Friday, April 19, 2013

Guest Post with Chris Ross author of Born and Raised

The process of writing Born & Raised.

When I began the Creative Writing Program at City College of New York, I was like any other hungry writer that wanted to see what he could do, see what people thought of his work, etc. My second semester began in September of 2001, so one can imagine the kind of monkey-wrench that threw into the works. The book I was working on at the time didn’t seem so important anymore. That morning, no more than an hour after the towers fell, the five year old Dominican boy that lived across the hall walked up to me and said - My daddy works up there. But he strong. My daddy strong. What could I do but kiss the top of the boy’s head and tell him - I know he is. I know your daddy’s strong. The boy’s father, a cook at Windows on the World, didn’t make it. I remember talking to a doctor about my overall anxiety, fears, nightmares, etc due to 9/11. It was a free clinic, so I got free advice. The doctor told me to get my hand out of the candy jar, to find a nice girl, settle down and get married. So much for free advice. When I got a chance to teach at a school in a small town in Japan, I put the Program on hold for a year. Not until I got to Japan did I learn that I would be teaching children, something I’d never done. What this did for my writing I can’t say for sure, but being surrounded by Japanese billboards, Japanese menus, conversations on the train, on the street - all in Japanese - if anything all this let me fall in love with the English language again. Six months into my year there, I wrote a short story called Fractured Classics - about a young boy being lied to and then abandoned by his older sister. I cared about this story, cared about its characters. I wanted more. So I wrote backwards. I wrote forwards. I pushed and pulled my way in both directions from where Fractured Classics took place until the book was finished.

Sean fights not to come apart in his small southern Indiana town where hope and defeat stain both sides of the same coin.

Sean is the baby of the Yoakam family, but he’s the only real grown-up in the bunch. By the summer of 1984, it’s been seven years since his mother left, and thirteen-year-old Sean has grudgingly become accustomed to his new life. As he fixes himself root beer floats for dinner and deals with the confusing feelings he gets from admiring the Soft Knits with Flair girl in the Sears catalog, his father, Roy, and his older sister, Billie, focus on their own demons.

Six years later, in the summer of ’90, Sean is a virgin with a high school diploma and isn’t sure what comes next. Given this foundation, where can he go? But then circumstances arise that force Sean to make a choice. Will he try to correct his family’s wrongs, or will he walk away?

Check out the book on Amazon.

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