The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova by Lloyd Lofthouse (and 10 Questions for the Author)

Redemption-of-Don-Juan-Casanova

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova by Lloyd Lofthouse

Three Clover Press

April 2015

321 pages

From the back cover:

From the award-winning author of ‘My Splendid Concubine’ and ‘Running With the Enemy’ comes ‘The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova’. Raised by his grandparents to be a Lothario, Don, as he approaches 40, has successfully seduced hundreds of women. But now, this former U.S. Marine and combat veteran, who is the flirtatious maître d’ of his family’s infamous beachside nightclub in Southern California, is facing a crisis. His grandfather and younger brother, also infamous Lotharios, have been viciously murdered and Don is the prime suspect. He also wants to stop his serial seductions and find love with one woman who understands him, but he is discovering it isn’t that easy to kick an old habit. There are so many women to love and it’s confusing.

My take:

I generally have a favorable opinion of this fourth novel by Mr. Lofthouse, although this book does not flow as smoothly as his earlier efforts. I really like the premise of the novel—a flawed character who is trying to change beset by challenges, one after the other, to become a better person. I also appreciated that many of his female characters were strong women who did what they could to empower themselves and overcome their own obstacles. However, after so many dead bodies and shoddy police work, the book became somewhat unbelievable to me. One of Don’s love interests goes away quickly, and the other’s issues are not explored deeply and neither is her relationship with Don. Also, a character from the past reappears in Don’s life, and Don is seems to me to have too little angst and too much acceptance to be totally believable.

I did enjoy many of the plot twists and turns and there were many. From the interview below, I found out that this book was written years ago and never published at the time and Mr. Lofthouse revisited the book for the current publication, which seems to explain some of the issues I had with the story. I think Mr. Lofthouse has grown as a writer more than this novel exemplifies. I enjoyed reading the book, however, and wanted to know who the killer was.

Links for Lloyd Lofthouse:

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Lloyd

–author Lloyd Lofthouse

10 Questions for Lloyd Lofthouse:

I notice you gave James Lee Burke a plug in The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova. You had mentioned him, Ivan Doig, C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, and Tolkien as authors to re-read in my previous June 2013 interview. Do you have any others to add 2 years later?

Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs eleven book series. I want to read them all. If it hadn’t been for an audio book sale (on CDs) at Half Price Books, I’d never have picked this one up. It was a gem. Now I’m looking for more CDs on this series. I seem to read more books with my ears when I’m in the car then I read with my eyes at home. Makes sense. I don’t write when I’m driving.

Simon Winchester’s “The Man Who Loved China.” Fascinating book! I bought this one on CD at a Half Price Books, too, and after listening to it, went back and bought the paperback version to add to my China collection. The one downside to an audio book is that it isn’t easy to go back and search for facts.

Tony Hillerman has always been one of my favorite authors, and when he died in 2008 I thought that would be the end of the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn series, but his daughter, Anne Hillerman, picked up the series with “Spider Woman’s Daughter.” I think she did a great job keeping the series alive, and I will continue to read her work.

Lloyd, I could go on and on about Jacqueline Winspear and her character Maisie Dobbs. I have read all 11 of Ms. Winspear’s books (one is a standalone) and have done reviews on a few of them on this blog. I will have to look up Simon Winchester’s book. And thanks for the information on Anne Hillerman. Thank you for the impressive list.

I know that the teacher part of the main character in the Don Juan book derives from your own experience, but where did the managing of a nightclub stem from? Did you also manage a club as you taught during the day? Or was that a separate career at a separate time?

In the early 1980s I was teaching English full time in an intermediate school in La Puente, California and working as a maître d’ at night Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch (about 30 hours a week).  School would end about 3 PM, and I’d furiously correct papers and plan lesson to about 5 PM when I changed into my maître d’ suit and took off to start work at the club from 6 PM to about midnight. I did this for a few years. I was never a manager, but I was offered a job in management with the Red Onion chain (the company operated several restaurants and nightclubs called the Red Onion in Southern California—near the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the chain would run into a slew of legal problems and eventually file bankruptcy and go out of business). As maître d’ of the West Covina Red Onion, I was responsible for the front desk and the squad of cute hostesses who walked customers to their tables in the restaurant. Sometimes that included helping out in the nightclub when there were problems like a fight or someone selling drugs. For instance, on one slow night a cocktail waitress came to me asking for help because one of her customers kept grabbing her bottom. After I laid the law down to customer, he stopped bothering her.

Not a bad part time job for an ex-Marine. I admire you for working two jobs for such a long time.

How much time did you spend writing The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova from beginning to end? I love the title, by the way.

I’m glad you like the title. After I quit the maître d’ job, I joined a workshop for several years out of UCLA’s writing extension program and wrote the rough draft for Redemption there along with the rough draft for Running with the Enemy and one or two other manuscripts that I haven’t published yet. After finishing the rough draft, I shelved it because I was also working part time on an MFA in writing at another university, and that was eating up a lot of my time and energy.

Last November, I decided to revise the rough draft of Redemption that was written while I was going to that writing extension workshop out of UCLA back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the revision was a whirlwind that took place during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I averaged about 3,000 words a day and when I finished, I shipped that second draft to my editor.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered about Giacomo Casanova when you were doing research for this book?

I think what interested me the most about Giacomo’s life was his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women. I suspect that some people today might accuse Giacomo of manipulating women and taking advantage of them, but Casanova made it clear in his own words that “There is no honest woman with an uncorrupted heart whom a man is not sure of conquering by dint of gratitude. It is one of the surest and shortest means.” To Casanova, mutual consent was important, and he even avoided easy conquests. In addition, Casanova valued intelligence in a woman. He wrote, “After all, a beautiful woman without a mind of her own leaves her lover with no resource after he had physically enjoyed her charms.”

Very interesting about Giacomo. Will you give some insight into your character, Don Casanova? He seems torn into following the path of pleasure versus doing the right thing.

Don Juan Casanova doesn’t see what he does as doing the wrong thing. Of course, he has doubts thanks to his mother’s preaching, but those doubts aren’t enough to make him think what he is doing is evil. He never rapes a woman, and all of the seductions are mutually consensual.

After all, he was raised by his grandfather to think like a Casanova, but as a lover in the 20th century and not the 18th century where attitudes toward women were culturally different.

The character in Redemption values intelligent and educated women. The real Casanova valued intelligent women but didn’t think they should be educated—a common feeling among men back then.

Don’s main reason for wanting out of a life of serial seductions is because he wants a relationship with more depth and intimacy then what he is experiencing from a series of short term affairs, and he is not willing to settle down with just any woman. She has to be the right woman for him. Even the real Casanova had one woman, Henriette, who was the deepest love he had ever experienced.

And when Henriette drops the 18th century Casanova, he becomes depressed much like Don in Redemption feels when he is dropped by the woman he thinks is the love of his life.

As noted Casanovist J. Rives Childs wrote: “Perhaps no woman so captivated Casanova as Henriette; few women obtained so deep an understanding of him. She penetrated his outward shell early in their relationship, resisting the temptation to unite her destiny with his.”

You have written a novel of historical fiction, an action/adventure/war book, a memoir, and now The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova. What is next for you, Lloyd?

My next project—that I’m already working on—will be a combination of historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy. The main character is the illusive Merlin of the King Arthur myth but set in the 20th and 21st centuries. I’m not going to reveal a lot of details, but I’ll say this much about the series: there will be time travel, shape shifters, Adolf Hitler (in the first book), vampires, dragons, witches, magic, the paranormal, artificial intelligence, space ships, alien invaders, elves and fairies and a lot more.

This is a story idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for decades, and I decided I better start writing because, at almost 70, I think I’m running out of time. I have no idea how many books will be in this series. If the series takes off, I might spend the rest of my life on this one.

Merlin is an interesting character in literature and dates back to 1136 AD. Later writers expanded the first account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. Merlin’s traditional biography casts him as a cambion: born of a mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities. In addition, in prose, there are many instances of Merlin’s shapeshifting. The Merlin of current literary myth also falls in love with the wrong woman. Think of the possibilities.

Anything about Merlin sounds wonderful. I cannot wait to read your version! What was the toughest part of writing The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova?

The toughest part of writing the novel was presenting Don Juan Casanova, who has a long history of seducing women starting when he was in his early teens, and turning him into a noble character—something that is yet to be determined because it will be up to readers to condemn or accept him for who he is. There is a scene when Don is in bed with Cut, the prostitute he rescued from an abusive pimp, and he says, “You may be too young to understand this, but we are products of the world our parents raised us in—a world we had little or no control over.”

I like this book’s cover as I have all of your books. Can you tell me more about this cover?

I wanted a cover with the image of a man sitting at a bar with a drink in front of him looking like he had a lot on his mind, and a background full of women as if they were coming out of his head. To create this image I found two separate images I could use free—after hours of searching—and then merged them into one using Adobe Elements.

The man at the bar with the drink was part of one image, and the second image was one of women partying in a nightclub. I edited both of the original images before merging them using Adobe Elements to get them to work as one. The women in the background are solid, but the man I made somewhat opaque so the women could be seen through him.

I am sure it is nice to create your own cover rather than someone choose it for you with no idea of what you wanted to convey.

I know you are passionate about education reform from following you on Facebook and Twitter. Do you think there is any progress being made in getting the word out about corporate takeover of public education?

Yes, I think there has been a lot of progress getting the word out about the hostile takeover of public education by for-profit (no matter how you look at it) corporate charter schools. The resistance is starting its third year compared to the corporate reform movement that has been at it for decades. For instance, the infamous Walmart Walton family spends an average of $160 million annually to replace the public schools with what they want, and Bill Gates has been spending even more—billions more.

For instance, in New York State last school year about 60,000 children opted out of the Common Core high stakes standardized tests that are designed to fail children, rank and fire teachers, break the teachers’ unions and get rid of the public schools, but this year the Opt Out movement in NY skyrocketed to more than 200,000 children, and the Opt Out movement is spreading across the country. In Seattle at one high school every student, who was supposed to take the test, Opted Out after that district’s superintendent threatened to fire all the teachers at that high school if they refused to give the tests. In New Mexico, hundreds of high school students took to the streets to protest. In Newark, high school students made national news when they took over the state appointed superintendent’s office and camped out there for several days. And these are only a few of the dramatic events taking place across the country as the resistance organizes and grows.

Then there was the first annual conference of the Network for Public Education’s (NPE) held in Austin, Texas last year where 400 parents and educators came from all over the country to continue to organize and plan the resistance to corporate education reform—a reform movement, I want to point out, that has nothing to do with improving education.

This year, the NPE held its 2nd annual conference in Chicago and 600 parents, children, and educators came from all over the country to continue to refine, organize, and grow the resistance to save the public schools and our democracy.

The corporate education reform movement is about segregation and profits. It’s about replacing the transparent, non-profit, democratic public schools where the people and parents have a voice with a for profit (no matter how you look at it) system that is riddled with fraud, is opaque and secretive and the only voice is the CEO who owns the corporations—parents are already being forced to hand their children over to corporations that want future adults to be good, compliant, obedient corporate citizens, and the parents have little or no say in what their children are being taught. When parents refuse to cooperate and protest their children are often kicked out of those private sector schools that taxpayers are funding and those parents often can’t go public because to get their children into those schools they had to sign confidentially agreements. To speak out puts them at risk of being dragged in to court and ending up with stiff fines and sent to prison.

Have you seen the recent broadcast by John Oliver (he’s on HBO’s Last Week Tonight) where he reveals the absurdity and Insanity of high stakes testing in the United States? It’s worth watching and sharing with everyone you know. Oliver’s show averages about 4 million viewers a week and on YouTube picks up millions more. In less than a week, the numbers are 2.6 million and growing for the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k

I did see many re-postings of this video on Facebook. I have enjoyed John Oliver previously on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Thank you for providing the link. I am glad that more people are becoming aware of what is going on with our public education system.

I also know you try to promote better understanding of China on your iLook China site. Can you address this topic and update readers on what is happening regarding this issue? What do we need to know about China right now?

I’ll let Gallup give us the reason why readers should be more aware of China, its people, culture and history. Gallup asked, “I’d like your overall opinion of some foreign countries. First, is your overall opinion of China very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable or very unfavorable? In 2014, 50% were unfavorable and 44% were favorable.

I suspect that 50% unfavorable response has to do with what most Americans have heard in the U.S. media about Tibet, the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, and the fact that the Chinese government is run by one political party that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I wouldn’t be surprised if some American’s still think Mao rules China.

First: Tibet has never been a democracy and probably never will be, and starting in the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, Tibet was ruled over by China’s emperors. It wasn’t until 1912 that Tibet declared its independence from China thanks to pressure from the British Empire. If Tibet was already free, why would it declare its independence from China in 1912? If anyone who is reading this doubts what they just read, I suggest reading the October 1912 issue of National Geographic. I have an original copy of that edition and it makes it quite clear who ruled over Tibet.

Second: Even the CCP makes no secret of how many people died in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square incident (they just don’t bring it back up every year),but still the U.S. media reminds us about this annually even 26 years after the event. I wonder how many Americans are aware of a similar incident in the Philippines (1899–1902) when that country was occupied by the U.S. and the Philippine people wanted to be free and have their own democracy. The ensuing rebellion to be free from the U.S. lasted 3 years and resulted in the death of over 4,200 American and over 20,000 Filipino combatants. As many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence, famine, and disease.

It will be a challenge to answer quickly what we should know about China.

First: For almost 2,000 years up to the 16th century AD, China was the wealthiest most scientifically and technologically advanced country in the world. The Chinese were so far ahead of the rest of the world for so long that they arrogantly saw everyone else outside of China as barbarians. This might help explain their downfall.

Second: In the last 30 years, China is responsible for 90% of the reduction in poverty in the world while poverty has increased in the United States.

Third: China might be ruled by one political party with more than 80 million members that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party, but that party is Communist in name only. China, today, is a hybrid socialist-capitalist economy on steroids. For instance, GM’s Buick (in 2013, 78% of Buick’s sales were in China) is the Mercedes Benz of China and GM earns more profits in China than it does in the U.S., and those profits are coming from China’s exploding middle class that has reached more than 300 million people. The CCP has a goal that in the next decade China will have 600+ million people living the middle class lifestyle that we take for granted in the U.S. The Chinese are in love with Buick, and owning one is considered a status symbol.

Fourth: In 2013, the United Nations reported that China had the 2nd largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world. In 2014, China surpassed the U.S. to be the world’s leading producer of electricity. The U.S. fell to second place. China was ranked #1 in the world on the 2013 country manufacturing competitiveness index rankings. Germany was #2 and the United States was #3.

Fifth: There are more than 2,000 McDonald’s outlets in China; almost 1,400 Starbucks, almost 5,000 KFC’s, and more than 1,300 Pizza Huts. If you visit China, you can even find Walmart (they’ve been in China for 19 years and have more than 400 retail units) and IKEA (16 stores so far).

  8 comments for “The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova by Lloyd Lofthouse (and 10 Questions for the Author)

  1. May 20, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    Thanks for taking part in the tour and hosting Lloyd. I’m glad you enjoyed ‘The Redemption of Don Juan Cassanova’.

    • May 20, 2015 at 2:58 PM

      Thank you, Teddy, and thank you to Lloyd Lofthouse for such a wonderful interview!!

  2. May 20, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    Thank you for the honest review and taking part in the tour. The interview was fun. You asked a lot of great questions.

    • May 20, 2015 at 5:47 PM

      Thank you very much, Lloyd. I enjoyed formulating these questions. I did enjoy the book and Don. You should write another mystery after Merlin. Thank you for such good answers and information!

  3. May 20, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    I forgot to mention: I hope you will post the review on Amazon. :o)

    • May 21, 2015 at 11:01 AM

      Of course. Thanks for the reminder!

      • May 21, 2015 at 11:49 AM

        “One of Don’s love interests goes away quickly, and the other’s issues are not explored deeply and neither is her relationship with Don.”

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you are talking about Lexi. I do have plans swimming around inside my head about a sequel and Lexi will play an important role in that story that will complicate Don’s life even more. I was thinking of the sequel before I finished this book but that story has to simmer some more to germinate and sprout.

        Lexi dropped out of his life when she went off to Europe to go on tour in this book, but she will return in the next story. I better stop there. I don’t want to give the story away before I write it. :o)

  4. May 21, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    That sounds great, Lloyd. Yes, I was talking about Lexi. I can’t wait to see how Don’s life changes!

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