The Other Cheek follows Rich as he struggles with his increasingly abusive wife and his attempt to escape. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
First, I’d like to thank you for your brilliant, insightful and thoughtful review of my debut novel. It’s so refreshing and encouraging to read an intelligent review written by someone who holds such passion for the written word, and who “gets” my book!
Okay, back to your question: The inspiration for the setup of my story was pretty deeply rooted in personal experience, truth be told. There’s an old expression that advises writers to “Write what you know…”, and that was the springboard for taking on this difficult (understatement) story. Rich, the protagonist in the story, is a freelancer in the television industry, which mirrored my previous career in the Hollywood arena. So, there’s that. As for the story itself, and the harrowing predicament Rich finds himself in…well, without saying too much more about that, let’s just say I have some skin in the game––literally––on that front as well. Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt…ahem. The setting, the characters, and events naturally unfolded––once I allowed them to––but that took considerable time to process. Liberating it all from a depths of my soul was the biggest challenge I faced in deciding to share the story.
Rich is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Writing the character of Rich didn’t require much invention, really, as he mirrored myself in many ways––not only professionally, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, and we had lots of shared experience. Rich came from a very loving and supportive family, as did I. His good character traits were forged in his upbringing, and I like to think that mine were as well. As the story has to do with a decent man who is living a secret life of pain, being subjected to a tortuous amount of abuse––both emotional and physical––at the hands of his supposedly loving spouse, Rich’s character had to plumb the depths of his soulful DNA to avoid responding in kind to the physical abuse. His childhood lessons were indelible, and the “boys don’t hit girls––ever” credo was adhered to at all costs. Plus, he took his vows seriously, and perhaps he took it all too literally. The cost was huge. Irreparable, really…
The novel explores abusive relationships and domestic violence. Was this intentional or incidental to telling the story you wanted to tell?
This story takes place in the 1990s, which––as the crow flies (?)––doesn’t seem like that long ago, but in terms of our lifestyles and attitudes, it was an eternity ago. By that, I mean, we didn’t have smart phones, the internet was just beginning to emerge, there wasn’t all of the instantaneous communication and technology at our fingertips, and along with that…awareness, it was lacking.
Domestic violence has long been a dirty little behind-closed-doors secret, really, and I wanted this story to challenge readers to reevaluate what they think they really know about domestic abuse. Rich’s predicament involved being on the flip-side of the “typical” domestic violence equation, as he was in that underreported (again, understatement) demographic of a male being physically abused by a female. He thought he was the only one on the planet going through that! Besides, who would believe him? With that well-kept secret, an immeasurable burden of shame adds enough weight to assure one sinks to the deepest abyss imaginable. It’s a dilemma and place I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and––sadly––it’s a place from where some never return.
I remember back to when I was a teenager, and my father recommended I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl. This was some deep, dark––yet enlightening––stuff, as it dealt with his experiences in a concentration camp and his internal search for the meaning of it all. That, probably subliminally, was what I was looking for as I dove into the dark places I had to go in order to write this book. What would be the meaning behind it? What purpose could possibly be served by going through horrific experiences––whether they be in concentration camps, or as a prisoner of war in your own home? I figured, if the book touches just one person, then it will all be worth it. I guess my purpose was being a conduit to help with Awareness. I guess I was deemed strong enough to live through it, and to tell it. I needed to get it right, and necessary authenticity comes from that place.
Readers will also notice that I incorporated lots of music references throughout the narrative. The choices were very deliberate in not only establishing mood in some scenes, but also at times reflecting or belying emotions of the characters. I am especially grateful to Tom Petty’s estate for granting permission in the use of a song that was very important to driving the plot of certain scene (I won’t give spoilers here). I wish I could’ve included a two-CD soundtrack with every book, but that was prohibitive. It was challenging enough to navigate the licensing of the songs I decided to use, and there were several I had to let go. In the book, Rich interacts with “The Great D.J. in the Sky”, who is almost a character in his/herself. Readers have mentioned how much the songs added to the experience.
Amazingly, about a month ago, I was notified that this debut novel of mine received a Finalist Medal in its “Best First Novel” category in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! This little naked-making project of mine, the one that I almost kept stuffed down out of fear and uncertainty, is slowly finding an audience, is being embraced critically, and being appreciated for its honesty and candor. I receive letters from readers who either know someone who’s going through an abusive relationship, or have been in one themselves, and I feel for them all.
I hope my book comes up on Oprah’s radar, because that would take readership and awareness to the next level! A guy can dream…
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Well, I’ve been wearing many hats as I try to get this book launched and safely out of the harbor. Without a major publishing house behind you, it takes a lot of extra effort to get your book noticed, as I envision my book as a little baby sea turtle trying to navigate that Normandy Beach-like stretch of sand to find relative safety in the deep water. It truly helps to have some great reviews to help differentiate it from the millions of other books out there, and I really appreciate Literary Titan taking the time to review the book and interview the author.
That being said, I think my next book will center on a female protagonist. I’m still in the early stages of fleshing out her character and story, but I think it will be a worthy follow-up. And, not unlike my first one, it’ll probably have a killer soundtrack!
Posted in Interviews
Tags: abuse, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, domestic violence, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Jafe Danbury, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, psychological, psychological thriller, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, THE OTHER CHEEK, thriller, writer, writing
Levels to My Insanity: Unmastered by Adrianne Mouton is a story of generational trauma that plagues three women from the Dagher family in West Virginia. The story starts with Ethel Dagher, the pain she suffers from childhood abuse, loss, and mental health conditions lead her to inflict pain onto the generations that succeed her. After Ethel’s story, we follow two generations of her granddaughters, Tawny and Violet. The women both suffer from traumas of their own while still carrying pain from the generations that preceded them. The sheer hope for relief, healing, and triumph is all the Dagher women have.
A roller-coaster of emotions; Levels to My Insanity grips you from the start! The development of the characters is quick but thorough. Mouton fleshes out her characters with detailed backstories, realistic dialogue, and poetic inner monologue. The use of foreshadowing in the stories of each woman leaves you craving more. A glance towards something by one of the characters can mean so much more than what meets the eye.
The realistic atmosphere is beautiful, but at times chilling. Mouton uses nature’s beauty to artistically convey the thoughts and emotions of the characters. Stormy clouds, a magnolia tree, and the night sky represent gloom, light, and dread; these are only a few of the elements Mouton uses.
Mouton is a master of prose; she takes the English language. Her poetic approach makes you feel as if you are inside the characters’ minds and living through their pain. Compelling descriptions and poetry like sentences set the story apart from similar novels on the market.
I must state that although I loved this book, the subjects discussed weighed heavy on my heart during and after reading it. Authors often promise to deliver a breathtaking and heart-wrenching tale but only end up scratching the surface of the issues they are discussing. In the case of Levels to My Insanity, Mouton delivers this promise brutally and truthfully.
Combining all the remarkable elements I mentioned previously; realistic imagery, thorough character development, and rich prose; Adrianne Mouton has created an unforgettable novel! Levels to My Insanity: Unmastered is a work of heartbreaking literary fiction that dares to speak on topics that many authors are scared to.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B078YFJ77X
Tags: abuse, Adrianne Mouton, author, book, book review, bookblogger, drama, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, Levels to My Insanity: UnMastered, literature, nook, novel, psychological, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Someone to Kiss My Scars by Brooke Skipstone defies standard categorization as it is a wonderful amalgam of coming of age, mystery, science fiction, and love story. I would say it is suitable for mature teens, and add that I, as an adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed Someone to Kiss My Scars and never felt it was juvenile while reading it. In fact, the introduction from Skipstone made me a little bit nervous – did I want to read about sexual abuse, depression, and suicide, given that 2020 has already been a challenging year? But, as Skipstone poignantly says, the novel not should be read by “anyone who desires to remain in the dark despite being in a position to shine light.” Having loved and lost family members and friends to depression, I felt incredibly moved by Skipstone’s goal in creating this deeply thoughtful novel, and am so glad I continued reading Someone to Kiss My Scars.
The novel centers on teenage Hunter Williams, who recently moved to rural Alaska, and his only friend in town, Jazz. Mysteriously, Hunter cannot seem to remember much of his life before he and his father moved to Alaska a year ago. He’s been told his mother and brother died in an accident, but everything is blurry to him, with haunting memories coming in sporadic glimpses. Hunter is a voracious writer, though, with a seemingly supernatural ability to write incredibly detailed stories that, impossibly, seem to recreate the memories of those around him. As Hunter and Jazz begin to understand more about his special writing ability and how it impacts those around him, they are faced with a decision: should they share his power and use it for good or is it better to keep it a secret?
Someone to Kiss My Scars is incredibly hard to read at times because of its heavy subject matter, but I found the hardship to be eye-opening and beautiful. The pains that Skipstone describes felt unfathomable to me, but I know that the experiences described have happened to many people, and, as Skipstone cites, abuse, depression, and trauma are exceedingly common in Alaska. I was engrossed fully in the plot and raced through the chapters, often staying up late to find out what happened next.
I was not expecting to love Someone to Kiss My Scars as much as I did, and I am thankful for Skipstone for her work in creating this novel. It is highly unusual to read a book and feel like the book has changed you for the better, but that is how I felt after reading it. Someone to Kiss My Scars opened my worldview to the experiences not only of those living in rural Alaska, but also to the pains of depression and abuse which are prevalent but rarely discussed. I would highly recommend this novel to any reader, and assure you that even though the subject matter is heavy, the novel is ultimately one of hope and forgiveness that will encourage you to believe in the good in the world.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07X4JLY22
Tags: abuse, author, book, book review, bookblogger, Brooke Skipstone, contemporary, depression, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, Someone To Kiss My Scars, story, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult
Rich has everything going for him: a job for which he has been well-trained and loves, a family who loves him unconditionally, and a beautiful and talented wife. Rich has just one thing going against him–his beautiful and talented wife. Their life together was supposed to be ideal. Her budding career as an actress and his job as a trusted member of television production crews should have combined to form the perfect union. But all is not as it seems in Rich’s life, and try as he might, he can’t seem to crack the code to Tami’s mood swings. The not-knowing is killing him–literally.
The Other Cheek, by Jafe Danbury, is the story of one man’s struggle with domestic abuse. Rich faces the unknown every day since his marriage to Tami. He wakes and sleeps only according to her inner demons, and his battle is one for the record books. No one is more patient or giving than Rich. Time and time again, he chooses to face the barrage of insults and the physical abuse that seem to stem from something deep inside Tami’s very soul. Never knowing what will trigger an episode and always scraping the bottom of the barrel of excuses, Rich grows increasingly haggard and mentally defeated as he rides out one horrific day after another.
Danbury’s portrayal of a husband being abused at the hands of his seemingly less physically intimidating wife is captivating in every way. As I began reading, I wondered why the author chose a third person point-of-view. It didn’t take long to realize that the story is all the more horrifying from the outside looking in. Danbury does a truly fantastic job of drawing readers into Rich’s life. Wanting to reach out and rescue Rich, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious for a positive turn–just anything to make his life with Tami more bearable.
As someone who fled an abusive relationship, everything about Rich’s ordeal hit home–from Tami’s fits of rage to her manipulation of his emotions and attempts to distance him from his family. Danbury’s writing is spot-on. Every ounce of fear, every second of Tami’s attacks, and each and every moment of Rich’s hesitation to share his experience with anyone. I can relate to Rich’s unwillingness to reach out for help, and I know I am not alone. Danbury is reaching an audience not often addressed in realistic fiction.
I absolutely flew through Danbury’s work, absorbing one of Rich’s emotions after the other and fearing Tami right alongside him. I recommend this book to anyone who has survived abuse, thinks they may be a victim, or knows and loves someone who is dealing with a controlling significant other. Danbury is making important strides with The Other Cheek.
Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07YWC791R
Tags: abuse, author, book, book review, bookblogger, domestic violence, drama, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Jafe Danbury, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, psychological fiction, psychological thriller, read, reader, reading, story, THE OTHER CHEEK, thriller, writer, writing
What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection is an educational resource for children, adults and educators. It teaches the reader through simple rhymes that danger lurks in the world and one must be prepared for it. It shows how different people, young and old, can get into scary situations that may be harmful to them. It then empowers them with the knowledge that they can protect themselves by fighting back, but also that it is okay to run away or call the police. It gives readers the tools necessary to take their safety into their own hands.
This is the most pragmatic picture book that I’ve read this year. It teaches children and adults valuable skills that might literally save their lives. It presents readers with various situations where the characters are in danger, and then shows them different ways they could protect themselves. Either by being aware of their surroundings, or dialing 911, running away, or by simply saying No and Stop. The art that accompanied each scene was clean, bright, and emotive. It reminded me of the D.A.R.E comic books that used to be distributed through schools. This is a great book for parents or educators to begin a conversation with kids about self-defense and when it’s acceptable to defend yourself. I appreciated how varied the talking points were. At end of the book readers are given a list where they can write down the contact information for different self-protection resources, which is a good resource to keep handy, or at the very least it’s a great opportunity to begin a discussion about each resource. Simply knowing that those people and services exist should help children understand that there are people in the world that will help them when needed. The book also provides a summary of a self-protection law case that helps give the books topic a real world reference, but may be more suitable for older readers. What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection provides practical advice that is easy to understand and simple to implement.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08BCNV9RB
Tags: abuse, author, book, book review, bookblogger, children, childrens book, ebook, education, elementary, goodreads, kids, kids book, kindle, kobo, literature, Michael Brown, nook, parent, parenting, picture book, read, reader, reading, school, self defense, self help, story, teacher, What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection, writer, writing
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines psychological abuse as trauma to the victim caused by verbal abuse, acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics
In “Sorrow to Shero,” Dr. Jeannita Bussle gives an honest look inside her experiences.
When the unimaginable occurs, she shares how she was able to forgive and heal.
Additionally, Dr. Bussle discusses the hard life lessons she has learned as a result of tragedy.
Although “Sorrow to Shero” shines a light on psychological abuse and the importance of mental health, it is also a vivid reminder that God always makes a way out of no way.
Posted in book trailer
Tags: abuse, author, biography, book, book review, book trailer, bookblogger, christian, domestic violence, Dr. Jeannita Bussle, ebook, faith, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, mental health, nonfiction, nook, psychological abuse, read, reader, reading, sorrow to shero, story, trailer, writer, writing
Reinhold Commons Webster likes being in church. His family hopes he will follow the priesthood path, and his only desire is to be an altar boy. However, he is thrust into an abyss of sadistic abuse. He watched his friend penetrated with impunity until he could no longer hold on to life. The same end awaited him. Therefore Reinhold makes a deal that provides him with a little reprieve. With no one else willing to help him or the others, this deal is his only hope. The deal does nothing to erase what has already happened but what comes next will have to be enough.
This story, albeit short, is aggressively evocative. Written in such detail, the candor of it is well justified by the desire to shine a light on this abomination. The author also puts a spotlight on the role of parents and other authority figures in all of this. Their adverse reactions to the damaging situations the victims are plunged into. Figures who choose to ridicule these children rather than save them from their plight.
This is a very purposeful book. It might seem a bit crass, but the painful detail in this story is very necessary and intentional. It works to ingrain an image that would potentially start a movement for the rescue of actual victims. The end is quite alarming and should serve as a warning to perpetrators.
The confessional is a place where people go to seek solace and relief from the burden of sin. However, in this instance the title serves as a reminder that these places represent personal hells for some people. As a reader, one cannot help but weep for the poor boys. One cannot help but advocate for the punishment of the perpetrator. This is the extent of the writer’s to appeal to the reader’s soul by use of words and language.
This story should be used as a rallying call against child abuse everywhere and especially of the sexual sort. It should stand as a war cry for abused children everywhere to appeal to their parents for help. It is evocative and stern in no uncertain terms. The author’s passion for this cause is obvious and this story is engaging and thought provoking.
Pages: 49 | ASIN: B07PGTS8LC
Tags: A Peerless Short Story, A.K. Kuykendall, abuse, AK Kuykendall, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bible, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, catholic, child abuse, church, contemporary, ebook, faith, fantasy, fiction, god, goodreads, horror, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, priest, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, sexual abuse, shelfari, smashwords, story, The Confessional, writer, writer community, writing
Myrrendryl is a thought provoking fantasy novel that follows Davey as he escapes to a world very different from his own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
I came up with the idea for the novel from a thought; What if when you die, you pass completely unaware and simply dream a dream that never ends. That, coupled with a deep love for horror fiction and stories that are more than the sum of their parts.
Davey is an interesting and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
I really wanted Davey to be relatable, I wanted him to be the Everyman Hero, but even with the best of intentions, sometimes, doing the right thing is never cut and dry. I wanted him to struggle with bullying, abuse, loss, unrequited love, and being an outcast. In the end, even with the odds piled against him and despair baring it’s poisoned fangs, I needed him to make the choice that matters.
I found ‘Cardboard City’ to be fascinating and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind this and it’s backstory?
Let me answer this, with a question. Was it ever really there? Sure, it seemed like a magical place, but for all it’s glamour, couldn’t a Maytag box and a rat chewn blanket be paradise?
If it was there, it was because a common belief brought these youths together and kept them focused on a singular goal. A little paint here, some salvaged materials there and soon, they had their own community.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a novel of the prodigal son.
James is a successful businessman in the city, but he harbors a deep secret. He is not who he says he is. A lawyer and private investigator track him down to tell him his mother is dead and her estate leaves him as the heir. Now returning to the small town he left far behind he is assailed with memories both good and bad.
But this town holds it’s own secret, and someone or something is very glad to see the son return home.
Hopefully out this year, but at the latest, it will be next.
The curtain, the veil, the void, the abyss. So many names for the mystery of the beyond. People spend a good part of their lives just wanting to lift the heavy canvas of the circus tent and take a peek inside. Eventually they’ll know, in the end, we all know, but mankind is an impatient beast. Sadly, for most, if they ever could pull aside that curtain, they would spend the rest of their lives trying to forget that they ever had.Myrrendryl tells the tale of four seemingly unconnected youth bound to one another in a way none of them could have guessed and knowing would threaten to shatter their very existence. The hands of fate appear to play them like marionettes, but are they truly controlled by fate? Or are they their own masters? A story that questions what is real, and what is the sands of dreams. A story ultimately, about the human condition and what deep down, we are willing to sacrifice.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: abuse, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, Kirby Lord, kobo, literature, loss, love, metaphysical, Myrrendryl, nook, novel, outcast, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, surreal, writer, writer community, writing