INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF, "THE BOOTS MY MOTHER GAVE ME," BROOKLYN JAMES
Here is the Amazon link for The Boots My Mother Gave Me: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boots-Mot...k/dp/B00457XGNM (THIS BOOK IS FREE TODAY ON AMAZON!)
Hello Brooklyn, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. It is a pleasure to have the chance to get to know more about you and your writing. First tell us about your newest novel and why you decided to write it.
Hi Kitty. Thank you for hosting me! My newest novel is Vigilare: Hell Hound. It is the second in the Thriller trilogy, Vigilare. This particular series has a digestible paranormal spin, grounded in a scientific discourse around blood, allowing the mind to wander with thoughts of what if?
"Vigilare walks the line between a thriller and a supernatural adventure while safely anchored in a scientific discourse around blood that James put together so well that it's reminiscent of a Douglas Preston or Michael Crichton novel. With action, romance, a strong female hero and a likable group of characters, Vigilarereads like a good action movie." -Gabino Iglesias, Austin Post.
I love books that are more than just the words on the page. Books that make me think and reflect on life as I know it, and life outside of my box. You know, books that take over the imagination, allowing it to explore and expand beyond the every day.
The series features a detective team in Gina DeLuca and Tony Gronkowski. They investigate a string of murders among Vanguard's most loathsome population, rapists and pedophiles. With fed up citizens, the city is on the verge of a vigilante uprising in support of their seemingly superhuman Vigilare with the sparkling emerald green eyes. Friend or foe, Vanguard Police Department has a job to do in bringing the vigilant one to justice, causing their own internal battle with right and wrong. Following their leads, Detectives DeLuca and Gronkowski find themselves pulled into a mysterious world of super blood and super powers, and closer to the Vigilare than ever expected. It's a race to the finish between Detectives DeLuca and Gronkowski, and the Vigilare, to figure out who she is and why she exists.
Upon release of my first book in this series, Vigilare, I had questions from readers and book clubs. "What is a Vigilare?" With the release of my newest book in the series, Vigilare: Hell Hound, now I'm questioned with, "What is a Hell Hound?"
Please allow me to defer, Vigilare in the Italian derivative of Latin, means: to watch out, to guard, to protect, to keep an eye on. As far as its pronunciation, technically, it is pronounced vi-gi-la-re. In its conception, I wanted a word that was similar to vigilante, yet unique. I keep it simple, pronouncing it vigil-are (like vigil-air).
To me, in the context of my novels, my Vigilare is a vigilant guardian, with intent to serve retribution style--an eye for an eye. Much like Batman, Vigilare is chosen for her position, a divine assignment. One Amazon Review said, "CSI meets Batman. Gotham has Batman. Vanguard has Vigilare!" The Vigilare does not willingly choose her role. Which allows me to play with the notion of good and evil, and how good can be and commit evil, even when it may seem justified. There's a fine line between right and wrong. It all depends on perspective. I love toying with that idea, and propelling readers to do the same, hopefully invoking internal questions. You know, what would YOU do and how would YOU feel if bestowed such a power? Would you consider it a blessing or a curse?
Hell Hound - is actually a character in book #2 of the series, a rival Vigilare, so to speak. I capitalize it, as it is the title of the character. However, it's derived from Hellhound--a supernatural dog, most commonly associated with folklore, specifically Greek Mythology. The most popular, or dangerous, if you will, being Cerberus.
In the words of my manic Hematologist from the novels, Dr. Godfrey, "In Greek mythology, Hades is the god of the underworld. The devil, one may conclude. A Hell Hound is a hound of Hades, or a dog of Hell in the literal translation. They are the guards to the underworld, relegating who is sucked in and who is declined access. As described in legends, Hell Hounds have glowing red eyes and supernatural abilities. They’re rarely seen, very phantom-like. They may appear as if out of nowhere and vanish with the blink of an eye. An elusive creature. Hell Hounds are associated with fire and often have fire or heat-based abilities.”
So, you see, Vigilare: Hell Hound is a play on Greek Mythology's Cerberus...the three-headed Hellhound. I found the premise fascinating, and it plays so well into the plot, I had no other choice but to make it the title of book #2. And it made for a menacingly delicious cover. Besides, who doesn't like a good fireball slinging?
Couple that concept with the new character, Maxim Kiesel--the steel-blue-eyed prodigy with an icy touch, and you have a good climactic scene. Do you fight fire with ice? Or do you fight fire with fire? Read Vigilare: Hell Hound, and you'll surely find out! The colors alone provided an interesting education for me. Steel blue, violent red, emerald green...who knew so much could be attributed to color? Think maybe we've found our new eye color for book #3...
Either way you cut it, Vigilare, the series, is dark, intense and intriguing. With action, suspense, science, twist and turns, and of course a sprinkling of romance, I think most readers will find their curiosity piqued. The content is mature, and at times menacing, although the disturbing subject matter is handled with care. Amongst all of that, there is some humor, some zingers, and true sincerity. It's a sexy series. It has been garnered with tags such as scientific thriller, thriller suspense, detective mystery, paranormal romance, superhero, and women's sleuth.
In book #1, Vigilare, Detective DeLuca and Gronkowski, and the Vigilare, along with readers, figure out who she is and why she exists. Now with the release of book #2, Vigilare: Hell Hound, our Vigilare is propelled into a twist on Greek Mythology's Cerberus--Hell Hound--a rival Vigilare with fire capabilities. ETNA harbored her blood. Have they created a monster they cannot control? Vigilare comes face to face with her past in the form of the hellish one. Will Vigilare give up her role, sacrificing her immortality to stop Hell Hound?
"I'm not well versed in Greek Myth, but I enjoyed the spin. And the paranormal aspect was vibrant and colorful. Very well crafted by the author, yet not too flamboyant to turn me off. As usual, James plays with contrasts. You have the Hell Hound with fire capabilities, whose favorite weapons are fire balls. And then, you have newcomer, Maxim Kiesel. He has "steel blue eyes" and an icy touch. Fire and ice! It's fascinating really, the whole Rh-negative blood factor James weaves into the story. It is this factor that makes the Vigilare super human. It makes so much sense, it leaves me wondering just exactly how unique is Rh-negative blood? Again, Brooklyn James has done a fine job of tightly knitting together a storyline and a cast of characters to peek and keep any reader's interest. With the combination of action, suspense, intrigue, romance (this is a very SEXY series), science and heart--Vigilare: Hell Hound is a fast, entertaining read." -Amazon Review
Tell us about some of your hobbies, things you like to do in your spare time.
As a writer, of both books and songs, I live in my head a lot of the time. Needless to say, I am full-up on mental stimulation. Therefore, in my spare time, I quite enjoy challenging myself physically. It helps offset the mental ruckus. I like running, weight training, yoga, kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, camping...pretty much any and all physical activity. It helps me stay grounded, too. I've always had a visceral connection with nature, which I find very humbling. We are so small in the grand scope of things. When I get frustrated with technology, all the ins and outs of everyday writing, promoting, hustling...I escape with a good run at the lake, or a punishing sprint at the track, maybe a much-needed, centering Bikram yoga session. 90-degrees and 80-percent humidity for an hour and half while holding yoga positions, will center anyone. Or at least leave one feeling as limber as Gumby!
Other than that, I love to read, spend time with family and friends, bake, catch a good movie. I enjoy putting puzzles together, and I will dance until my feet are sore, whether at a country or hip-hop club. If it's got a beat, I like to feel and express it! I like to think I move like Madonna, but in reality it's probably more like watching Elaine from Seinfeld...lol. I'm a huge fan of music. Living in Austin, we are so fortunate to have live music here, every night of the week. I love finding new bands and artists. Oh, and I like to work on cars. Not the difficult stuff (ie. engines, transmissions). But I can manage plugs and wires, oil change, balancing tires...you know, the novice stuff. I find it relaxing. And I like getting my hands dirty. Makes me feel like a kid again. Making mud-pies just doesn't cut it anymore, but playing in grease still gets me excited...lol.
A few things I would love to make time for as far as hobbies: I would love to take a culinary/cooking class, an art class sounds intriguing (I admire people who can paint, draw, illustrate), and I have a strong desire to take up boxing (seems like a nice alternative to anger management therapy).
What is the one most rewarding thing in your life right now?
I feel blessed and fortunate to have found an audience for my writing, both books and music. It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming the human spirit is, and how people will choose to embrace and encourage independent talent. As writers, we write with the hope of connecting and entertaining folks. I have three books, and one album out currently. People are actually subscribing to them, be it in tangible or electronic format. Everyday I wake to find another book or another album has been purchased, even if just one, I find that most rewarding. Thank you readers, fans and music lovers everywhere for supporting independent artists!
And my love life is quite rewarding currently. That's always a feather in one's cap...lol.
When reading for pleasure do you tend to stick to the same genre you write or do you like to read other genres as well?
I LOVE words and stories of all kinds. I've always been a curious soul, one who likes to know more about what I already know, and superbly interested in things I do not. I like a good thriller, a good inspirational read, a steamy romance, I love biographies (especially of musicians and artists), I enjoy philosophy. From scientific to paranormal, I like it all. I would say there are a few requirements for me in considering a good read: I like an underlying romance (what are we if not loving and passionate souls). I like a book that I come away from with a different perspective...teach me something, show me something, help me to grow and evolve. And I always love a good, hot, scorcher of a sex scene!
On my nightstand currently, I have The Selected Poems of D.H. Lawrence, What's Bred In The Bone by Robertson Davies, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And in my ereader, I have The Sin Collector by Jessica Fortunato and Anne Rice's Taltos, Book 3 in theMayfair Chronicles (An Amazon review said Vigilare: Hell Hound had some similarities...now I have to read it and find out for myself...lol). And I'm also reading a manuscript from my niece. She's thirteen and a Twilight fan. She has written her first book, Moon High. I'm actually, quite enjoying it!
Oh, and I found Taltos on Scribd. I read the free preview there, then downloaded the ebook. For readers and writers alike, Scribd is a great resource I simply happened upon. You can go there and get sneak peeks, you know, a look inside the book, then decide for yourself if you want to purchase the entire novel. I have found several 'to-reads' from Scribd.
When was it that you realized writing was what you wanted to do with your life?
I have written as long as I can remember, songs, short stories, poetry. I've been a songwriter for several years in Nashville, Los Angeles and here in Austin. I even toyed with screenplays in Los Angeles. In fact, the Vigilare series is an adaptation from a screenplay. I would say the moment I realized I wanted, or could write was with the release of my first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me. I was in studio recording my first full length album at the same time I wrote the manuscript. By the time we finished the album and the manuscript, I realized some of the chapters in the book and titles from the album correlated, which only makes sense as they came out of the same creative stream of consciousness. We released the album and book together, the album serving as an original music soundtrack to the novel. You know, the same way a movie would have a soundtrack. It made perfect sense to me as a singer/songwriter. We are part of the live music scene here in Austin, gigging a few nights a week with acoustic music sets. The idea kind of took off, people were receptive to the idea of a book and music soundtrack combination. That's when it became great fun for me, mixing the two mediums.
The Boots My Mother Gave Me is a coming of age story about a young girl overcoming an abusive childhood. As part of her evolution, she uses her devices as a singer/songwriter to come to terms with her past. I always have believed Creativity is Therapy, and that notion plays out in the novel. Within each of us resides the power to rewrite the script of our lives, coming to terms with it, overcoming it, and graduating to a higher level of existence.
The Boots My Mother Gave Me was a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. That was the turning point for me. After receiving that honor and seeing there was an audience for my writing, I thought, Maybe I really can write. It's hard to imagine the reality of making your vacation your vocation. It doesn't seem like work. It's been full speed ahead ever since. Back to my previous answer, I am still amazed at the acceptance and readership I have gained over the past few years. Needless to say, my readers inspire me and encourage me to continue writing.
When can we expect your next book out and can you give us a sneak peek?
My next book, along with its original music soundtrack will release this fall. I don't do soundtracks for every book. The Vigilare series does not have a soundtrack, as it would require music outside of my abilities. Most of my music is roots based, Americana, Country, Blues. I think Vigilare would need an Evanescence sound, which I love, however, do not have the capacity to create...lol.
Anyhow, the next book will have a music soundtrack. That book will be entitled, Kinnected, playing on the family (ie. kin) drama aspect. It will be a similar read to The Boots My Mother Gave Me, in that it will be in the women's fiction genre, and a coming of age story about a young girl growing up and overcoming her parents' downfalls as drug addicts. Her grandfather, her confidant, avidly tells her, "It's all Kinnected." Not only does this book explore drug abuse, the human spirit in overcoming adversity, it also takes on illiteracy and its definition thereof. Our female heroine, seventeen year old, Shelby Lynn's grandfather is technically illiterate. However, he is capable, mechanically, spiritually, and mentally. He is Shelby's saving grace, caring for and encouraging her, always. A veteran, a good and kind example to his granddaughter, allows us to ponder illiteracy. Even though he may not have the appropriate skill set to be deemed literate from a reading and writing standpoint, his experiences and advice to young Shelby are pivotal in molding the well-educated, highly motivated, survivor she becomes. There will also be a little mystery entwined in this book as Shelby and her bestfriend, Dylan Cooper, find the remains of a human skull while paddleboarding a nearby riverbed, leading to a shocking conclusion. As her grandfather says, "It's all Kinnected."
I'm also working on the precursor to the Vigilare series. I have one more book to write in the original trilogy. In the meantime, I find myself inspired to include a prequel. In Vigilare: Hell Hound, a revelation occurs as the Vigilare comes face to face with her past. Out of that, a love story ensues, that finds its setting in New Orleans. Therefore, the precursor to the series will be Jolie Blonde, yes a twist on the tragic Cajun National Anthem, Jole Blon. This book will reveal the earlier life of Vigilare, and how her past led to her supernatural future. With mystery, lore, love and lust, Jolie Blonde is reminiscent of a gothic romance, hopefully in the vein of early Anne Rice novels. This book will also have an original music soundtrack with Cajun nuances, to include a cover of Jole Blon. We're hoping to release this combination next Spring, with the third and final installment in the Vigilare series to follow.
Back in your high school career, who was the one teacher you would say made a profound difference in your life, if any?
I grew up in a very small town with an incredibly generous student to teacher ratio. I am thankful for the education I received due to that favorable statistic. And I had many memorable, inspiring teachers. However, as most writers, I would attribute this honor to my high school English Teacher, Mrs. Anne Arehart Coyle. She made the acknowledgments section in The Boots My Mother Gave Me: "You signed my yearbook, The world is your oyster. I believed you. Thank you for believing in me."
Mrs. Coyle was the first person to encourage my writing, among other things. She thought I should be an actress...lol. In our class play, Our Town, I played Emily Webb. I saw her a few years ago at a book signing, she said, "You were the best Emily I've ever seen. Are you doing any acting?"
Not only did she see something in me, and encourage me to see something in myself, she inspired me to fall in love with literature. Through her teachings, assignments, book reports and writing projects, my formal writing education began.
What dreams do you have for future generations that you'd like to share with others?
I think it's a given that future generations will be more technologically competent than their predecessors, as the speed of technology only seems to be snowballing as we progress as a society. But, I hope that future generations can graduate to a higher level of acceptance and understanding. I hope that through all the technological advancements, future generations will not forget to feed their human spirits as well. I think dreaming for future generations is synonymous with a parent dreaming for their children. It's a universal hope for each generation to have more, be more. But in the midst of all of that, we want our children to be happy. Happiness stems from many different things: success, love, acceptance, friendship, giving back. In a perfect world, future generations from all walks of life and socioeconomic situations would have the opportunity to be educated, involved, aware and informed. I want that for future generations. Every monumental historical change in society has arisen from first education (awareness and information), then that awareness has to be carried into action and implemented, hopefully peacefully and diplomatically. I wish them courage and humility. Above all, harmony and respect, for themselves and others.
One off the board question I like to ask, is what are your views as far as 2012, and do you believe in the Mayan Calendar?
Good question! I can't say that I disbelieve in the Mayan Calendar. I find it quite fascinating. And from a writer's perspective, it creates a delectable playground for the imagination. The one thing I can say is that it brings to light the possibility of the world ending. With that said, regardless if the world ends in December 2012 or not, maybe the premise will inspire some to live as though it's their last year. Not to be careless and irresponsible, but to be brave and follow their passions with the notion that life is too short. You know, maybe it will inspire folks to do things they've put on the back burner. Maybe someone will take a chance on themselves, and open that business they always wanted to. Or maybe scratch a few more adventures off the "bucket list." You know, really go for it! Heck, maybe we'll get a few more great novels to read by first time authors who have been holding back on writing that first book.
A dear friend of mine happens to be a legit Native American Medicine Woman, the practice passed down to her from her father, and his mother, and so on down the line. She is astutely in touch with her Indian heritage, and is quite informed of the Mayan culture. If you recall, we lost Dick Clark (host of the long standingNew Year's Rockin' Eve celebration in the Big Apple) this year, in April I believe. Her comment after hearing of his death: "Well played Mayans. You left us without the successor to bring in the New Year." Kind of eerie, huh? She said that, and it definitely made my ears perk and my head swivel to the side in true contemplation.
Finally, do you have any advice you'd like to give to other aspiring authors, also please leave us your links where we can find out more about you.
I receive questions from aspiring authors quite often. Some say, "How did you get into writing?" There is nothing more to writing than writing. I know that seems too simple an answer, but it's the truth. If you want to write, then write. Write what is within you. To do that, you must know who you are and what motivates you. If you know those things, then trust that and write from that perspective. Being organic is what separates a writer's voice. If you do not know those things, take the time to figure them out.
I would also advise aspiring authors to surround themselves with other writers. Other writers will hold you accountable. They'll be a source of inspiration and competition, hopefully friendly. I love tweeting with writer friends. It keeps me on my toes. If I see Jane Writer has written 3500-words today, or Jack Writer just released his first novel, that propels me to continue on toward my own writing goals. Writing is usually a solitary effort, but knowing that others are in the same situation gives me comfort that we're all essentially in the fight together.
In the same breath, surround yourself with readers. The world is filled with folks just waiting to devour more words, more stories, to flex their imaginations. Readers will provide a writer with the most inspiration and encouragement. Your story will never be told sitting in a manilla envelope tucked away in the bottom drawer of your filing cabinet. Get it out there. I know it can be a scary thing putting your writing out there for all to see. What if they ridicule it? Writing is so subjective. I have experienced some of the best reviews along with some of the worst. It's okay, really. Not everybody has to enjoy your writing. The thing to remember is that someone will. Those are the people you write for. Get on Goodreads, Scribd, check out your local book store for writing groups and book clubs. In today's world, the opportunities are endless.
I highly recommend finding a good editor, good being the operative word. In writing my first manuscript, it was 150,000-words. After consulting an editor, the finished version was 100,000-words, and much better for it. I have a piece about finding a good editor on my blog: http://brooklynjamesblog.blogspot.c...ook-doctor.html
Finally, be prepared to "pay your dues." This is the musician in me. As a singer/songwriter, I paid my dues for years, in my bedroom writing songs, in clubs playing live, in studio laying tracks. All of these things prepared me for the opportunity of releasing my first album. Success rarely happens over night. Don't look at writing a book as a one-hit-wonder. Approach it as though it is your career, and maybe it will become so. It's so cliché, but 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' Above all, do what you love, love what you do...and be patient, give yourself enough time to get there. I have to remind myself of that fact daily, as I was born severely impatient. Whoever said patience was a virtue! Lol. I'm coming to find that slow and steady does win the race. 'Be the tortoise...be the tortoise,' I whisper for aspiring writers, as well as myself
Thank you again Brooklyn for the ability to do this interview with you. Perhaps we can do more together in the near future.
Again, thank you, Kitty, for having me. Looking forward to doing again! Really appreciate your support and encouragement in bringing authors and readers together.
Finding Brooklyn James:
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/author/brooklynjames
Pandora Radio: http://www.pandora.com/#/brooklyn-j...-mother-gave-me