Character Interview of Katie McGowan from Rock Crazy by Rochelle Weber
Today I’m pleased to welcome Katie McGowan to my blog. She’s taking a step back in time to share with us a little about herself and her story. Thanks for being here and please get comfortable, have a seat.
Can you share a little about yourself with us?
As you said, my name is Katie McGowan. I want to say I’m fairly normal, but I guess I’m not. I have bi-polar disorder. I’ve tried just about every combination of meds available, but they all seem to have stopped working.
Oh, that must be so frustrating. Can you give us two random thoughts about yourself, something will surprise your readers?
I suppose people see me as a spoiled brat who always gets everything she wants, and it’s true—my family has always pampered me. I haven’t had to work even since I got married because my husband, Scott, has a really well-paying job. So, I’ve stayed in school to keep busy. But because of my disorder, I have a short fuse and I go off on people. So I guess it would surprise people to know that somewhere deep inside is a nice person who would like to finally get her degree and have a real career. I would like to live life without this horrible monster coiled inside ready to strike at any minute.
Katie, I can only imagine the traumatic issues you face. Have you had this problem all your life?
I was in high school when I was diagnosed. I don’t know what a “normal” life is.
What upset your ordinary world and brought you into conflict with Scott?
Dr. Davidovich first mentioned this idea of a brain implant to Scott after I poured pop on a woman’s head when we were in a karaoke bar in the Greater Chicago Metropolis downstate near Champaign. She shoved me across the room and I broke my wrist. I don’t want to be a robot or worse yet, a vegetable, so I said no surgery. But Scott brought me up here to the Moon and after our first big fight, he divorced me. Now I’m waiting tables, I’m pregnant, I can’t have the surgery until after the baby comes, and I had to go off my meds. Scott says he wants me back, but I how can I ever trust him again?
He took you away from all that you knew to the Moon, fought with you, and then divorced you? And now he wants you back? Really? Just curious, what was your immediate reaction to the divorce?
I was sick when he asked me for the divorce. My rage reaction follows a set course. It comes out of nowhere and I throw a tantrum. They’ve become increasingly nasty and violent and I gave Scott a nasty black eye. He’s lucky I didn’t cause him to lose vision in his left eye. Then I cry and apologize to everyone until I’m dehydrated, and then I sleep it off. This time Scott sedated me before he went to the Emergency Room with the police. When I came to, he was sitting there with his eyes bandaged and his bags packed. I was dopey and nauseated, so it didn’t register until a couple of days later. When it did, I couldn’t quite believe it. Part of me wanted to shoot him and part of me didn’t blame him. If I could have divorced me, I would have.
What an awful situation!
Yes. I thought I was perfectly happy with life as it was, except for the tantrums and Scott was trying to solve those. I was just terrified of his solution. My boss and his wife said I won’t get to keep my baby unless I get the surgery. But again, that won’t be until after the baby’s born.
I can understand your terror and panic. But it had to be very frustrating for Scott, too.
True, I gave him headaches with my bizarre reactions. I never went to jail because he always talked the cops into taking me to the psyche ward.
Stepping back from your eventual problems with Scott…did you feel an immediate attraction to him?
Scott and I met in high school and I thought he was cute. He was there when I was diagnosed and he still stayed with me. He got his physics degree while he was in the navy, and I started college. When he got out, he went into the civilian fusion industry and I stayed in school, because my rage disorder bought me a lot of incompletes. We’ve pretty much been together all our lives.
He sounds like a good man at heart. Who made the first compromise to attempt to make peace in your relationship?
Scott proposed to me as soon as I told him I was pregnant, but I don’t know if it’s because he really wants me back or if it’s because of the baby. But he said if all he wanted was the baby, he wouldn’t have to marry me to get custody. And my boss and his wife said they wouldn’t help me keep the baby unless I have the surgery. So maybe he really wants me, but I’m so mad, I could spit. He’s lucky I didn’t give him another black eye.
Yes, it would be hard to know if he really loved and wanted you, without the issue of the baby. What finally led to the moment when you thought everything was lost between you two?
I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when I was sixteen and I’m thirty-two now. Scott’s been putting up with my disease for sixteen years. Okay, for some of that time, my meds worked. But I’m one of those people who would be level for awhile, think I didn’t need my pills anymore and go off of them. The depression would creep back in, the irritability, and finally a rage reaction and the cat would be out of the bag—“Katie’s off her meds again!” I kind of think Scott did a pretty good job living with that for so long.
Have you managed to make things work between you and Scott?
It’s all still up in the air. Right now, I’m off my meds, serving real beef steaks at a café in Rockton inside Mt. Aragaeus in the Moon. And I’m wondering how long it’ll be before I lose control at work and go off on a customer, because—I’m alone, pregnant, bi-polar and I’m going crazy in this God-forsaken rock!
Katie, thank you so much for being here today and sharing your life with us. I’ll have to read Rock Crazy to find out the complete story.
Now Katie can sit back while I talk a bit with her author, Rochelle Weber.
I’m better at writing than at waiting tables or closing a sale, and I no longer have the stamina to get out the door and do “real work.” Plus, there’s this committee in my head. While other people have erotic dreams, I dream characters, plots and dialog.
(Starla) A lot of us writers have these same haunting dreams of characters, plots, and pieces of dialogue.
What do you do to get away from the stress of writing?
I confess, I’m a TV junkie and my favorite sport is reading. It’s Super Bowl time and I’m rooting for Lady Mary Crawley to marry Matthew, the very distant cousin who is heir to her father’s entailed estate. They’re very much in love, but it’s World War I and there are so many complications.
Do you use a pen name? If so, why?
If I change genres I might tweak my name a bit, but so far I’ve been proud of the books I’ve written and had no reason to use pen names. If I ever wrote erotica, I would definitely use a pen name, but I’m not a fan of erotica, so I don’t see myself writing it, even though it’s what sells.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Rock Crazy is very autobiographical. I am bi-polar. My ex-husband did work outages at nuclear power plants and he dumped me in a town I’d never heard of before we moved there because he “couldn’t take my mood swings anymore.” The major differences are that I had not yet been diagnosed and the town was, of course, on Earth. Also, he left me for another woman. Oh, and I was not pregnant; we already had two daughters. About halfway through, I decided to write a couple of paragraphs of back-story for some of the secondary characters and the next thing I knew, I had Rock Bound, which I decided to publish first.
Two years ago, I went through addictions treatment at the VA along with the addicts and alcoholics. I realize that sentence sounds like denial. It’s phrased that way because I was the only one there dealing with a food addiction. Every morning the local bakery sent over it’s leftovers from the day before. And every day I sat there with my salad and fruit watching my classmates eat my drug of choice, which was good practice because I gave up sugar and white flour between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, I got out of treatment on December 22, 2010 and sat at the dinner table on December 25 with four ounces of turkey, one cup of plain green beans (there’s white flour in the soup in that wonderful casserole), and a big tub of salad with two tablespoons of special sugar-free salad dressing. My WIP is about that experience. Did I mention I weighed 296 pounds? Last week I weighed 161 for a total loss of 135 so far. I’m aiming for about a 150/155 total loss. Since then, I’ve discovered I have celiac disease. I’m actually allergic to wheat, rye and barley which has helped a great deal in keeping me on track.
(Starla) Being familiar with an element from a story (something personal, an experience, a place, etc.), allows an author to give more depth to a storyline. Sometimes we really dig deep into ourselves and it can be difficult to do. But the more depth of character we give our characters, the more we give our readers something worthy of reading. It sounds like you had lots of personal experience to help provide this depth. You’ve faced a lot in your life and thanks for sharing some of it with us today.
Do you have a regular writing process?
Not really. I majored in writing in college and at the time I was working full time and did not have a home word processor. I would write during my lunch hour at work, in the computer lab at school on nights when I didn’t have class or an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. I scribbled long-hand on the El (usually on the way home). I lived out by O’Hare airport and worked and went to school in Chicago’s Loop. Most nights I got home after midnight and I had to be out the door by seven am for work, so I think the only real sleep I got was on the El going to work. Somehow, I always woke up at my stop. That’s when I was in my thirties. These days, I get up whenever, make breakfast, write a couple of hours, and then check my e-mail. If I don’t write first, I get “caught in the vortex” that is the internet. I get sidetracked reading blogs that catch my eye, doing promo, etc. But in a pinch, I wonder if I could go back to writing on the El.
(Starla) I understand that getting “caught in the vortex” thing. My intention is always to write something first before playing on the internet. Sometimes, though, I fail and lost in surfing and doing promo. I wish I were more disciplined like you.
Do you have some “words of wisdom” for other writers, especially new writers?
If you have dental insurance, get your teeth fixed before you start writing full time. Medicare doesn’t include dental.
REWRITE! You probably write on a computer. Your words are not carved in stone. You’re not a God or Goddess and your manuscript isn’t Holy. It can be changed. It will probably be better, tighter, shinier if you put it aside for a month or two and then look at it again. Look for info dumps, inconsistencies, whose point of view you’re in and be sure you stay in one person’s point of view in any given scene. Especially watch for this in love scenes. I get dizzy when writers go back and forth between the hero and the heroine’s POV’s in love scenes. It’s called head-hopping and it’s a no-no. Just because Nora Roberts does it, doesn’t make it right. Danielle Steel is the Queen of Comma Splices. Sure, she’s a gazillionaire. That wouldn’t buy her a passing grade at the College of Charleston, SC where I took English 101.
Better yet, do a global search and replace with your highlighter words that end in “ly,” the word “that,” passive verbs such as “have,” “had” and “was,” and the phrases “I am,” “we are” or “were,” and “they are” or “were.” This will alert you to overuse of adverbs and the word “that.” Use of passive voice that should be rewritten as an active sentence—“They were served shrimp scampi.” Vs. “They ate shrimp scampi.” You may not have to change it if the original sentence read “They had shrimp scampi.” The final group signals stilted dialog. Are these people or androids? Does a twenty-something party girl really say “I am going shopping”? Or does she say, “I’m going shopping”? Maybe even read it aloud and see how the dialog flows.
After you’ve done your content edit, put the book aside again and a month later, go through it backward, line by line and look for grammar problems—misuse of commas, semi-colons, and other punctuation. Be sure your tenses match, your homonyms are used correctly, your timeline is correct if you have one.
Finally, if you can afford it, send your book to a professional editor. If not, find a good beta reader. And before you submit a book, go to the publisher’s site and look up their formatting guidelines. Right now there is not one industry standard. There may be variations in spacing, paragraph indentation, even what symbols to use for scene breaks or if they want asterisks, how many. Taking the time to read and follow each publisher’s formatting instructions says you’re a professional.
(Starla) Lots of great advice, Rochelle!
Now, let’s talk some specifics about Rock Crazy…
Title: Rock Crazy
Tag Line: Abandoned, pregnant and bi-polar, Katie McGowan’s going crazy on that Godforsaken rock, the Moon!
Genre: Sci-Fi Futuristic Romance
Release Date: October 14, 2011
Word Count: 41,231
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing, Inc.
Buy Link: MuseItUp Publishing
Book Trailer: Rock Crazy
What is unique about this particular book?
I think author Michelle Pickett said this better in her review than I can:
“Ms. Weber weaves a tapestry that reflects how this very complicated and oft misunderstood disorder affects both sides of a relationship, all the while entertaining the reader.” Here’s the link for the entire review: http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Crazy-ebook/product-reviews/B005W5QS0E/ref=sr_cr_hist_all?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
Did you have a favorite character in this book?
Selene Renee Johnsrud is a relatively minor character, but she cracks me up. She’s thirteen and anytime someone walks into her father’s restaurant and asks for him by name or asks her to get the manager, she says, “Okay,” and yells “DADDY!” Once your ears stop ringing you might be able to have a conversation with her father. But, that’s typical teenaged behavior. Even so, it cracks me up when it happens, even though I know it’s coming because I wrote the book.
Will there by any sequels to this book?
I really don’t know. I’d like to write more about the Johnsrud family and maybe follow Selene when she grows up, but the story just isn’t there right now. I’m working on a contemporary instead, and I hope to have a finished first draft by March 1.
Katie McGowan is bi-polar, and she’s run the gamut of medications, but nothing works anymore. Everyone says she should have a microchip implanted in her brain that can regulate her mood swings. But Katie doesn’t want to be a robot. In a tough love move, her husband, Scott, takes her to the Moon—and dumps her. Katie’s stuck on that God-forsaken “rock,” and thinks she’s space sick. But she’s wrong; she’s pregnant. Now the surgery’s too dangerous and she has to go off her meds until the baby’s born.
Scott’s elated that he’s going to be a father and assumes Katie will take him back. He has no clue how badly he’s hurt her, how thoroughly he’s broken her trust—or that he may not get her back at all.
March 27, 2066
Katie awoke and looked around the room. It took her a minute to remember where she was. There was a bucket next to the bed that came in very handy and clean clothes in her size folded neatly on the dresser, with a note that said, “Thought you’d like something clean to wear.”
Katie took a sonic shower and put on the clean clothes, stuffing her dirty ones into the sanitizer. She made the bed, ventured into the hallway, and was standing there trying to remember which way to go, when Annie Johnsrud came out of a room across the hall. “How do you feel?”
“I’m still queasy, but I think I can work. The rest helped.”
“I’m glad,” Annie replied. “While you were sleeping, we talked about you.”
I’ve blown it, Katie thought. They don’t need a waitress who’s sick all the time.
“We want you to see Doc Watkins.”
“Y-You mean I’m not fired?”
“Why would we fire you? You’ve been doing a good job. You are a fast learner.”
“I… Thank you so much.”
“I’ve made an appointment for you for Monday with Doc Watkins. Meanwhile… Do you feel up to working tonight? It’s Sunday. It’ll be busy.”
Katie smiled. “I think I can hack it.”
* * * *
The restaurant was, indeed, crowded that night, and as the evening wore on, Katie became less and less steady. She tried to hide her unease, but finally, while carrying a tray of steaks to a table, the room spun and went dark.
She woke to find herself in the back pantry. Jake was patting her head with a wet cloth, and Scott, of all people, worriedly held her hand.
“That’s it. You’re going to the emergency room right now,” Jake announced.
“Do you think you can walk or should I carry you?” Scott asked.
Katie turned green, and Jake quickly grabbed a waste bucket. She vomited into it, and Scott announced, “That’s it. I’m carrying you.”
Katie tried to protest, but he swept her up and loped through the cafe into the square. The ER was kitty-corner across the square next to the capitol offices. A man followed them from the restaurant and donned a lab coat as he entered the ER behind them.
“I’m Doctor Watkins, and I wasn’t supposed to see you until tomorrow. So, you passed out? Are you still vomiting?”
“Yes. I’m keeping some fluids and dry toast down, but that’s about it.”
“When was your last period?”
“Gosh, was it one month or two before we left Earth? Between the stress of the move and this space sickness, my body’s been so messed up I can’t remember.”
“I want you to lie back and put your feet up in these stirrups,” the doctor instructed.
“What does gynecology have to do with the fact that I’m sick all the time? Oh!”
Half an hour later, after having examined Katie and done the usual tests, Doc Watkins smiled.
“I figure you should be due around the end of October, beginning of November, Mrs.
Tears streamed down Katie’s face. “My husband just left me. He couldn’t deal with my bi-polar disorder.”
“Yes, I am.”
“And you haven’t had the surgery?”
“Then, my dear…I’m afraid you’re in for a rough time. You need to begin tapering off those meds right away. They’re bad for the baby.”
“But they’re the only things keeping me stable. Actually, I was going to ask you to up the dose. I can’t seem to stop crying.”
“That’s because of the hormonal imbalances in your body. I’m afraid you can look forward to some pretty rough mood swings. You may as well apologize in advance to everyone you’re likely to come in contact with.”
“Do you think I’ll be able to have my baby on Earth, Doctor? That is, if I can scrape up the fare?”
* * * *
Before he could reply, the doctor’s com buzzed. “Excuse me, Ms. McGowan.”
He stepped out of the room and answered.
“I hope you haven’t told Katie she can go back to Earth to have her baby.”
“I was about to, Annie. Why?”
“We promised her brother we’d make sure she didn’t go home until she has the surgery. I know you hate lying but come up with something. Tell her it isn’t safe to fly back while she’s pregnant.”
“Annie, you know now’s the only time it’ll be safe for her to fly back. That baby’s perfectly cushioned in her womb. All of our female animals were pregnant when they shipped them up here.”
“Doc, Katie gets violent when her meds stop working. She cannot keep that baby without having the surgery.”
“All right, Annie.” He stepped back into the room.
* * * *
“I’m sorry for the interruption. Where were we?”
“I asked if I could go home and have my baby on Earth.”
“Absolutely not. And I wouldn’t suggest taking an infant aboard the shuttle, either. Three gees is a lot of pressure for a baby to take…especially for someone who’s born in one-sixth gee.”
Katie was in shock. She had been holding onto the edge of her sanity with the hope of returning home as quickly as possible. She even had thoughts of suicide when she realized how long it would take her to earn her fare home. Now, she had another person to care for.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good husband or two or more, my dear,” the doctor said. “Babies are a real blessing up here. Why, I bet that young man who brought you in here would be happy to marry you. He looked pretty stricken.”
“That was my ex. I must’ve gotten pregnant our last night on Earth.”
“Maybe he’ll change his mind now that you’re having a baby.”
Katie looked dubious. How would Scott react? Would their baby be crazy like she was? Would he want a crazy baby?
“I just want to go home, Dr. Watkins.”
Katie thanked him. He put her on an IV for hydration; then he gave her an implant to control the nausea and a bottle of vitamins. She wondered how long she had before it would be too late for an abortion. She wasn’t sure she wanted this child. Nonetheless, she accepted the medications and made an appointment for the following month and left the examining room.
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