This past week I had the opportunity to watch one of my favorite musicals: Paint Your Wagon starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg. It may strike you as unusual to discuss a musical set during the California Gold Rush of the 1840s in a web journal devoted to vampires, but I noted some interesting parallels between the movie and my paranormal fiction.
As it turns out, I’m something of a loner. I get distinctly uncomfortable in crowded places. I prefer small towns or even the country to big cities. I enjoy getting on the road and driving for hours by myself with nothing more than the company of my own thoughts. This is actually how I compose a lot of my fiction. Because of this desire for solitude, I very much relate to Lee Marvin’s character Ben Rumson from the movie—a prospector born under a wandering star. In fact, my dad saw these traits in me when I was quite young and painted this picture for me that captured his impression of my personality. It’s a lone prospector in search of new frontiers.
Although I am something of a loner, I find I do need the company of people to stay mentally well. We humans are social creatures, after all. What’s more, I’ve been married for over 20 years. I like my freedom and I like time alone, but if I’m alone too long, I get melancholy, as Ben Rumson phrased it in Paint Your Wagon.
Balancing the need for freedom with the desire for companionship to stave off loneliness is one of the central themes of Paint Your Wagon. It’s also one of the central themes of my novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. What was also interesting was that both stories explore the question of what happens when a woman loves two men for different reasons. In Paint Your Wagon, the woman’s solution was simply to marry both of the men. In Dragon’s Fall, the solution isn’t quite so simple, but they were similar enough that I found it interesting to compare them. Draco is the experienced warrior, similar to Lee Marvin’s experienced prospector. Roquelaure is the handsome assassin, not unlike Clint Eastwood’s tough but handsome farmer. Alexandra is the woman looking for her freedom, much like Jean Seberg was looking to settle down in the life she wanted.
Finally, one last thing I found interesting was that the DVD of Paint Your Wagon listed it as having a PG-13 rating—a rating that didn’t actually exist when the movie was made. Indeed, I was probably nine or ten years old when I first saw the movie and my parents thought nothing of it. There is minimal violence and no overt sexuality. Prostitution and a polyandrous relationship are discussed, but not shown in any graphic fashion at all. As someone who is all about freedom of thought, I have to admit, it prickles a bit to be told that the mere discussion of “mature” topics might make a movie inappropriate for my kids. On reflection, I guess I’m okay with it as long as a caution doesn’t actually move into censorship.
Of course, that raises an important difference between Paint Your Wagon and Dragon’s Fall. The latter story is very much intended for adult audiences. If you’re an adult, interested in exploring complex relationships among creatures of the night, I hope you’ll give my most recent novel a try. The link below will take you to the book’s page at Amazon. It’s available in both print and electronic formats.