Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Humorously haunting and packed with unspeakable truths - Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla

"Sometimes you have to clear your path before you can continue down it."
"This story is oftentimes both funny and sad, as we join Luna try to figure out herself and her relationship with men, her mother, her father, her ex-husband, her children, her best friend, and her inner voice (who she calls Jiminy).
It was a delightful, if long, read!" - Lisa, Goodreads


Published: June 25th, 2017

Life begins at thirty-eight for Long Island mom and writer Luna Lampanelli, when she kicks her secretly gay husband to the curb. She's got her freedom, but what she wants is love. 

Luna knows she doesn't need a man to exist, but try telling that to her heart. Against the advice of Sunny, her snarky best friend, and Jiminy, the cautioning voice in Luna's head who just won't shut up, Luna sets course to find a mate. 

Luna speed and on-line dates her way into several short-lived, surreal relationships. There's Ari, the humorless Israeli who refuses to assimilate – to America, and to humanity. There's Alex, the young and handsome ex-crackhead who informs Luna he doesn't want to be monogamous—while they're in bed. There's Memphis, the wild-eyed sadomasochist. There's Red, angry and crippled, who becomes the catalyst for Luna to join Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. But before Luna can proceed to recovery, she meets the elusive but oh so appealing Trip. He's emotionally unavailable and has the Madonna-Whore Complex, but how can Luna (aka "whore") let him go when she enjoys his dry wit so much, and his body even more?

Humorously haunting and packed with unspeakable truths, Luna Rising follows a woman's funny and heart-breaking struggle to relate with un-relatable men and an un-relatable world, and to figure out something even more un-relatable: herself.


1. First of all, I must say that you make me cry with Girl Next Door and I’m not used to that when reading! So, what to expect in Luna Rising? 
Thank you so much! The Girl Next Door remains my biggest tear-jerker, I think. But Luna Rising is also very emotional, especially as we learn about her neglected childhood. These scenes are told in short flashbacks, but the reader will resonate with them. There is no heartbreaking disease in Luna, but there is heartbreak. This is the story of a woman determined to rise, no matter how many times she is pushed down. 

2. Why does a woman need a man beside her or why we (as gender) are still looking for the “perfect” guy? 
This is the question Luna Rising poses! Women are raised to believe they need a man to rescue them/take care of them—just look at fairy tales like Cinderella or Snow White. Look at love songs, old and new, all agonizing about having a man. Our society raises us to believe we need a husband—and it seems to be ingrained in us biologically as well. Perhaps this has to do with our instincts to bear children? We know we don’t “need” a man to survive—and yet, we can’t shake that urge to find one. Look at the billion dollar wedding industry if you don’t believe me. Look at the surge of on-line dating, and apps! As for the “perfect” guy—I think that term is a mistake, too. Sometimes we dismiss people, people we don’t think “fit” with us, without even giving them a chance. However, Luna’s problem is the opposite. At the beginning of this story, she’ll accept anyone so she doesn't have to be alone! 

3. There is something about Luna that can be applied to all women? 
Absolutely! Erica Jong started the movement in literature where women could be real—not just sexual objects, but imperfect, afraid, looking for answers about themselves. Luna is so busy searching for a man that she’s neglecting herself. This is something all women can understand—that squeamish, uneasy feeling aloneness brings, like we’re incomplete. This escalates into full-blown desperation! (And look at the gossip magazines, describing poor Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Anniston or one of the Kardashian’s latest heartbreak! Showing independently happy women won’t sell copies. These are bad examples for the rest of us. And Taylor Swift’s swift dating habits are not helping young women!) 

Luna Rising addresses this desperation, but it doesn’t give into it. The solution is not in finding that “perfect” guy to sweep her off her feet. It’s only through a painful (and often also humorous) series of events that Luna learns it’s herself she needs to obtain love from. The men are insignificant—beside the point. She must learn to be okay with herself, by herself. 

Another thing that women do is store every painful thing that’s ever happened deep inside ourselves, where it ferments and seeps into our souls. We need to release our pasts, in order to be happy now. This is something Luna must learn to do. 

Finally, women will relate to the power of friendship, and laughter. Luna has a best friend named Sunny (who provides much of the humor in this book) and together they laugh at the absurdity of the world. For moments, they even forget the world exists. 

4. The book is categorized as “woman fiction” – there some reasons for which men should read Luna Rising? What do you believe about splitting the books in “for men” and “for women”? 
I think men might read Luna to learn about women’s psyches, and how they feel. Men have a different operating system then women — more direct, more primal. A man can also forget about something, while a woman will cling to that thing with all of her heart. So a man could see how a woman is affected by the things that happen to her if he reads this, and he can also have his own take on the behavior of the men. There are some interesting male characters in this book. My favorite is Joe, Luna’s no-nonsense boxing trainer. Trip, the main love interest, has some great lines. I’m sure men would enjoy his wit. And they could interpret why he acts like he does. 

And if a man likes a well-written work of literature, perhaps for that reason alone he will enjoy Luna Rising. ;) This book explores a slice of humanity, which is something we all belong to. 

I don’t love splitting books into “for men” and “for women”, but this is the way book publishing works. (Also “for teens”—while I certainly think anyone can enjoy The Girl Next Door.) I do believe there are subjects men and women gravitate to, but why not call everything “fiction” or “nonfiction”? Furthermore, people expect certain things from “women’s” books which I thing are formulaic. This book isn’t a romance novel where two good-looking people fall into bed. This book is about navigating the minefields of love, including within oneself. It’s about relationships, really. 

5. What do you feel and what are the responsibilities of an author when sending a message to the readers? 
I think a message comes out inherently through the writing process. I don’t set out to send a message, but at some point I stop and say, ‘Aha! That’s what it’s all about.’ But that’s what it’s all about to me—and iy may be all about something else to another reader. I’m a conduit to possibilities for my readers. I present my story, and they are open to thoughts and considerations they might not have been otherwise. To say, “I am sending this message!” is dangerous, and absolutely not the purpose of literature. Literature says, “Wake up!” But once you’re awake, you’re free to think whatever you like.

About the author:
Selene Castrovilla debuts in women’s fiction with Luna Rising, but she’s no stranger to publishing. An award-winning teen and children's author, Selene believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. Her novel Melt, Book One of the Rough Romance Trilogy, received six honors including the IndieReader Discovery Award Grand Prize for Fiction. Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, her third nonfiction picture book about the American Revolution, was the recipient of four awards including Booklist Top Ten Biography for Youth, International School Librarians’ Honor Book and Eureka! California Reading Association Honor Book. A companion book, Revolutionary Rogues: John André and Benedict Arnold, is hot off the presses. Selene holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School and a B.A. in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons and too many cats, where she sits on her deck in the summer, fall and spring (and at her picture window in the winter) and writes. She loves the color purple and coffee. Selene plays well with others, but with words even better. She is so grateful to do what she loves. National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson calls Selene “a writer worth watching.”
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Author's Giveaway


Selene Castrovilla said...

Thank you so much for interviewing me! Your questions were thoughtful, and it's evident that you take the time to do a thorough job with your blog. Bravo! I appreciate your support.

CCAM said...

Hi, Mrs. Catrovilla

Thank you for your lush answers and for your appreciation. You made us feel... very good.