I’ve been interviewed by a local newspaper. Made it to the front page and all! The interview is in Norwegian, if you are suchwise inclined you can read it here. No shocker: we mostly talked about writing and shooting.
Charles Baker has reviewed Embers at Dawn for IndieReader. Here’s what he’s got to say about it:
Crazy Cat, also known as Lee, also known as Lily, is one of the toughest and baddest outlaws around, and she seems to be wanted everywhere she goes. Unfortunately, at this current stop, she finds that the marshal already recognizes her from the wanted posters. But she has one thing on her side: he’s a crooked marshal, brutal and violent and extremely hated by the townsfolk. So as it is with outlaws and crooked law men, there are some serious shoot-outs. If you like your Westerns dark and morally ambiguous, J.C. Loen’s EMBERS AT DAWN is plenty of both.
The protagonist of EMBERS AT DAWN is, quite frankly, a frustrating, brilliant and brilliantly frustrating character. In the few Westerns, or similar types of stories, that actually feature female outlaws, often the point of the story is this hidden sensitive side she has, or alternately what a cold and heartless she-devil she is. Lee is neither. While she does occasionally show her vulnerabilities in the story, it’s hardly the point of the narrative, and most of what she reveals in these moments is how little vulnerability she seems to feel. But she’s still a well-rounded character, seemingly at times so self-aware and at other times oblivious. She sort of falls in love, but not in a way that betrays her character.
Like a lot of historical fiction, EMBERS AT DAWN is meant to be an immersive experience, and generally the dialect of the book is one thing that really transports, with its Western-style mixture of roughness and elegance: “’Shut up, Stub. We best get this situation sorted and done with afore they come trying to torch up this place again.’ ‘Yous been saying so since afore Christmas. All I’ve heard is a lot of talk. I ain’t seen any doings,’ Cal said.” The first-person narration, strangely enough, doesn’t always match Lee’s dialect, but it often achieves a terrible poetry that sings out quite well: “Three strangers rode into town, trailing a fourth horse that had two lifeless bodies dangling about its flanks,” though more rarely it gets caught up in its own purpleness: “The sun kept rising, glowing through the branches, setting the dead tree alight with an incandescent hue.” But overall, the writing is good, more matching the quality of the former sentence than the latter.
EMBERS AT DAWN is a fairly earthy vision of the American Old West, never shying away from violence and vulgarity, but also not quite as nihilistic as it first seems.
This is a project I’m super excited to tell y’all about: It’s a photo collaboration with model and costume designer Ingvild Eiring. We have already completed two sessions on different locations and plan to do at least three or four more. We might be done by the end of the year. The project will definitely culminate in a book and hopefully an exhibition.
The theme is vaguely based on the Old West, with a somewhat fleeting cowgirl character in the “lead role.” We’re more concerned about creating something captivating, than to stay true to historical accuracy or a tangible storyline. Sources of inspiration range from Helmut Newton to Matthew Brady. The series will be shot entirely on Polaroid.
I’ve been featured in the magazine HK Nytt, distributed by the workers’ association Handel & Kontor in Norway.
I was interviewed by the journalist Martin Guttormsen Slørdal earlier this year when I was still working at a video rental store. When asked about what I do beside work, I told him about my book project, which lead to the interview you can read here.
The interview is in Norwegian, but I’ll come back to some of the subjects we touched upon in later blog posts. Some of the things we talked about were: The western genre, chewing tobacco, Calamity Jane and Deadwood, feminism, self-publishing, Cowboy Action Shooting and horses.
I sent the manuscript for Embers at Dawn off to get proofread last night. After careful consideration, I landed on Scribendi. There’s a myriad of online editing services out there, but I made my choice because a) they’ve ostensibly been around longer than any of the others, b) their pricing is fair, c) they have a reasonable turnaround time and d) the only bad reviews I’ve come across don’t sound quite sane.
I hope I’ve made a good choice. Needless to say; I’m utterly giddy about being this far ahead in the process. We’re looking at publication within a month.
While you’re waiting; here’s the blurb for Embers at Dawn.
Lee ain’t no goddamned lady. She has done gotten herself unbaptized, unmarried and unlawful. She is the outlaw known as Crazy Cat.
One cat is buried, another is put in a hatbox, then sent to the town marshal along with the head of his deputy.
Lee knows what needs to be done. She needs more men with guns, but where can she find them? And who can she trust amongst those already in her gang? A bloody battle ensues between corrupt lawmen and outlaws.
Embers at Dawn is the story of one woman’s struggle to find freedom in a world that would rather see her in a corset or behind bars; one being as bad as the other, according to her.
It’s a story of rats and sons of bitches, eccentric saviors and a ramshackle gang led by the outlaw known as Crazy Cat.