Online Blog tour with author Mary E Martin: The Drawing Lesson

Hi Fran… Here are some answers.

Alexander Wainwright was an outstanding artist and painter. Why was he so shaken up when he lost his muse- Peter, which created conflicts in his artistic expression and his paintings to take on a new dimension and character?

At the beginning of this novel, Alexander is about to embark on a long journey, which will ultimately result in a fundamental change in his nature. When he refused to read his friend Peter’s manuscript, he genuinely thought he was doing the best possible thing for him. He had a heartfelt belief that an artist must go it alone and that he must not interfere in Peter’s work.


At one point, Alexander says that,  “An artist such as Peter would have been destroyed by the likes of me. He doesn’t know it yet, but he needs to free himself from me…” He wanted to give Peter the highest degree of artistic freedom without any interference from himself. I think this is a very laudable motive, but Peter doesn’t see it this way at all. Peter is terribly hurt, feeling that he has been abandoned by his friend at the moment of his greatest need.


Earlier in the story, Alexander has been seized by an artistic vision. Suddenly, he has painted ugly, misshapen creatures across his most recent, beautiful landscape. He does not know why, but he calls these beings the trolls. Their appearance in his painting shocks him, but he senses that his landscapes are the way human beings see the universe…beautiful but essentially abandoned by its creator. I think Alex has been living his life this way—abandoning those who love and need him. And Alex, as Peter says, is playing the god who turns his back on human needs.


While Alex may have been right to insist upon giving Peter his artistic freedom, he forgot that Peter is much more than an artist. Artistic endeavour is only one part of a human being. Alex has overlooked Peter’s very human needs of love, support, care and interest.


Perhaps this is a pattern in Alex’s life. As a great artist, sometimes he fails to give people what they need. Alex cannot seem to give Daphne, his latest muse, a real “human” relationship. She wants him and his love expressed in this here and now world. But he can only respond to her inspirational value as his muse.


In fact, there’s a bit of a history here. Years back, he loved Maggie, one of his students. She was a young, married woman with whom he began an intense affair. Did she leave and return to her husband because she become pregnant? Why did he not insist on knowing? Daphne tells him he seems to be living on a different plane, high above everyone else. Is this, she asks, because he is afraid of what is down here?


Alex may use people as inspiration for his art. That is why he is journeying to find his muse. But something must be wrong with that. Where does love, concern, care and compassion fit in. Don’t other people have their own needs which should be at least taken into account?



And so, that is exactly what Alexander has to learn. By the end of the story, he understands compassion—the ability to stand in another’s shoes and to suffer with that person. Other people’s needs are important. So many of the people he meets in the story help to teach him exactly that. When Alex saves his tormentor, Rinaldo, not once but twice, he proves he has well and truly learned the lesson. He has grown so that he can genuinely forgive Rinaldo and all his attempts at destroying his career.

When he realized that Rinaldo was out to destroy him why did he still seek his approval and allow his mind and hands to paint grotesque pictures and lose the light and vibrance that he had painted before?

This novel is more than just about a drawing lesson or flashbacks about how his career began: Rinaldo’s and opinions proved to have a great impact on Alexander: Why?

I’m not so sure Alex is seeking Rinaldo’s approval. But definitely, Rinaldo’s actions have contributed to Alex’s mental and emotional state. It’s like when you are at the top of your game and someone comes along and undermines you by making you doubt yourself. You might say that Rinaldo knocks Alex off his perch!  Certainly, I think that Alex was ready to move on to his next stage of artistic creation and the next stage of his personal evolution. Rinaldo is the trickster who shakes things up and foments change. In fact, as Alex’s art dealer says that Rinaldo was very important in moving Alex onto his next stage of development in his art.

Why did he feel it necessary to have a muse or someone to help inspire him to paint?

An artist such as Alexander is working at a very deep level of his psyche where all the truly creative processes occur. The best way to answer the question is to quote the man himself as he speaks to Daphne.

“My art comes from deep within. Some places are comfortable, familiar rooms, which I have often visited in dreams and reveries. Others are wonderfully fanciful and enchanting lands. Still others

contain the terrifying stuff of nightmares. But all those places have their treasures and must be explored and intimately known if one is to create. Some quality, an essence, within the

muse is like a candle flickering in the dark, illuminating everything in those rooms. That light leads the poor artist through his own private heaven and hell ever onward to his creation.”

What influence would Daphne have on Alexander in the future?

This is such a great question! Daphne will likely reappear in the third novel of this trilogy. She is definitely the stabilizing influence in his life. She brings him down to earth which he very much needs. A person such as Alex lives, according to her, “up in the clouds” unaware of the people down below. Because Alex is a visionary artist, he needs this ballast in his life. One of the hardest things for him to learn will be that, although he has access to mystical experience which takes him deep into the psyche, he must still be able to live on planet earth with those who have love to offer.

With what he pulls on him at the close of the novel, why would he forgive him? What was Rinaldo’s true motive in destroying Alexander?

Rinaldo’s motive is jealously and envy. He is absolutely infuriated that Alexander has snatched a prize which is so frequently awarded to conceptual artists. He regards Alex and his work as trite and bourgeois. I had some difficulty in creating a balanced portrait of Rinaldo. On the one hand, I’m much more like Alex than Rinaldo. Personally, I like to think that there are forces operating in this world which are yet to be discovered and understood. I am not like Rinaldo who is basically a nihilist, an existentialist. To me the world is not meaningless and absurd.  So, it was hard to give Rinaldo his due as an artist who is regarded as the outsider. He is the one who can lead the way to the next stage in art. But actually, ironically, he forces Alex to cut the new path. Alex becomes the one who leads the way—not Rinaldo.






Interview with Bruce De Silva

The week of December 6-10 I will interview author Bruce De Silva. We will discuss his career in journalist, writing and his work training reporters. We will also discuss his new release Rogue Island. Join me, Fran Lewis as we learn more about his outstanding author, journalist and writer.
Join me on my word press blog and my face book notes page and ask Bruce questions about his new book, publishing experiences and more.

Outstanding Memoir

White Sails Become Me:  Memoirs of A Seafaring Heritage

Author: Nicholas Starace II

Legacies get passed down in many different ways. Some in the form of antiques, letters, money or anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. Close your eyes, listen to the wind blow, feel the breeze and the smell of the salty air: Journey me as we take a journey along with our author as he takes us to the many places around the world. His legacy, his passion for the sea, creating model ships and his maritime career are all part of his heritage and legacy that he is passing down to his family and now his readers. Welcome aboard and enjoy the seafaring journey as author Nicholas Starace II, invites you into his life.

Sharing his life, his memories and his beginnings with the reader and describing his feelings towards his father, grandfather and his upbringing that made him the strong-minded, hardworking, humble man he is today.

The story begins with an incident that would frighten and dissuade many from flying. Terrorism is not new to us. It has been around for more years than we care to think. Planes are hijacked, bombed and towns are fire bombed and cars are blown up all over the world. Every time you go overseas, or even to a shopping mall you take the chance of coming in contact with such horrors. Our author reminds us at the start of his memoir of an incident that would forever change his perspective on life, his marriage and his goals. Pan American Flight 80 was bombed as he sat just a few rows ahead of the man who did it. A man who thought nothing of putting explosives under the seat of a young Japanese child and killing him and injuring so many others. But, with all of the snags on our justice system it took forever to sentence him. Even more frightening is this same man will be released in a little over two years and deported hopefully not going to try and do this again.

Memoirs always start at the beginning so let’s take a journey back in time with our author and see where his life began and learn where it started and how he came to the present.

It all begins in Brooklyn and his life growing up getting to see the Dodgers play, Jackie Robinson and my favorite place to go every Sunday, Coney Island. I never saw Luna Park because that is before my time, but I loved the boardwalk, play miniature golf and watching my sister and mom go on the rides. I love and still love Coney Island as the author describes his memories there I smile and think about mine. He moves on to tell how he became so interested in a maritime career and the many disappointments along the way. Parents often preprogram their children with what they expect of them as a person, respect, honesty and hard work, plus what they want them to be. I should know since my mom chose my career when I was four and I never regretted it.

Being doctor was what his father wanted for our author, but sailing the seas and learning how to man ships, tankers and more was his dream and heart’s desire. Finally entering the right school and going on many journeys, the reader enters the world of travel and learns the many hardships, dangers and exciting experiences he endured until her finally graduated and fulfill his dream. Encouraged at a young age by his grandfather, Nicholas learns how to create and build ships by hand and the power of the sea.

The author recounts many experiences away from home on different ships and his love of England and living in the United Kingdom. Each event described every journey he takes on each ship allows the reader to understand more fully his love of the sea, maritime work and why serving our country in the navy was so vital to who this man became. Yet, some things remain the same and others change as the months apart put some strains on his marriage. Ronnie became the head of the household and took on more responsibilities for running her family than most women would. As the author and his family return from the life in England you can feel the strain on him and his desire to reunite with the sea and his uneasiness with life as it presented itself.

Traveling to the four corners of the world and back many times you can feel the excitement in the author’s voice as he undertakes each new job, every new opportunity and learns the secrets of each foreign country and enjoys engulfs himself and his family in their history and culture. Families need more than luxuries, wealth and important jobs, They need understanding, quality time spent together understanding of each others needs and differences which was definitely lacking in many instances involving the author and his relationship with his wife and his son Nicky. Many tragedies befell this family starting with a slow deterioration of his 34-year marriage to Ronnie when circumstances and instances that could not be rectified ended in their getting a divorce. But, no loss is greater than losing a child. His eldest son Nicky dies at age twenty- six after living with schizophrenia since the age of 14. Understanding the author’s mindset and his life awakening tragedies you need to read for yourself in order to understand how he comes full circle with a true understanding of how precious life is and what is really important. Too many losses follow that of his son and one that befalls him is a true turning point in his life as you experience the sadness, the frustrations of a man battling a deadly illness hoping to win.

From Normandy to the many sites he visited that reminded him of the many wars we fought and the countries that were involved, the people he meets and the tours he takes, the author realizes that life is too precious and he would rethink his priorities and learn to live his life, volunteering, teaching his grandson’s how to make model ships and much more that life’s journey can offer.

Life sends us many messages when we least expect them. From his journeys around the world and return trips Japan, England and many other places that he holds dear the one that stands out for him is his visit to his mother’s home town and visiting her old oak tree and feeling her warmth and presence. Take the trip, visit the places, close your eyes and envision the detailed descriptions of war torn cities, countries and the majesty of the world and read this memoir of one man who definitely fulfilled his dreams in many ways. Seafaring naval officer, miniature ship creator, model, actor, award winner, volunteer and much more which would make his mother proud of what her son accomplished and his father’s words of praise. Read this informative and historically filled memoir and take the trip that I have already traveled along with author Nicholas Starace II Families are precious and life is too short to only focus on your career, your wants and your needs. The one thing I think the author learned and came full circle with is time. You can’t get it back was its gone. Dedicating his life to the maritime industry and proud of his accomplishments after graduating from Kings Point, he learns that there is still so much more to his life that is just as meaningful. Welcome to your beginning as life still holds even more for you: Nicholas Starace II.

This is a great memoir for anyone that enjoys reading about the sea, naval experiences and wants to relive the past and enjoy learning about the present.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Great Upcoming Event

The author of Rogue Island, Bruce De Silva has agreed to do a blog tour with me starting December 6-10. We will discuss his writing career, journalism career and of course his outstanding novel Rogue Island. Ask the author questions on my blog and he will definitely answer them.