Jaime knows exactly how fortunate he is to be part of his adoptive family. His past is riddled with trauma and hardships, but he has managed to persevere and grow close to a whole new group of people he considers his true family. He spent his childhood and good portion of his adult life feeling unwanted and unloved. No matter what happens, he knows that his new family supports him and will be beside him every step of the way even if that means watching him delve into his past. Jaime knows that this is one journey he will not need to endure alone.
Night Air Descending: Book II from the Trilogy – The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz, by T.P. Graf, continues following the life story of main character, Jaime Cruz. A reunion with his sister has been in the making for a while, and in this second installment, it becomes a reality. When Jaime contacts Zoey, he doesn’t expect to hear from her much less make a lasting connection. Above all else, he never expects to hear about her life-changing diagnosis.
Graf has a unique way of making Jaime’s stories feel palpable for the reader. I always feel that I am side-by-side with Jaime, watching his life unfold. There is a different feel to Graf’s first-person narrative style, and I have to say I enjoy it immensely. It’s comfortable and laidback which makes for an easy and smooth read. Graf’s characters each have wonderful quirks and offer readers relatable little nuances at every turn. Jaime never disappoints. The way in which he handles each crisis in his life is admirable and makes for an engaging storyline. The dynamic that exists between Jaime and his adoptive family is a loving one, and the one between him and his sister is genuine and touching.
The backdrop of the ranch and life out west is a perfect setting for Jaime’s story. Graf’s descriptions are not overdone and blend perfectly with his characters’ personalities. I cannot see Jaime’s storylines working in any other setting. The idea that he has gained a new lease on life meshes effortlessly with life in the west–beautiful, untouched horizons and land that remains protected from change. It’s the ideal fit for Jaime.
Jaime’s story, simply put, makes me happy. For all the hardships he has endured, his outlook is positive and his temperament remains even and patient through the changing circumstances. He is a sweet spirit I have truly enjoyed getting to know in Graf’s series.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B08R7PZ2FG
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Seeds in the Desert Wind is the final book in the trilogy of The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz. Did Jamie’s story end the way you had imagined when you first started writing the trilogy or did it change while writing?
As I wrote chapter one of “Tumbleweed and Dreams” (book one), I knew that Jaime would by logical extension of the region have interactions with the ranching community. I had no notion that he would be taken in by the ranching family that “adopts” him. In fact, I recall early in the book after the Cardona’s explain who the rancher is that Jaime sees in the grocery store, Jaime writes that little did he know how intertwined their lives would become. When I wrote those words, the author also had no idea how the lives would be intertwined. Somehow, I just knew they would.
It wasn’t until near the end of book one that I knew I wanted to keep the story going—that there was much more to tell.
What were some things you learned as a writer after completing this trilogy?
I learned just how hard it is to work with a dialogue heavy story and keep it from being tedious as you work to keep track of who is speaking to whom. While I could have let Jaime tell more of the story, I felt to do so only robbed the characters of what made them endearing to me (and I hope my readers).
If you had to cast characters for a movie version of your novel, who would play the leads?
None come to mind though I can see Jane Lynch (coach on Glee) making a pretty convincing Sallie. I would hope for a very strong casting director who really “got” the book to find relative unknowns well-suited to the peculiarities of each character. Particularly, in the case of Sallie, Billy and Ernesto, the match of physique and personality is integral to defining their character as well as the musical talents needed for Jaime, Billy and Ernesto.
Do you have plans to continue this story in a different book or will you start a new book?
If I write more based on these characters, I’d like to do so from the perspective of Sallie’s memoirs where she takes us back to the early days of the ranch and how her parents shaped her life as well as bring the readers along up to the present.
If I live long enough, I’d love pick up the story with Noah as the narrator and lead us through his grandparents and great aunt’s death as well as putting up with the two old men, Billy and Jaime, that share the ranch life with him.
Regarding possible other works in other locales, I shall have to wait and see if inspiration comes.
Posted in Interviews
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August Kibler’s Stories for Tyler is a companion to the novel As the Daisies Bloom. What motivated you to provide this novel to readers in addition to As the Daisies Bloom?
While I had written these Bible Stories a few years ago, as “August” laid out his experience with Christianity and specific churches, it seemed like a good way to introduce these stories which were not yet published. His passing these along to Tyler and his family seemed like the kind of thing August would want to do as they presented a deeper layer into his beliefs without trying to laboriously work them into the storyline. Of course, they standalone as a fictional work regardless whether someone has read, As the Daisies Bloom, though I am hopeful reading one will inspire the reader to explore the other.
This book explores different theological ideas. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?
Certainly, foremost in my mind was to show the long prophetic tradition which stood (stands) in contrast to the power structures. Too often the Bible stories are told in such a way as to whitewash the more controversial texts—while claiming some adherence of interpretation to “inerrancy.” Most of the Old Testament stories hit on one point or another in this regard. Many of the New Testament stories focus more on understanding Jesus’s teachings as coherent to a more non-gender-binary, peaceable ethos often emphasizing his encounters with women and how they did or might have responded.
What is one thing you feel most people overlook in the Bible stories?
Bits and pieces of the texts are told in such a way that they become romanticized, sentimental versions which may make for easy telling to children, but generally lead to adults who really have never learned to read the Bible in a deeper way. They become dependent on a few verses to uphold (and blindly defend) their beliefs or end up “leaving church” when the difficult passages challenge too much their rational mind. These ancient voices have much to say to us as relevant today as in the millennia past. It is my hope that August Kilber’s Stories for Tyler contributes in some small way to giving these voices life in our time.
Looking Out Onto Our World is a compelling collection of introspective poems. How did you decide which poems to include in the collection?
As I have shared many of these with friends over the years, I often found that certain ones I thought wouldn’t inspire much of a connection did in fact do so. With that in mind, I did little culling from my musings. While I concentrated on a definite theme in my other collection, August Kibler’s Stories for Tyler, (Bible characters) here I allowed the many years of pondering stand for itself with all the diversity in topics, mood and inspiration.
Where do you find your mind often wandering when you write poetry?
I am most fed by nature and the silence of contemplation within natural surroundings. However, I also try to better inform my own complicity with evil by digging deeply into contemporary issues and always trying not to buy the convenient answer too often sold to us by those in any role of power. Despite the darkness of any present moment, I know the work I have to do is to find hope and act on such as to bring those hopes to fruition.
‘Heavenly Drone’ is my favorite poem from the collection. Do you have a poem that stands out to you from this collection?
Heavenly Drone was inspired by a large fully-in-bloom Cenizo bush which was covered in bees. You could walk right up to the bush to watch them work—oblivious to my presence. The slightly modulating hum of their work was like a hymn of gratitude.
The Refugee is certainly one I would like for many to read and contemplate. On the lighter side of things, I have a fondness for Draft Horse Journal inspired by Amish neighbors working along side “modern farming.”
Do you plan to write and publish more works of poetry?
2020 has brought me to taking up some time to write two novels—something I’ve never made an attempt at before. I released As the Daisies Bloom at the same time as this collection and am working on finalizing a follow-up to it—Roots, Branches and Buzz Saws – More Stories of August Kibler. I hope to have this second novel released in January 2021.
Other than that, only time and inspiration will tell. I continue to jot down musings as they come to me. If it gets to a “collection’s worth,” I will release it so it is there for any interested.
As the Daisies Bloom follows the life of August and shows how relationships and love have lasting effects. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional story?
The inspiration came to me quite unexpectedly. I woke up one morning with the opening chapter in my mind and the characters came to me as I began to write down the story. I have written free verse over the years and the reference to the “Stories for Tyler” which August describes as his tiny systematic theology are Bible characters stories I wrote a few years ago and decided to work in as a companion to this work. (That book is also on Amazon under the title “August Kibler’s Stories for Tyler.”)
August is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
I think the review addressed this perfectly. I wanted to convey the complexity of racism, sexism, militarism, patriotism and the judgement the gay community faces from religion in particular in as compelling and compassionate a voice as I could muster.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have written a sequel which is also set up in the memoir style where Tyler (as executor) finds a file on August’s computer which delves into more of August’s ancestry, life as a child, college days and finally in Boone bringing everything back to the present with the Marvel-Jemisons. I plan to release this in January assuming my friends reviewing it now find it compelling enough to proceed.
T. P Graf’s As The Daisies Bloom is as enchanting as it is charming. The story is intimately and poetically told. Like a well-written symphony, it has a rhythm and magnetism that is undeniable. It is especially hard not to fall in love with the main character, August.
While it is a work of fiction, this novel gives a heartfelt account of August’s life that is so touching, so authentic, and for lack of a better word so human. It is clear that this character was so thoroughly thought out, his experiences so beautifully brought to life.
Although the book starts with a chance encounter between August and a young family just freshly arrived in town, it ends in an interweaving of lives that we never see coming. The author also does well explaining the details of August’s life before this chance meeting and how the past has spilled into the present in interesting ways.
The fact that this book is written in August’s own voice, even with the accent and all, gives it an authenticity reminiscent of a memoir. What is more captivating though is that the author has managed to use this man’s seemingly simple life to draw attention to serious societal issues.
By easing us into topics like racism, sexism, faith, patriotism, and homophobia, he has personalized them, given them faces, invoking empathy and deep introspection. With neither insults nor judgment, he has made me think deeply about what it means to be human, to love, and to be loved.
Apart from the use of descriptive and almost poetic language, I also love that the author took his time to fully develop the characters in this book. Even though they are described as seen through August’s eyes, I could clearly picture each character. And not just physically, but who they are as a person.
It was clear what each one stood for and what was most important to them; something difficult to fit into 184 pages. Unexpectedly I found myself laughing with the characters and mourning with them, their struggles seeming so real to me somehow.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B08CMPHL28