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A Story Of Its Own

Author Interview
Brant Vickers Author Interview

Fedor is a thought-provoking coming of age story following a young circus performer that travels the world with P.T. Barnum’s Circus in the ‘80s. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I worked for many years as a Special Education teacher and for many of those years with kids with autism. I have a memoir (Chucky’s in Tucson) about my years in this field and how I was a reluctant recruit, but more than thankful and honored to have had that career. Several times I brought up Fedor’s picture on the Internet while investigating different types of disabilities and one of my students with autism was extremely interested in his picture and his life. He asked if we could find out more about him and one thing led to another and I also became interested. I was dismayed there was scant information about him. I began imagining what his life might have possibly been like. This (Fedor’s life) intersected with the timeline of the expansion of the 19th-century American circus and the Black Tent sideshow. It grew, under P.T. Barnum, from a modest endeavor to the enormous spectacle I present in the novel. A story of its own.

Fedor is an interesting character that was deftly created. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

We know Fedor spoke three languages and I supposed he was an articulate, intelligent, thoughtful human being, as I learned many of my students were. During those years teaching students with, sometimes, severe disabilities I learned they were smart (in their own way), genuine, kind, at times challenging, but some of the most exceptional people in the world. In the research I learned how huge and important the sideshow was in the circus. Well into the 20th century people made a living by exhibiting themselves for money. There were no social services, possible medical procedures, or family support for them. It wasn’t a rationale, but a necessity for them to actually live. They developed families, friendships, love, compensations and a much different but still a vocation.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

We still have people born every day with exceptional gifts and disabilities. I wanted to explore what has happened in the past and how we’ve grown as a society and world. We’ve moved on from the Black Tent and sideshow, but to know our past and what passed for entertainment can teach us today how to treat the differences between us, not with horror or revulsion, but to know that people are still human and possibly intelligent and interesting. As Mark Twain, a circus devotee, said to Fedor, “You can’t throw too much style into a miracle and you, my friend, are a miracle.”

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on another YA novel set in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in West Los Angeles. It’s about the friendship between two boys with realistic gritty details of the era and their paranormal experience in abandoned movie studio lots. Hopefully within the next year it will be ready to go. Thanks again for the review and interest in Fedor’s remarkable life, travels, and experiences!

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“You can’t throw too much style into a miracle, and you, my friend, are a miracle,” Mark Twain says to Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff, also known as Jo-Jo The Dog Faced Boy. Fedor lives, travels, works, and loves among the haunting cast of performers in the Black Tent Sideshow of P.T. Barnum’s Circus in the late 1880s. 

Fedor not only survived, but also profited by being a memorable and unforgettable human curiosity. Along with being an intelligent and avid reader of Tolstoy, Twain, Alcott, and Melville, he has remarkable interactions with a myriad of other world-renowned characters, one being Nicholas II the Russian Tsarevich. This proves that more than just being a “sideshow,” there was a lot of individuality and heart to this “dog-faced boy.”

Richly authentic, dramatic, beautifully written, and always thought-provoking, Brant Vickers tells Fedor’s story in an epic account of this young man’s extraordinary life.


Fedor by [Brant Vickers]

Fedor, by Brant Vickers is a young adult novel following our protagonist Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff most commonly known as Fedor or as his circus name Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy as he sets out on a mission to truly find himself and his life purpose. Fedor is a young circus performer in the late 19th century, due to a condition where hair grows all over his body except the palms of his hands and the bottom of his feet. He travels the world with the “Greatest Show on Earth” and has the chance of meeting so many wonderful people and historic figures such as Nicholas II of Russia, Jesse James, Mark Twain, and more.

Vickers writes in an effortlessly beautiful tone with vivid imagery and creates details that lead the reader on a phenomenal visual journey. As we, the readers, travel throughout the pages of this book it almost feels like we are right there with the characters experiencing everything Fedor is experiencing. Vickers manages to keep his narrative straightforward and simultaneously descriptive and refined in a way that touches and lures the readers in and leaves us wanting more.

As a reader who is interested in character work and development, I am pleased with Vickers’s approach to writing. Fedor has such great development of each character, however, the most incredible one is of the main character himself. The way that he is introduced as someone who has been mistreated for most of his life and has grown into a young man filled with empathy, understanding, acceptance, determination, and love. Not to mention his knowledge and the way he is always quoting the great Tolstoy as a tribute to his deceased mother who used to read to him and gave him his love for literature and knowledge.

Yet another plus to Fedor is the length of chapters. Vickers keeps his chapters concise and quite short. He brings each one to a fitting end that urges the reader on to the next for more. This is a riveting coming of age story that is a quick read and difficult to put down.

As surprising as it may sound the characters and plot development in this young adult novel will appeal to readers from all age groups and all genres. Fedor is easily one of the most engaging books in the young adult genre I have encountered and I look forward to reading more of Vickers’s work.

Pages: 234 | ASIN:  B08Z7MNS6M

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