Questions and Answers

Q1:  What inspired you to become a writer?
Q2:
  In planning The St. Augustine Trilogy, what made you write it mainly for teens?

Q3: 
Why did you choose St. Augustine, FL as the location for your trilogy?

Q4: 
What is your favorite place in St. Augustine?

Q5: 
Do you actually know somebody like the character Lobo in your fiction books?

Q6: 
When you were a teacher, did you ever take any of your students to St. Augustine?

Q7:  Why did you include a homeless guy as one of your characters in The St. Augustine Trilogy?
Q8: 
Do you believe in ghosts, and if so, why?

Q9: 
Have you ever experienced any paranormal activity while in St. Augustine?

Q10: 
Why did you have Jeff, the main character in The St. Augustine Trilogy come from a family that had so many problems?

Q1:  What inspired you to become a writer?

A1:  Hmm. My dad’s death, the paranormal experiences my family had at that time, and something a friend said to me are all what did it. That friend, Millie, a neighbor, happened to be very psychic. When my wife Barb and I asked her for help in understanding the paranormal activity surrounding the loss of my father, she looked at me and among many other things, said, “You’re going to be a writer.”

Well, I just snickered because up until then, the only things I had ever written were letters, lesson plans, reports and newsletters. A few years later though, Barb and I had explored the paranormal so much we wrote a book about it titled, An Explosion of Being: An American Family’s Journey into the Psychic. I quickly learned not to snicker at Millie’s predications.

Q2: In planning The St. Augustine Trilogy, what made you write it mainly for teens?

A2:   After having taught teens and worked with troubled young people for so long, that overall population was a natural target audience.

Then again, I also aimed the trilogy at another group, the ones I call the older young adults.  Those are people in their 20’s and 30s who vividly remember being teenagers, recall how difficult those teen years can really be, and who still have a thirst for young adult paranormal and historical fiction.

Q3: Why did you choose St. Augustine, FL as the location for your trilogy?

A3:  I used St. Augustine as the physical site for this three-part, mainly teen-focused series, because it is simply my favorite city of all time. A beautiful place with interesting buildings, including fascinating old houses, it sits on the northeast coast of the Florida peninsula. Over 400 years of history just ooze from every corner of that town. Not only that, but people tell a lot of ghost stories about the place and tell tales of paranormal activity.

In my view, you couldn’t find a more perfect place for fifteen-year-old Jeff Golden and his girlfriend Carla Rodriquez to experience the supernatural. That’s why I have spent so much time there, haunting its streets by day and by night, talking to people, investigating the city’s history, listening to stories, and taking pictures.

Q4:  What is your favorite place in St. Augustine?

A4:  Oh, there are so many. Forced to pick one, though, it would have to be the Castillo de San Marcos, the old Spanish fort built from coquina rock in the late 1600s.  For me, each time I enter the old Castillo it’s almost like my first visit there. When they fire the cannons off for the tourists, I can almost see attacking ships out there on Matanzas Bay.

Q5:  Do you actually know somebody like the character Lobo in your fiction books?

A5:   No, not really. He was created specifically to be a huge, powerful presence throughout The St. Augustine Trilogy. I did, however, use an old high school buddy’s property in St. Augustine as a model for Lobo’s tree covered land. I also borrowed my friend’s tendency towards reclusiveness as one of Lobo’s traits. Even though both Gary and Lobo are artists, Gary paints instead of carving wood.

Q6:  When you were a teacher, did you ever take any of your students to St. Augustine?

A6:   Once. That was early in my career as an educator. A few parents and I shepherded fifty or so seventh graders throughout that old city for the better part of a day. When I see school groups in St. Augustine now, memories of that one trip flood my mind and I have to stop and smile.

Q7:  Why did you include a homeless guy as one of your characters in The St. Augustine Trilogy?

A7:   One evening I found myself sitting next to a young homeless man on a bench in St. Augustine’s central plaza. We chatted for quite a while but when he found out I was writing for young adults, he asked me a question: “Are you going to write about homeless people in those books of yours?” I told him I didn’t know, but later on, as I thought about it, the idea sounded good. From that conversation, the character Lyle was born.

In writing, you never know where your inspiration will come from.

Q8:  Do you believe in ghosts, and if so, why?

A8:  Uh, well, yes, I guess I do, at least to some extent. I think the reports of ghosts coming from all cultures over thousands of years can’t be ignored. Besides, my great aunt and uncle saw my dad appear and then disappear in their living room the day he died. They lived over 1,000 miles away and had no idea he was even sick. That kind of firsthand story from people you know and trust tends to help make you a believer.

Q9:  Have you ever experienced any paranormal activity while in St. Augustine?

A9:  To be honest, only once. At least I call it paranormal even if no one else does. It was in the spring of 2010. My friend Gary let me stay at his place in the city so I could start working on the trilogy’s second book. Gary’s house is a three-story, poured concrete home in an extraordinarily quiet part of the city—perfect isolation for writing.

One evening I worked late and finally crawled into bed around 2:00 AM. I had just dropped off to sleep when a loud voice of what sounded like a young woman said, “Hellllloooooo.” Yup, just like that. It was as if she was standing at the foot of my bed and trying to wake me up—a friendly but unwanted greeting. Immediately, I sat bolt upright, peered into the gloom but saw nothing and heard nothing more. A little shiver ran down my spine, but I was strangely unafraid.

Yeah, maybe I was just dreaming, but I’ll tell you one thing about that event. I can still recall being asleep, but upon hearing the voice before fully waking up, I knew without a doubt there was no one else in the room with me. It was as if I instantly recognized how that single word had definitely came from outside of me but originated from a nonphysical and non threatening source. I tried to convince myself I was only dreaming, but way down inside, I knew that wasn’t the case.

Q10: Why did you have Jeff, the main character in The St. Augustine Trilogy come from a family that had so many problems?

A10:  The answer to that question goes way back to my days when I worked with high-risk teens on an individual basis.

You see, so many of those kids, rich, poor, black, white or brown came from very troubled families. Not all, but a lot. Sometimes, the difficulty within such families was as simple as a divorce situation, but in others for example, it was drug and alcohol problems, child abuse, suicide attempts, gangs  or cult involvement, and even murder.

The majority of the kids I dealt with, of course, brought those problems to school. When one of those students was referred to me, it was my job to get her or him some help and, yes, work with their parents. Most of the parents were decent people trying to do the best they could but others . . . Let’s just say I felt very sorry for their children.

Because so many of those young people really touched my heart, it seemed very natural for me to pattern the background of the major character in The St. Augustine Trilogy after some of those family situations encountered.

When it comes right down to it then, I suppose that for me, Jeff stands for all those students I tried to help. When the plots for the trilogy put incredible pressure on this one young man, a part of me is always yelling, “Come on kid, you can do it!”