– “…gave me chills, made me laugh, broke my heart and nearly brought me to tears.”
– “…dark, macabre, sexual…”
– “Whoa…Benjamin X. Wretlind lifted his big-booted foot back and kicked my ass into my skull. Right in to my skull.”
– “Castles is a work of true brilliance…If there is any justice in the literary world the name of Benjamin X. Wretlind will be spoken alongside those of Steinbeck and Hemingway as a truly great American novelist.”
Castles is coming!
Wait…didn’t it already come? Yes, my first attempt at self-publishing was originally released in 2011. Since then, I’ve changed, the book has changed, the industry has changed, and Black Rose Writing will be releasing a new and updated version of the novel in July 2018.
IS THERE A HISTORY HERE?
Castles is a view into the mind of a woman who, throughout her life, is abused in more ways than one. It’s an emotional roller coaster, told through the main character’s voice, about what she sees, what she knows, and what she’s been told. There is violence and there is love, and there is violent love. I like to think of Castles as a question: is madness really mad and is reality really real?
Castles is told in the voice of the main character, Maggie, and it’s that voice that really allows the reader to question madness. I’ve told a few people that Castles wasn’t written by me; it was dictated to me by a voice in my head. That voice, Maggie, wouldn’t shut up for seven years–the length of time it took to write the novel.
The original short story was written in 2003 when I was part of a writing group. The subject was “weather” and, as a meteorologist at the time, I thought I had an edge. I picked dust storms and desert weather as the backdrop of the story because I grew up in Phoenix and love the weather during the monsoon season. However, when I got my comments back from the group, there was one which stuck in my head: “what you’ve written is the outline of a great novel.” It took a few months for me to really start working on Castles, and then there was a long break (several years, actually), when Maggie wouldn’t talk to me. It was almost as if she felt I wasn’t ready to hear her story. When she did speak to me, I frantically wrote it all down and felt just as sick as most of my readers. I also felt I had to let the story loose, to let others hear what Maggie had to say.
Castles is short; it’s roughly 50,000 words, which ranks it at the edge of the “it’s a novel / no, it’s a novella” category. At one point I thought artwork would be nice, too . . . until I realized I can’t draw a stick figure without it looking more like a palsied blob of melted crayon.
SO, WHAT DOES THE SYNOPSIS SAY?
When Maggie was six, she hid from desert storms under the sink where the Comet and Windex were kept. Now twenty, she welcomes the storms. Maggie has been abused, torn apart by the sins of others and constantly feels as if she is living on the verge of some grand epiphany, perhaps passed down through her Grandmother, perhaps given to her by God.
Then again, she may just be insane.
Clinically, it’s called schizophrenia and manifests itself through delusions, hallucinations, and/or disorganized behavior. It can persist for years and may worsen without treatment. Socially, it’s termed “unacceptable behavior.” Maggie doesn’t know if her latest actions are the only bricks left to her castle in the sky, but she hopes you’ll understand if they’re not.
How far would you go to build a castle in the sky?