Guest Post: Why Love Was Such a Powerful Motivator for Vincent van Gogh’s Creativity

 

Guest Post by Giuseppe Cafiero

 

In a letter to his younger brother Theo, Vincent once wrote “What is done in love is well done”. It is through this, and other correspondences, that we can understand how important the concept of love was to van Gogh’s art.

In his personal life, van Gogh was unlucky in love. Though he pursued a number of relationships during his short life, he never married nor had children. The objections of his family brought an unhappy end to his involvement with one of his muses, former prostitute and model Sien Hoornik, while a later relationship with a neighbour, Margot Begemann, led to her attempting suicide because her family were opposed to the match.  

While this pain only contributed to the misery that Vincent already felt so keenly, it also deeply informed his approach to painting. In another letter to Theo, he states that “In order to work and to become an artist one needs love”, and it was that expansion of consciousness elicited by love that can be clearly seen in his expressionistic style. The intensity and immediacy of his passions were directed instead to the scene before him, with van Gogh embracing his impressions of the natural world without fear or restraint. In sharing his thoughts on a new love affair to his beloved Theo, van Gogh could as easily be describing his unique approach to art: “One loves because one loves. Then we keep our heads clear, and do not cloud our minds, nor do we hide our feelings, nor smother the fire and light, but simply say: Thank God, I love.” 

So for van Gogh, heartache was transfigured on to the canvas, representing a revolutionary act that allowed him to be a participant in something he viewed as otherwise precluded to him. It also served as a rebellion against the restrictive religious atmosphere that his father, Theodorus, had tried to inculcate when Vincent was still a young man.  

Here was an artist who was led by the heart; one driven to try and capture the truth with the same sincerity and striving as would be expected towards a lover. This capacity for love fuelled his creativity and is what still attracts us to his bold and bright paintings today.

Vincent Van Gogh: the Ambiguity of Insanity by Giuseppe Cafiero is out now as an audiobook on Amazon, Audible.com and iTunes.

About the Book

Title: Vincent Van Gogh: The Ambiguity of Insanity

Author: Giuseppe Cafiero

An abrasive itinerary of the presence of women, the landscape and obsession. Such are the internal paradigms that went through the compelling life of the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.

Not flesh and blood women, but the woman as a guide: Mrs. Jones, the woman as a mother; Kee Vos; Christine Hoornik of Siena; Margot Begemann. The Portrait-women such as Augustine Roulin and Madame Ginoux. And then the backgrounds, endless, unforgettable in this genius’s works: Isleworth, Amsterdam, le Borinage, Arles, St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent his life trying to capture the colors, the atmosphere, the light.

The pain of finitude and his obsession with achieving redemption through art, with intimate and stormy religiosity, with brotherly love, with the French noon sun and, in short, with death. A hard-working and unwavering life where art interacted, in a painful gesture, with the iron will of a hand that never lost its way.

The life of a beloved and devoted man, silenced by the anguish and despair of creation, who could only find peacefulness when he found his own death.

Vincent Van Gogh: the Ambiguity of Insanity is a fictionalized biography and gripping novel of the life of the Nineteenth-Century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The author, Giuseppe Cafiero, draws a psychological portrait of the Post-Impressionist painter through the women that marked his life and the cities in which he lived.

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Author Interview Decanted Truths

Author Interview

1) What inspired you to start a writing career?

Ghostwriting on international security issues, which occupied the lion’s share of my writing career, started as a stopgap measure. It evolved from my academic background at a time when I was between jobs. I initially regarded the work, done on a contract basis, as temporary until I could find full-time employment. But I discovered I really liked it, was good at it and the contracts kept coming. I also liked the freedom of being a freelancer.

The evolution from nonfiction ghostwriter to novelist was more dramatic. From early adulthood, I always knew I had the makings of a novelist. And for all the material rewards of ghostwriting, one tires of not writing in one’s own voice. Also there was great appeal in creating a fictional world I could control. Unlike the real world, the bad guys I craft will eventually get their comeuppance and the good guys will eventually get their reward. I’d developed my fictional chops with many short stories and poems over the years. Had a few published. Basically, I realized if I was ever going to become the novelist I’d long dreamed of being, the time was now. So I committed to it fully and was lucky to find a wonderful publisher and editor, who had faith in me

2) Is your book a stand-alone, or is it part of a series?

Decanted Truths is a singleton. If you’re interested in a series, please check out my Hillwilla trilogy, based in contemporary West Virginia and featuring the clash between “born-heres” and “come-heres,” with the latter exemplified by a gritty middle-aged heroine with a dark past. The first novel, published in 2014, is Hillwilla. The second is On the Hillwilla Road (2015). The final one, just published late last year, is Reinventing Hillwilla.

3) How does your book stand out from others?

Decanted Truths stands out from other novels because it’s so many things at once — and so hard to peg. It’s part literary novel, part (dysfunctional) family saga, part women’s fiction, part historical period piece — all with a hefty dollop of the paranormal. I’ve never fit a stereotype myself and whatever I write seems to shapeshift across genres

4) Are any of your characters based on real-life people?

None of the characters in Decanted Truths is based on real people, even though my first idea for the book (begun 20 years ago) was to fictionalize the up-from-bootstraps life of my maternal grandfather. That idea quickly fell by the wayside, and the characters developed identities very different from those of actual ancestors. Admittedly, I exposed the fictional Gavagans, Harrigans and Costellos to some of the same (real) events that played out in my family’s history. But the impact of those events was necessarily different, because the characters are so different from any real ancestors.

5) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Advice for aspiring authors? Oy… First of all, be an avid and eclectic reader. Take note of which books appeal and which don’t. Figure out why something works (for you, at least) and why it doesn’t. Absorb, don’t emulate. Then find your own voice and stay true to it. I’m not a big fan of farming out a work-in-progress for input from friends and relatives, largely because their comments can pull you away from your own authentic style. Once you have some idea of what you want to write, commit to it fully. To the isolation. To that blank page. To the vagaries of character development (yes, characters really do have their own minds). Be ready to rip up pages of hard-written words and start all over again. Persevere, persevere, persevere — all while somehow keeping the faith.

About the Book

Title: Decanted Truths

Author: Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction / Family Saga

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

 

 

Author Bio

Raised in a Boston Irish family, Melanie Forde knew her life was infinitely easier than that of her ancestors, refugees from the Potato Famine. The storytelling skills of her elders kept ancestral triumphs and tragedies alive, so that the Potato Famine and the Easter Rebellion felt as real as the Cold War. Inheriting the storyteller gene, Ms. Forde is the author of three earlier novels, her Hillwilla trilogy. She now lives far from her roots, on a West Virginia farm. She still maintains a potato patch—just in case.

 

 

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Author Interview The Raygin War

Author Interview

Have you been writing for a long time?

 

I started to write my first book in 2013. Prior to that all my writing was work related and involved nuclear training and disaster scenarios.

 

What inspired you to start a writing career?

 

As a young boy I read thousands of comic books. I always felt it would be fun to create characters and worlds to entertain others much like the authors were entertaining me. As an adult I love to tell stories to my friends and family. I mix just enough truth to the tale I am telling so the listener doesn’t know if what I said is real or made up. It’s fun. I wanted to bring a similar experience to the readers of today.

 

Is your book a stand-alone, or is it part of a series?

 

My latest book, The Raygin War, is a futuristic sci-fi about an alien invasion of human occupied space. I wrote the book as a stand alone, but its something I designed so I could easily turn into a series. A series is nice because each book usually ends the mini story. The big storyline can live on forever or at least until the author’s imagination runs dry.

 

How does your book stand out from others?

 

I served in the U.S. Navy for eight years and even during difficult times it seems like a sense of humor made the task at hand a little more bearable. I see The Raygin War as a mix of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and Orson Scott Cards Formic War series with a sprinkling of humor added to the dialog.

 

Are any of your characters based on real-life people?

 

Yes, Mac, the main character has bits and pieces of real life people I met while serving in the Navy. While I was stationed on the USS Iwo Jima there was a Gunnery Sergeant that had the respect of about 800 marines. While working shore patrol in civilian clothes all I had to say to the marines starting to get themselves into trouble while on liberty was, “You don’t want me to give your name to the Gunney, do you?” That was all it took. He was a nice guy with a reputation. If you did right by him, he’d give his life for you, cross him and he’d put you in (excuse the language but it’s the way everyone talked) a world of shit.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

 

Use beta readers and an editor for your book. If you can’t do that then read your book out loud to find problem areas – you will still miss things but it will help. Go to http://inkandquills.com/2015/11/27/clutter-words-to-cut-from-your-writing/ and read an article by Kaitlin Hillerich – it’s a tip given to me by a senior editor of a literary agency to remove clutter from my writing.

About the Book

Title: The Raygin War

Author: Larry Gerovac

Genre: Science-Fiction

The Raygin War is a futuristic sci-fi story about an alien race that evolved from Carrion beetles. 25 years after first contact the aliens return with a fleet to invade human space. To stop the invasion the military puts all its hope into a single person. He’s an old school soldier who started his career as a ground pounder in the Sniper Corps. Mac has been involved in about every conflict the military has participated in. His skill as a sniper earned him the respect of every soldier who ever worked with him. He is a self taught killer. On the battlefield he has no equal. Whether it was killing the opponent in hand-to-hand combat, killing them with a weapon, or just plain old out maneuvering them Mac was the best the military had ever seen. When the Raygin war starts Mac is forced into a leadership role he wanted nothing to do with. Will Mac’s experience and talent be enough to neutralize the alien invasion? All is not what it seems. Read the Raygin War to see if the human race will survive and remain free.

 

Author Bio

Larry Gerovac was born in the shadows of the steel mills, oil refineries, and railroadyards of the Midwestern United States. He is a Navy Veteran and a first generation American. He writes in the genre of Science, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror.

 

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Book Excerpt The Monster of Selkirk Book 1: The Duality of Nature

Book Excerpt

Tallis should have been more attentive to watch for birds or deer, but she could not help but brood and be distracted by her own thoughts and worries. Thankfully, Donovan could not sleep, either.

Joining his cousin, he gently bumped her shoulder as a way of greeting.

Tallis glanced at him. “It’s not fair, cousin.”

Donovan nodded. “No, it’s not.”

“I thought that coming out here … I thought I’d finally have answers and figure out who I was. But now I don’t think I want to know. I don’t think I’m going to like what we find. I just want to go home and pretend like none of this happened. I’d even marry Henrik if it meant we could all just go back to the way it was.”

“Oh, come now, you’d be bored stiff if you married Henrik and stayed in Kincardine.”

“Maybe, but I didn’t want this.”

“I know, Tally. But the world is not obligated to care about what you or I want. I’m sorry it happened to you, but, well, if it helps, I think you’ll be able to handle it. Whatever it is.”

“But I don’t want to handle it. I just want to be normal.”

“Aye, but being normal is so dull.”

“So what? I’d rather be boring than hated and feared and treated as an outcast.”

“But this way, we’ll get to be a hero, Tallis. People would kill for the opportunity to save their country.”

“I don’t want to be their hero. I don’t want to be anyone’s hero. I just wanted the chance to be like everyone else. I wanted someone to protect me just this once. I don’t need someone to shelter me, but it’d be nice to be protected all the same. Don’t I deserve it? Strong or not, I want someone to hold me and tell me it will be all right.”

Donovan draped his arm around his cousin’s shoulder and gave her a gentle hug. “I know, Tally. And maybe one day you’ll find someone who will be able to hold you and make you feel safe and secure no matter what. But for now we have to keep going. We have to keep fighting.”

Tallis gritted her teeth. “Aye, you’re right. Thank you, Donovan. What would I do without you?”

Donovan chuckled. “Curl in a ball and try and hide, most likely.”

Tallis rolled her eyes. “Oh, right, I forgot all about running and hiding. Is that still an option?” They laughed together and passed the rest of the night in silence.

About the Book

Title: The Monster of Selkirk Book 1: The Duality of Nature

Author: C.E. Clayton

Genre: Fantasy

Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.

As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends. But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.

 

Author Bio

C.E. Clayton was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area, where she attended the University of Southern California (Fight On!) for both her Bachelors and Masters, and then worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts ranging from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love—writing—and hasn’t stopped. She is now the author of “The Monster of Selkirk” series and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts. And reading. She does read quite a bit. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, social media presence, and newsletter, can be found on her website: https://www.ceclayton.com/

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The Monster of Selkirk Books series available now!

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Promo Post From Frights to Flaws

About the Book

Title: From Frights to Flaws

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Originally published in 2013, the book has been updated to its full potential with edits, while keeping the storyline the same.

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?

 

Author Bio

Sunayna Prasad has published a few books between her late teens and her mid-twenties. She has won a Pacific Book Review Award for her novel, Wizardry Goes Wild, which will return as a new edition, like From Frights to Flaws. Sunayna also has a blog on different creative and entertaining topics, including writing and fiction. It is called “Sunayna Prasad’s Blog”.

Aside from writing, Sunayna also likes to cook, do art, and watch videos online. She has graduated from college in May 2017 and is looking to continue more writing as well as hold a graphic design job soon. Sunayna lives on Long Island, NY.

 

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Book Release: My Way To You

About the Book

Title: My Way To You

Author: Lyndell Williams

Genre: Romance

Lawyer Simon Young is smart, confident, and adept at keeping things with women casual—until he meets his best friend Marcus’s sister, Regina. Immediately intrigued by Regina’s beauty, Simon becomes increasingly enthralled and ultimately risks his friendship to have her for himself.

Social justice writer and activist Regina Kent is usually cautious and savvy. Yet, unable to resist her attraction to the handsome Simon, she plunges into a torrid affair, knowing that she chances angering big brother and her less tolerant followers, many of whom will not accept that one of their most popular pro-Black bloggers is dating an Asian man.

As their clandestine romance evolves, Simon and Regina fall deeper in love. Making sure that things stay between them becomes progressively impossible, and neither knows how much longer they can keep Marcus in the dark and the world at bay.

 

 

Author Bio

Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer as well as a multifaceted editor, romance scholar and author. She is a managing editor and columnist for various media platforms and serves as a content editor for a select group of clients. She’s had numerous short stories published in collections and enjoys a growing list of subscribers to her Layla Writes Love online short story series.

Lyndell is an adjunct instructor as well as an anti-racism and gender equity advocate. She is committed to the traditional use of literature as social commentary to affect positive social change.

 

 

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Book Review Inside The Chinese Wine Industry

Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry

Author: Loren Mayshark

Genre: Nonfiction

The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.

Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.

 

There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”

 

I would not consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I’m definitely a wine enthusiast. However, while I have some knowledge of the wine industry in France, I know next to nothing about the Chinese wine industry. Well, I knew next to nothing – after reading this book, I can certainly say I know more than I ever thought I would about the wine industry in China!

The Chinese wine industry has a rich history, and a lot of wine-related traditions. While there’s a lot of information, it certainly isn’t presented in a dry, dull fashion, on the contrary, the little tidbits of information are fun and entertaining, and the book is a fast read with a ton of interesting content.

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