L. Anne Carrington – The Cruiserweight
One of the problems of being on Authonomy and Slush Pile Reader was that I wasn’t able to finish the novels I started reading. Now that things have slowed down, I’ve been able to savor some books in their entirety. One was L. Anne Carrington’s The Cruiserweight. I read the first chapter or two on Authonomy and then later on SPR. For probably the last six months, we have been at number one and two at SPR. The Cruiserweight was recently published by Night Reading and I had the opportunity to buy it for my Kindle and read it over the holidays. I had a baker’s dozen worth of questions for her.
KJ Kron: I’m curious where you got your expertise for this novel. Were you a wrestling reporter like Karen at one time or are you still?
L. Anne Carrington: Not so much as a reporter (except for a few rare times I conducted some interviews or recapped a live show) as I was a weekly columnist. I wrote The Wrestling Babe for about seven years, covering a wide array of wrestling-related topics before I pursued other interests, and then started working on the book.
KJ Kron: I’ve been to a couple of wrestling matches in my life and as a child I used to watch pro-wrestling on Saturday mornings. The banter of the wrestlers struck me immediately. Cursing is obviously bleeped out on Saturday mornings and I didn’t hear it at the matches either (of course I haven’t been to a match since 1990). Do they really cuss that much when they trash talk?
L. Anne Carrington: It depends on the wrestling promotion. Obviously some broadcast channels and companies that are family-friendly are going to bleep out the more crude language, whereas some independent promotions and a few cable shows will be more liberal.
KJ Kron: Where is the language the most raw, on PPV, in the ring, independent shows, larger shows, or behind the scenes? Are they allowed to curse / use sexual innuendos when the wrestlers smack talk on a microphone?
L. Anne Carrington: Again, it depends on where specific matches are shown. Naturally, obscene language, gestures, or mature story lines are going to be accepted if companies want to aim their viewer demographic toward children and younger adolescents. On the other hand, if the majority of an audience are over age eighteen, a pay-per-view, or specific cable television broadcast, it's almost a given that such shows may be a bit looser with their content.
KJ Kron: I was surprised by how often Brett, your main character, lost. He didn’t seem to be upset by it.
L. Anne Carrington: On the outside, he showed the world that he wasn't, but his frustrations usually came out in his conversations with Karen, or even with Patrick, his long time best friend (who also knew what it was like to be "jobbed out" on a regular basis). I think the eventual release from his contract with a major company was a blessing in disguise for Brett.
KJ Kron: I once saw a wrestling match in a country carnival, which was much different than watching a match at the Capital Center in Washington DC. At one point a wrestler hit another in the head with a folding chair. The wrestler that was hit was bleeding all over the place as the match continued. It looked real. Is something like that staged?
L. Anne Carrington: You're discussing what is called either "extreme" or "hardcore" wrestling in the business. For the most part, they are staged, but sometimes an occasional whack with an object does sneak in.
KJ Kron: I liked how you tackled the issue of how female wrestlers are treated. Is what happens in the book reflective of what is / was happening?
L. Anne Carrington: You could say that. Even today, as much as women train as hard as their male counterparts, it's amazing how many of them are still seen as sex objects than the athletes they actually are. As a result, they have to work harder to get to the top of the roster food chain more than men do.
KJ Kron: Drug abuse happens in all sports – cycling, baseball, football all use performance enhancing drugs. Marijuana use in basketball made headlines a few years back. Is it just as bad in wrestling?
L. Anne Carrington: Unfortunately, it's as bad, if not worse. A great deal of deaths in wrestling over the last several years have either been drug-related if not the long-term damage done as a result of drug abuse (cardiac damage comes to mind as an example). There are policies in place nowadays where drug testing is being done, and offering rehabilitative services paid for by some companies. How effective these moves are, I can't say for sure.
KJ Kron: Brett’s use of marijuana seems innocent. Do you believe pot should be legalized?
L. Anne Carrington: There's been a big push to legalize marijuana, and as far as medical benefits are concerned, yes, it should be legal in all 50 states. There's already thirteen states which do allow pot for medical benefits (with written recommendation from prescribing physicians, which the patients must keep with them at all times). Readers will see that Brett smokes to relieve the effects of anxiety - not for recreation.
KJ Kron: Brett has a girl waiting to have sex with him before a match. He has groupies and girls throwing themselves at him. And while Brett has a few sexual encounters, he seems more moral than the others of the wrestlers. Do you believe that people of fame have a different reality than the rest of us and should be held to a different set of morals?
L. Anne Carrington: Being away from family and loved ones, especially over the holidays and other special times (children's birthdays, etc.) is not easy for a wrestler to deal with, considering they are on the road most of the year (at least those signed with the top promotions). Even single wrestlers have difficulty sustaining a long-term relationship of sorts with boyfriends/girlfriends, unless the partner is a strong, secure and understanding individual like Karen is throughout the book.
Spouses of married wrestlers have the burden of an absent husband/wife can never be easy for the average couple, and these couples can never be described as "average."
There are also other "temptations" of being on the road, e.g. attractive female co-workers as well as young women known as "ring rats" who are, for the most part, sexually active with wrestlers.
Even with all the aforementioned, I think we all should be held to a degree of the same morals; however, it's more difficult for someone with a high-profile career to adhere to them more than the everyday person. With Brett, I'm able to show that even as difficult as it can be in his business, having certain standards are possible. When he becomes serious with Karen later on in the book, Brett is even more determined to stay faithful to her in spite of all the "perks" of having other women wanting him while he's on the road.
KJ Kron: You book is set up as a fantasy, well maybe erotic is a better word. I haven’t read any books like yours. What types of books do you read / where did you get your inspiration for writing it?
L. Anne Carrington: I wanted to do something different that would stand out from the average romance or even novels with "racier" themes. Though I like modern fiction and respect those who write it, oddly enough, most of my reading consists of either classic works or non-fiction.
KJ Kron: I heard 60% of your readers at SPR were females. What type of audience do you imagine reading your book?
L. Anne Carrington: I'd like for it to have appeal to all audiences, whether they're into wrestling or not. There's the sporting theme for men (who may also be drawn to the more sexual aspects), of course, and of course, the romantic aspect for women. With that, I hope it appeals to both genders.
KJ Kron: Karen is an absolute dream. She’s so open-minded – and I don’t just mean sexually. She completely understands when Brett doesn’t call for a couple of weeks. I found myself wishing that my wife was more like Karen (smiles). Did you create her as everyman’s fantasy or are you to Karen? Anything in the book autobiographical?
L. Anne Carrington: Karen's age, her appearance being similar, and her being a writer/columnist are about all she and I have in common. She's followed Brett's career for years, along with her having a general respect for the wrestling business and those who are part of it. I'm sure every man would like to have an understanding woman like her. My mother was the same way when my father worked double shifts. If he didn't call on his lunch break, it didn't bother her, just as Karen didn't think much of it if Brett didn't contact her for a period of time. I think the only time I saw her truly worried was when he didn't come home at the usual time after a shift, until the hospital called and said fifty pounds of steel had fallen on Dad's leg and he was being treated for his injury.
KJ Kron: Being married for only a few years and having a little one of my own, I found your book to be very pleasant. Best of luck with The Cruiserweight! It must feel great to be in print. How long have you been working on it?
L. Anne Carrington: From the time I wrote my first draft until Night Publishing put it on the market, it took a little over two years to complete. I wasn't expecting so much positive reception that I'd received since the book's been out (and even before its release). I'm about to begin working on my next project, which I hope won't take as long. Thanks to everyone who bought and read The Cruiserweight. I appreciate all the feedback.
Thank You for being the first person I've intereviewed. I hope to do this on a regular basis. I'm trying to read more new authors and the plan is to have an interview on a bi-monthly basis - or even a monthy one if I'm feeling ambitious. Maybe I can interview 5 to 15 authors per year.