Monday, July 2, 2012
About The AuthorIt’s A.J.’s world. A strange place where patterns jump out and catch the eye, very little is missed, and most of it can be recalled with a deep breath, it’s different from the world the rest of us inhabit. But the rest of us can see it – when we read. In this world, the smell of Florida takes three weeks to fully leave the senses and the air in Dallas is so thick that the planes “sink” to the runways rather than actually landing. For A.J., texture reigns supreme. Whether it’s air or blood or virus, it can be felt and smelled. School is a privilege and two science degrees (a BA and MS) are mere pats on the back compared to the prize of knowledge. Teaching is something done for fun (and the illusion of a regular paycheck) and is rewarding at all levels, grade school through college. No stranger to awards and national recognition for outstanding work as a teacher, trainer and curriculum writer, like most true teachers, the real joy for A.J. is in the “oh!” - the moment when the student sees the connection and it all makes sense. A.J. has lived in Florida and Los Angeles among a handful of other places. Recent whims have brought the dark writer to Tennessee, where home is a deceptively normal looking neighborhood just outside Nashville.
Jason has a brother he doesn’t remember existed. He doesn’t remember his life before he was adopted at age seven. He only knows that he was rescued from the fire that took his birth mother’s life. But the story is deeper than that, and the foundation on which he built his world is now cracking. The brother he doesn’t remember it out there somewhere, left behind.
Armed with only this stunning new piece of information, Jason embarks on a quest to find the truths buried deep in his past. As he searches, one by one the pieces of his life fall like dominoes. And the more he uncovers, the more everything he thought he knew
about himself and his past begins to turn to ash. His truth isn’t true at all . . .
On The SpotWhat inspired the idea for this story? Was it totally random or based on something? For all my other books, I can definitively state their origins, but for PHOENIX, the plot was always just 'there'. I did have the idea that I wanted to tell a story without 'deus ex machina' ('God outside the Machine' ). I wanted to tell a story that didn't depend on things happening TO the characters so much as characters shaping their own destinies, either on purpose or by accident.
If you had to rename your book what would you name it? This is tough! The story is about Jason, who is in a fire as a kid and it changes his whole life. As an adult he becomes a fire fighter like the
one who saved him. He is the Phoenix in the story - I don't know that it could have any other title than PHOENIX.
When did you know you wanted to write? I always wanted to write. In 3rd grade, I wrote an 80 pg novella by hand. Like many writers, I constantly started things I didn’t finish. But I really ‘became a writer’ when I learned to buckle down and finish.
Was there an author that inspired you to write a fabulous book? Of course! I love Nabokov for his writing style and because he made the bad guy the protagonist in “Lolita”. I worship Orson Scott Card for weaving so many wonderful pieces together so well. You never read his stuff and think "Why/How did that happen?" (Read "Enchantment" - often overlooked, but fantastic!)
Most excited books by other authors to read this year? The list is too long. I think Amazon should just have a standard Tuesday bank withdrawal from my account, I have so many.
Who was the most supportive in your writing process? Most influential? Aside from the usual suspects (a very supportive family and friend network), I have to name my friend Susan Benesh. She’s an RN who worked tirelessly to find me a firehouse to do a ride along. And I MUST thank everyone at the West Columbia Fire Department in South Carolina. They let me camp out at the station house and ride along on their calls. They really helped shape the book. THANK YOU GUYS!!
What are your Favorite scenes to write? Anything cliff-hangery. I love a good fight scene. I live to write the moment the fire jumps the line and they all hear the crack of wood, but can’t see what’s coming. And my heart pitter-patters when I write in a clue, something I know that the reader doesn’t yet, but I’m tipping you off. . .
If you could have any superpower what would it be? Definitely stopping time. I want to write more, spend more time with my family and travel more. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Any advice to Aspiring Authors? I was an aspiring author not that long ago. My first advice is this:
decide who you are writing for. If it’s yourself, then don’t worry about publishing, but if you are writing to get published, then you have an audience, agent and publisher you need to think about!
There are a ton of things I wish I had known before I started and I found a lot of the advice out there to be wrong. I’m sure it worked for some, but it seems to be gospel for new writers and it’s not. I started
a blog about writing PHOENIX and it’s full of tips from me and my manager about writing in general and about getting published for the first time! (www.PHOENIXtheBook.com)
Any upcoming projects we should look for? PHOENIX hits the shelves and the internet later this year. But I’ll be traveling with pre-sale copies. So come find me at ComicCon San Diego, WW ComicCon in Chicago, DragonCon and others. Later, Phoenix will be made into an AudioMovie like all my other books. And shortly, I’ll be starting the next book – INERTIA. You can always
find weekly posts and podcasts at Smart Chickens, my blog. Both are online at www.SmartChickens.com and on iTunes.
Thanks for stopping by AJ!
AJ will be at plenty of Comic-Con's this year so make sure to stop by and visit her! And don't miss any of her thrilling books like Phoenix!
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