Thursday, March 7, 2013

Interview with YA author Alan Oakes

I'd like to introduce you to young adult novelist Alan Oakes. He's here today to talk about his book, Between Micah and Amos. 

This is just one of many tour stops Alan has and he will be awarding gift cards to 3 randomly drawn commenters during the tour. The characters are always going to Sonic, so Alan is giving away gift cards in the names of the main characters. Grand prize: Billy-sized $25; 2nd prize: Manuel-sized $15; 3rd prize: Ashleigh-sized $10. If the winner prefers, he or she can get either an Amazon or gift card instead of the Sonic card.

So, if you want to be entered for a chance to win a gift card, leave an e-mail address with your comment below. And if you want to increase your chances of winning, leave comments at other tour stops

Alan Oakes is a Graduation Coach and Counselor at a Texas High School. He has served as Associate Pastor of Saint Austin Catholic Church and Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at UCLA.

Alan earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts degree from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. He is a featured writer for Green Building and Design magazine and a contributor to numerous other publications.

Please tell us about your current release.
Between Micah and Amos tells the story of Ashleigh Mae, a seventeen-year-old high school student from Micah, Texas. She lives in a rundown motel with her momma. Her boyfriend Billy calls her a wild child and her momma thinks she is out of control.
When Ashleigh’s mother gets beat up by her boyfriend in the middle of the night, they both move in with her momma’s old boyfriend, Casey. He lives in a junked out trailer just outside of Amos, Texas.

Ashleigh’s world is torn apart from the move. Between Micah and Amos is the story of her fight to get it back.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to paint a picture of what life was like for young people living in Central Texas. I work in a Texas high school. I see kids every day come in with all sorts of challenges that would just blow your mind. Some of their struggles are self-created. Other times, they were just dealt a really bad hand.

I wondered if some students will overcome the obstacles in their lives or will they get caught in the undertow of life circumstances?

            Ashleigh loved being in the midst of the park, going on the scary rides, eating corn dogs and cotton candy. Along the way, it seemed like a lot of folks knew Manuel. She was introduced to more people than she could remember. Ashleigh was relieved to just be away from her mother and Casey. Two hours flew by as the two boarded the Ferris wheel. In seconds, they were swept up into the sky, overlooking all the rides and attractions below.
“It’s so pretty, isn’t it?” Ashleigh said looking down at the fair.
Manuel turned to Ashleigh, “You know what else is pretty?”
“What?” Ashleigh smiled.
“You,” Manuel said. He reached for Ashleigh’s hand and held it. She felt so cared for, so appreciated by Manuel. She never felt this way before.
“I like the way you look tonight,” Manuel said still glancing at Ashleigh.
Ashleigh turned away and smiled.
“You know, I hope you don’t mind me saying it,” Manuel began, “but when I first saw you in class, I thought you were beautiful….But I looked at your eyes, and there was a lot of sadness there…Tonight, looks like the sadness has gone away…And all I see is a beautiful girl sitting next to me.”
Ashleigh smiled and turned back at Manuel.
“That’s about the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” Ashleigh said looking into Manuel’s brown eyes.
Manuel kissed Ashleigh’s tender lips. She kissed Manuel in a way she never kissed Billy. When their lips met, all the longing inside her heart felt like it was being released. She felt this boy cared for her like nobody she ever dated before. She wanted his light to cover her like a blanket, cover all the darkness and make it go away.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just finished a novella called Crossfire. It takes place four months after the ending of Between Micah and Amos. It follows what happens next to Ashleigh’s boyfriend Billy. And I am working on two novels after that – but they are SECRETSShhhh!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my sixth grade English teacher accused me of PLAGIARIZING an essay I wrote – and not one cotton pickin’ word was lifted! I was so cheezed!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Writing is my second job. (Although I help a ton of students at the high school I work in get their research papers done on time!)

Last year, between my magazine gigs and books, I wrote over 125,000 words, which is a full-time pace.

I learned how to get up to that level via running long distance. I trained for a marathon and then got injured right before the race. But that training just clicked something in me. I built up my ability to write the same way I built up my ability to run long distances. I started with 500 words a week, pushed myself to write more, and before you know it, I popped it up past 10,000 when I’m completing a book. It just takes lots of discipline.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Old time writers used to get blasted before they sat at their typewriters. Not me! Load me up on Diet Coke and watch those fingers fly!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t care as long as I could make it onto a talk show! The people on talk shows always looked so happy and had so much fun!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think this world can be exceedingly cruel to young people. Just remember that you matter! Screw the haters! 

Whiskey Creek Book Page | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Thanks for stopping by, Alan! Readers, don't forget about the multiple giveaways. Leave an e-mail with your comment below for a chance to win! 


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting this tour!

Lena said...

And did you make it to a talk show ? :)


Ami said...

Great excerpt!

shadowrunner1987 AT gmail Dot com

Lyra L7 said...

Will Ashley be a part of the next book?


Emiliana25 said...

What is your favorite YA book?


Anas said...

What do you like best about being a writer?


Gala said...

Interesting interview!


Lana A said...

What is the best book you have read this year and would recommend to your students?


Hope said...

What genres do you like to read?

hopefull1978 At gmail Dot com

Jibriel said...

Nice excerpt, though a bit of a teaser.


Unknown said...

Do your collegues and students know you are a writer?


Anzu said...

What was the first book, that you have written?


Ellie said...

What was the first story you have writen about?


Unknown said...

Hi Everyone! It is about 6pm or so central time - whew! My computer crashed this am when I woke up and then the fan broke in it tonight after work - sheesh! I'm at my local library now -- sorry for not responding to your questions sooner!

Unknown said...

Because of my technical difficulties tonight, I will have to be brief to some of your answers to your wonderful questions --

-- I haven't yet made it onto a talk show yet (Ellen, is this you?)

-- Crossfire will be about Billy - I'm not sure if we will release it separately, or if I will add the next section, which features Ashleigh.

Fav YA book/suggested reading -- East of Eden - if you are the younger sibling of a perfect older brother and could never do right by your parents - check it out. Great movie too with James Dean.

I LOVE to read biographies of famous people.

Some of my coworkers know I write and some of the students too. The book was just featured in the local paper so I'm not sneaky about what I write.

BM&A was my first fiction book. I write for an architectural magazine and I also published this summer a book on what I do at my school: Graduation Coach: Rescuing one child at a time.

I like writing dialogue most - setting up characters and then letting them have at it. Maybe it is true that all writers are a little nutty, but I have to say, those characters get to talking and I just have to try to keep up taking notes!

Check out the following link for more blog dates and feel free to like the Between Micah and Amos facebook page.

Thanks everyone for you interest and kind words!!!!

Catherine Lee said...

I'm sure that your experience working with teens has given you lots of fodder for your writing.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Andra Lyn said...

Ha! Fun interview :) I love how real the story is to you because you teach in the area it takes place in! Sounds like a fun and fascinating read

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

Mary Preston said...

Seventeen is such a great age. It's the springboard for the rest of your life.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

Unknown said...

Missed out on the party day! Best wishes for your release..

booksaremagicblogspot at gmail dot com

Teena in Toronto said...

I enjoyed this book :)

Anonymous said...

Still love you.