Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 02, 2012
Actress Karen Kondazian's critically acclaimed debut novel The Whip, based on the true story of nineteenth-century legend Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst, a woman who lived most of her extraordinary life as a man (she was also the first woman to vote in the U.S., doing so as a man), will become an audiobook, produced by Deyan Audio Services and released by Audible.com, in November, 2012. It will be recorded by the award-winning actress Robin Weigert, who played Calamity Jane in HBO's “Deadwood” series.
“For most writers, there is a voice inside them that tells the story and speaks for their characters,” said Kondazian. “To have an extraordinary actress like Robin Weigert channel that voice—to let it filter through her talent to finally reveal the humanity, pain, humor, and sass of Charley—is a true gift to the real Charley, to the writer, and ultimately for the listeners of the book.”
The audiobook can be found on Audible.com/TheWhip, Amazon.com, and iTunes. The paper edition and the e-book can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. The Whip was featured on the cover of Publishers Weekly on March 26, 2012, and has since been praised in reviews, feature articles, and in interviews with the author on television and radio nationally.
In January, 1880, the New York Times ran an obituary for Charley Darkey Parkhurst, a one-eyed, tobacco-spitting gold-rush era Wells Fargo driver, one of the most celebrated of the famous California stage coach drivers. “It was an honor . . . to occupy the spare end of the driver’s seat when the fearless Charley Parkhurst held the reins of a four or six in hand,” said the Times. Everybody knew Charley’s skills as a driver and outlaw killer. What they didn’t know was that Parkhurst was really a woman. “There may be a strange history that to the novelist would be a source of inspiration,” concluded the obituary in her hometown paper, the Watsonville Pajaronian, in reference to the “cause that led this woman to exist so many years in such strange guise.”
132 years later, author Karen Kondazian has taken up the challenge in her debut novel, The Whip (Hanson Publishing Group, paper, $15.00), a beautifully written saga of the Old West—an alternately awe-inspiring and heartbreaking story—that lays bare, so to speak, the events that led her to live as a man.
“Parkhurst is a fascinating character,” says Kondazian, who when not writing “cracking good stor(ies) with more twists and turns than a wagon trail through the mountains,” is an award-winning actress who’s appeared in film, TV, and on the stage. “Life in the 19th century was far from easy. Pioneer women were strong, hardy types. But even by those standards, the life Charley Parkhurst chose was hard, dangerous, and requiring of enormous skills. Few men could do the job, no less a woman.” Indeed, “whips,” as these early drivers were known, were like today’s Top Gun fighter jocks. The sleek new Wells Fargo Concord Stage Coach—with someone like Charley on top—could get you from San Juan Bautista to “Frisco” in a matter of a day or so, with some time out for battling to the death with murderous outlaws. “Men” like Charley—fearless and capable—who could get you there in one piece despite all the dangers, were held in high regard. By men and women alike.
Kondazian demonstrates a considerable talent in the way she brings the heart and soul of this world vividly into existence. Her rich, evocative writing adds levels of pleasure to what would already be a satisfyingly good story even without the author’s artful touch.
Parkhurst, who died in 1879 of tongue cancer (presumably a result of prodigious amounts of cigars and chewing tobacco), is buried in Watsonville, California. Raised in an east coast orphanage, she made her way out west to take advantage of her talent with horses. The roles for women in those days were frighteningly narrow. Assuming command of a
Wells Fargo Stage Coach wasn’t one of them.
Reading The Whip (the term refers to the elite of the elite in stage coach driving) makes thinking about the rigidity of gender roles almost inevitable. Men could have dreams, not women. Soft expectations about soft womanhood have probably deprived us of numerous achievements over the years. Parkhurst got to vote—for General Grant—fifty-two years before any other woman. But she had no political axe to grind—and neither does The Whip. This is a deeply personal story—as rich with insight as it is adventure--about a woman out for revenge for the killing of her husband and child. That she ended up becoming one of the era’s coolest male role models makes Kondazian’s auspicious debut novel all the more fun.
Featured on the cover of the March 26th, 2012 issue of Publishers Weekly
THE WHIP Audio Book Trailer:
Karen Kondazian discussing The Whip (on a stagecoach with NPR’s Peter Robinson at the Wells Fargo Museum in San Francisco):
Media contact: Victor Gulotta, Gulotta Communications, Inc.
617-630-9286, http://www.booktours.com, victor(at)booktours(dot)com
About the Author
Karen Kondazian’s career began at the age of eight when she was chosen to be one of the infamous children on Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things. The opportunity to miss school during tapings was all it took for Karen to abandon her life’s goal of becoming a CIA spy and focus on acting.
She completed her schooling at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), and The University of Vienna, after which she began her theater career in New York. Her first professional work was in the award winning production of Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Her theater career has included starring opposite Ed Harris in Sweet Bird of Youth, Richard Chamberlain in Richard II (dir. Jonathan Miller), Stacy Keach in Hamlet, (dir. Gordon Davidson) Ray Stricklyn in Vieux Carre (West Coast Premiere-Beverly Hills Playhouse. She also starred in Eduardo Machado’s off-Broadway play, Broken Eggs (dir. James Hammerstein), and Kissing Fidel.
She won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in The Rose Tattoo, (in which her work as actor and producer so impressed Tennessee Williams that they became friends and he gave her carte blanche to produce any of his work in his lifetime).
Other awards and nominations include Ovation, Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly and Garlands for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Berkeley Rep.) Orpheus Descending (Fountain Theatre), Night of the Iguana (Old Globe, dir. Jack O’Brien) Lady House Blues, and Freedomland (South Coast Rep, dir. David Emmes), Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Fountain Theatre), and Master Class (Odyssey Theatre, dir. Simon Levy).
She has appeared as a series regular lead in CBS’s Shannon and guest starred in over 50 television shows and films including, TNT’s James Dean with James Franco (dir. Mark Rydell) NYPD Blue, Frasier, and Yes Giorgio with Luciano Pavarotti.
She is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio, a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and of Women in Film. She occasionally teaches at the Lee Strasberg School of Theater and Film in Hollywood.
Karen is the author of the best-selling book The Actors Encyclopedia of Casting Directors. Her longtime column, “Sculpting Your Own Career,” appeared in BackStage.
She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Charley Parkhurst (1812-79) was one of the finest stage coach drivers Wells Fargo had during the dangerous gold rush days. But there's one thing Wells Fargo never knew about Charley: Charlotte was a woman. In her fiction debut, actress Kondazian dares to imagine the life such a dedicated disguise artist might have lived. . . . This quick-paced, wily tale is a fascinating blend of both fact and fiction that is sure to engage Western and historical fiction fans and readers who enjoyed Gerald Kolpan's Etta.
A new novel takes one back to the legendary days of the American West based on a true story of Charley Darkey Parkhurst who died in 1880 and was celebrated as a one-eyed, tobacco-spitting, gold-rush era Wells Fargo driver, a famed California stage coach driver and outlaw killer. What wasn’t known was that Charley was a woman. Karen Kondazian has transformed his/her story into a novel, The Whip ($15.00, Hanson Publishing Group), a beautifully written story of the Old West that moves between the exploits of Charley and the heartbreak of his/her secret. Why did she choose to live as a man? It was a hard life as a “whip” as the early drivers were known. They were held in high regard. This is an entertaining and emotionally moving read.