Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kate Brauning at The Bookshelf Blog's interview of me!

1) What prompted you to write fiction? My researchinto the drug war went a little too far. In prison, fighting trumped uporganized crime charges, I had to make my time matter, so writing helped memake sense out of a broken childhood that led to drug dealing, that led toprison.

2) Tell us what a typical day looks like for you as awriter. Do you have any unusual writing habits? When I start writing a new bookI have to block everything else out. Then, slowly at first, I get into thatzone where my absolute concentration is honed in on the story. Once I get intoa flow that becomes a fire, I pace back and forth in between writing sessions. Mywriting sessions get closer and closer together, until even in my limited sleepI’m dreaming about the script, seeking the magic.

2) Your blog mentions your personal faith. How doesyour faith impact your writing? I have a God over evil, redemptive theme to mystories. Having lived with a chip on my shoulder as a kid, and then with howfar I got involved in the drug world, I’m able to explore the spiritual aspectsthrough my characters. My mom used to whisper to me, “Everything happens for areason, God will never give you more than you can carry.” (Great question! I am still wrestling withit.)

4) How do you form the ideas and characters for a story? Mystories are based on experiences. I paint with the true colors of life on afictional landscape. My life of crime started pretty innocent, by growing andselling marijuana. At the time of my first arrest I had just turned 18 and mybrother was 16. We were both living on our own until an overzealous NarcoticDetective interrupted us. The character, Detective Pincher was born, willing todo whatever it takes to get a conviction, even if it means breaking the law. Ialso created a good investigator, Detective Maltobano, who catches on toPincher but gets squeezed out of the loop until he joins Internal Affairs. Thedrug war combined with tough on crime politics give me plenty of material.

5) What do you feel makes Roll Call unique as a book? The perspective. Most of the stuff out there,even the crime shows on TV, is written from the Law’s view. I write from theinside of the Criminal Justice System out.

6) Do you write purely for pleasure, or do you have a deeperpersonal purpose? I love writing for pleasure, but I have a vision that pushesme to show the world something. I came out of prison and startedlockdownpublishing in hopes I’d be able to help other prisoners turn theirexperiences into a blessing through writing and art.

7) What do you like to read personally? Almost everythingfrom the Bible to San Tsu’s “The Art of War”. I love Tami Hoag, Lee Childs,Harrold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, James Clavelle, Robert Ludlum Thrillers, LoveStories…

8) Has a certain author impacted your style as a writer? I think they all have to a certain degree. Iwrite short chapters like James Patterson to keep the readers flipping thepages. I’m also very blessed to have Phillip Doran, the ex -producer of many TVshows and author of “A Reluctant Tuscan” as a mentor. My wife’s father, Mr.John South from American Media also proof reads all my books before publication.

9) Tell us about your new novella, Underdog. In Californiathere are 33 state prisons bursting at the seams breeding bigger criminals. 70%of the inmate population is serving time for drug related charges. I watchedyoung kids, surfer and skate boarder types, with soccer moms, turn into gangmembers to fit in. It’s a predatory environ without any form of rehabilitation.I was in 2 race riots that couldn’t be avoided. While I was in solitaryconfinement I found out that many inmates were falsely labeled as gang leadersbased on dubious evidence that wouldn’t come close to holding up in court. Someof these inmates are being sent to Pelican Bay State Prison’s Super Max, knownas the SHU, for Security Housing Unit. Recently, the prisoners in the SHUdeveloped a peaceful hunger strike with 5 core demands. My novella Underdog,shines a light on some of these issues.

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