Book Review and Author Interview: Hydraulic Level Five By Sarah Latchaw



Yesterday, the following author interview was featured in The Cedar Rapids Gazette Insights and Book Section and the following book review was featured in their online edition.  Here is the review and interview in its entirety.  

HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE

By: Sarah Latchaw

Published: September 3, 2013

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Fiction

I am thrilled to introduce you to Sarah Latchaw and her book HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE.  Sarah actually grew up in the same small town in which we live.

Sarah has always had a love for reading, but after hearing her high school English teacher share stories and then taking courses in creative writing at Iowa State, she felt she had a story to tell.  HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE began as a fan fiction type of story and gained followers online.  Sarah then realized this story needed to be on bookshelves.  After numerous changes and rewrites, HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE was published by Omnific Publishing in the Fall of 2013.  Her next book, SKYGODS, the sequel to HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE comes out in August 2014.

Hydraulic Level Five is a term used in whitewater rafting. In the book, HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE, symbolism is used to show the dangers of whitewater rafting and the pitfalls of relationships. Latchaw merges the two together to create a story of love, heartbreak, and forgiveness.

Kaye and Samuel have been childhood friends, lovers, a married couple and are now divorced. Samuel is now a published author and even has one of his books being made into a movie.  Now living the celebrity life with book tours and red carpet events, Kaye seems so disconnected from his life. Their divorce has been final for seven years and Kaye is a wreck because Samuel is coming back to Colorado for his sister and Kaye’s best friend, Danita’s wedding.  What is breaking Kaye’s heart is that he is bringing Caroline, his gorgeous editor, as his date.

HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE is set in Lyons, Colorado, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  Kaye runs a successful PR firm and gets a rush on the weekends with her friends by participating in various extreme sports including, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing and skydiving.  Each chapter begins with a different whitewater rafting term that symbolizes what is going on with the characters in that chapter.

Throughout the book, the reader is also treated to snippets of Samuel’s novels, as well as the memoir he is writing about his childhood with Kaye.  In these, we are given pieces of Samuel’s and Kaye’s life that we might not initially see.  With the story in a story, we are exposed to Latchaw’s wide range of talents in her writing.

Besides Kaye and Samuel, the loving, close-knit Mexican-American family, the Cabral family, are a big part of the story line. Reading about the culture and traditions of this Hispanic family was a nice addition and gave the characters a firm foundation because every one of them were connected to the Cabrals in some way. Kaye’s love and devotion to this family is challenged by Caroline.  But, Kaye is determined to find out what made Samuel choose to give up on their marriage and not look back.  An incident at one of Samuel’s book signings, some pranks, and a shocking revelation about Samuel, culminate in a life-changing revelation for both Kaye and Samuel and the future of their relationship.

With Kaye and Samuel’s relationship there were numerous highs and lows.  The reader is one minute frustrated with their immaturity and the next fighting tears over their strong emotions.  In the following snippets from the story, you can see the depth of their love for each other even among their failures.

“But…what if getting unstuck meant letting go of Samuel? Not just physically separating myself from him – I’d tried that already, and it hadn’t worked. What if it meant letting go of the love I still harbored for him, buried amidst bitterness, anger, regret? Was that what Jaime meant when she said I wanted to be stuck? If so, I didn’t know if I was strong enough to let go.”  Page 85
“Being his friend would also mean playing witness to his romances and eventual marriage, whether the woman was Caroline or someone entirely different. It would mean being there for his wedding, the birth of his children, and any other happiness that came calling. Was I strong enough for that? Was I masochistic enough for that? But if I got my answers from him and moved past his…stuckness, I might have those things, too. Marriage. Children. Companionship. Love? And as my friend, he’d also play witness to my happiness. It came down to this: was sharing each other’s lives, and taking the joys that came with it, worth the heartache?” Page 165-166
  For someone who doesn’t typically read contemporary romance novels, I enjoyed the depth of characters, the detailed setting, the story within a story, and the passionate way the characters cared about their friends and family.  The book doesn’t just gloss over romance but hits at the hard realities of life including drug abuse, mental illness, and the pain of divorcing the person you thought you would be with forever. Latchaw is a strong novelist and one I hope has many stories to tell. 

Sarah Latchaw is a wife and mother of two young children.  Her free-lance writing, book deals and supportive husband have given her the opportunity to spend her days raising her children and experiencing all their firsts.  It is challenging to work her writing around their schedule, but at this time in her life, her kids are her main focus. Too soon, they will be off to school and she can spend her days writing for hours.  For now, she works in her writing during nap time and after the kids go to bed.

Sarah’s favorite parts of the stories she writes are the settings and the characters.  She pulls them from real-life experiences and people she has met to make the story authentic and help the reader identify with the characters. She remembers playing out make-believe stories on her elementary school playground, including vampires, even before vampires were popular.  These memories from her idyllic childhood of playing on the porch, riding bikes out on the black top, playing at the city park mixed with the great storytelling by her English teachers prompted Sarah in her love of writing.

I had the opportunity to chat with Sarah about her life and her current book as well as what is coming next.  I think you will find Sarah as delightful as I did.

ROBERT FROST SAID, “NO SURPRISE FOR THE WRITER, NO SURPRISE
FOR THE READER.” WERE THERE ANY SURPRISES FOR YOU IN EITHER BOOK?

When I start writing a book, I begin with the end scene so I have something to work toward.  I like to outline the plot of the story with pivotal moments throughout.  I meander along until I get to those points and let the story take its course. In HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE, I wanted a narrator women could relate to and a hero with real flaws. Kaye’s character has a rash personality. Samuel likes
structure and labels and being in control of situations. Kaye is his complete
opposite. For example, when Kaye does something rash and storms the bookstore during Samuel’s book signing, it has a domino effect on the rest of the story. I am working through that process now with SKYGODS. As I am editing and thinking about changes, everything has a domino effect that could change the rest of the story. 

I also wanted to challenge myself by writing a book within a book.  I wanted to experiment with different prose styles, which offers surprises in itself.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? 

Being able to be home with our children is such a joy for me.  But, just as important as that, is having something that is just for me.  I love to write.  Having the opportunity to express myself and stretch my brain and create something is just as important.  It is wonderful being a mommy, but it is just as wonderful doing something productive. 
I HAVE READ A LOT OF BOOKS…BOOKS ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICANS,
IRISH, ENGLISH, MIDDLE EASTERN, NATIVE AMERICAN, BUT I HAVEN’T READ A BOOK
WHERE THE CHARACTERS WERE MEXICAN AMERICANS, WHERE DID THAT CHOICE COME FROM TO
HAVE THE CABRAL FAMILY IN YOUR BOOK?

I originally had HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE set in Washington State.  When I changed it to Colorado, it opened up a new dimension of the book.  Since the Hispanic culture is so prevalent in Colorado history, its culture and family life, I wanted to make that part of the story. The Latin culture is often neglected in many novels, especially women’s fiction or if it is portrayed, it is done in a negative way. I wanted to share the positive, beautiful parts of the Latin culture through the Cabral family. They are such a close knit, traditional Hispanic family and Kaye wanted to be a part of that family. She needed their structure, their loyalty, and bond of family so badly.  It just seemed natural to have a Mexican-American family in this story. 
IS THERE AN AUTHOR OR BOOK THAT INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
Not really.  I have always read. JANE EYRE is one of my favorite books. She is a strong
heroine and led me to want to write more books
with strong female characters.  As a child, I also loved ANNE OF GREEN GABLES because of the nostalgic aspects of the story.  You can find the influence of both of these books in my writing. I wanted to touch that nostalgic corner of my reader’s minds, capture that feeling of flipping through an old high school yearbook or photo album to explore “whatever happened to that beautiful boy?”. What woman hasn’t walked in Kaye Trilby’s shoes at some point and had her heart battered a bit by someone she cared for? I’ve had many readers contact me sharing how cathartic it was to read Kaye’s story; the pain of her collapsed marriage touched them, as did her healing and her eventual triumph over heartbreak.

I still love to read and will read pretty much anything with a good plot. I’m currently reading the OUTLANDER series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m loving it because of the great
research, the historical aspect, the strong setting, and strong characters. All things I love in a good book.  

IN HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE, YOUR CHARACTERS ARE INTO EXTREME SPORTS. ARE YOU INTO EXTREME SPORTS LIKE YOUR CHARACTERS?

No, not like Kaye is.  I did go on a whitewater rafting trip with my
sister in Colorado.  After surfing the
hydraulic, the adrenaline rush helped me forget that I almost drowned.

SO WHAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I intended to go skydiving for 30th birthday, but I ended up being pregnant with my son. I love to travel and explore new
cultures.  I haven’t been to Japan, China, or the Himalayas even though I have done a lot of travelling in the past. I love to explore other cultures and people.  Maybe once our kids are grown I’ll
go back to the skydiving. Right now, the most important thing to me is raising our children to be good people, have a strong relationship with God, have love and compassion for others and grow up to be responsible people.
I THINK READERS LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME. DO YOU HAVE ANY GUILTY PLEASURES? 

I don’t watch much TV, but I do have two favorite shows that I try to catch.  I really enjoy “Ghost Hunters” on Sci-Fi.  I love scary stories and getting creeped out.  On Wednesday nights, after I put the kids to bed, I love tuning into the “Duck Dynasty” marathon. 
WHAT IS UP NEXT FOR YOU, SARAH?
I’m currently doing final edits for the sequel to HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE. SKYGODS comes out in August and will be set around Kaye and Samuel’s relationship and will focus on the extreme sport of skydiving.  I do have the idea for the 3rd book in the series sketched out.  It will focus on mountain climbing. But it is on the back burner right now while I finish up SKYGODS.  I also want to write a series of books set in Iowa, but need to finish up the Colorado series first. 

To find out more about Sarah, visit her website at http://sarahlatchaw.com/. You can also find Sarah on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE. 


Coming in August 2014 from Sarah Latchaw:

 

When Kaye Trilby and Samuel Cabral vowed to fight for their friendship in rain or shine, she didn’t realize they’d be caught in a deluge so quickly.

Even as their romance rekindles, Kaye is overwhelmed with Samuel’s demands on her personal and professional life. As she spends more time with Samuel, it is apparent his mental health is deteriorating. For a man who typically has enormous self-control, his behavior has become erratic and his decisions, reckless. His professional relationship with Caroline has also tanked, and Kaye feels powerless to help him.

Kaye also finds herself at odds with Samuel over her love for extreme sports—especially her promise to Hector to climb wintry Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s most grueling treks. She knows Samuel is afraid to lose her, but she isn’t willing to give up the thrill of Colorado’s wild backcountry. Her carelessness may very well cost Kaye her life.

SKYGODS, the sequel to HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE takes Kaye and Samuel to sunny LA, to his New York home, to the tragedy of his past life in Boston, and finally, back home to Lyons. Being together involves sobering compromise, sacrifice, and honesty. Are they capable of doing what it takes to hold onto each other for good?

To purchase HYDRAULIC LEVEL FIVE, click the photo below:
Posted in

Leave a Comment