The following are interviews the writer had given pertaining to this book. More will be added as interviews are given. If you have a specific question that isn't addressed or if you'd like to schedule an interview with the author, don't be afraid to inquire!
Interview with Fire and Ice Books March 1st 2016:When did you start to have a love for books?
From the cradle. It's been an odd obsession of mine for as long as I can remember. I even "wrote" a book when I was about six or so. There are numerous things in the world I'd have loved to do, had it not been for disabilities. I've written two books so far--only one is currently in print--so at the least, my biggest dream had been achieved.
What was your favorite book as a child? As a teenager?
Never had I the capability of christening a book as a favorite. I've only read a specific book multiple times on two or three occasions. I've thoroughly enjoyed the Hobbit and the Harry Potter books. Still, I can't honestly give the favorite label to any book in particular.
What was that turning point that changed you from a reader to a writer?
Throughout my life, I had always preferred to be on the stage, in a manner of speaking, opposed to being in the crowd. Otherwise, my preference was always to entertain, not to be the one entertained. Reading had always been fun, yet I prefer to build worlds rather than to explore preexisting ones. There was no turning point: all my life, I wanted to construct.
Inspiration can often be found in the oddest people, places, and even situations. In the past, what has inspired you?
You're right: Inspiration can strike anywhere. Some people will go on a la, "So I was sitting on a toilet, grunting away, when suddenly, this idea popped in my head!" Me? I live a life less ordinary than others. I've battled a rare genetic disorder all my life, and I go about my days with more complications than you might want to believe. Aside from my present life (complete with deafness, paralysis, moderate psychosis, and chronic hypochondria), I was raised in poverty by a drunk and battled the elements thrown in my direction. I am a personification of inspiration: I can blink my eyes and come up with dozens of thoughts. Five tumors in my head tend to lead my imagination everywhere. I take sleeping medication every night of my life since I can never get my friggin' processors to shut down naturally. It's more a burden than a blessing.
What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?
As I've only one book in print as we speak, I can't really compare the two in a way most will understand, given that the masses know little of the other book. I suppose, though, that I can say both books have their moments. While writing Leave, for example, I was in a fatal car accident that took the life of my friend. That accident took me a long time to get over emotionally, thus there was a six-month point during the writing where I lost motivation and labored just to write a sentence. But similar struggles came with the other book, too. I don't think of this much as choosing a favorite; it's more like choosing the lesser of two evils. I loved writing them both, yet they were a struggle, from life's little hiccups popping up unexpectedly.
What about your favorite character or characters? Which characters from your books do you think readers will really feel a connection to?
Like fingerprints, there are no two identical characters in a story (well, Adam Sandler and Ashton Kutcher are always the same character in every film they do, but you get the idea). The characters in all my works have their idiosyncrasies. Brandon, for example, forces himself to grow up far too soon, with hopes of atoning for the damage he had orchestrated. Valen is a no-nonsense, street-smart teen. Ron has his sarcasm. Mayor Albrecht has his pride. It's fun to see how my congregation interacts and what they all create... and destroy.
So far, what has been your greatest moment in your writing career?
I'm taking the simple road and answering with: The fact alone that I've written a book is my greatest. My mom was a tremendous writer, herself. Sadly, she passed away before ever writing a book. I'm not the only writer in my family, although Sam "Machine Gun Preacher" Childers is far more established than me.
What can readers expect from you next?
I take my work seriously, to staggeringly unhealthy degrees. I've no spouse, no children, nothing that could remotely be constituted as a normal life. I never do anything half-assed. That said, I try and try the best I can. To assure When You Leave This Way is as solid as possible, I paid over a thousand dollars for professional editing. I want you all to have the best I can offer, at any personal cost. Readers can have the highest expectations of me as possible, and I'll do my best to not only meet those expectations but to exceed them. Having you guys, the readers, is a privilege I'll never take for granted. I'm luckier to have you than for you to have me.
Nobody knows your books better than you! In your opinion, readers of what genres will enjoy your books the most?
Back when this book was in its testing stages, I've had it compared to the late VC Andrews, particularly "Flowers in the Attic." Those same sentiments are still given to me. This story focuses on a real-life issue, something that could actually happen anywhere at any time. And yeah, it's very grounded/down to earth. I suppose I'll reiterate those past statements: if you're a fan of Andrews or her works, you'd likely enjoy this.
Now that we've talked about the books, let's get to know you as the author! What are your favorite books now as an adult? Television shows? Movies?
I've always had a broad scope when it comes to my entertainment. Being a genre-less writer, I've been known to watch/read damn-near anything. And everything. One day, I'd watch Enter the Dragon or Terminator or something; the next might be a Sandra Bullock flick. Going from "Hasta la vista, baby" to a Meg Ryan rom-com is a giant leap. Literature? I have no favorites. Books, magazines, a Yahoo! article about Donald Trump getting raped by a Chihuahua? I'd read it all.
If you could meet one author--from any time era--who would it be and what would you talk about?
I was told that if you're a fan of something, never peek behind the curtain. I think I'd skip this opportunity. Perhaps I'd take it and meet with Rowling, just to ask her why Harry never conjured up a sledgehammer and used it to give Draco's skull the Gallagher treatment. That would have been quality family entertainment!
How would you describe your life in ten words or under?
Describing my life, I would have to say that it's--
Damn. I've used up my ten-word limit.
What is your favorite place to visit?
I have none. At times, I like to go outside. Seeing grass reminds me that there actually is a world out there.
What words do you live by?
Living by a set of words is pointless. Words are just that: words. Actions define you; verbal lexicon merely illustrates what your actions need to reflect. A mantra may help steer you in the right direction but if one must rely on a witty quip to function, then their actions simply fall obsolete. Live by what you do with your mind and heart, not with what pours from your mouth.
Interviews from random sources April 2014:What is your book about?
Raised by an alcoholic preacher and his in-denial wife, Brandon is cued in on something they’ve kept hidden from him all his life. Answers aren't found: A bizarre series of events results in multiple fatalities, one orchestrated by Brandon’s own hand. He leaves his hometown behind, accompanied by his friends and siblings. This unknown piece of Brandon’s past is mulled over, as is the whereabouts their new life becomes. From chance meetings with tough teens, cryptic adults, and predators, they discover life isn’t easy on their own, and Brandon further realizes that childhood is over--and he stole it from those he loves.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
The concept has numerous origins, some spawning from my primitive years. My mother wedded a terrible drunk. The word my mom used most to describe the guy was simply: Belligerent. He’d get loaded and, well... Let’s just say he wasn’t a pleasant drunk. My sister and I actually did run away from home once, out of anger over his presence. We returned later that day, thankfully. Anecdotes from those days, in the early 1990s, paved the way to this story.
It remained dormant in my mind until long after I’ve become an adult. Like many writers, I grew a disdain for my hometown. I’m better with it now but at a time, just the thought of living where I was suffocated me. Being disabled felt limiting, and I had this impression that my spirit was shackled. Everywhere I looked, a ghost--a memory or recollection--was there to greet me. I was in my twenties yet still felt like a prisoner, held within a cell to which never truly existed. I’ve had a few dreams around the time, visions of running away from it all. This story was my shrink, the therapist that grounded me. Given, I actually did relocate for a time while writing this. But I’ve learned a lot about myself and the nature of humanity & solitude. Through the writing of this, I’ve come to terms with living a life less ordinary and, more importantly, to leave as many ghosts--these relics of past atrocities--as possible where they belong: Dead and buried in the past.
Did you draw from real-life experiences when writing When You Leave This Way?
In a bizarre sense, this book is like a warped memoir, with things grotesquely exaggerated. Much of it is there: The abusive, drunk dad; the running away; the struggles with poverty. I've given Brandon his own "ghosts," too. Exaggerated or not, there are glimpses and pieces of Randy Pendleton in this thing. The book has serious, dramatic tones in some parts and funny, comical elements/dialogue laced in. It mirrors my own life in that regard. Really, you shouldn’t have a disease or genetic disorder and be all gloom-and-doom all the time. That takes the fun out of living.
Where does the title come from?
Undoubtedly anyone will believe this, but the title comes from a country song. Back in my days before deafness struck, I was a huge metal guy. Particularly, I was a major Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath fan. But I’ve always been kind to any song that’d make me feel lousy. Seriously--if it made me feel miserable, I’d listen to it. One song in specific is When You Leave This Way (You Can Never Go Back), from the group Confederate Railroad. There was always something to that song. Among other things, I had a strange dream where I boarded a train and left everything behind. That song and the dream fused together in preparation for this story, and I started pre-writing a few weeks afterward. I gave this the working title When You Leave This Way during the writing of the first draft. As no better titles came to mind, I stuck with it.
What is your writing background?
I don’t come from a family of novelists or writers. At least two family members I know of had written a book before me, but neither is in the trade of authorship. My skills were passed to me by my mom, who died when I was fourteen. She herself was a good writer. At the age of thirty-two, she succumbed to cancer. My high school graduation didn’t conclude with me receiving a diploma with Honors. I did, though, pass the Ohio State twelfth-grade proficiency test, with Honors, in Writing. That's something, I suppose. I’ve written short stories and poetry throughout my youth, ending most of those endeavors (after a brief stint in college) to pursue a career as a novelist.
Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?
I think the biggest props would have to go to V.C. Andrews. One reader lauded my writing abilities, saying this book reminded her of Andrews’ works. That was a feather in my cap: While pre-writing for this book, I had a specific goal to make this something Andrews would have appreciated.
Do you share any traits with your characters?
Brandon, the main character, is one of convictions. He regrets all he’s done thus far in his short life. I’ve based him partially on me. One of the adults, Garrette, is cryptic and very calculative--the same as me. Valen is a tough teen who know what it takes to survive. There is a little bit of me in pretty much every character.
Does your book shed light on a different perspective of a common issue?
I’ve covered numerous angles with this thing. It looks at the consequences that follow some really disturbing actions. It’s a fact that everything seems different to a person when he/she is the subject of peril. My book looks into the turbid scope of reality and what we--as people--go through in our personal quests for beacons in the darkness, those coping mechanisms we are promised when those we love assure of, "Everything will be okay." What would happen if we lost faith? Where would we run to when things turn beyond the realm of decadence? Growing up in hostile conditions creates the wrong breed of human... or does it? When things seem their bleakest and there is only one true option, is it better to follow that anfractuous road... or would it be the wiser to not act, at all? Everyone in this book carries weight from their actions. The most common issues are addressed, in not-so-nice ways.
Who will like your book?
The general consensus from all I’ve heard from readers is When You Leave This Way feels like Andrews’ Dollanganger series and a "Goth" version of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children books. Fans of Flowers in the Attic and other Andrews works might enjoy my book; those who love the Boxcar books might want to take a peek, yet it needs to be noted that some language in my book couldn’t possibly pass for the grades-two-through-six demographic.
Why should someone want to read your book in particular?
The book is grounded into reality and is very relatable in its depiction of poverty, family drama, and its overlying tone of coming-of-age. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve read and enjoyed many coming-of-age stories. Yet there is still that feeling they’ve left me with, that sense telling me, "I can’t relate to anything I’ve just read." J.K. Rowling threw in some real-world issues in the Harry Potter books. Still, her depiction was reserved. I know racism exists in the world--and Rowling did well with the terminology of "mud-blood"--but people can’t relate to much else there. In the real world, we can’t solve a perplexing issue with the uttering of words and wand-waving. I’ve grown up amongst deteriorating mobile homes, infested with roaches and rats, and not-so-magical characters: Druggies, thieves, cons et cetera. This is the real world--the reality many people grow up in. My story is relatable to most people and by the epilogue, the readers will feel for Brandon and his friends. This isn’t the glitter-and-gloss, Twilight look at life. And I truly believe people will appreciate that.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
A second novel, Dehumanizer is being revised and will be ready for the world in 2015. During the year 2014, a memoir will be penned--written concurrently with the editing for Dehumanizer. A follow-up to When You Leave This Way will follow. The third and final book in the Unfairytale Series will be written directly after book two is complete.
Where can a reader find more information about you, the author?
Until my memoir is released, readers can read through a mini-autobiography I’ve written, located here.
What do you have to say about your book/writing experience?
So much could be said about the writing process of this story. It couldn’t be summed up in two or three short sentences. I’ve put in a lot to get this story written. What I got in exchange outweighs the effort infused. Writing this book was my pacification, the little voice in my head that had long since been mute. I’ve come to terms with who I am--genetic disorder and all--and I’m now awash with a serenity that wasn’t here, in my heart, before I started on this book. I’ve found genuine peace of mind.