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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interview with lazarusInfinity Author of Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn

What inspired you to become an author?

Even though I started writing when I was eight years old, I never took writing seriously and the thought of being a published author never entered my head.  Being one of those nerdy kids who always finished his work in class early, I would make up stories on the spot and write them down.  Once my third grade teacher caught what I was doing, she read my work and told me to “Just keep writing.”  For years, my mother always told me I’d be a published author but I never believed her and even laughed at the thought.  My first love growing up was always acting.  I started performing when I was eight and did that all the way through college.  Writing was something that was just always there, evolving from writing short stories in elementary school to plays and screenplays in college.  The wake up call came about 3 years ago when I was laid off from a job I’d held for 6 years.  Being unemployed for the first time really made me wonder what I would do, and that’s when I stumbled across an article about indie publishing and the potential for success.  Once again, my mother’s words rang in my head and it started from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Although I try to evolve and experiment with different styles, my work is very down to earth and conversational in tone, along with being very visual.  I’m pretty fearless as a writer, and will often say things or describe situations that most people wouldn’t dare touch.  Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Growing up in the most dangerous neighborhood in New Orleans, you learn to be fearless and take risks.  EXODUS is not a story that everyone will gravitate toward; there are parts that will make readers laugh and there are parts that will make readers cringe and empathize with the main character.  It’s a very dark story of what happens to a man who’s been destroyed by love and betrayal.  This is not Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey.

Do you write in different genres?  

Yes.  In addition to EXODUS and its sequel REVELATION, I’ve also written a zombie apocalypse short story that deals with an outbreak infecting New Orleans right in the middle of the Super Bowl/Mardi Gras.  I even have a children’s book out and the next novel coming soon will be a romantic comedy.  I like mixing it up a bit so that I don’t get stale.

If yes which is your favorite genre to write?  

Although I’m a fan of mysteries and thrillers, I try to keep an open mind and experiment with multiple genres.  It all depends on the story.  I tend to believe that if you can build a loyal following, your readers will follow you in whatever genre you write.  Coming from a background that includes both playwriting and screenwriting, I tend to draw from everything I’ve learned and use it to the best of my advantage.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?  

Oddly enough, I’ve never brainstormed a title in my life.  Whenever the idea for a story comes, the title is usually the next thing to follow, and it always works.  Most of the time, I don’t even know where the stuff I write comes from.  I sit at my laptop and something just happens that I’ve never been able to explain.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?  

The title always comes immediately after I get the premise of the story.  Whenever I’m in the middle of one story, usually another story idea will come along followed by the title for that one.  So I usually will have a to-do list of about 3 or 4 titles fully thought out and ready to work on in the future.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  

In EXODUS and REVELATION, the message is simple: Be careful with who you fall in love with and what you allow yourself to believe in.  It can come back to bite you in the long run.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?  

The book is loosely based on experiences and horror stories I’ve heard about from friends and other people.  These stories all culminated in this idea about a guy trying to do the right things with the wrong women, and what that betrayal would do to him.  It’s a character study loosely influenced in the vein of OTHELLO meets ANGEL HEART.  We’ve all heard stories and songs, read books or watched movies about what women go through in bad relationships.  Those stories will never grow old.  I wanted to go against the grain and tell the story of what a man goes through in that situation.  Let’s take a good guy, put him in a bad situation with a beautiful woman who cannot be trusted and couple that with dark nightmares and supernatural visions.  What would that do to a person mentally, physically and spiritually?  What would that drive a man to?

What books/authors have influenced your life?  

Everyone from authors and playwrights to actors, directors and screenwriters has influenced me.  For anyone looking to really study and appreciate the craft of writing, check out THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING by Lajos Egri.  The principles in that book are universal, working for everything from novels to plays and screenplays.  Authors that have influenced me are Steven King, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston to name a few.  Screenwriters and directors include Spike Lee, Scott Frank, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Spielberg, Charlie Chaplin and Bernardo Bertolucci.  One of my biggest influences since getting involved in publishing has been an old friend I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years.  Back when I was in high school studying acting, this guy was in the same class and we always fantasized about the day when we’d become established actors.  Over the years after college, I lost focus and faith and struggled from one job to another.  He went on to study at Juilliard and has worked with everyone from Spike Lee to Clint Eastwood.  Just seeing him enjoy the level of success he’s accomplished has inspired me to not only work harder as a writer, but also to one day get back into actor’s training and relive my first love.  Being a Hollywood star isn’t my goal anymore, but to go through the training and have the guts to get back on stage and do good work is definitely a dream of mine.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?  

Spike Lee for certain.  I can still remember being a young teenager in the theatre when Do the Right Thing came out.  I was completely blown away by what I saw on that screen, and am still inspired by it to this day.  Greats like Ernest Hemingway, August Wilson and Arthur Miller are others that I constantly look to for guidance.

What book are you reading now?  

Physics of the Impossible by Dr. Michio Kaku.

What books are in your to read pile? 

The Future of the Mind, by Dr. Michio Kaku
Doctor Sleep, by Steven King
Inferno, by Dan Brown
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

The novel that I’m currently working on is called PORN AGAIN, which is loosely based on my years in adult retail.  The synopsis is below:

“What’s it like working in a sex store?”

That’s a question that Harper ‘Happy’ Downman will soon learn the meaning of…in more ways than one.
The poster child for middle-class America, Happy is your typical button-down, conservative Christian American with a quaint home, a lovely wife and a dull sex life.  At the height of the Great Recession, a drastic turn of events in both his personal and professional life rocks Happy’s world to its very core.  All seems lost…that is until his lecherous older brother comes to the rescue with a ‘stimulating’ solution that’s sure to raise more than just eyebrows within his eccentric family.
Relocating to the decadent, hedonistic streets of New Orleans, he soon finds that he’s way out of his league.  In a world of porn, sex toys and interesting characters, Happy takes a memorable journey of sex, love and relationships that he will never forget.
Porn Again is a funny and insightful romp proving that it’s not always the people who work in a sex store that you have to worry about.  Sometimes it’s the people who shop there.

Read it with someone you ****…
In addition to PORN AGAIN, I’m also working on the screen version of OCCUPATION and will be shopping around for an agent.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Please see the sample for Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?  The biggest challenge is putting the ideas for other stories out of my head so I can focus on finishing whatever I’m currently working on.  Whenever I’m in the middle of one story, the title, characters and premise for the next one or two stories will always pop up.  I have a to-do list of at least 3 or 4 stories that I will be working on at some point in the future.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Ernest Hemingway.  He has one of the most unique and compelling voices I’ve ever experienced.  I also love how he managed to put so much of himself into his writing.  That’s something that I aspire to.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?
Unfortunately, traveling is something that I’ve never had the ability to do, for financial reasons.  I remember being a kid and getting the gift of a globe for my birthday.  I would spend hours spinning that globe and fantasizing about traveling to places like Paris, London, Rome and Tokyo one day.  It’s still a goal of mine, and to travel for research on a book would be an added bonus.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?
Ryan Doan Illustration & Photography designed the covers for EXODUS and REVELATION.  For my upcoming novel PORN AGAIN, Kit Foster Design did the cover, which has picked a lot of great feedback.  For more info, you can find them here:

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write from the heart, write what you want to read and don’t be afraid to be true to your voice.  Not everyone is going to love everything you write, and while it’s great to be a commercially successful author, it’s also great to be able to take risks and help push the envelope.  As a writer, I have no fear so that’s been one of my biggest assets.  I’m not afraid to try new things or go places where most writers won’t go.  That coupled with a background in both playwriting and screenwriting means that the possibilities are endless.  I didn’t understand that years ago but I get it now.  Another thing I would stress to other writers that I’m also still learning is to take the craft seriously.  Being an indie author still comes with the stigma of being unprofessional, so you want to eliminate that as much as possible.  Study the marketplace.  Do your research.  Get your book covers professionally done and your material edited.  Always look for ways to get your work in front of as many readers as possible and never give up.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
1)    House of the Rising Sun-The Animals
2)    Me and the Devil-Gil Scott-Heron
3)    Glad to be Unhappy Remixed-Billie Holiday
4)    Trouble-Coldplay
5)    Letters from the Sky-Civil Twilight
6)    I’m Into You-Chet Baker
7)    Give Into Me-Michael Jackson
8)    O Death-Ralph Stanley
9)    Ain’t No Grave-Johnny Cash
10)    Love Song #3-Meshell Ndegeocello

11)    Hail Mary-Tupac

Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

ISBN:  978-1482537932
ASIN:  B00BF25U02

Number of pages:  208
Word Count: 79,210

Cover Artist:  Ryan Doan Illustration & Photography

Amazon       BN      iTunes

Diesel      Smashwords

Book Description: 

Welcome to the dark side of love...

A dark fantasy filled with interracial romance, lust, betrayal and vengeance. What happens when everything you've worked for and sacrificed for is suddenly taken away from you? What happens when the greatest love you've ever known isn't what it seems? What happens when your most loyal childhood friends and family pass away? What happens when one man takes a fateful journey between love and hate, light and darkness...Heaven and Hell?

Jacob Forlorn is a beleaguered everyman escaping from the shadows of a bitter and broken past to find his place in life when he meets Miranda, a beautiful and mysterious woman with a past of her own. Drawn by love at first sight, a whirlwind interracial romance brimming with intense passion ensues, culminating in the birth of a beautiful child.  But all is not well in paradise. Against the remains of a hidden past, something dark and deadly emerges, threatening to either warn Jacob or rob him of both his heart and his sanity. Jealousy, resentment and deception emerge, soon forming a deadly web of intrigue, lust and secrecy which all have repercussions far beyond anything he ever imagined.

As dark visions and nightmares haunt him repeatedly, Jacob soon begins to walk a very fine line between right and wrong, against a backdrop of misery and death that pushes him to the limits of his faith in God. Someone...or something is after him. The secrets of the past begin to destroy him both physically and spiritually, forcing him to make a dangerous choice.

Love. Lust. Betrayal. Vengeance. It all comes to an end and something has to give. The journey to Hell and back has now begun in this brooding and haunting dark fantasy.

**The sequel to EXODUS, REVELATION: THE RETURN OF JACOB FORLORN is also now available at all major retailers.

About the Author: 

"Just keep writing." Out of those simple words grew a dream that would instill a profound sense of purpose within a young kid born and raised in New Orleans, LA. With only his dreams along with an insatiable drive to be the best he could be, this writer would grow from penning children's literature in the 3rd grade to later writing stageplays and screenplays in college. Heavily influenced by a who's who of incredible writers from Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Ralph Ellison all the way to August Wilson, Arthur Miller and Aaron Sorkin, lazarusInfinity has continued to stretch his creative boundaries to encompass all forms of writing. In addition to writing contemporary fiction and children's stories, he is currently at work on several screenplays along with another novel.

Goodsreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6545907.lazarusInfinity

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lazarusInfinity said...

Thanks for the support. I appreciate it!