A Life Beneath The Shield
Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is the story of your life, from childhood to retirement, told with an honesty that lays bare some remarkable and sometimes scary moments in your life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?
I lived only 25 miles from where I worked and grew up in a middle class neighbor that was so different from where I now went to work. It was definitely cultural shock for me. This was early 80’s and crack was on the scene and people were dying by the thousands. Life, in a sense, was cheap. As a young cop I often wondered why people hated me when I was on patrol. I got to see the anger in their eyes just walking down the street. I later realized they hated the uniform and what it represented. I wanted people to know that there was a person in that uniform. So I used what God gave me and used my life experiences to show that as people we are not that different, we all have struggles and lose, and that there was “A Life Beneath The Shield” and so came part of the title to my memoir.
Each chapter tells a story from your life. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
I found it to be a very cathartic experience writing about my life. There were many difficult areas to write about. Certainly one that was hard was the passing of my mother and coming to terms with our relationship. But the most difficult was the chapter regarding 9/11. This event changed the world and the way we live. A lot of innocent people lost their life that day. But what hurts the most is that first responders are continuing dying every day and a lot more are suffering from the after effects of that day. Many are in treatment for cancer and other health issues related to 9/11. I have written a stage play based on this chapter of my book. A working title for the play is: “9/11…Never Forget…I can’t”.
You retired from the New York Police Department after 20 years. What is one common misconception you find people have about police officers and detectives?
I believe most people base their opinions of cops either on a one-time, first-hand bad experience or form their opinion from a news story, or a second or third-hand story. Cops are human beings. We make mistakes. we hurt, we bleed, we cry… more than you will ever know. There are good and bad in every profession. Priests-teachers-CEOs…you name it. Police officers are faced with life and death situations every day and only have a split second to decide a course of action. We have families and friends who we love, and who love us. It is our duty to make sure we come home safe. Believe me, no cop ever wants to fire his gun in the line of duty. The responsibility and consequences are enormous. We are truly here to serve and protect.
Are you working on another book? If so, what is it about and when will it be available?
I have written an unpublished novel titled: “Core Four”. I have written a screenplay with Erik Wolter which is currently being reviewed by some interested production companies. It is a coming of age story about four 11 year old boys. Danny’s struggles with the loss of his father (cop) to 9/11 related disease and his expectations. Danny and his 3 closest friends go on an adventure that brings them face to face with a gang of thugs and find a hero in the most unlikely person.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
As a kid growing up on Long Island, I struggled with an unknown psychological need to wear a uniform and a strong desire to be a part of an organization. My search would take me through Little League, Cub Scouts, and various fraternal organizations. This desire would only be fulfilled after joining the NYPD in February of 1984.
Somewhere during my twenty-year career, I was transformed from that kid into a veteran New York City police detective. This is my evolution from a middle-class suburban kid with simple values who naively thought the “projects” were a homework assignment into a veteran detective working in some of the most unforgiving neighborhoods of New York City. With this transformation comes the ability to separate the daily exposure to the dark side of human nature from your own life-sustaining core beliefs. Many will fail to acquire this ability and fall victim to drugs, alcohol, divorce, crime, and even suicide. This is a process which I have come to call Turning Blue.
This is my story of how I dealt with life-changing experiences at home while my gun belt and uniform hung safely in my locker. In my twenty years of experience as a police officer, I can honestly say that I have been scared and feared for my life. Could you go back to work after crying yourself to sleep, reliving your partner’s screams as he lay bleeding to death in the backseat of your unmarked car, and the only thing keeping your heart in your chest was your department-issued bulletproof vest?
Posted in Interviews
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When Angels Fly
In a gripping retelling of one woman’s painful experience with life, readers will come to question their own outlook on the world. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson and A. Raymond is a deeply personal tale of the journey our author took throughout the course of her life. The agony she relates to her readers is real and you cannot help but sympathize with the suffering she has endured. The course of her life has not gone easily and Jackson details exactly what she had to survive with the help of her journal entries and her memory. Everything she had ever known was tested: her faith in humanity, her faith in family and her faith in the divine. After learning her story, the fact that she can keep her faith in God is inspiring.
This story is an autobiography that chronicles not just Jackson’s life, but her experience with the things many people take for granted. The author touches on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. Social acceptance and the confidence to leave an abusive partner have come a long way since the early 1980’s, although they still have a long way to go. If you’re looking for an emotional journey, you are sure to find one within the pages of this book.
The addition of photographs at the end of the book is a nice touch. It reminds the reader that the people discussed in the book are real. The fact that they existed makes the painful moments that much more painful. Jackson expresses her pain with passion in every word and evocative imagery at every turn. Even when she puts in the information from her journals, it is obvious that she transcribed the information with care. That could not have been an easy task, especially since the information was undoubtedly painful to recall. It takes a certain amount of strength to live the sort of life Jackson has and not only overcome that life, but write it down in detail to share with the world. That may be inspirational to some, but to me it’s heroic.
This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private and painful moments that a human being will ever have to experience. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson is an autobiographical tale that touches on very personal experiences of abuse, domestic violence and loss. This profound journey shook our author to her core and pushed her to question everything she had ever known. She has experienced more heartbreak in such a short time than most people experience in their entire lives. Yet she rises above the pain and misfortune to find her way in the world. This is a must-read for those who enjoy following a personal, passionate and ultimately uplifting journey.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B017UNVWDI
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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Completely Absurd and Fantastical
The Perfect Teresa follows a 43 year old woman that has hit rock bottom and is given a 2nd chance at high school by an ancient Aztec deity. What was the inspiration for the setup to this imaginative story?
I think we all have those moments we wish we could go back and re-do for whatever reason, whether it be an embarrassing childhood experience or something you wish you’d done differently as an adult. Of course, none of us can go back and do anything over, at least not without something completely absurd and fantastical happening. That’s really how this story came about. The “what if” question was, “What if there was some way, some kind of cosmic intervention that would allow someone to go back in time and re-do an experience?” And, yes, I’ve thought of what I’d do in a situation like that! So little by little, the pieces began to fall into place, and authors like Christopher Moore and Jenny Lawson really helped me to see that sometimes the most absurd things made the most sense. So, yes, an unemployed Aztec deity sending a woman back in time to do a talent show over again? Makes perfect sense to me!
Authors can often fudge the details in time traveling stories, but I felt that the 80’s was captured perfectly in The Perfect Teresa. What kind of research did you do to get it right or did you pull from experience?
So I guess I’ll date myself and say that a lot of the stuff in this novel is from experience and memory because I did attend high school in the late 80s! It was a fun process to re-discover 1988 New York City, and it involved everything from getting back in touch with childhood friends through Facebook, to doing lots of searches on Google Images and Google Maps. My old buddies really helped me piece together our old neighborhood (like remembering the Susan Terry store on the corner of Ditmars and 31st Street), while Google Maps helped me walk through some old haunts and rediscover old landmarks. The other big part of this process was music. I love music, and in 1988 I was really big into the underground metal scene. So just being able to put these playlists together and listen to these old metal and 80s pop songs really helped me situate the story. You can find a YouTube link to this unofficial soundtrack for the story on my website!
Teresa’s character is intriguing and well developed. She can’t move forward and is trapped in this sad, drunken life where happiness eludes her. What was your inspiration for her character?
Thank you! In some ways, Teresa embodies a lot of the self doubt and self sabotage that I’ve had to overcome throughout my life. But in many ways, her character was inspired by Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which I think is the one of the great stories about personal redemption through service to others. Like his character, Teresa starts off very unlikeable, very self-centered, and, as you said in your review, unwilling to take accountability for her actions. She’s got a long history of dumb, self-destructive tendencies, and she never wants to acknowledge that this is why her life is in ruins. But I wanted her story to be about self-discovery, and about realizing that her selfish actions have real consequences for others. So like Murray’s character, she has to learn through this new experience that there are things more important than a silly talent show, and that there’s real happiness in providing help and happiness to others. I hope that by the story’s end, we find her journey plausible and redeeming.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on two projects. One is a new time-travel sci-fi series tentatively called Quality Jones and the Time Keepers. But I’ve also started work on the sequel to The Perfect Teresa, titled The Perfect Vicente. I’m hoping to publish one of the other by the end of the year!
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Teresa’s gotten over the embarrassment of a humiliating high school talent show performance. After all, she’s now 43 and only thinks about the experience once or twice a day.
Lucky for her, an unemployed Aztec deity applying for Quetzalcoatl’s Trickster Department offers to grant Teresa her wish. He’ll send her back to 1988 to re-do the talent show! Catch? There’s no catch! After all, he’s a fully licensed deity with a Masters in Temporal Displacement Theory and a bachelors in Trickster Sciences and Cosmic Mischief. Besides, a talking coyote can be trusted, right?
For Teresa, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But she soon finds that changing the past won’t be as easy as she thought, especially without Wikipedia. And that in a desperate effort to make her life better, she might end up making things much, much worse.
Posted in Interviews
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Stage Door Comedies provides a cheeky glimpse into the quirky characters surrounding theater life. What has been your experience in the theater industry and how did that bring you to writing a collection of stories?
I trained as an actor in 1985 then undertook what would nowadays be called ‘an internship’ as an unpaid stage manager/lighting/sound operator on the London, England Fringe (professional Off-Off-West End). Fast-forward twenty years and I started writing plays. When I had an offer from two London Fringe theaters to premiere my first play Limehouse I knew I had broken into the business as a writer. That was my calling card.
The book is based in England and Paris, with each providing a unique backdrop that flavors the stories with each local’s unique atmosphere. Was there a reason why you chose these locations as the backdrops for your stories?
The story about my casting in Paris is true; I did approach theaters – including American outfits – for an English-speaking cast and did hit a brick wall. London is fortunate to have so many small-scale venues for new play tryouts and so many ‘pop-up’ comedy venues. I put Paris in Stage Door Comedies because my drama school Artistic Director studied there with Louis Jouvet at the Theatre des Champs Elysees. You could say it’s my school.
In this book you show us the underbelly of the theater industry and all the weird happenings and intricacies of the individuals who call the shots. Were there any characters that you especially enjoyed writing for?
Limehouse and A Suitable Lover are play-to-fiction adaptations of my first two plays which received offers of production on the London Fringe: others, I workshopped in rehearsal for conversational ‘say-ability’ (a comedic craft I honed in stand-up comedy). I directed and acted in Limehouse, an autobiographical twosome about quitting the theater, in a short run. It marked a return to a small-scale London venue. Would I direct again? No thank you, very much, at least, not for stage. In America you don’t have the British class system. What is success? Why do we pursue it? I guess as they say there is a bit of all the characters in the author of Stage Door Comedies.
What was it like to be an alternative comedy monologist at Steve Strange’s Cabaret Futura?
The 1980s was the era of the New Romantics and Karma Chameleon figure Boy George in the London clubs. At Cabaret Futura I did a one-person duologue playing both the comedian Jack Benny and his wife using two chairs back-to-back on the stage as props. I was also an MC at a comedy cellar near to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
I understand Stage Door Comedies is your first published book. Are you planning to continue writing? If so, when is the next book due out?
I have some more stories up my sleeve on the theme of the random nature of Fame – many are called but few are chosen. Why is one actor on the West End or Broadway while another is fated to ply their trade in a seedy, backstreet pub theatre? As Oscar winning actor Michael Caine said, it’s the years of rejection and humiliation they pay you for.
Author Links: GoodReads
For the admirers of those entering the stage door, the attraction is in what they represent. In London’s Notting Hill, a BAFTA award winner is sick and tired of people using him as a stepping-stone or step-ladder to the the big time instead of putting in ‘the hard slog’. The hustlers find that talent is not enough – it is a serious game.
Posted in Interviews
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