January 31, 2011

What Is a Good Book with Author Brandelyn N. Castine

The Writer

Brandelyn N. Castine is the author of Everybody Plays the Fool (novel), Spoken Silence: Life in four parts (a volume of poetry), U.G.L.Y. (novel), Spoken Silence Volume 2 (forthcoming volume of poetry). Brandelyn currently lives in the Bay Area where she is a full time writer and contributes freelance projects for Leather, Empress and Vapors Magazines. Brandelyn is also a contributing author in the Gumbo For the Soul anthology, a project that was created to raise funds to support literacy programs in the Bay Area, as well as the When I was Was There, Life at Berkeley 1960- 2010 anthology project.

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The Book

Meet Blair Hughes, a beautiful, intelligent and talented young woman who believes her identity is defined by her size 22 waistline. With constant scrutiny about her weight and a pattern of failed diets, Blair has given up trying be the perfect size six and has allowed herself to fade into the background.

Blair’s unforeseen romance with Salim Martin, a talented young writer begins to chip away at her insecurity and forces her to look at herself differently. As Salim works overtime to show her how beautiful she truly is, his best efforts are not strong enough to keep Blair from waiting for the other shoe to drop.

When an unexpected betrayal rocks her world, Blair flees from her friends and family to get a fresh start in the unpredictable streets of New York City. However this new life forces Blair to deal with a lot more than she bargained for.

Suddenly forced to recreate her personal definition, Blair travels through a series of right and wrong turns, chance encounters and unimaginable situations that ultimately lead her to a place where she is able to look past the physical and discover what it truly means to be U.G.L.Y.

Click the cover above to order your copy of U.G.L.Y. today!


What is your definition of a good book?
The best analogy I can give when thinking about the definition of a good book is Alice In Wonderland. I love the scene where she peeks into the Rabbit's hole, falls in and tumbles, twists and turns, finally landing in a whole new world. To me, that is exactly what a good book does for you. When you first open the pages of a new book, you have no real idea where the story will take you. So you peek inside, hoping for the best, and before you know it, you are twisting and turning and falling into a whole new world. Everything is strange, yet familiar and suddenly you find yourself oblivious to the reality around you and sucked into everything that is happening around you in this fictitious world. A good book gives you an escape and allows you to travel and explore a whole new world.

How does your latest literary offering qualify as that "good book"?
My latest novel U.G.L.Y. is a good book because the characters are human. Their insecurities and life choices are familiar and allow the reader to identify with their questions and doubts and victories and it is this connection that enables the reader to jump feet first into the story. I am really big on description because I want my readers to feel everything the characters are feeling and feel as though they are right there in the scene with them. U.G.L.Y. covers the full gamut of emotions, but is not light on the humor. The story is one that you find hard to put down and allows the reader to discover something new about themselves every time they read it.


"Fat Bitch!"

Everything around me seemed to freeze as the vicious words reverberated above my head. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to mentally shake the heaviness of the painful language from my shoulders where it now laid to rest. I looked around me and saw the universal look of pity mixed with anger and confusion from his eyes that seemed to blink at the brightness of the sudden and unwelcome attention that was now focused on me. He turned his head back to the street; his eyes scanned the cars as they seemingly crept past us slowly, as though even they were unsure how to react. I sucked in a deep breath, and exhaled, shaking the world back to life with the shuddering motion of my head, somehow summoning enough strength to force a plastic smile onto my face.

"What the hell was that?" his voice said loudly, competing with the uncompromising presence of the New York City streets. His eyes tried to camouflage the embarrassment and uncertainty that seemed to pour out of him. He turned to me once again and scanned my face for a reaction.

I focused my attention ahead and felt my face begin to strain against the fake smile that painted itself across it.

"I don't even know who that was,' I said tucking a loose curl behind my ear and tugging at my shirt hoping I could get it to cover up my shame, ‘don’t even worry about it, really.”
He looked at me and placed a bony hand on his hip. His mouth opened and closed as he racked his brain for the right thing to say.

"No, for real," he finally stuttered, "what the hell was that?"

I knew that he didn’t know what to say; that he had never had anything like that said to him; that he had never had to pretend something hadn't sliced him in half and exposed all of the inner turmoil he felt about himself. I knew that he had never been summed up in a single phrase and had been flooded with tears so plentiful that he felt his spirit would drown, all because of the words of a stranger. I knew that my embarrassment and shame were too powerful to face on a regular weekday, so mock anger seemed like the best reaction to take, the reaction that could link him to whatever he guessed I was feeling.

"Let it go, honestly," I heard a voice that sounded like mine say, lightly, while I stood rooted in my spot, watching myself continue to walk, amazed at my ability to put one foot in front of the other, head held high, shoulders straight, eyes focused. I watched myself walk away, while my soul cowered in the corner and began to shudder from silent tears.

“Girl, I don’t know why you’re being so calm. I’m ready to whoop somebody’s ass,’ he continued, each moment feeling as though he had connected to my feelings. He looked over his shoulder, continuing to search for the reason why, unable to take a good honest look into my face, unwilling to truly gage my reaction, 'that was so disgusting. Do you even know who that was?"

I watched myself smile slightly as my soul stood rooted behind crying, each tear whispering out the secrets of my life. My body knew how to pretend that it had never happened while my soul was allowed to be stunned and confused.

"No," I said again, feeling something inside of me break with each step we took. My body avoided looking into any of the glass windows that seemed to go on endlessly as we walked. I knew that I would not be able to see my soul's reflection. I knew that my soul wasn't there. My soul was still in the corner, cowering and cold. I looked back on it, shaking my head sadly, disappointed at its cowardice.

He looked back one last time to search for the car that was long gone.

Things had started off simply enough. The afternoon was turning to evening as we strolled slowly and without purpose, stopping to cool off with iced coffee at a tiny café we discovered along our travels. We continued on with our exploration, stopping in various stores in the West Village and allowed the sunshine to kiss our exposed skin. As we stood on the corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue, a white car slowed as it passed. The back window rolled down and a man in the back seat yelled out "Fat Bitch" and spat in my direction before the car peeled off, with the sound of laughter trailing behind it. We stood there for a split second, Branden standing next to me stunned, me standing next to him, stunned, and me standing next to me, shattered and drowning in my own tears.

He continued to walk, shocked and disgusted, tossing out threats, still unable to look me in my face. My body, continued to walk along side him, pretending as though it was just another day, searching my brain for something, anything to change the subject with, but my soul felt like it was snatched from my body and was instantly transported back to those high school days when my weight was the only thing anyone saw. Instantly everything I had accomplished, everything I had become melted into a simple image and I became just a fat girl again and all it took was one word from a stranger. One word from a stranger shook loose any shred of confidence I had been clinging too. One word from a stranger instantly made everything I had on uncomfortable, made me suddenly aware of every article of clothing, every piece of jewelry. Every step felt forced, but my body, with all of its years of experience in pretending that nothing happened found a joke to crack, and a store window to point out, easily successful in convincing both of us that everything was okay. My body was able to convince both of us that the incident had not happened and that I was still talented, beautiful, desired, and successful. But my soul knew the truth. My soul understood that one word from a complete stranger made me feel like I was nothing more, than a size, an image or an opinion. Every pound that I carried suddenly felt like a million. As we continued to walk, every step made me feel more and more like a fat...


Cheryl said...

This book sounds great and I have added it to my Goodreads list of books to read. I totally agree that a good book is one that sucks you down the rabbit hole and brings you to another place. I look forward to reading this book!

Shonell Bacon said...

Thanks for the comment, Cheryl! The topic of the book is a good one--one I don't think we delve into that often in our perfect, pretty, plastic world of reality TV and celebrity.