Among readers, there is a debate as to what is the most captivating part of a novel. Many say the setting, as it allows the reader to escape from their problems into a seemingly new world. Others cite the plot, saying that the adventures and mishaps of the various characters in the story is what grabs their attention. However, I concede that the cultivation of characters that resonate with readers across geographical and cultural lines give a novel that personally keeps my attention.
A perfect example of one of these dynamic characters is Page Plant from Rich Marello’s musically driven coming-of-age novel The Big Wide Calm. Many fans of the novel have noted the sheer authenticity of Page’s voice and journey to success in the music industry. Certainly there’s a method behind creating a character such as Page Plant. Recently, I discussed this very topic with Mr. Marcello.
Randall: Tell us about your novel The Big Wide Calm.
Rich Marcello: The Big Wide Calm is the second of three novels I’m writing about different kinds of love, and deals with platonic love. The first, The Color of Home, was published in 2013 by Langdon Street Press and deals with romantic love. The third, The Beauty of the Fall, deals with love in the broader community, and will come out in 2016.
The Big Wide Calm is Paige Plant’s story. From an early age, she’s had aspirations of becoming a famous singer/songwriter, and the book deals with the year in her life in which she makes her first album, The Big Wide Calm. It’s also the year she grows exponentially as an artist and a woman, and the year that she finally understands all the different meanings of The Big Wide Calm.
Randall: What was the process behind making Page Plant, the explosive main character of The Big Wide Calm?
Rich Marcello: I wrote the first draft of the book very quickly–in about three months. Before I started writing, I spent a great deal of time getting Paige’s voice right, and while I wish I could tell you exactly the process I used to find her, about all I can say is that she emerged from dreamtime. I’m a very disciplined writer and start writing every day at five o’clock in the morning. So, in a sense, I go directly from one kind of dream time (sleep) to another (writing). It’s through that process of dream-writing that Paige came to me. In many ways, I felt like I was channeling her each day. My job was more to accurately get down what she was saying than anything else. It was a great experience.
Randall: In my novel The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson, my main character Aaliyah Anderson is loosely based off my mindset and philosophies on life. That fact is dually noted by my readers, as they all agree that Aaliyah is the female version of me! Do you share that same connection with Page? If so, how?
Rich Marcello: In my first novel, The Color of Home, I shared many of the same philosophies as Nick Satterborn, one of the two main characters in the book. So from that perspective, I have my own version of Aaliyah. After that book was complete, I wanted to move away from writing characters too much like me. So no, I don’t share that same connection with Paige as I do with Nick. With that said, we all draw from our experiences when we write, so the part of her that’s a musician I can certainly relate to given my musical background, but the rest of her is mostly imagined.
Randall: What made you write in the voice of Page Plant?
Rich Marcello: I wanted to write a strong, intelligent, artistic character who knew what she wanted and went after it. There aren’t enough strong female characters in literary fiction, so I wanted to add her voice. Some people wonder about a male writing a female character, especially as the protagonist, but my goal from the start has been to write exceptional characters, male or female. For that reason, writing Paige was the right choice for me, and I’m really happy with the way she turned out.
Randall: What is the main message you want readers to take from the novel?
Rich Marcello: That if people truly and deeply love each other, they can change the world.
Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What do you say to them?
Rich Marcello: If I could give one bit of advice to young people, or to anyone really, it would be to take a vow of unconditional happiness. This is extremely difficult to practice and most will be challenged by it in big and small ways every day for the rest of their lives. Still, for me, after a great many years of struggle, I found this simple idea to be incredibly powerful. Try it sometime, for a day or an hour or a few minutes, and you’ll see what it brings up.
Find Rich Marcello at:
-We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #2 on the Amazon charts! Check it out on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!
-“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is out now! Make sure to go get it!
Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at: