This interview originally appeared on Author CA Milson’s blog
Here are three things about me that people may or not know:
1-My most successful book is one my fans have probably never read, or, if they did, they didn’t think I wrote it. The book sold 50,000 copies. I wrote it under a pen name, which I won’t disclose, and it was an erotic novel.
2- English is my second language. I’m an immigrant myself, which helped me identify with the characters when writing THE WALL. I was a penniless nineteen-year-old non-English speaker when I arrived in America, clutching my immigration papers.
3- I’m a cowboy at heart. I love the cowboy ideal, whether real or not—honesty, loyalty, and courage. In my teens, I dreamed of running away to Canada and becoming a cowboy. I still dream of owning a ranch with horses and cattle and living a cowboy life.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Genghis Khan, if he could come back from the dead for one day. I would love to spend a day with him riding on the steppes of Mongolia, listening to his stories. Although he is vastly unrecognized in the west, and until recently not given the importance he deserved in China, he is the most successful conqueror in history.
He began his incredible rise to power as Temujin, a thirteen-year-old persecuted by a minor chieftain who had just murdered his father, another small chieftain. Mongolia at the time was a collection of petty chieftains constantly warring with each other.
During his lifetime, he united the entire Mongol nation and became Genghis Khan. His armies were never defeated, and he conquered most of the known world. His empire lasted 600 years.
Unlike other conquerors, his significance extended far beyond warfare. Some of his achievements include the following: a code of law, later used by Napoleon; a way of communicating quickly with his generals imitated as the Pony Express in the old west and by Hitler during World War II with his rapid attack; instituted meritocracy instead of class distinction in his armies; created war tactics later used by known generals; developed engineering feats capable of overcoming walled cities; began the first known spy assembly in the world to collect information about the places he planned to attack.
I could go on and on with his achievements; there were so many. I would be thrilled to gallop on the Mongolian steppes alongside him, just listening.
What’s the story behind THE WALL?
I owe this novel idea to my students. During the past fourteen years, I have taught English to thousands of students from all over the world. They shared their usually happy, sometimes sad, but always poignant and courageous stories of coming to America. Over the years of listening to their stories, I felt the need to write a meaningful but entertaining novel that would address controversial immigration problems in our country but wouldn’t preach. THE WALL is that novel, and many of the most dramatic episodes described in the book happened.
What is your writing process?
I write my best between 2:00 and 7:00 in the morning when everything is quiet.
During the workweek, I roll out of bed between 1:30 and 2:30. I have a quick breakfast and work until 6 or 7 am, shower, get dressed and start teaching at 8. At night, I sleep maybe 2 hours, sometimes 3. In the afternoon, between classes, I sleep one or two more hours. During weekends, I may linger writing and checking emails until later.
Tell us about your main character:
Here my answer may shock you or sound arrogant. If so, I apologize; it’s not my intention. The two main characters in THE WALL, Thomas and Alex, are extensions of my personality. Like Thomas, I’ve been poor to the extent of going hungry at times; like Alex, I’ve been very wealthy and married to a royal and hobnobbed worldwide with European nobility. Like Thomas, I’m loyal and methodical; like Alex, I’m dauntless and love wine and women and danger.
In my youth, I was more like Alex. I have become more like Thomas in my later years, but I often feel Alex’s presence in the background, waiting.
If THE WALL was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
- Prince Stanislaw (Alex) – Liam Hemsworth
- Thomas Bertram – Christian Bale
- Domingo Jimenez — Michael Pena
- Cecilia – Rosario Dawson
- Blanca – Eva Longoria
- Nancy – a Latino child star
Why? Because these Hollywood stars conform to my idea of what the main characters in THE WALL look like–and they all can act
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
First, make sure what you want to share with others is well written and worth reading.
Second, believe in yourself and remember Og Mandino’s wise words, “Of small attempts, repeated, comes down the mighty oak.”
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
My favorite book is and has been for a long time The Sun Also Rises, the first novel published by my favorite writer, Ernest Hemingway. I believe it is his best novel
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
When I think of special or extraordinary talents, I think of Superman. So I’ll tell you what makes me unique, understanding that every human being is unique, and let you determine if what I say is commonplace or extraordinary.
I have an I.Q. of 160. I have set records in the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints in three age groups and have a box full of medals to prove it. In another container, I have multiple awards earned at show jumping equestrian event competitions. In addition, I’m good in mathematics (I teach math at a community college) and languages (I speak four of them).
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
A mind so powerful that it would allow me to understand the complexities of our world to improve it to the benefit of humanity.
List 5 things on your bucket list:
- A trip to Mongolia in summer to search for the tomb of Genghis Khan
- Spending a summer on a ranch as a cowboy
- Riding the Orient Express
- Visiting Eastern Europe, especially St. Petersburg in Russia
- To repeat a trip I took years ago to Copper Canyon