The Interview: Bookbag Talks To C G Metts

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To C G Metts

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Summary: Rebecca thought that there was a a fun Sex and the City or Ya-Ya Sisterhood vibe to Waltzing in Vienna, a debut novel which she had no hesitation in recommending. There were quite a few questions for author C G Metts when he popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 5 March 2016
Interviewer: Rebecca Foster
Reviewed by Rebecca Foster

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Rebecca thought that there was a a fun Sex and the City or Ya-Ya Sisterhood vibe to Waltzing in Vienna, a debut novel which she had no hesitation in recommending. There were quite a few questions for author C G Metts when he popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

C G Metts: The intent was to examine romance, sex and feminine identity, using friendships as a catalyst for strength and positive change. With that said, I see the reader as women who want a good story, are fiercely independent and not afraid to challenge what society expects from them.

  • BB: At first I assumed this novel must have been written by a woman. Is the ambiguity of the initials 'C G' deliberate?

CGM: I struggled with the idea of a man writing about women and their personal journeys and considered writing under a pen name. I even created a female character in my mind, an author who would have written this book. However, by the time it was finished I faced the fact I wrote it and not a woman. As a compromise I used my initials for a softer approach.

  • BB: You mentioned that you wrote this in response to your wife's challenge. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

CGM: A couple of years ago my wife and I were questioning the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. After flipping through a copy I told her I can write something like that, and she said, Okay, then do it, and write it from a woman's perspective. We came up with the three characters on the spot, and afterward I wrote a short story about the three women meeting up to talk about love and sex while smoking marijuana. At first, it was quite salacious, but I did'nt like the idea of something so sexually gratuitous. It had to be more literate and the characters should have more depth. Before writing about their experiences, I needed to learn more about them.

  • BB: In some cases the main characters' sensual reawakening involves sex with a younger man. How did you seek to avoid 'cougar' stereotypes?

CGM: Who invented that ridiculous term 'cougar' anyway? It's as misogynistic as 'gold-digger'. I also believe women understand that dynamic very well, and may gain a sense of empowerment from the physical aspect, while realizing the difficulties of the generation gap and actual romance. I play with these ideas throughout the book and while one of the characters does seek out younger men, it's more about her taking control and seeking physical pleasure rather than seeking a younger man.

  • BB: What was your strategy with the sex scenes? How does one make them feel real without being cheesy or raunchy? Was it a challenge to show a woman's perspective?

CGM: Though I wrote in third person, I tried to build the sex scenes around the character's ideas of love and romance. For instance, Diana's sex scenes were about giving in to desires and explicit, while Eve's love scene was a slow temptation of the senses and erotically metaphorical. Diana's trysts were hard to write because they were more physical, yet I still needed to be mindful of the reader's sensibility. However, the most fun I had in writing this book was the bakery scene with Eve.

  • BB: You print the full lyrics for some of Diana's songs in the novel. Are these actual songs? How did you go about writing them?

CGM: I wrote several songs for Diana and her band, (enough for an album) and some with chord progressions and arrangements. The band needed to seem real and have a rock sound that reflected the young woman angst of the early 1990's. Call it Lilith Fair meets Country Music. The last song I wrote, the one she dedicates to Lucy and Eve, was written after the book was finished. It's very difference and uses a 3:4 waltz rhythm instead of a standard 4:4 time.

  • BB: You've also written (under a pseudonym) two books about cigars. What social and cultural significance does smoking hold for you, and how did you decide to make marijuana smoking a key element of your novel?

CGM: I have smoked cigars for over 25 years and what I love as much as the actual cigar is the ritual of smoking. There are the tools, cutters, lighters and ashtrays, cigar etiquette and a certain style that turns it into a ceremony. The same goes for the marijuana scenes. There had to be an appeal in smoking with friends, using beautiful items, a special case or lighter, while listening to music and drinking a fine wine. I wanted a ceremony that bonded them together, a communal worship that would serve as a way for them to relax and reinvent themselves

  • BB: The book is saturated with literary references, especially to classics by women authors. What works in particular inspired you to write Waltzing in Vienna?

CGM: When it comes to women writers, I enjoyed reading works by the Bronte sisters and Edith Wharton, tried to finish “Little Women” and have huge respect for Virginia Woolf, but I was struck after reading Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”. It’s really where both Southern Literature and the Modern American novel began. It was my main source of inspiration and for wit, barbs and dialogue I gleaned a bit from Oscar Wilde and Eudora Welty. Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” was also part of that process.

  • BB: I loved your use of Charleston and its beach scenery. What sites and experiences do you recommend for first-time visitors?

CGM: Thank you. The filmmaker in me wanted to capture the mise-en-scène of Charleston. For me, it’s the most unique city in the United States. There’s a duality to Charleston. It is both ancient and modern, and even though the city is deeply rooted in Southern traditions, it’s one of the most progressive in the South. A good place to start is to rent a horse-drawn carriage and tour the Battery and the areas along Rainbow Row. A visit to the open-air market is a must as is one of the late night ghost tours. Charleston also has many world-class restaurants and Magnolias is a wonderful place to start, with a menu that reflects Charleston cuisine and southern charm. The ultimate experience is to visit Charleston during Spoleto, when the weather is perfect and the city puts on something for everyone. There are many nice beaches nearby, including Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms, but Folly Beach is by far more accessible and relaxed.

  • BB: What's next for C G Metts?

CGM: Currently my wife and I are co-writing a screenplay about mother and daughter relationships spanning four generations from the 1930’s to the 1990’s. It’s a story about a family of strong women that begins in the Florida Panhandle and moves to the Panama Canal during WWII and back to Florida again. It’s a very passionate story about the things that bind mothers and daughters.

  • BB: That's definitely something for us to look forward to! Thank you for taking the time to chat to us.

You can read more about C G Metts here.

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