Interview with author Chuck Redman

Author Chuck Redman joins me today. We’re talking
a little bit about his new satirical literary fiction, A Cottonwood Stand (A novel of Nebraska).
Chuck Redman was born and raised in
small-town Nebraska, a place that still gives him chills even though the
scenery is less dramatic than the goosebumps on his arm. But he eventually
rambled east for undergrad at Michigan and law school at NYU. Then he marched
west to practice criminal and immigration law in Los Angeles for 40 years. In
his spare time, he wrote a little. He’s retired now, freeing him to enjoy his
wife, his kids, his reading, his writing, his worrying about the future of the

His novel A Cottonwood Stand, set in Nebraska, takes a satirical look at
the way our nation has chosen to evolve, in terms of values. Mr. Redman’s daughter, a musician and artist, created
a beautiful needlepoint of the story’s “legendary” cottonwood, and his son, a
musician and community activist, adapted the needlepoint for the book cover.
His short fiction or humor have appeared
in Writer’s Digest, Lowestoft Chronicle,
Hemlock Journal, Jewish Literary Journal,
and The Jewish Magazine.

Welcome, Chuck. Please tell us about
your current release.
Well, A Cottonwood Stand tells two stories simultaneously. There’s an ancient story of a young
Sioux woman called Lark who rebels against her people’s traditions and sets out
to save her adopted sister from a bad marriage proposal and return her to the
Pawnee village from which she was abducted in childhood. And the modern story of
Janet Hinderson, who runs a
small town newspaper and crusades against a proposed slaughterhouse that will
destroy the fabric of the town along with its landmark cottonwoods. Two
stories, four hundred years apart, wound into one by a very unusual narrator,
who brings to life the theme of the environment, the theme of personal freedom, and the women who take a stand against
the powers that continue to threaten those values
What inspired you to write this book?
Part of the
idea for the book came from the town where I live, in southern California. It’s
a town that is committed to protecting its native oak trees. I started to think
about the possibility that someday these stately oaks might all be chopped down
to make way for more freeways, malls or luxury residential tracts. I thought
about these things but I realized that Nebraska was the place that I really
wanted to write about, so instead of the oak tree, it’s the cottonwood.
What exciting story are you working on
Most of the
stuff I write comes out satire, for some reason. But, yeah, I guess a healthy
jaundiced skepticism about our fellow human beings can be pretty exciting. This
next story is set in California, not Nebraska. It’s about a retired couple
confronted with the loneliness of too much togetherness. They begin to realize
that, sometimes, two’s not company, it’s a crowd. She wants to make new
friends, but he has grander ideas. So one half of this retired couple goes off
the deep end with a certain guilty promise he makes and an obsession to keep
that promise. I just have to figure out, as the story unfolds, whether he sinks
or swims when he cannonballs off that diving board.
When did you first consider yourself a
In the 11th
grade every kid in the class had to write their autobiography. You would think
that 17 is not old enough to have much of a life to write about. But I really
worked hard on mine, and naturally, it mostly turned out satirical. I think it
may have been the best thing I’ve ever written. Downhill since then. The school
said they would keep all our autobiographies in their records. My rough draft
is sitting inside an old box somewhere in my closet, which I haven’t opened
since the early ‘70’s (the box, not the closet).
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
Since the end
of December I’ve been a full-time lazy bum—er, retired person. Believe it or
not, most of my time now goes to promoting A
Cottonwood Stand
. But I’m trying to write when I find the time, or make the
time. Retirement comes with certain responsibilities, like housework,
paperwork, so forth. Also comes with fringe benefits, like going to yoga class
with my wife, spend more time with my kids, catch a matinee if we feel like it.
Lots of reading. Sounds like a pretty soft life, now that I reflect on it!
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
So far, my
quirkiest thing is that I write very slowly and painstakingly, constantly
revising as I go along. Then, when I get to THE END, that’s pretty much my
final draft. It’s silly, it’s wrong, it goes against everything I’ve ever heard
about the writing and revision process. I really need to work on my craft, as
they say.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Always wanted
to be a lawyer. The only time I wavered at all was my senior year of college
when I thought about becoming an English professor. But I knew I’d regret
abandoning my original dream, so I went full steam ahead to law school and I
really don’t have any regrets. The Law’s been a worthy master.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I worry that
technology is robbing us of our human nature, our humanity. Some aspects of
science and technology are beneficial and beautiful (I’m kind of partial to
modern plumbing). But I’m not so sure that cars and television haven’t done way
more harm than good. Don’t get me started on those sinister gadgets you put on
your kitchen counter and you call them by name and ask them who invented mouthwash
or to tell you a joke about St. Patrick’s Day. I wouldn’t want my kids to end
up having a best friend that you plug in, instead of one you can play hide and
seek with in the park. Sorry to end on a preachy note, but this sort of goes
back to the reason I wrote the book in the first place: trees and nature, good.
Big screens and pollution, bad.
Thank you for joining me today, Chuck!

3 thoughts on “Interview with author Chuck Redman

  1. Unknown says:

    I have some of the same worries about technology in relation to kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm being carried along the technology trail kicking and screaming (mostly screaming). So, I love the theme of your book. Satire, good. Preachy, bad.

  2. Chuck Redman says:

    Dear "Anonymous",
    The book is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Thanks for asking!

    Dear "Unknown",
    I like your comment, we're on the same wave length. . .

    Thank you, Lisa, for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed and to ponder some questions that were definitely worth pondering. Take care, Chuck (Redman)

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