Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Degree of Uncertainty, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
I have a giveaway and a guest post to share explaining how inanimate objects helped author Nicola K Smith portray her key protagonist, the dastardly Dawn Goldberg. Over to you, Nicola…
One of the key protagonists in A Degree of Uncertainty is Dawn Goldberg, the ruthlessly ambitious Vice Chancellor of Cornwall’s Poltowan University, who is set on expanding the institution regardless of the impact on local residents. She is a complex character with few confidantes – apart from a statue and a photograph….
‘Dawn Goldberg took four deliberate paces towards the corner of her well-appointed office, overlooking the gardens between her and the digital animation studios. In the middle of the lawns, white-tinged under a thin covering of frost, stood a huge statue of a naked man, paint brush held over an imaginary easel, chin angled, deep in thought.
She had commissioned it the year before from a former student who had recently won a prize from some well-respected arts body looking to recognise future talent. It had caused quite a stir, and not only within the walls of the university. The Poltowan Post had featured it on its front page under the headline ‘Naked Ambition?’, and run it alongside a photo of a smiling Dawn Goldberg with the quote, “It is art, not porn.” The furore that followed had only served to highlight the ignorance of so many people, she thought, who worked themselves into an irrational frenzy when presented with the magnificent male form.
She looked at it, a seagull perched audaciously upon the statue’s head, and smiled. She liked to call it Michael, for reasons she could not now recall. The statue was angled in such a way that she could fully appreciate his ample manhood, almost as if he were standing there for her pleasure alone. She would often practise her speeches on him, looking to him for some sign of endorsement, which he invariably gave.’
Authors use a range of literary devices to help convey the thoughts and feelings of their characters. In the above extract from A Degree of Uncertainty, Dawn Goldberg, the fearsome Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, consults her muse, a statue of a naked man which stands outside her office window.
Apart from bringing a smile to my face and allowing me to have a little fun, this statue proved to be a very useful tool in several ways. Firstly, Dawn is not overrun with friends, and the statue fulfils probably the only real constant in her life, with the arguable exception of her friend (and PA) Janice. It served to show how isolated she really is, that her confidante is an inanimate figure made of stone.
Secondly, it gave me an opportunity to communicate Dawn’s feelings about herself, whether positive and confident or enraged, frustrated or hurt. While the statue quite clearly is unchanging, in Dawn’s eyes his expression and body language shift according to her mood. At times he appears proud and erect, supportive of her thinking; at others he slouches and looks sheepish, as if unsure of her actions. Not that she takes heed of her instincts — she forges on regardless!
The photo of Dawn’s late father on her desk plays a similar role, although in a more intimate way. As her story unfolds, we learn of her love and admiration for her father, and her need to fulfil his ambition for her. Again he appears sometimes to look disapproving, and at others to nod in agreement, depending on Dawn’s own hunch. Yet his is the only approval Dawn seeks, and so unwilling is she to acknowledge his imagined censure that she often turns his photo face down to avoid his judgemental gaze.
Both the statue and the photograph took on more significance as the book developed, but I hope they serve to help the reader understand Dawn’s character and show that even she seeks reassurance — even if she doesn’t always find it.
About the Book
A Cornish town is slowly fracturing under the weight of its growing university…
Prominent businessman, Harry Manchester will not stand by and see his beloved hometown turned into a student ghetto — and many residents and students are relying on him.
But Harry’s stance sets him on a collision course with Dawn Goldberg, formidable Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University, who is set on doubling its size and cementing her career legacy.
As Harry’s marriage falls apart, his business comes under threat, and fellow traders accuse him of halting progress, Dawn is battling her own demons, not least the need to live up to her late father’s expectations and erase the memory of his tragic death.
There can only be one victor in this battle for the soul of a close-knit community…
Purchase Links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US
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2 thoughts on “#GuestPost + #Giveaway ~ A Degree of Uncertainty by @NicolaKSmith #ContemporaryFiction @rararesources”
This sounds fascinating, Cathy. The use of the statue in the book is most intriguing.
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