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“There Will Be Blood, Dust, and Love.” An Interview with Jerome Brown

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.31.47 PMQ: Calves in the Mud Room is full of authentic detail; the smells, the sounds, the struggle of cattle farming. How did you come to be so familiar with that little slice of Wade’s life?

A: Mostly from observation.  I didn’t grow up on a farm or a ranch but I grew up around all of that.  My grandparents were farmers and ranchers.   A barn that it is a home to horses has always been one of my favorite places.  I even like the smells.   That bittersweet mixture of mud, manure, urine, horsehide, hay and leather.  As for the calving sequences, l learned  a lot on a photo assignment I did for a magazine.  I also did quite a bit of research on calving as well.  The rest is just a hard wired memory of winter in snow country.  And all the hardship, heartbreak, beauty, and bliss it brings.

 

Q: Almost everyone in your book is an unsympathetic character. Which one was the hardest to write? Who was the easiest? Why?

A: Gosh, I hope they weren’t all that unsympathetic. I’m not sure about how to answer this one.   They were each difficult in some respect but easy in others.   The one that took the most work was probably Wade.  I wanted him to be authentic.  To despite all the crap that surrounds him, to at least try to do the right thing.  There were times that I was unsure of his path. I  also wanted his relationship with his mom to be honest. Glory was hard in that I didn’t want her to be totally one dimensional or cartoonish, but still be a self absorbed, spoiled brat.  The easiest to write was Rochelle.  Or at least the most fun. We’ve all encountered someone who is outrageous, flamboyant, rowdy and rebellious just for the sake of being so.   You just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth.  The grandfather was also a pure joy to render.

 

Q: Your author bio says after college you tried writing the Great American Novel, but couldn’t get past the Great American First Sentence. What was that book about, and how far did you actually get?

A: I started so many things but I just didn’t have much of a story to tell.  Or wouldn’t work at it long enough to uncover one.  I did finish a play and a screenplay but couldn’t get them produced.  They were flawed.  But great practice nonetheless.

 

Q: What would you like to think happened to Wade after the story ended?

A: I like to think that Wade keeps on keepin’ on.   That he doesn’t regress.   Goes on to college and grows into wherever that takes him.

 

Q: What’s your next project?

A: I’ve been messing with something I started a few years ago. It’s set in the early 1990’s.  The working title is Wild Horses. It’s about Shepard Moon, a Vietnam vet and possibly a former independent contractor for the CIA who is now putting in time as a US Marshall. He’s been sent to central Wyoming, where he coincidently grew up,  to find out who’s killing the wild horses.   There will be blood, dust, lust and love.


I hope you enjoyed our interview! Be sure to support great independent authors like Jerome, and pick up or download a copy of Calves in the Mud Room here!

Calves in the Mud Room by Jerome O. Brown (plus INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY!)

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Many thanks to author Jerry Brown for gifting me these copies in exchange for this honest review.

Calves in the Mud Room is a study in contrasts; hard working teens and irresponsible adults, the haves and the have-nots, dreams and responsibility. Cows become angels, a boy becomes a man, and all the while, the winter wind howls and snow falls relentlessly.

Wade Summers is trying to borrow his mom’s car and finish his chores so he can get cleaned up for a date with Glory Schoonover. He’s done nothing but dream about her, and when she asks him to the Valentine’s Day dance at their high school, he can’t believe his good fortune. This may be the only chance he gets with Glory, she of the  “juicy fruit lips, dark chocolate eyes, honey streaked corn silk hair with the chamomile-lavender scent“.

As Wade is finishing up the evening feeding he sees a heifer off by herself, not interested in food, restless. His joyous anticpation of the evening quickly turns to despair when he discovers his stepfather’s cows are calving early, in the middle of a ferocious blizzard:

Not tonight, no, not tonight, please.

He finishes feeding and swings the truck back around. The snow etches an opaque curtain and he loses the isolated heifer. 

A black cow pie in the headlights sprouts a pair of legs and tries to rise. Wade hits the brake hard. The engine croaks. 

Snowflakes eat at the newborn. There’s no story of birth in the snow. No fluids, no hoof prints, no imprint. The mother could be twenty feet away but all he sees are shreds of snow. 

 

Wade’s stepfather is mean and useless, Glory’s moneyed family is condescending, and  Wade is a teenager with raging hormones. Nothing but adversity surrounds him, and Brown’s lyrical, flowing prose shows Midwestern hardscrabble life in a terribly beautiful way. Almost every page illustrates the despair of farm life lived just on the brink of bankruptcy, made tolerable by alcohol and dreams of a way out. Brown creates unsympathetic characters with ease, giving the reader authentic dialogue and spot on introspection.  Don’t let the simple plot (boy wants girl, simple things conspire against him) fool you—it’s told in a new light. The undercurrents of the subplots are telling and poignant also, and there are some unforgettable characters I’d like to know more about.

Is Wade forced to do the right thing because of the specter of his grandfather and the desire to rise above the bleakness? Or is Wade a good person deep down, regardless of his environment and dead end life? His character is revealed slowly, carefully, with information right in front of you, and plenty to see in between the lines.

What makes this book sing is the rolling, lyrical prose. Simple things like cows in a field, or detritus in a pickup truck take on a new light as Brown paints a picture on every page. Calves in the Mud Room must be read at least twice; once to see how things happen, and the second time to savor the words slowly, like a gourmet dish with its flavors perfectly blended.

This novella is truly a hidden gem that is a quick and lovely read. I loved it.

The author has generously donated a softcover copy of his book for a giveaway! He also agreed to be interviewed by us. Click here to read the interview. Use the box below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don’t want to wait for the contest to be over? You can get your own copy [easyazon_link asin=”0615967507″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here.[/easyazon_link]

 

 

 

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