Today, I’d like to bring you “up close and personal” with Caprice Hokstad, the lady, and her thoughts on her own work, Nor Iron Bars a Cage.
Caprice lives in Escondido, California with her family and assorted animals. She not only writes about people in a fantasy world, she has designed clothes such as a royal Elva would wear. This is her Queen Phinia costume that she designed for book signings.
>First off, Caprice, could you tell us something about your family and home life?
Oy. It's pretty boring, actually. Married 23 years. Four kids, ages 4-20. The 4-year old is not in school yet. The 20-year old is in college and engaged. My seventh grader is totally homeschooled. My ninth grader is in a charter school where some of her subjects are homeschooled (Algebra, English, Science) and some subjects are taken at the school (Drama) or a mixture of both places (Spanish). We live in a mobile home with lots of pets. I'm an admitted weather wimp and call anything below 60 degrees, "Freezing-butt cold".
>You have a lot going on in a household with such varying schools and ages.
I know you used to have five rats, two of them named Carne and Asada. Do you still have them all?
Carne is still with me. He's the white one who has the shoutlife page. I just lost another rat in the last week. His name was Squeaker, but we didn't name him. We adopted him when a neighbor didn't want him anymore. He didn't get along with any of our other rats (male or female) which is really odd for rats, because they usually like to have companions. We had to house Squeaker alone. He was also the biggest fraidy-rat we ever had. If you tried to hold him, he just pooped and pooped and pooped. I used to hold all the rats while my daughter cleaned the cages, but after about two tries with Squeaker, I wouldn't hold him anymore. LOL So I guess you can say we don't mourn him too much. We only have one rat at the moment, but when Carne is gone, I'll probably get two or three to replace him. I want 3 sisters or 3 brothers. They like to be together.
>And you have a dog named Petey--I love that cute picture of him with the duck.
Yep, Petey is still with us. He's shaggy right now. He doesn't get his summer haircut until June or so.
>You have cats, too, right? Any other critters (not the human ones)?
My daughters have the cats. All are indoor cats because we have coyotes that will kill them if they go out at night. The last three cats we had that got out never came back. Hannah has a gray tabby/Maine Coon mix. Bekah has three orange tabbies and a calico. I think one of the orange tabbies is preggers again by her son. My daughter PROMISED to have the boy fixed as a condition of keeping him after the last litter. She waited too long. The girls keep their cats in their rooms at night and they keep the litter boxes in their closets, but I am constantly tripping over the five cats during the day. Petey has fun with them though.
My son has a leopard gecko, who is about the most boring pet ever except when he eats mealworms or sheds his skin. He does seem to have a pretty long lifespan though.
>Would you mind sharing a little of your own walk with God? When did you surrender to Jesus as Lord?
I don't remember the exact day or age when I surrendered. I don't even recall a time when I wasn't a Christian. I never considered not accepting Jesus because my Sunday School teachers said that the consequences were really, really bad. I do remember a crisis of faith, however, when I learned that my parents, whom I trusted 100%, had lied to me about Santa Claus. I mean, most of that Bible stuff is even harder to believe than a guy with a flying sleigh who delivers presents. And I always had presents under my Christmas tree to help back-up that Santa story. But even with that physical "proof", it still turned out to be a lie. What if adults made up the Bible as well? Josh McDowell restored my faith in the Bible, but it was a very long time before my trust in adults was restored.
>Did you have any particular verses in mind when you wrote the novel?
Actually, yes, quite a few. Many of the early apostles used "bondservant of the Lord" as their title, including Paul (Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1) James (James 1:1) Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and Jude (Jude 1).
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was visited by the angel Gabriel, her first question was "How?" (wouldn't everyone want to know this?) and then did she say, "Can't you find someone else?" or "Can it wait until Joseph marries me?" or "What will my parents say?" No, Mary said, "Behold, I am the maidservant of the Lord." (Luke 1:38) I believe that was exactly the attitude the Father wanted when he was searching Time and Eternity for just the right woman to entrust with His only begotten Son.
And of course, what did Jesus Himself say to his disciples at the Last Supper? "Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:27-28)
I also drew a little bit on the Old Testament idea of "Jubilee" for freeing slaves and the concept where a slave would stay with a master beyond the time prescribed by Jewish law, by choice. (Exodus 21:5 Deut. 15:16) These are sometimes called "love slaves". However, I'm afraid that to mention "love slave" nowadays would be misunderstood as a sexual kind of love, which is why I decided to use Freewill Slave. I fully recognize that most servanthood concepts are hard for modern minds to appreciate. We have all been taught to despise any form of slavery. Yet, we can respect young men and women voluntarily relinquishing a good deal of their personal rights and submitting to the authority of others, in order to join the military. Some readers may have noticed the similarities between my fictional "Institute of Training and Correction" and a military "boot camp".
>The idea of military boot camp hadn’t entered my mind, but I can see what you mean. At the Institute they were prepared to face whatever their masters might throw at them.
>Who would you say your favorite character is in your novel, other than kee and Duke Vahn, and why?
Saerula and Delorae are just so much fun to write. I have a devious mind, so it's not hard to come up with villainy. What's hard to me is to keep from making a villain/ess character so utterly evil and completely selfish that they aren't believable. I'm not sure I accomplished that with Saerula, but I think I did with Delorae. Delorae was willing to bend quite a bit to get what she wanted and she did actually have genuine feelings for the duke when she started out. But when all her machinations got her nowhere, she was one of those proverbial "women scorned" and then she let the desire for revenge take over until it destroyed her.
>What would be the most important things you would hope for your readers to come away with when they have finished reading Nor Iron Bars a Cage?
I hope my readers have been entertained. Fiction is supposed to be fun, not a chore or a lecture. Whether you laughed, cried, or dug your fingernails into the arm of your chair, I hoped there was something in the story that you found compelling enough to make you keep turning pages, hungry for more. I want you to get to the end fulfilled and sated, but disappointed it's over. If I did not accomplish that, then I have failed.
>Did you draw on anything from your own life and experiences in writing this story? I know it's a fantasy, but is there a part of Caprice in it?
I think there's a lot of myself in the characters, probably more than I'd like to admit when it comes to the villains. The duke's hometown, Ny, is very much like San Diego, without all the modern technology, of course. That was no accident. I write what I know, and since I've lived in southern California for most of my life, that was the easiest setting for me to use.
>What would you say your strengths are in writing? What do you think are the strongest elements in your novels?
Yikes. I don't know. Do I have any strengths besides being long-winded?
>Well, I can think of a few, but I guess it’s easier to criticize yourself than it is to look at your strengths.
Can you give us an inkling of what will happen in the third novel?
There's going to be a plague which ravages the kingdom. Their only hope will turn out to be the Itzi-Elva halfling child named Blod, whom Vahn adopted. The war that started in "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" will spread. However, just as King Pendo promised, Duke Vahn's territory will be safe. This will give the Vahn a good opportunity to build up his own forces while his brother loses more and more. This is building toward the inevitable showdown between King Arx and Duke Vahn.
>While we’re at it, would you like to mention any projects you’re involved with, like the Finishers, or any organizations and ministries that are close to your heart?
I would love for you to mention the Finishers. http://www.thefinishers.biz/ is the website for that. [note: The Finishers is a new complete professional manuscript service started by Frank Creed, Cynthia MacKinnon, and Caprice]. You could also mention Books For Soldiers (http://www.booksforsoldiers.com/). The non-profit organization was actually started by a church, but it's more or less a secular charity. I have sent a bunch of special copies of The Duke’s Handmaid, but I've also filled other requests, like a chaplain in Afghanistan wanted Bibles in the local language (Pashtu). I could not find them anywhere in the WORLD because the whole Bible had not even been translated into Pashtu yet. The best I could do was Pashtu New Testaments from England. I had to use British pounds to order them on the internet, had them sent to the New York APO, where they turned around and went back across the Atlantic to Afghanistan. That chaplain was so excited when they arrived. He sent a personal thanks by email.
>Well, that’s exciting. We know that the Word will not return void. I can understand why the chaplain would be excited to receive those new Testaments. The Books For Soldiers sound like a very worthwhile charity. Some of our other authors might think about sending some of their books to the soldiers, who I’ve heard you say are eager to read anything they can get their hands on.
Caprice, I want to thank you for taking time out to answer my questions. I know you said your life is boring, but I think you are a pretty interesting person.
Now for the ads and references:
Today at the CFRB, David Brollier examines the love a father, both human and Heavenly, in light of the characters in Nor Iron Bars a Cage.
Over at A Frank Review, you can find one of the most in-depth interviews that Caprice says she ever had.
S. M. Kirkland has a little twisted laugh at Duke Vahn's expense in her review.
For the best price on Nor Iron Bars a Cage, go to http://www.lulu.com/content/1174106
At the end of the week, I will be giving away a copy of book one of the series, The Duke's Handmaid. Just leave a comment. Feel free to comment on more than one day's article for extra chances, but I would ask you to write something about the article or the book itself when you comment. Thanks!