Before we get into the interview itself, let's take a quick look at the book in question
In The Ghost of Atlanta, Andy Michael Pilgrim faces demons from his youth that haunted his life. These are the ghosts in the crawl spaces of his life; some are real and some supernatural. After landing a job with The Atlanta Defender, Andy returns home and visits the place where he finally faces remembrances of his deceased abusive father. While walking around the grounds, he meets his mysterious cousin, Joe Boy, and finds out that the property is going to be sold by unscrupulous cousins.
While Andy fights this battle, he must confront the personal demon of a possible drug addiction, breaking the color barrier at the south’s largest newspaper, The Atlanta Defender, meeting his old girl friend and fighting the lingering effects of segregation in small-town Georgia life. As the story unwinds, all these forces push Andy toward the breaking point, where he almost quits on life. Malevolent mortal deeds are committed and Andy could be next in line.
Ghost of Atlanta has been called "a superbly written book" with "great character descriptions, an exciting well-thought-out plot, edge-of-your-seat adventure with all the proper descriptives (old love and love rekindled, friendships-new and old, hate-the kind that festers, murder-brutal and heartless, drugs-of the worst kind, family ties-both good and bad, etc.)." Julius Thompson himself has been hailed as "a superb writer" whose work has been rated "5 stars, wholeheartedly."
Like I said, please stick around for more details on the giveaway, but let's enjoy a brief chat with the man behind the book first . . .
♥ Thanks for stopping by, Julius. For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. The sixties in Brooklyn was an era that had a personality, a feel, and a life-force that changed a generation. I felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change. My parents were lower middle class, but believed in exposure to different things. We loved to travel, we always took family vacations. I most enjoyed our cross country tours in our station wagon. The experience of the opera, ballet and symphony was incredible. One of my favorite places was Lincoln Center in New York City and of course Broadway.
This upbringing was very unique for the sixties and early seventies in black families. My neighborhood had clean streets, family owned stores and shops, good friends and camaraderie in this Brooklyn Community.
♥ As a Creative Writing/Publishing Instructor at Atlanta’s Evening at Emory’s Writers Studio, I'm sure you must have a unique take on the act of writing. Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?
I’m a late-night writer…I mean late night! I can work all day, feel tired in the early evenings and then around 11:00 p.m., my body feels as if a pint of adrenalin has been shot into my veins. The words on the screen come alive as the visual images just flow. The bad thing is I have to shut down around midnight. I have to be up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready to face my high school language classes.
♥ I presume late-night writing is silent writing, but do you have a soundtrack to your writing? Is there a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you focused and in the mood?
I’m a child of the sixties when the soul sounds permeated the air of all the black urban centers in America. I grew up with the Delfonics, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Mary Wells, Wilson Pickett, The Drifters and the music of the Sound of Philadelphia. This music puts me in the mood and gets me ready to focus on my writing.
♥ Is there a favorite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?
A favorite quote that I’ve received a lot of comments about is from my first novel, A Brownstone in Brooklyn. Sister Love, who is considered an urban philosopher, talks about how fleeting and short life is for us.
Short Excerpt: Chapter Seven
The most special times in a person's life are not meant to last forever. They're like bubbles rising from a plastic ring dipped into a soapy solution. The soap bubbles rise, with the sun flashing brilliant colors, then bursts into a showery memory mist.
♥ That is a great passage . . . very poetic. Now, if we can turn your attention to your reading for a moment, what's the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
The last book I read was Degrees of Separation by Sue Henry. It’s a Jessie Arnold Mystery. The author has a strong grasp of intense storytelling and strong characterization. The setting is a small town in Alaska that has been shaken with a murder that disrupts the tranquility of a winter in the land of snow and ice. It’s a fascinating “Who done it” that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. What is the next clue to be uncovered?
♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?
Getting back to music, this question brings back so many memories. After high school, I spent the next four years riding the "A" train to Harlem, in upper Manhattan, to earn my Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York. At CCNY, which was located just a few blocks from the famous Apollo Theater, Wednesday afternoons were hard on the undergraduates. The matinee performances of the major R&B groups of the times were more tempting than attending a boring college lecture. Most of the time I succumbed, but I attended enough classes to pass my courses and eventually earn a college degree from one of the best universities in the country.
♥ Okay, this is always a question I love seeing answered - if your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?
Wow! This is a question I’d love to answer. I’d say an older actor would be Denzel Washington because he has that tenacity and determination, but a vulnerability. A younger actor would be Nick Cannon, because he has a certain nerve and grit that comes up in Andy’s character.
♥ Interesting choices. With such different generations/styles reflected there, I have to ask, is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?
I wanted to write a view of life in the Black American Community during the last thirty years of the twentieth century. People saw the sweeping changes, but I wanted to show the view of ordinary everyday people.
A Brownstone in Brooklyn is the first of the series and deals with how ordinary people dealt with life in the turbulent sixties with the civil rights movement, Vietnam War and the college sit-ins.
Philly Style and Philly Profile is set in the seventies in Philadelphia with drugs and gangs coming into the black neighborhoods reeking havoc. How did the people most affected respond was the question I wanted to explore in the book.
Ghost of Atlanta covers the eighties when Black Americans moved back to the new south and the consequences of going home again facing old demons that resurface.
♥ Being a teacher, I'm sure you're likely to have a bit of a different take on the author-reader relationship. What is your favorite aspect of that relationship, and do you actively seek out any formal interaction with your readers?
I love the interaction of book signings and the probing questions from the readers. When someone has read your book and gets the theme and idea or come up with a twist that you haven’t thought about, this makes me happy.
What has truly impressed me is the wide diversity of people who have purchased and read my books. I’ve talked to people who’ve read my book on the Isle of Man near England and Tel Aviv in Israel. This is an incredible feeling that somebody read my work and enjoyed them in a different part of the world.
♥ That is part of the magic of books, isn't it? Moreso than even television, music, or movies, literature travels the world and shows up in the most unexpected places. Before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?
I’m working on my fourth novel, Purple Phantoms, which is the story of the haunting of a high school basketball team. What sparked my interest in writing this book, as a basketball coach, I’ve seen too many young athletes die at an early age. I’m about 35, 000 words into the project.
A huge "thank you" to Julius Thompson for his time. Now, as promised, it's time to talk free reads!
The author has graciously offered to give away one ebook of Ghost of Atlanta to a lucky reader of the Bibrary. Please leave a comment below to be entered to win (and be sure to include your email address). I will choose the winner one week from today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julius Thompson grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York and attended Bushwick High School. The sixties in Brooklyn was an era that had a personality, a feel, and a life-force that changed a generation. Mr. Thompson felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change.
After high school, Mr. Thompson spent the next four years riding the "A" train to Harlem, in upper Manhattan, to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York. At CCNY, which was located just a few blocks from the famous Apollo Theater, Wednesday afternoons was hard on the undergraduates. The matinee performances of the major R&B groups of the times were more tempting than attending a boring college lecture. Most of the time Mr. Thompson succumbed to the temptation, but still earned a college degree from one of the best universities in the country.
At CCNY, literature instructors like Prof. Thomas Tashiro, fueled the fire in him to become a writer! Brooklyn, New York and attended
Mr. Thompson’s journey to compose a trilogy began in 1995. The fourteen year fictional journey of character Andy Michael Pilgrim from Brooklyn, to Philadelphia and finally Atlanta is now complete. In this pilgrimage, readers experience places that are filled with hopes, dreams, challenges and fears that make us human.
The novels that make up the trilogy are A Brownstone in Brooklyn which was published in 2001, Philly Style and Philly Profile in 2007 and Ghost of Atlanta which will be published the first week of January 2011.
Mr. Thompson received the Georgia Author of the Year nomination for Philly Style and Philly Profile, from the Georgia Writers Association, in 2007.
Mr. Thompson is writing his fourth novel, Purple Phantoms, which is a story about the haunting of a mythical high school basketball team.
Mr. Thompson is currently a Creative Writing/Publishing Instructor at Atlanta’s Evening at Emory’s Writers Studio. For more information please visit him at http://www.ghostofatlanta.com/ and http://www.jtwrites.com/.
PURCHASE GHOST OF ATLANTA:
Julius Thompson books can be ordered online from:
Barnes & Nobles.com
Passionate Writer Publishers
If you don't win our giveaway here, don't despair - you can follow Julius throughout his tour for your chance to win Ghost of Atlanta. View his schedule on the Calendar of Events page at The Virtual Book Tour Cafe.