Books

Interview with Bruce Calhoun, Author of Ardennia: The Unlikely Story


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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Ardennia?

Watching the Princess Bride, a movie based on William Golden’s book of the same name.  This book was made into a movie in 1987, and the movie went on to become a cult favorite.  It’s a sweeping romance set in the age of chivalry; and is about a beautiful maiden named Buttercup and a young man who goes on a quest for her sake.  He experiences adventures during his quest that involves swordplay, torture chambers, a dwarf who can bring back the dead, an evil prince of course, and a haunted swamp.  The movie is famous for its wry satire and sweetness, and is presented as a fairy tale that is read to a sick boy by his grandfather.  I am pleased to report  Ardennia captured much of the Princess Bride’s magic and sweetness.

If you woke up in the world of Ardennia, what is the first thing you would do?

I would ride into the Battle of Paris in the company of the Free Knights and cause mayhem amongst the ranks of our enemy.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Literary Fiction – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Catcher in the Rye, for example. But I really like to write in the magical realism genre. This allows me to run amuck with my imagination, but also craft a story that could almost be true and is endowed with three-dimensional characters who rise above the level of a stereotype – such as a vacuous Prince Charming.

What fictional world would you most like to visit?

Star Trek.  It’s a world of exploration based on a hopeful future for mankind.   I’d especially like to meet Spock – which I sort of did.  He came to my University of Alaska campus in 1972 campaigning for George McGovern for President.  Mr. Nimoy was very charismatic and earnest.

What book did you expect to hate, but ended up loving?

I had to read Gone With the Wind in high school, and I wasn’t much of a reader at the time.  Of course, I loved the book, and it helped bring me to my senses.  I feel Ardennia, which is a book written for young adults, will do for them what Gone With the Wind did for me.

What’s your favorite thing about writing? What’s your least favorite thing about it? 

Nailing a passage that makes me cry or laugh or both.  However, I don’t like finishing a book.  It makes me feel like I am parting ways with characters I have come to love.

What scene in Ardennia was your favorite to write?

The tall lady scene:  This scene shows the prince visiting one of the ladies who attended his masquerade ball.  He doesn’t need to test her with the glass slipper because she is obviously too tall – so tall that she feels self-conscious about it.  Her best line is “I’m taller than a prince, and being taller than a prince is never a good thing.”  I love that line, and I love how the prince responded.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

It’s always now.

What will your next adventure or writing project be? 

Diamond Girl Unbound, about a modern-day Cinderella who tries on an enchanted necklace that makes her irresistible to every man she meets.

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