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Meet Ronald Neal Green, Author of The Duty Of Love: A Novel
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on February 1, 2010
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com interviews Ronald Neal Green, Author of The Duty Of Love: A Novel

 


Author: Ronald Neal Green
ISBN: 978-1-4327-1259-4
Publisher: OutskirtsPress


Click Here To Purchase The Duty of Love

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Ronald Neal Green, author of The Duty of Love: A Novel. 

Good day Ron and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

I notice from reading the back cover of The Duty of Love that you are a recent student of the psychological insights of fairy tales and a life long student of religion and mythic literature.
Could you explain further and why you have been attracted to fairy tales and mythic literature? 

Ron: 

I have always enjoyed the genre.  But, what got me really interested was The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettleheim.  They opened me up to the psychological underpinnings of these literary forms and how extremely useful they are in resolving conflicts in people and society. 

There are many issues that people cannot deal with directly, but myth and fairy tales turn our problems into monsters that the hero can slay or even befriend and thereby conquer.  The ogre that dwells in each of us (or our parents, siblings or spouses) can be objectified and destroyed by the hero (us).  It seems to me that we live in a nation of people who are having a great deal of difficulty growing up. 

The breakup of families, the accelerating deterioration of stable communities, and an excess of materialism suggest a real breakdown in the development of personality integration and individuation in large segments of the population.  In an age that is dominated by the loss of belief the fantastic becomes the way of fulfilling certain psychic longings that have not and probably cannot be met by our rationalistic environment and our educational process.  For this societies have traditionally used myth and fairy tales as non-linear teaching tools and the need in modern society is, I feel, greater than ever.

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

Ron:  

I got started because I couldn't help myself.  I've always known that it is a high risk, irrational endeavor, but something keeps nagging away inside until I write something.  If I try to quit I become depressed, irritable and a pain to be around.  I keep going because I can't stop.

Norm:

You have worn many hats, as theatre, broadcasting, and a stint in paranormal studies. How have these affected your writing and in particular your debut novel, The Duty of Love?

Ron:  

Theater and broadcasting were extremely helpful as they gave me live audiences to work with, and I developed a real feel for what works with people and what doesn't.  I also developed a lot more confidence in my material and my abilities to connect with people on an emotional level.  Also, when I started acting the first thing we were taught was that the first duty of an actor is to make sure the audience can understand what he is saying.  That's also good advice for writers.  

The paranormal studies were extremely interesting but had a down side.  Paranormal endeavors are, quite often, based on a selfish desire to manipulate the supernatural for personal gain.  This desire can, if unchecked, lead to a tendency to selfishness and self absorption that hinders spiritual progress.  It's very intriguing stuff, but can be destructive.  This book is, in part, a warning against using the paranormal in ways that are destructive.

Norm:


Your work seems too have a broader mission than simply entertaining or storytelling. Can you talk more about that mission and what you hope readers will take away from The Duty of Love?

Ron: 

Without giving too much away, the key to understanding this book is in the opening prolog and the final dream sequence.  If people understand those, the emotional impact of the book is tremendous and all the little bits and pieces fall into, I hope, a seamless whole.  More generally, all people are mystified by suffering and how to avoid it.  And yet, it can't be avoided, so how do we relate to it, and keep it from overwhelming us?  Children and young adults suffer a lot, and I think this book will help them, even if it's only on a subconscious level, to deal with that.  This book is also written for adults, many of whom I believe have been short changed by society in learning to deal with these issues. This is the power of myth and fairy tales, that they can take on issues that are hard to deal with directly and answer these questions on an indirect or subconscious level.  

Also, of course, the book is about love and duty and the sacrifice they entail and how the acceptance of these does not magnify the suffering, but actually lessens it.  Love is lived, nurtured and expressed through sacrifice.  To reject sacrifice is to reject love.

Norm:

How did you get the inspiration for this book?

Ron:  

Actually, it started as a writing exercise.  Use good specific adverbs and adjectives, alliteration, and after awhile I realized I had something and I should make a book of it.  Beyond that, I suppose it was an  upwelling of things I have been ruminating about for years.  I doubt if I could have planned the book in the traditional sense, although the ending of the book came to me within moments of creating the female lead Tanya.  

Norm:

Did you initially have a difficult time fleshing out your characters? As a follow up, how did you go about creating the various characters?

Ron:

Providentially, the characters just showed up as needed.  Remember, it was all just an exercise, so that gave me great latitude.  Tanya just showed up because I thought the story would be awfully dull if it was only the boy Charles.  She asked it there was a beautiful princess, because I wanted some conflict between her and her brother.  Conflict was one of the objects of the exercise.  I have no idea where Emily came from.  The door opened and there she was.  Because I refused to take any of this seriously, and also because I don't like to work from outlines, I could allow the story to grow in an organic fashion.  Whenever, I ran into trouble I would go back to the exercise points--good, specific, adjectives and adverbs, conflict, hooks, alliteration etc. and these would stimulate my imagination to flesh out the characters.  My approach gave me permission to play with my characters until they "took over" and began to speak for themselves.  At times it was much like Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author," where the characters of an unfinished play seem to have a life force of their own and demand the play be finished so their life force can be expressed.  Michelangelo spoke of "freeing the figures from the stone."  Sometimes when you write, you get lucky.  

Norm:

You write with a very vivid and descriptive style. Do you use any particular techniques to help with your writing or to help flesh out descriptive imagery? Are there any writers you admire or look to for inspiration?

Ron: 

Basic writing principals.  We're playing with words, and the words must be as exact and specific as possible.  Concentrating on finding the right word is the single, best technique I know of to help myself through the inevitable logjams of writing.  As a side note, I reject the advice that you must always use basic Anglo-Saxon words.  You just use the best word for the job, no matter from where it comes.  Dickens, I think, wrote the best descriptions.  His descriptions are tremendously interesting, and do not call attention to themselves.  Sometimes, writer's descriptions call attention to their literary "brilliance" but Dickens' descriptions are to me fascinating and always add to the thrust of the story.  He describes things at length and is not afraid to make moral judgements about the things he describes and yet the descriptions carry the story along and are not just descriptions for the sake of description.  Also, Hemmingway's Advice to a Young Writer was very influential. Another influence, whom almost no one has heard of, is Robert Greenwood who wrote Mr. Bunting in Peace and War.

Norm:

What is the most difficult thing for you about being a writer? 

Ron: 

Finding quality time to write.  I still have a day job.  I write better when I get into the "zone" and it takes a certain amount of separation from my other activities to sink into the zone.  I can force myself to write when I am tired but the result is inevitably junk and not worth the paper.

Norm:

What in your estimate makes a good fantasy novel? 

Ron:  

A strong and well formed sense of right and wrong, a good moral center of gravity.  The Greek myths had this, Tolkien and Lewis of course, and television shows like The Twilight Zone and The X Files, were at base, very grounded in a sense of right and wrong.  The rest is just how imaginatively the author can get the message in and still be entertaining.  Also, of course, the story should be internally consistent, and the better the writing and the more real the characters the better.  Can I relate to the characters?  How would I behave in their situation?  Why should I care what happens?

Norm:

When writing your book, did you ever have it in the back of your mind that you could turn it into a movie or television project?

Ron: 

Seriously, when I wrote the book, I tried to keep the attitude that is was just an exercise, and that I didn't care what happened to it.  Pure hypocrisy of course, but it helped me to focus on making the book as good as I could make it, and not focusing on what an imaginary set of other people might like or not like.  I have no way of knowing what an imaginary audience will like and trying to write for them is about as destructive to good writing as anything I can think of. 

Now, that I'm finished, yes the idea of making it into a movie, or television project has crossed my mind once or twice.  In fact on my web site thedutyoflove.com I have a box where visitors can vote on who they would like to see direct and produce the movie.  Also, there are talent contests for writers, actors, artists and video wizards on the site.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections? Did you self-publish?

Ron:  

I got out the Writer's Market and sent letters and samples to every agent and publisher I thought would be remotely interested.  No luck, but it's a tough racket and I am an unknown.  I swore to myself, this manuscript is to good to rot in a closet and so I went the self' publishing route.  

Norm:

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)

Ron:  

I have the first draft of the sequel Love of Duty written.  There will be a third and final volume, The Good King.  I am also exploring the possibility of hosting a radio show, details of which are not clear yet.  As they become clearer I'll release the details on my web site.  My mind bubbles with many other ideas, but first things first and these are my immediate priority.

Norm:

How can our readers find out more about you and
The Duty of Love?

Ron:  

Go to my WEBSITE.  There you can find talent contests for writers, illustrators, actors and video artists with cash prizes and I will keep readers updated of my progress in my other projects.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Ron:

One of the most fascinating things to me as the author, is how many different reactions and interpretations I get of the book from various readers.  I thought the meaning of the book was pretty clear but the different interpretations of the book "Was it all just psychological?" Was it all just a dream?"  show me that it works on many different levels at once.  Perhaps, that's a hangover from the paranormal training.   One reader compared the ending of The Duty of Love to the ending of the movie "2001."  The book is almost like a Rorschach test for the reader, so much so that I haven't been forthcoming about my own interpretation.  I prefer to reveal more in the subsequent books and also believe, somewhat pompously perhaps, that it's more helpful for the reader psychologically, to explore and answer these things for themselves as opposed to my just giving them the answer.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Click Here To Purchase The Duty of Love

Click Here To Read Norm's Review of The Duty of Love: A Novel