not a one of those talking writers. I hate writing classes and seminars where group members never really turn in assignments when it’s their turn.  They just want to hang out, gabbing with other would-be writers

 Yes this is true, 'Talk writing!'  I say. Chit chat is for the phone or over lunch. But we want to read more of your work, Gordon. An internet writers group is the way to go, if you want a writers' group, that is.

Is there anything about the writing process that you find surprising?

 I’m surprised that as much as I try to stop doing it, it won’t let me.  I think writers are born with something in their gut, or their head.  If I deny it and stop, even for years, something will trigger a memory or a feeling. And I’ll go around the house looking for a pen and a writing pad, so I can get that thought down before I forget it.

When I was an advertising copywriter, I used to keep a pencil and pad by my bed and in the bathroom.  I got my best ideas for headlines when the hot water from the shower head blasted the back of my neck.  Go figure!

  haha. You caught the bug early.

What prompted this story?  Why the fascination with bullfighting, and did you attend one for the purpose of research?


I suppose my fascination with bullfighting began back in the 1940’s when I was a boy sitting in a darkened movie theatre watching Tyrone Power in a spangle-covered suit of lights facing a raging bull in an arena full of cheering aficionados.  The 20th Century Fox film was Blood and Sand, featuring Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth and Anthony Quinn.


Great cast for a classic movie. And what a coincidence, Tyronne Power influenced my novel too (I'll Never Forget You - 1951 with Ann Blyth)

That led me to reading books and stories about bullfighting by Hemingway and others. I developed a lifelong interest in the sport, and collected boxes full of magazines, tear sheets, and paperbacks.  I attended bullfights in person in both Spain and in Mexico. And even wrote two unproduced screenplays with bullfighting as a background.

 There's nothing like first hand experience to enrich a story and make it authentic.

How much of you and your experiences are in this story?

The story mostly came from my experiences one weekend in the 1960’s in Tijuana,  Mexico.  A bunch of us went down to see the Number One Matador in all  the world, Antonio Ordoñez, making his first appearance outside of Spain. He’d been featured in a three-part article in LIFE magazine written by Ernest Hemingway.  The article told of a historic mano-a-mano duel between Ordoñez and Luis Dominguin, a darling of the press and Ava Gardner’s beau.

That whole bullfight scene was surreal, especially the partying at the Sierra Motel after the corrida, where a strolling mariachi band trumpeted out hot songs and equally hot senoritas in tight leather pants and flat-brimmed sombreros  clapped their hands and wriggled their butts to the delight of a raucous audience of movie stars and starlets.  Much of that found its way into The Seventh Bull.

This real life excitement is sure to come through in the pages of your story.

Name the last two books you read.  Are they from the genre you write in? 

 THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins.  And LEGEND by Marie Lu.  I thought both were well written and exciting concepts.  I hope to get around to reading the other books in each series when I can block out some time.  Or I might just have to catch them when they come out as movies at my local cinema.  Now, when I go to my local bookstore, the Young Adult section seems to be growing and growing. I suppose the Twilight Series, True Blood and The Walking Dead are fueling much of it. YA is not my genre at the moment, but I think perhaps it should be.

Do you have a pet?  Would you allow it near your desk while you work?  Has it ever made an appearance in your stories?

 Up until recently I had two dogs that I had raised since they were puppies. They were totally opposite in temperament.

One dog, Aspen, was a tan, longhaired Australian cattle dog. Sad to say she is dead.  She was a real live wire---barking all the time at everything, leaping, running, watching, patrolling the fence around our yard.  She was the dog you see in movies herding sheep down under, or driving them to their deaths over a cliff in that Far From The Madding Crowd film.  She used to sit close by my side, never taking her eyes off me. 

 Aspen was misunderstood by the entire family because she could look very menacing when you entered our premises.  Once she got to know you, she was fine.  But she liked to buffalo people with her hostile demeanor.  She was only eight years old when she somehow jumped up on one of our beds, flipped over, and fell onto the floor and hurt her spine.  She lost the use of her back legs and was in excruciating pain. We had to put her down.  That pretty much broke my heart!

 Aspen sounds like a wonderful dog. I'm sorry for your loss. Australian cattle dogs can scare you. She'd make a irresistible character in a story.

My remaining dog is Dreamer. She is a loving, sweet and quiet black and white pit bull who’d rather sleep on her pillow below the living room TV than go out looking for a neighborhood dogfight.  To say she is mellow is a gross understatement. And a far cry from those angry beasts I see shot by police everyday on the newscasts.

 Dreamer gave me a big scare a short time ago, when she was bitten on the neck and developed a lump there the size of a small bar of soap.  I posted that story on my blog.  She had it drained and is fine now.  

These days when I sit at my computer, my beautiful Dreamer lies on my bed sleeping, or watching and listening.  Hoping I will stop and give her a quick tummy rub.  I haven’t put these animals in a story yet, but I’d like to pay tribute to Aspen one of these days.  She was a dog to remember.

Which author living or dead would you choose to be your mentor?

Stephen King.  Man, he can churn out the work.  Look at all those films, too, made from his books and story collections.  I think he has one of the most fertile minds in the American field of literature today.  He may not appeal to high-brows or critics. But the people love him, and he’s given them a lot of stories to love.

When I was young and full of juice I sold a couple stories to some men’s magazines.  There was a higher level magazine, Cavalier, that seemed to be buying just the kind of stories I liked.  I had one I thought was right for them and sent it off. After a few weeks, it came back, not with a standard rejection slip, but a handwritten note.  The editor said they were torn between buying my story or another by a young and unknown writer.  And after deliberation, they’d decided to go with the other writer.  I was devastated.  I had come so close to finally crawling out of the slush pile and onto to fame and fortune.

When I went to my neighborhood drugstore later and picked up a copy of Cavalier, I opened it up to see there was one short story featured by this new writer.  It was entitled: The Boogeyman, and the author was Stephen King.  Who knows what might have happened in my literary career if they had only chosen me?

 Wow! That must have given you goose bumps.  You were so close. Timing is so important in Destiny, isn't it. If only Stephen King hadn't contributed at that time.  If only the editor had bought both short stories at the time.  Thank goodness you didn't give up!

Apart from “never give up” what advice would you give to new writers. 

Follow your passion.  Write what excites and fascinate you. If you do that, your readers will get it.  And you will develop a lifelong army of fans and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Meet Gordon at MuseItUp Publishing
Gordon's blog.
Twitter, and Facebook

The Seventh Bull is a short story available from:-
MuseItUp Bookstore   where you can read an excerpt from The Seventh Bull and Wendy's review.

also   Amazon
Smashwords and from all online bookstores

It's been a pleasure to have you here today, Gordon, and I really enjoyed reading The Seventh Bull.

Gordon Rothwell answers more questions and there's a GiveAway at  Ramblings from Lady Rosalie. Pop over and have a look.


Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview Wendy, Gordon.
Aspen sounds like a wonderful dog. My first cattle dog hurt her back, hit by a car, and we had to put her down. It does break your heart.
Dreamer looks like a great companion for a writer. :)
I think I got goosebumps reading about your submission and Steven King's.

Anonymous said...

This was a wonderful opportunity. And I thank Wendy for her generosity and support. She even dug up an old poster of Blood and Sand that I didn't send her. And she gave my story a 5-star review. Wendy. You are the very best. Gordon.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great interview. You've led an exciting life, Gordon!

Anonymous said...

Loved your interview, Gordon. The bullfight in Mexico sounds a fabulous experience. I'm looking forward to reading your book

Heather Fraser Brainerd said...

Very interesting interview! Gordon, I'm so impressed that you won a Clio. My husband is in advertising, and it's a crazy, competitive world.

Wendy said...

Hi Rosalie,
Lovely of you to stop by.
Aspin and Dreamer are sure to find their way into Gordon's stories. They sound like they both had amazing personalities. And the timing with the submission-neck a neck with Stephen guess is Gordon's screenplays might not have eventuated and won all those awards if his short story had been chosen over Stephen King's that day. Destiny.

Gordon, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for sharing such a fascinating insight with us.

Rosemary, I agree and there is much of that excitement in The Seventh Bull as well as a sense of a history and a glamorous age. Thank you for coming.

Helen, so nice of you to make Gordon welcome. I'm not a bull fight fan but I certainly enjoyed his short story and recommend it to everyone!

Heather, Hi. So your husband is in advertising. Does that make him one of the Mad Men too? It's not surprising you know the value of Gordon's awards. Thanks for being here.

Mary said...

What a great interview! It sounds like you've had quite an exciting life.

Love the cover!

Best of luck with The Seventh Bull.

Kim Cresswell said...

Fantastic interview Wendy and Gordon. I wish you great success with The Seventh Bull.:)


Marsha said...

Wow, Wendy! You were right. Gordon needs to write a book about himself. Fascinating interview, guys. Good luck wiht your short story, Gordon. I love to stop here, Wendy,just to look at the header picture!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, fun and fascinating! The 7th Bull is a terrific read. Gordon has a ton of stories in him, can't wait to see what he's going to publish next!
Deb Mc.

site angel said...

Hello, Gordon.
An interesting interview. No wonder you became a writer!
Cheers, Kelly

Anonymous said...

Hi people. What a wonderful esponse from everyone. It is most gratifying to hear your praise and accept your responses. I feel a lot of this is due to the marvelolus support and work of Wendy. Once more I thank you a bunch, Wendy. You done real good. Gordon.

Wendy said...

Mary, Thanks for being here. Yes exciting enough to be made into a movie :) with Gordon as the screen writer so he can have his name in the credits.

Kim, thank you. It really is a good read, with a sting that leaves you thinking.

Marsha, lovely you came. You are welcome here anytime. The photo in the header is one I took of Burglen, Central Switzerland. It was the setting for my novel.

Hi Deb, I agree we need to see more stories from Gordon.

Kelly, thank you. Gordon sure does have a terrific background for a writer. Advertising. Journalism. Screen writing. I'm green with envy. :)

Thanks for your loving support. You are all welcome here any time!