Author Spotlight with Julius Thompson
About Julius Thompson:
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 www.ghostofatlanta.com.
K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
Julius: I had a very unique upbringing, going from a small segregated town of 300 in Georgia to the integrated metropolis of Brooklyn, New York in the early sixties. This shaped my view of the world and later my writings. I 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. I felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change. After high school, I 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.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
Julius: 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 up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready to face my high school language classes.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
Julius: My high school language arts teacher, Ms. Egan was a tremendous influence on my writing career. I was a scared young sophomore coming to the big city. I walked into her office and I wanted an answer. This would give direction to my life. I knocked gently on the door and I heard a strong, “Come in.” I opened the door and walked into the room. I remember the moment vividly when I asked Ms. Egan could I be a writer. There was a long pause and then she said, “Do it!” I’ve never looked back. As a teacher, I try to give my students sound advice about their questions as well.
K.S. What genre do you write?
Julius: I write mainstream fiction with a twist of mystery. I try to give the reader a word puzzle to solve as they read the storyline. In my third novel, Ghost of Atlanta, I created this character called Joe Boy. He seems real, but yet he can’t be defined as human or even a spirit. I’ve had readers who finished the novel and then went back over the book and try to find the places where Joe Boy appears to figure out if he’s a human being. One reader even suggested that I work on a book with the focus on Joe Boy. It’s an interesting concept.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
Julius: I feel that all the experiences I’ve encountered as a journalist, coach and teacher has influenced my writing style and the characters that populate my novels. My favorite author is Harper Lee and her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s development of character and realistic setting of the events of the time are well developed. This is a technique I’m looking at mastering.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
Julius: My sister, Rochelle, is my biggest fan and an influence on how I craft my novels. My mother, Goldie Parks, was able to read my first novel, A Brownstone In Brooklyn, and that means a lot to me. I wish my father, Marvin Parks, could have read my books, but he died long before I started writing novels.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?
Julius: It was the evolution of the characters in my books, but the creation of Joe Boy. He was just a very, very minor character in Ghost of Atlanta, but as the book progressed, he became a major catalyst in shaping events in the book. This character changed as I crafted the novel.
K.S. What inspired you to write your novel?
Julius: 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 wreaking 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.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about your novel?
Julius: 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, meeting his old girl friend, breaking the color barrier at the south’s largest newspaper, The Atlanta Defender, 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.
"The Ghost of Atlanta" is, overall, a superbly written book. 5 stars! ~Readers Favorite
K.S. Where can we find your novel?
Julius: My book can be found at the following websites:
Barnes & Nobles. Com: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Ghost-of-Atlanta/Julius-Thompson/e/9780983259503/?itm=1&USRI=ghost+of+atlanta
Passionate Writer Publishing: http://www.passionatewriterpublishing.com/ghostofatl.htm
K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
Julius: Please visit one of my websites: www.jtwrites.com or www.ghostofatlanta.com to get the latest information about my writing career, upcoming events and latest news on my books.
K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
Julius: I want to tell all writers, who I refer to as authors, to “keep writing, keep believing and never give up on your dreams.” I wish you the best!