by Javier A. Robayo

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Gaze by Javier A. Robayo

   My best friend of 25 years and counting, Kristen, has the credentials to diagnose me with DID. (what we used to call multi-personality disorder)  I've argued that most authors have to have a degree of dissociative identity disorder, so she shouldn't worry about me. We are fine, thank you very much.
   Even my sister grows a bit concerned when I publish another character interview on my blog. She says it's almost creepy how fictional characters come alive, but that's exactly what an author tries to accomplish, to create people who become alive in the mind of a reader.  
   I started out this blog by using John & Ezekiel as a pilot. I wasn't keen on the self-promotion, but I was surprised at the feedback I received. I was asked about doing a post on my other novels, but I told them this is a blog dedicated to other Indie Authors and their magnificent work. The reply I got was "Duh?"
   How do you interview yourself? You don't. Even a state of semi-DID has its limits. In order to put together a good post, I reached out to some of my author friends for what questions they would ask. I'm still so flattered that I got so many terrific questions and it was a feat to narrow the list down to a few but after much deliberating, this is the result of that difficult selection. 

Let's clear the mystery once and for all. You've told the world your wife, Sheri, is the face of The Gaze, but really, who is she supposed to be, Samantha or Gwen?

JR: I will always leave that particular answer up to the reader.
Mystery... Okay, let's get past the cover. The Gaze is a novel set in different continents. What kind of research went into it? 

JR: I've always marveled at authors who take you to far off places, giving you a glimpse of other cultures. My dad knows a little about every part of the world and each time I asked how he knew, he'd tell me that he read it in a book. I always wanted to accomplish that: to place the reader in a foreign setting they could experience through the page. I was never in London. But I've been fascinated with England since the first time I heard Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. In a female voice, British English is alluring. As Gaze developed and my main character, Samantha, took me to London, I wanted accurate portrayals of her city. I spent countless hours virtually "walking" the streets of London with the help of Google Maps. To depict its atmosphere, I read several vacation blogs where I found impressions or curious tidbits from people who were actually there. It was daunting at first, but three quarters of the way into it, I had a pretty good handle on London, and I fell in love with the timeless city.

Was it easy to write the dialogue in a British tongue?

JR: Not at all. I had quite a bit of help from a British friend of mine, and I researched modern British expressions. Slang was the most problematic. I wanted to use it to make the characters' voices more realistic. I did raise a few eyebrows in the Queen's Land when I misused the word "fanny". Another very good British friend of mine brought this misuse to my attention, turning me fifty shades of red when she explained how she read it. I expect she'll reveal herself in a comment.

And that was...?

JR: The American fanny is another word for butt. We sit on our fanny, but the British fanny is the most private area in a woman's body. In the story, Lewis, Sam's best friend, slaps her "fanny". Knowing what you know now, imagine that visual. 

Oh, that gives us an idea of the magnitude of the risk of getting out of the comfort zone. As if setting the novel in a foreign land wasn't enough, you went a step further with the point of view. What were the challenges of writing in a woman's voice?

JR: Absolutely daunting, but Gaze wouldn't have worked out any other way. I had to draw from everything I've ever known about women, until the emotional landscape of Samantha's mind became an amazing labyrinth. Women have a much more complex intellect and emotional makeup. It's no accident that us men (simpler creatures that we normally are), fail to properly understand them. A woman is stronger in ways that no man could ever hope to be, even if that strength is a veneer protecting their vulnerability. In the novel, Lewis refers to women as bundles of contradictions and estrogen imbalances. I almost omitted the line, thinking it may come across as sexist, however, it seemed apt for a girl like Samantha. It was a huge challenge to convey powerful weakness, sad joy, selfish sacrifice, every mental struggle from the gray areas between love and hate, the battles with insecurities real and imagined, the type of stubbornness only women are capable of, and the unbridled passion of a woman in love.  Balance was elusive if not unattainable when it came to Samantha's tone,but getting inside her mind, taught me nothing is easy about being a woman, even one as well off, beautiful, and intelligent. I tried to think like a woman and let's just say that after that whole ride... I truly admire them even more.

The majority of the ladies reading that answer may be nodding right now. Readers may want an insight into Lewis or the enigmatic Jason Stephen or even the outrageous Audrey, but let's talk villains. Samantha's nemesis is one seductive snake of a man. Is there a real Brooks Waldenberg?

JR: If there is, I hope none of us ever cross paths with him. The story needed a certain agitator, someone to attribute much of Samantha's downward spiral of self-destruction; an anti-thesis to Lewis and Jason Stephen. Brooks embodies a different kind of evil. He fleshed out so well, fans can't wish him a crueler end for everything he does in the novel. When I finally got the chance to read Gaze for fun, I liked the way he slowly transformed from a dream man to a demon. It's disturbing to consider there might be someone like Brooks in reality.

Samantha makes some similar transformations for many people. It's been said one minute you want to slap her and the next you want to hug her. Either way, she's memorable, but she does have a way of filling the page with the contents of her intricate mind.

JR: It was the first time I wrote without word limits. I didn't have an audience or genre in mind, and when it came to Samantha, I took my professor's words to heart:  "Pull out all the stops and take risks if you want to produce a memorable read; challenge your skill and think outside the norm, and don't play it safe." Believe it or not, I removed five chapters from the first draft, but by the time I worked out all the wrinkles, twelve new chapters appeared in order to justify new uncovered layers in her mind. I fretted over the length of this novel, but like any work of writing, it will be appealing to the readers who develop a connection. Some readers told me they wished the story went on because they wanted more. A reader from Florida sent me a message that threw me. She wrote, "Mister, you held my emotions hostage. I wanted to skip sections just to know what would happen to Sam, but each time I tried, I missed something. Honestly, I was upset to have only a few pages left."
I realize the length of The Gaze challenges the reader's patience, but I followed my instincts and didn't forsake its depth.  

A long novel that generates long reviews, a terrific compliment on all that work. What's behind the pages of The Gaze?

JR: A flawed and wounded woman's journey through a gamut of emotions and past torments in her quest for redemption.  She's armed with nothing more than the distinct brand of love found only in the truest of friendships. The Gaze was born out of a challenge to impress a friend. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee writing as intricately as I did. The novel is character driven and Samantha took the reins and struggled to find a solid path out of her maelstrom while Lewis and Jason Stephen fought to protect her, and Tony and Gwen became her motivations.

* * *

For those of you who have made my dream a reality by reading my novel, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
I'm open to any questions as all authors are. The Gaze changed me in ways I didn't anticipate.  A good part of it parallels my own life, particularly around Tony's dreams of becoming a writer. 
Despite the relatively small size of its following, the demand for more was big enough to produce its sequel, The Next Chapter. At the end of that second novel, I wrote an author's note in an attempt to bring an end to the series that began as a challenge... but did I?

   Javier A. Robayo

for links to The Gaze and its sequel, visit:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Some Like It In Handcuffs by Christine Warner

Some characters stay in your mind because they've touched you in a special way; some, you want to slap, and some you fall in love with.  I've read deeply philosophical stories, as well as completely far fetched plots, all in the quest of a special character.  A feisty, pain in the butt, gorgeous blonde?  Yup, done for there.  Sunny Kennedy is not a damsel in distress, but I couldn't help wanting to be her hero, and save her from herself.  Her vulnerability, veiled under a thin veneer of courage and determination, born of a chip on her shoulder, drew me in.  To this day, I can't speak her name without sighing.
Christine Warner's novel restored my faith in romances because of its originality.  No cookie cutter conflicts here, just a man and a woman in a collision course, heart to heart.   

The title is very suggestive.  What made you decide on it?

CW: Actually, I came up with the title first and created my story around it. I know that sounds odd, but for some reason that’s how this story works for me. Those five words SOME LIKE IT IN HANDCUFFS popped into my head and I knew instantly I wanted the story to feature a spunky, determined heroine named Sunny who was the only sister in a family of all male lawmen, and just happened to get paired up with a hotalicious detective named Judson.

Hotalicious... I'm sure that'll grab the ladies' attention, but since this is my blog, and I'm male, I'm going to steer the conversation to Sunny Kennedy.  She takes the sobriquet "Tough Cookie" to a whole new level.  Is there a real Sunny?

CW: If there is I’d love to meet her, lol. I chose personality traits from several people I know and by throwing a little bit of myself into Sunny. I always try and put myself into my characters' heads and use reactions I might have to certain situations. I also find that listening to others has helped me learn feelings or reactions from things I’ve never experienced. Hopefully those make my stories stronger and more interesting and make my characters more three dimensional. 
Writing is a continuous circle of learning and improving. I feel like each story I write is stronger and my characterization is more pronounced.

You're right.  Writing improves the more you do it, but you did a great job with your debut novel.  Where does the realism in the scenes involving Sunny's brothers come from?

CW: I have a brother—just one, not four like Sunny…lol—and we have a wonderfully playful relationship. We like to tease each other and joke around but our sense of family and love is very strong. He, my sister, and I are all very close and protective of one another so I drew from those experiences.
Now, Sunny does have a more tug-of-war relationship with her brother Derek, and I basically had him treat her like he’d treat a daughter, which of course she resented. She wanted all of her brothers to see her as an adult instead of the little girl they remembered. Their relationship was just something that came into my head and I used my imagination to fuel their fired words. I do believe that their closeness does show even through their tense words.  

The tension between Sunny and Judson produces one of the steamiest love scenes I've read in a long, long time.  What's the secret to creating that kind of heat? 

CW: Thanks Javier, I'm glad you thought their love scene was steamy. I don't think I have a secret, I just write from my heart and try and stay true to my characters in what I'd think they'd do or say. I like humor and I tried to incorporate a little playfulness into the bedroom scene without getting too carried away. I wanted to leave something to the imagination of the reader as well. 

Love scenes in any genre walk a fine line between allure and repulsion, and it's good to leave some things to the readers' imagination.  I'd tell you what I imagined, but that would be an entirely different blog.  What's behind the pages of Some Like It in Handcuffs?

I love romance, so I’d go with my tagline as what’s behind the pages of Some Like it in Handcuffs: 

"One strong man.  One willful heroine.  One powerful love."

My hope is that readers can identify parts of themselves in the characters and that they not only walk away from this story with a smile on their face, but with a feeling like they’ve just met a group of friends.

* * *

Some Like it in Handcuffs was a joy to read, a terrific ride through the emotional spectrum with a satisfying conclusion that will leave readers with a smile and a sigh for either Judson, or my favorite feisty blonde, Sunny.

to learn more about Christine, visit:

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Treeman by Kaye Vincent

   Growing up, I watched two or three soaps operas a year.  Not by choice. Mom called the shots and we only had a small black and white set, so I watched these dramas, secretly enjoying some of the story lines.  I became fascinated by my Mom's reactions to the story.  She cursed the villain, hurt over the heroes' conflict, and became breathless during intense moments.  Ever since I learned that soaps are based on novels, I've always wondered what went into writing these emotional epics.  
  The Treeman is one of those novels, whose pages transform into scenes on the screen of your mind.  You are thrown in the middle of strangers with the advantage of having an open a window into their lives.  As the story progresses, you are subjected to the emotional whims of each character and in the process, you end up truly caring about them.  
   You may notice a few words misspelled by our American standards, but today's author is a terrific British lady, and since the Queen's Land owned the tongue first, we will be treated to not only a slightly different expression than what we're used to, but also to what's behind the pages of Kaye Vincent's The Treeman.  
How were you able to keep track of all the subplots?
KV: Part of the excitement for me is the puzzle and it doesn’t get better than trying to knit together a community of people.  I love large cast novels – George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones takes my breath away.  I’m primarily a theatre writer, so The Treeman was originally a musical script with TV in mind. Scenes were already mapped when I began work on the novel. To test for gaps, I listed chapter events and narrative sequences for each separate character. Repetitive re-reading is essential if you want to keep it tight, so I figure you should write what you enjoy reading. Putting it down for a couple of weeks always helped – I came back to it fresher and could be more objective.
It's amazing what getting away from the manuscript does for that author's perspective.  Kaye, what's behind the pages of The Treeman?
KV: I was working with my theatre collaborator, a talented composer called Kaye Tompkins. Stumped by a difficult lyric, I suddenly whispered “I’ve just had an amazing idea.” KT went pale. She didn’t need any more of my ideas at that point, she just desperately wanted to finish the one we were on. My vision was of a reclusive tramp living in a tree outside the window of a converted barn, into which an uptight middle-class girl has just moved, seeking solitude. Cue for conflict. Gradually she would mellow and festoon his tree with all the mod-cons of contemporary living. Where the plot would eventually go, I didn’t know. Where exactly this vision came from, I don’t even remember (although I did once help to ‘build’ a tree from fallen tree parts for a stage production – I was ridiculously proud of that set!). But the vision wouldn’t leave me alone. Or rather they wouldn’t …Izzy and the Treeman. I had to get to know their story and I’m still living part of my life inside their world.
Which makes the novel character driven.  I really think the characters are the real authors of any drama.  It happened to me once or twice.  How did you decide on adding the element of the magic and Gypsy lore?
KV: My reclusive tramp needed to be culturally open to a hardy outdoor life and a past Romany heritage seemed a natural fit. His harmony with the forces of nature and Izzy’s brittleness with the entire world were catalysts for conflict. Once gypsy lore entered his existence, the Treeman’s ability to ‘influence’ others was a simple step forward. From there, huge flashes of the story arc and the preternatural location of Hanningdon just fell into place – a portal opened into another world where people and places whirled in a kaleidoscope of events. A wonderful time. I don’t think I actually invented anything - they all came to me and wouldn’t stop talking. That was the real magic.
An author's dream, when the story virtually writes itself.  I had a difficult time picking a character for this next question.  Although Jodie is my girl, and although I identified with some of Fergus' conflicts, I have to know...  Is there a real Izzy?
KV: Lord, I hope not…poor girl!  Actually, that’s not entirely honest. I have to admit to drawing on the traits of several people I know (shhh…) and I would include a few of my own worst inhibitions in that list. But there is no particular individual. Izzy interests me. She is not a typical heroine. She’s uptight and easily fractured. She’s the girl with everything who can’t quite grasp hold of life, representing how we can all hold back sometimes through self-doubt . Maybe that’s why she’s irksome, because she makes us itch a little. But she’s warm and kind at heart, and I hope by the end the reader is cheering her on. She comes a long way in The Treeman and finds some release from her wariness, but it’s not the end of her story. There’s more to come in the sequel and a fuller explanation of why Izzy ‘is’.  And why she has been fighting herself for so long.
I've the feeling that if she could, Izzy would box your ears for everything you put her through.  I ended up cheering for everyone.  I love stories where it's difficult to pinpoint a villain, and although some of the characters we meet initially fall in that category, they evolved and evoked different emotions. Was that your plan all along?
KV: No-one is all good or all bad – unless deranged. Human beings are just not that chemically accurate. And everyone has a slightly different moral boundary in life – it’s the flexing of those boundaries that enables people to interact (sometimes well, sometimes badly) and allows a fictional character to develop. The greatest joy a writer can have is to make a reader feel an emotion about a character, then change the reader’s reaction through revelation or unanticipated behaviours. If I managed that at any point, I’m delighted.
I'm happy to say, I can entirely relate to that.  It's fun to create a hot mess of a character, but you did something special with the men.  Are these men entirely fictional?
KV: Yes and no. All characters need to be informed by life, but I suppose some are more romanticised than others. Bottom line, this is a romantic tale and therefore aspirational. However, something my husband said when we first met really stuck…that when men shut down emotionally, it’s often mistaken for indifference. He felt that the male tendency to internalise only made the hurt worse and could be very isolating. Others would assume all was okay, because the male habit of keeping pain hidden meant their wounds rarely had a chance to heal openly. I wanted to explore this within a romantic narrative, to see cause and effect – to rip the plaster off the wounds and allow the men in my story to be vulnerable. Rather than having the all too familiar invincible male lead, I wanted to allow all the men of Hanningdon to falter, to hurt, to show weaknesses and have hidden layers. How much more impressive would their moments of strength and power be, when reflected against a more natural instability? This is certainly true of Jay, the title character of The Treeman, but I hope all the male characters are revealed as human.

* * *

It wasn't a stretch to play out the scenes and allow the characters full control of my emotions.  Sometimes, they'll frustrate you and you're screaming at the page to just stop thinking and do it!  And when that kiss finally takes place... 

   Javier A. Robayo
   The characters of The Treeman truly own the story, and your trip to Hanningdon will be memorable indeed.
For more of Kaye and her work, visit: 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Priest by Monica La Porta

   I wrote a blog about page count some time ago.  I emphasized that if you're willing to write a long novel, it'd better be a worthy read.  Given our ever decreasing attention span, the challenge is to keep blog posts somewhat short and sweet.  However, this post will not be long enough.
   In an age where commercial fiction produces the writing of crowd pleasing, predictable stories, few authors ink novels that defy the norm, and touch their readers in unimaginable ways.  Many of these courageous authors may dwell in relative obscurity, but I have no doubt their stories go on to be discussed in English classes, and inspire a new generation of authors.  
   The Priest is one of those novels.  It's beautifully dark, incredibly thought-provoking, memorable, and truly original.  It gave me a whole new appreciation for the freedom I enjoy as a person, as a human being, and as a man.
   I have no words to describe Monica as a person simply because English, Spanish, and Italian combined do not have enough superlatives.  I dare you to disagree with me as she takes us behind the pages of The Priest.

Where did "Ginecea" come from?

MLP: I love playing with words and their meanings.  Ginecea is a word I adopted from the Greek language.  It's a noun that can be used an adjective encompassing all things women-related.  Like Pangea was this super continent comprising the entire world, Ginecea is the social equivalent where women have the supremacy over men.  Imagine that Rome never fell and was governed by women.  Unstoppable.  But absolute power has a way to corrupt even the best among us...

And history is full of evidence to prove that.  How did you decide for The Priest to be the first novel in The Ginecean Chronicles?

MLP: In reality, Pax in The Land of Women is the first novel I wrote in the Genicean series.  While I was in the middle of Pax, two characters, Mauricio and Rosie, came alive.  The intensity of Mauricio's love for Rosie was such that it deserved to be narrated.  The first three books in the series were born almost at the same time.  Although between The Priest and Pax in the Land of Women there is a fifty years gap in the narration, their stories are intimately connected to Prince of War, which chronologically starts where Pax ends.  In a way, they were all written together in the span of two years.  I went back and forth multiple times between manuscripts to fix incongruences in the story lines.  So, what started as a subplot in Pax, became the core of The Ginecean Chronicles.  Affection as pure as Mauricio's and Rosie's is the ultimate example that love conquers all.  Amor Vincit Omnia.

Speaking of Mauricio, one of the most memorable characters ever.  I tend to throw this term a lot, but that's the whole goal of creating a character.  We want the reader to care about them, to love them, to hate them, to remember them.  Characters come from people we know and touched our lives, or they can be a conglomeration of traits we deem heroic.  Where does Mauricio fit that scale?

MLP: Mauricio is the sum of several men in my life whom I respect and love.  He is a human being who is forced to accept an unfair destiny.  It takes courage to live a life devoid of hope and still make it worthwhile.  He is a silent hero whose strength is revealed in the small acts of defiance he allows himself.

I remember one in particular that left me shaking with emotion.  I'd love to give away that one line, but I won't deprive a reader of feeling what I felt when I read it.  The concept of a society where men are slaves is quite a unique setting for a story.  What was the first thought or event that inspired Ginecea?

MLP: A few years ago, during a flight back home, I was listening to a podcast about the possibility of creating life without the male's contribution.  The idea of a Roman Empire a la Amazon immediately formed in my mind.  I've always enjoyed what-if tales and my favorite classes back in college were Sociology and Anthropology.  I started wondering what would happen from an evolutionary point of view to a society that mirrors ours; similar bur reversed.  An alternate Earth where women have absolute power and love between opposite genders is considered the most heinous sin.  I remember that while thinking about the plot and the possible characters, my laptop's battery ran out; I jotted down a few notes on a piece of paper, hoping to be home already so I could start typing.  I still have that piece of paper somewhere.

I keep old notebooks full of notes, so I have an idea what that piece of paper means to you.  One of the central ideas, the one truth that could destroy Ginecean society... is it a commentary on an aspect of our actual society?

MLP: Yes, it is.  It appalls me that humanity has progressed so much in technology, but it is less tolerant now than it was two thousand years ago.  We reached the stars and uncovered the wonders of the microcosm, but prejudice still dictates our behavior. It's hard to believe that in 2013 people are judged because of religious affiliation, political view, skin color, and sexual orientation.  Yet, you can take a look at the heartbreaking videos on the It Gets Better website, a place where bullied kids can talk freely about their stories, and discover the ugly truth of our society.  We are all the same, but separated by ephemeral social rules.

I've had my own experiences with the uglier side of society, and I can only hope our children overcome the flaws earlier generations, including our own, created.  
Monica, What's behind the pages of The Priest?

MLP: There is a desire to tell the same old story of oppression and prejudice, but from the other side of the mirror.
The Priest isn't the first novel I wrote.  It's the first novel I felt confident enough to publish.  An event that happened in my recent past convinced me life must be lived at its fullest.  No one should look back and have regrets.  I had been writing for some time, and although I liked the finished products, I wasn't sure they were the mark I wanted to leave in case I only had one shot at publishing.  Then I started working on the Ginecean series and I knew those stories could be my legacy.


Jack Canfield once wrote "Everything you want is on the other side of fear."  In my opinion, Monica La Porta navigated across those black waters, taking risks few authors ever would, to make us part of her what-if world, and prompting us, not only to contemplate how far we've really gotten as a race, but also how powerful love really is.
I always find a way of immersing myself into what I read.  There were a few times The Priest sent me running outside just to feel the sun's warmth, and to take a deep breath to embrace my freedom.  Few novels have hit me that way.

   Javier A. Robayo

   To learn more about Monica La Porta, visit her Amazon author page 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Erika's Chronicles Vol 1 by K.C. Sheridan

   Before 50 Shades of Grey took the literary world by storm, not many people would admit venturing into the Erotica Genre.  Where most people go wrong is in assuming Erotica is all these stories are about.  Wrong.  
   These are novels that explore one of the most powerful driving forces of the human race: sex.  It's the type of writing that raises many eyebrows and produces an alarming rate of "closet" readers.
What gave you the idea to write Erotica?

KCS: My brother kept Penthouse magazines under his mattress.  I took a peek and just happened to come across their forum.  The little stories were provocative to say the least, but they focused solely on the sex parts.  I thought to myself, what if they really had a story to tell?  Then I began writing, hoping to find enough of a balance.  I think there's a difference between Erotica and Pornography.  One turns you on, one doesn't.  If you ask, most women are Erotica fans.  They expect the male to be gorgeous and all, but when that character is intriguing and enchanting, it's much more exciting.  

Erika's Chronicles was too short in my opinion, but that's by design, correct?

KCS: Yup, entirely deliberate.  One of the remarks that stuck with me when I talked to my friends about other Erotica books was that after a while, the sex wasn't even interesting anymore.  They just wanted to know what was happening.  Realistically, no one can be turned on the entire time.  We all have stresses, obligations, a job, and life just gets in the way.  I took the risk of writing scenes that some may find over the top, however, the situations are more real than anyone is ready to accept.  I also wanted for the reader to care for the characters.  I felt a series of shorts was the way to go.

Speaking of characters, is there a real Sean O'Connor?

KCS: (grins) I'll say he's a collage of different men in my life.  He's been a challenge to write.  No one really knows exactly what to make of him, angel or demon.  He's jaded, probably a little afraid, and absolutely insatiable when it comes to... you know.  In many ways, I hoped to create a unique character, a man every woman wants, and every man wants to be.  I've always hated when the male in a romance is so beyond perfect, but once I started writing him, I figured it was my right as an author.

In other words, he's your own fantasy.

KCS: Not just mine, trust me.

What's behind the pages of Erika's Chronicles?"

KCS: The consequences of retaining what makes Erika a woman in a profession where clinical detachment may work best.  Maybe even a glimpse into issues no one has the courage to talk about.  Unlike Europeans, Americans remain conservative and carry all sorts of inner guilt instead of exploring sexuality for what it is.  In Erika's Chronicles, the taboos come out to play.

Does the general consensus that authors like you write "dirty books" concern you?

KCS: Not in the least.  I love the fact that we enjoy freedom of speech.  It took a long time to launch the series.  I've taken a little hiatus to deal with some life issues, but I'm eager to get readers thinking, gasping or needing their significant others beside them.  Most of all, I'm just looking to entertain readers.

In your genre, you do much more than entertain your readers.

   One of the greatest accomplishments of the controversial 50 Shades of Grey was to bring Erotica closer to the mainstream.  Erotica authors are incredibly brave.  Admittedly many won't even use their real names on the byline, but like any writer, they have a story to tell that just happens to have that extra spice.
   Miss Sheridan contacted me, looking for an advance reader for her series.  In an effort to give back to aspiring authors, I agreed, and actually enjoyed the short novella, (the first of the series)and not for the, naturally assumed reasons.  


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Wayward Wind by John W. Huffman

   If you've followed my blog, the name John W. Huffman may look familiar.  I had the pleasure of meeting John while struggling to finish my first novel.  His support and encouragement became the push I needed to venture out into the world of Indie Authors, and thus a friendship began.  But that's not the reason his work is featured on this blog.
   When I'm not reading it again, A Wayward Wind has a place of honor on the top shelf of my library.  The emotion within the novel is real, compelling, and easily pulls you in.
   Set back in the 1960's, and touching a bit on the Vietnam War era, John gives you a generous glimpse of the America we were through the eyes of three unforgettable characters.  
   Today, John joins us to give an insight into one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read, A Wayward Wind

Your narrative smoothly moves the reader through an intricate timeline.  How are you able to accomplish such a precise sense of time on the page?

JWH: I originally wrote the whole novel from beginning to end, then split it into the past / present time-frame's to ensure the flow was smooth and that the transitions worked.

Two part question: We meet Jay Harte as an adult, recently home from Vietnam.  He then takes us to his days as a kid.  The realism of your characters begs the question, is there a real Jay Harte? 
Few authors share your gift for characterization, would you tell us a little about Ollie and Hattie?

JWH: Jay Harte was based on myself as a young man.  My name is John Wayne Huffman... so as you can imagine, I hated it.  My friends called me J.W., which eventually was shortened to "Jay".  Oliver Freedman is based on a childhood friend of mine named Truman Oliver, and Hattie Trudeau is based on a young lady I prefer not to name.

You must have your reasons for keeping Hattie to yourself.

JWH: Hattie was the love of my life... I often wonder what happened to her.  I pray life has been good to her.

You most definitely wrote a great tribute to the way she touched your life.  She's tough to forget.  Her role in the novel provides just one of the different layers to A Wayward Wind; different messages that readers will understand depending on their life experience, but what's behind the pages of A Wayward Wind?

JWH: A true experience.  Ollie did live with his aunt, a religious nut, and we did hitchhike to New Orleans to find his mother, who he had not seen since he was six years old when she dropped him off with her sister.  We did become runaways, and I spent three months in the boys reformatory when we were caught some six weeks later.  All the way up to where Hattie is hiding in the garbage can in the alley when Ollie and I are being carted off by the police after Ollie's mother turned us in, is pretty much true... afterwards, it's all fiction.  I never saw Hattie again.

I'm certain I'll be reading it again with a new appreciation.  So, is it safe to assume the confrontation with Ollie's aunt actually happened?  That's one of my favorite scenes in the story.

JWH: I was messed up in the head when I returned from 'Nam, and the old witch had cancer and wanted me to find her sister (Oliver's mother) whom she had disinherited years before.  I did find her and brought her back, where she inherited all that was lost to her when the old witch died.

Every story needs a catalyst, sometimes in the form of a religious nut.  

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   As I've found recently, personal accounts are the most difficult to write.  It takes courage to write the story.  Often, as an author, you're forced to relive events that affected you profoundly enough to commit them to the page.      
   I've looked forward to this blog for some time, and it turned out to be more than I imagined.  John's candor and honesty reflect his passion for the times, people, and events behind the pages of one of my favorite novels, A Wayward Wind.  

   Javier A. Robayo

You can find John's works at