14 November 2012

Nolichuck! TJ's Wild Frontier Adventure by Jackson Keene (Interview)

Nolichuck! TJ's Wild Frontier Adventure by Jackson Keene.
Audience/Genre : Young Adult/Fantasy.
Publication : Treble Heart Books.
TJ’s just an ordinary fourteen year old kid with extraordinary problems at home and school: A broken up family from his parents’ bitter divorce, evil bullies almost every afternoon, failing grades, boring classes, snobby girls, mean teachers, cut from basketball tryouts, few friends.
Life is rough for TJ Cockrell.
And then that mysterious little green book had to go and throw him into the past. And not just any past, but into the untamed forbidding forests of 1802 eastern Tennessee along with the savage Indians, wild beasts, bloodthirsty robbers, backwoods ruffians, and log cabin living! Yup, it’s definitely not 2011 Knoxville anymore.
And he thought his present life was bad news! But TJ’s adventures are only beginning. Along the way, he fights off killer beasts and bandits and braves, meets the young Davy Crockett, gains a world of confidence in himself, finds his first real love, and is befriended by a fantastic frontier family who really has it together.
When he returns to the present, he’s a brand new person––but there are killers loose in his house, bullies waiting to beat him up at school, a pretty new girl at Highland High he hasn't even seen yet. And the aftermath of the little green book to deal with!

Interview with Jackson Keene

When and why did you start writing?

I've had the "itch" to write for 20 years. I finally woke up one day and realized that I'd be an old man if I didn't start soon! I wrote plays and short stories as a kid, and have had several ideas for novels over the years, but never jump-started my writing in a serious fashion until NOLICHUCK came along.

What inspired you to write Nolichuck?

NOLICHUCK was a combination of many things stewing around inside. I was born and lived in Tennessee as a kid, and knew some of its history. Like TJ, the main character of our story, I had to constantly fight off bullies in school. I always loved history, but wanted to write about periods of history that are less written and less celebrated than the great events -- a look at common people living everyday lives, so to speak. Davy Crockett was a childhood hero, and I wondered what it was like for him as a teenager. Of course, I originally planned to be a history professor, so naturally one of my characters HAD to be that. I was never the star athlete in high school, so I emphasize with TJ's disappointments in sports. Above all, I wanted a story that would deal realistically with the hard life issues that far too many young adults face today: Bullying, divorced families, struggling with grades, not making the "team", not part of the most popular cliques, mean teachers, boredom, unhappiness, few close friends, lack of meaningful communication with either parent, etc.

What is the hardest part of writing Nolichuck?

For me, developing strong characters and creating believable dialogue was the hardest part. Coming up with an imaginative plot with subplots is fairly easy, but fleshing it out with people and interaction that really captures the reader’s attention is what it's all about.

What is your favorite place to write?

In our den with its fireplace, the comfy couch (where I can catnap now and then), and my personal office set up is where I can fully concentrate on thinking and writing. Although, truth be told, some of my best ideas and plot revisions come to me just as I'm drifting off to sleep at night. I keep a notepad and pen next to the bed to capture "brainstorms" when they come.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

The next book in the YA series is: Reds! TJ's Wacky War Adventure.

Jackson Keene was born sometime before the turn of the century in a little town that nestles close to the mighty Mississippi and not so far away from Graceland, either, the final home of the King, Elvis. Millington, Tennessee was, until 1993, home to Memphis Naval Air Station, at one time, among the busiest and biggest of U.S. naval stations in the whole world.

Born into a traveling military family, he attended seven different schools, and lived in five states (TN, RI, CA, FL and TX) before graduating from senior high school with honors. He obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in History and spent a year toward a Ph.D. in the same field before abandoning his dream of being a publishing professor.

However, he never lost his love of history, detailed research, or good historical fiction.

Rebounding nicely, Mr. Keene completed a M.B.A. in Economics & Statistics at the University of Oklahoma (leading his class), and gamely entered the gritty but fast moving world of business. For the first half of his career, he lived the real life of an advertising Mad Man including a stint as Director at iconic Ogilvy & Mather as well as SVP at two other marketing firms. In the second half of his business career, he was in senior management as a Director, VP, EVP, or Managing Partner with several software, telecom, and data service companies.

These days, he indulges in another of his loves, basketball – coaching and playing on his own Men’s Over 40 team, as well as volunteer coaching youth teams. A fitness fanatic, Mr. Keene works out as much as he writes, which is to say, every day. He also attends a most wonderful church, Bent Tree Bible Fellowship.

Yes, deep inside, he always had the desire to write. His first novel, a mix of historical & contemporary YA fiction, was published September 2011 by indy Treble Heart Books. The manuscript for his next novel, a combination of historical romance & family saga, has just been released to the publisher for scheduling. More news to come!

And already, he is beginning work on the second book in his YA series on TJ.

Mr. Keene lives in Plano Texas with his wife, Barbara, soon to be joined by a chocolate female dachshund puppy to be named Sprinkles. They have two grown daughters. Emily, the oldest, finished her Ph.D. in Mathematics in record time and was awarded the prestigious Humboldt Fellowship. Newly married, she currently lives in Berlin with her wonderful husband, Jim. Renata, the youngest, is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State, and is in junior management with a large automotive dealer services firm. Both daughters are avid runners, actively competing in marathons, halfs, 10K’s, and 5K’s. Renata is also a classically trained dancer and cheerleader, and in her not-so-spare time is co-captain of a busy dance squad for a semi-pro sports team.

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