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Inspire the Reader to Explore

T.P. Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought Tyler Jemison and his boys into August Kibler’s life, or was it the mysterious workings of Tyler’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? In this companion book to the novel As the Daisies Bloom, August shares with Tyler a life’s thoughts on what he would call his tiny systematic theology.What might Eve say after millennia of being the first scapegoat? What might the first and last wives of the great king say to us if we read between the lines? How can we walk a bit with Joseph as he rides with Mary into Bethlehem? And what does Philip have to say to the black Eunuch, and to us about church membership?Journey with the author as he imagines what we might have overlooked in the Bible stories that we teach our children. He shows how reimagining these people in voices for our time can bring to life each of these important guides, who could never have imagined how they would shape 2,000 years of Christianity, and how they can still transform us.

The Silence of Contemplation

T.P. Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Long abandoning the popular notions of optimism and pessimism, Looking Out onto Our World is a many-year journey, with plenty to despair, yet always with a mind toward hope, joy, and celebrating the many free gifts of creation. You are invited into musings that on one page delve into our complex complicity and on the next observe as a simple creature goes about its daily work. You are invited to examine where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are headed. It is a celebration of life and the grace that comes at the cost of each of us recognizing what we have done and what is still ours to do.

Quite Unexpectedly

T.P. Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way. The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.

As the Daisies Bloom: A Novel

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

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