Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Summer Author Blitz - Michael Cadnum Guest Post & Giveaway!

Thank you for joining me again on our Summer Author Blitz Tour! I have the pleasure of hosting Michael Cadnum today.

Michael Cadnum is the author of thirty-five books, including the National Book Award finalist The Book of the Lion.  A two-time Edgar Allen Poe Award nominee, and an award-winning poet, Cadnum’s work is widely acclaimed. He lives in Albany, California, with his wife Sherina.


First, let me tell you about his newest book, Seize the Storm. Stay tuned to find out how to win an autographed copy of a first edition of Seize the Storm! (We have two available!!) Here is a synopsis of this intriguing adventure for teens and adults:

Sailing from California to Hawaii, Susannah, her cousin Martin and their family, are driven by brutal weather into a ghostly encounter with a drifting power boat.

The macabre vessel carries one shocking surprise after another, including a huge stash of money. For the sailors, stealing this treasure changes everything, which causes dissent and division and puts their futures at risk. Now they are all criminals, unknowingly pursued by the deadliest enemy.


Big Rip:  How the Pacific Ocean Teaches Me To Write

            I stood at the edge of the ocean, right where the foam reached, still in my street clothes. 
            Bad idea, I told myself. 
            The surf looked dreadful.  To the north all was calm, and to the south there was a jagged wheel of gulls, flying and competing with each other, something dead and edible in the water, maybe chum from one of the fishing boats earlier in the day.  Right in front of me, however, there was sure trouble. 
           Every year someone died even here in the long, sweeping shore of Huntington Beach, California.  They drowned swimming, they drowned walking along when the surf tackled them.  Bodies washed up later, sea-gleaned. This was October, the air warm, the sea semi-tropical, but change coming, change already here.
            I took in the sight of the back-surge of the breakers and the way the combers were yellow with sand churned from the bottom.  I knew better.  I recognized the threat--I saw the rip tide. 
            But I walked up to my chosen place on the beach and took off my clothes, stripping down at last to the calypso-blue trunks from page forty-nine of the Land‘s End catalog.  I grew up going to the beach, learned to swim in the long surf that rolled in from the direction of Hawaii, from Japan, from around the world.  I loved this.
            I loved the way sand crabs dive down into the glistening wet, a zillion instant legs, powering downward, and how the legs tickled if you scooped the the creatures up with a handful of wet glop, the tiny invertebrates escaping, but not really. 
            Going nowhere.
            The ocean was colder than it looked, not so semi-tropical after all. It gave off a scent of rusting iron, iodine, road salt, old pennies.  When I traveled I noted that the foreign oceans did not smell like the Orange Coast Pacific.  The Adriatic smelled like sea broth, and the North Sea smelled like cold slabs of dark rock, glacier granite.  The Pacific here had a scent like oil tankers dissolved in acid, steel bridges cooked down to brine.
            Now I waded into the surf, letting myself go, swimming,  shuddering with the chill, and then I dived.
            Then I swam upward, and still further upward, but there was no surface.  There was no air.

            Even at that moment, however, I was a writer—I was myself.
            Readers ask were do I get my ideas.  Readers ask where the stories come from, where do the poems originate? 
            Fear has a taste, like hot metal.  The water was rich with sand, all over my limbs like liquid corrosive.  And this was taking too long, my ascent too slow-moving, the sky receding, a watery force hanging onto my legs.
           And when I broke the surface at last, when I could breathe again, oxygen baying in and out of me, I was far out into the ocean.
            My body was at the climax of a current like a great funnel, a classic riptide, and the hazard was alarming, the hard fact of it giving my stomach a steely twist.  It would take nothing more than a few deep breaths of undertow and I would be finished.  
            I kicked and paddled, swimming in place.  Treading water, as they call it—going nowhere.  I looked for that spot on the beach where I had been unreflectingly happy and safe, minutes before.  I could see it easily, however far away it was now, that location on the edge of the continent where I had found my querencia, that place where if I were a fighting bull in a bull ring I would have sensed that no harm could come.
            My place on the beach was there on the shoreline, a folded towel along with a small heap of belongings, my shirt and jeans on the trodden gray sand.
            I swam several strokes parallel to the line of breakers, but the thing, the living tide, knew what I was attempting to do, or it seemed to... 
            I swam hard, making no progress.

            My latest novel is Seize the Storm, and it is a about a family sailing from California to Hawaii when they encounter an eerily, abandoned vessel—and a baffling hoard, a bag full of cash.  The storm that almost kills them, the sight and the smell of the water,--I learned all of this in my own life, in the waters of the Pacific.
            The Pacific was fighting me now, salt water burning my eyes, forcing a pungent, ice-broth flavor down my throat.  When I got well away from the locus of the rip tide itself, I was panting all the more heavily. 
            Too far.
            I had too far to go.
            I have never seen the shoreline so vacant, no one there.  A gull pulsed across the late afternoon sky to look at me, his head cocking one way and then another as he winged his way, mechanical, hungry, a beautiful, white-feathered scavenger.
            My pale, water-withered  hands splashed through the water, feet kicking downward, still not finding the bottom.
            I was suddenly very tired.
            I needed something I could not guess, a new power.  Because if this were a bull ring and I were a bull I would still be in for a predictable evening.  When the fighting toro settles into the portion of the ring he claims as his own, the picadors have to prick and cajole to get him moving again, but the animal is set.  
            The bull always dies.
            We remember the vivid instant we think we might not make it.  And yet we forget what happens after, when the body climbs toward the beach, the splashing waters more and more shallow, the feeling of elation a ragged sensation, not real, not quite for sure.  We recall the phone call that brings bad news, we remember waiting for the loved one's surgery to be over, but we always forget what happens next, the next day, and the day after that.
            I climbed through the Pacific that early evening, even though the slope was gentle, my legs feeling strengthless.  And when I was free of the surf I made my way, my robotic, absurdly unresponsive limbs two-stepping unsteadily.  l  picked up my towel, the terrycloth almost painfully rough on my skin.

            It was a sensation I did not want to lose.
           In recent months I have been writing haiku, not traditional Japanese-influenced poems, but tough, life-scored, one-line poems.  I have been sharing them on Twitter and on my website.
            That evening as I felt my pulse slow down, there was a feather in the sand, a gull's feather, and I thought.  Yes, write that down, put that in a poem.  Write this all down, I told myself.
            You can find the poem on my web site now, on the haiku plus page.
            I wanted to write it all, the sand on my tongue, the water trying to salt on my skin, everything.  Not write about it.  Write it itself, bring the life into words.  Put it all in the poetry, I urged myself, write this so it will stay alive.  So the danger would stay alive, too—I recognized the irony. 
            Write it, so I could go on living. 


Michael Cadnum
Twitter - @MichaelCadnum Michael shares his haiku on a regular basis on Twitter. Follow him to enjoy!


Now for the contest! All you need to enter is write a comment to this post. Your topic should include any of the following:

-write about a frightening experience you have overcome
-tell us how writing helps you in your life
-or simply state why you should be the deserving winner of an autographed copy of Seize the Storm

Please don't feel like you have to write an essay. Several sentences is perfect. Write as much or as little as you need. We'll select the two most interesting or entertaining comments as the winners! Have fun!

The deadline to post your comment is Sunday, August 4th. I'll contact the two winners on Monday, August 5th. You'll win a personalized, autographed copy of a first edition of SEIZE THE STORM from the author's personal collection. Good luck.

Don't forget the scavenger hunt! 

Two more days on the SUMMER AUTHOR BLITZ TOUR! Check out the remaining schedule here. Check out The Authors on the Air Interview Event on July 31st here.