click on the above graphic to be taken to the novel’s website
J. Parrish Lewis is a Deaf man living in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where he works part-time as Operations Director for a non-profit agency. When he’s not busy developing programs and services or supervising staff, J. Parrish can be found at his keyboard, typing away… fulfilling his second career passion as a writer. He recently published his first book – The Goblin Road, a fantasy fiction novel which although geared towards young adults, would appeal to readers of all ages.
In a recent email exchange with Ocean of Deaf Pagan Crossroads, J. Parrish answers questions and shares some of his thoughts about The Goblin Road…
What is your novel all about?
Here’s the synopsis:
“Ruarc and his little brother Aidan are playing knockstones on the floor long after they both should have been in bed when a curious creature of light and flame appears and violently steals Aidan away. His parents injured in the attack, young Ruarc must strike out on a path to retrieve his brother. Armed only with the fantastical stories of his grandfather, he chooses The Goblin Road.
Ruarc’s choice leads him to newfound friends but also through dangerous obstacles and as the Goblin Road snakes through the territory of long-forgotten magical creatures: from loyal brùnaidhs and gatekeeper trolls, to menacing goblins, black-hearted pixies, and worse. As this unlikely hero struggles onward, he will be troubled by doubt. Does he have the strength to meet this road’s challenges? Can he trust in its mysterious architects? Will he live up to Grandfather Uilliam’s expectations? Are the fortitude of friendship and the bond of brotherhood enough to see him through?
This story frightens with its hardships, surprises with its revelations, and entertains with its imaginative universe, but ultimately it tells the tale of the lengths that one stouthearted boy is willing to go to for his friends, for his brother, and for himself.”
How did you come up with the concept for your novel?
Excessive pizza and soda. I went to bed one night after too much pizza and soda and predictably my dreams were bizarre. Just before I woke up, I had a dream with The Goblin Road in it. I decided it’d make a fun background to a story and I came up with the characters that day.
What inspired you to write this novel?
At first, it was just me wanting to turn my interesting dream into a short story. By the end of the first chapter I knew it was going to be a book. At that point, I gave myself a deadline of one month to write the entire rough draft of the book. On the 30th day alone, I wrote the final 3 chapters.
Who or what would you say influenced this book and/or your writing style for this book (other than that pizza and soda?)
I cannot think of any author’s work that my writing style would resemble. As far as influence, in some ways I’d actually say there are some authors that I enjoyed their work so much that I wanted to avoid writing anything too similar to theirs. I had to challenge myself to not write a story or write characters that felt like I was borrowing from them. In the fantasy genre, Tolkein and J.K Rowling are such excellent storytellers, but I did not want to feel like a copycat. As a result, I had to reinvent new ideas of some popular creatures, twisting them around until they felt original.
What do you consider to be the primary theme or lesson of your novel?
There are several, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say it is that the challenges we face in life are a big part of what makes us who we are. We must embrace those challenges. When things happen to us, even the bad things we are unhappy about, we change in ways that sometimes benefit us by making us stronger or wiser.
What do you want the reader to come away having learned or to feel from reading your novel?
The message I stated above. But aside from that, I would add that sometimes it’s better for us to purposefully choose the harder option, knowing that the easy options don’t help us grow as human beings.
Do you feel this book has a spiritual theme?
To me, life is spiritual. As a result, there are a lot of spiritual issues touched upon, including the afterlife. However, I wrote this in such a way that it doesn’t necessary match my own beliefs or anyone else’s. I reinvented this as well. I don’t believe you can find an afterlife that matches the way I describe it, though I did draw inspiration from various mythologies. Yet this is a story and not intended to suggest any particular truth.
Did your own spiritual beliefs play a role in this book? If so, how?
Yes, in that my spiritual beliefs are important to me and trigger me to want to write about such ideas like the meaning of life and death. Yet like I say, what is told in the story isn’t a reflection of those beliefs or anyone else’s. I let the story guide me, not the reverse.
If I remember correctly, you did mention to me that there is magick in this book. Can you talk a little bit about that – how you define it, and how it is incorporated?
Magic is probably in almost every chapter and is an important aspect in the lives of most creatures you will read about in the book. Without revealing too much of the story here, I will say that in my story there are those who are without magical power of any kind (like most humans) and those who are “magic-born.” I don’t define it clearly in the book, intentionally, in part because that will be an aspect of the sequel that I am currently working on.
Being that you are deaf yourself, are there any aspects of deafness incorporated into your novel?
Yes, but not in the usual way. Although there IS one minor (but important) character in the novel who is deaf and uses sign language, I leave it up to the readers to notice that, without me needing to explain very much. I actually include a lot of descriptions of sounds in the book, which comes from my imagining what I don’t hear.
How did you go about getting your novel published?
This first edition is self-published, which does take discipline and organization to make it happen. Since I am self-publishing until I find a larger publisher, I had to make sure the book got edited, proofread, and that the cover got a design. It’s a juggling act, where I had to learn a lot about what it takes to get a book ready for publication. It would be easy for someone to quickly throw something together and upload it to the printing company’s web site, but I spent 7 months working on this daily to get the quality as good as anything you would find in a store. My wife edited the book, my brother and sister-in-law designed the cover and formatted the interior. We all proofread it several times, including another friend. I wrote chapters and I destroyed chapters, rewriting them until they worked. It was one of my goals to produce a book that I felt would be worthy of sitting on a shelf at the bookstore, ready to be purchased.
What kind of readers do you think (and hope!) will be attracted to your book?
I can tell you right now: all kinds of people. I have already been selling to young and old, fantasy fans and non-fantasy fans, and more. Which is great, because that’s what I was hoping for-a diverse audience. I knew I had to have a focus, so I choose to have my target group be middle school through early high school ages, but I did not want to limit it. It was definitely a challenge.
How successful has this book been so far?
I actually ordered the first 100 copies recently. 52 sold within a few days. Of course, in order for it to be successful in the long run, I will need to promote it any way I can and get bookstores to carry it. For now, most copies will sell through my web site at www.thegoblinroad.com.
What were the biggest challenges in writing/publishing this book?
Accepting my wife’s honest feedback when she felt some elements in the rough draft did not work. I learned to let go and pay attention. In the end, she was absolutely right, and all the revisions I came up with were so much better than my first ideas. Sometimes we have to really just be willing to accept that for the best ideas to emerge, the good ones may need to disappear.
How would you sum up your experience of writing and publishing this book?
It has been one of the best experiences of my life to write the book, from beginning to end. Publishing it is a blessing and something I feel very good about. Promoting the book and selling it is a bigger challenge for me since I have to put aside my hesitation. I have spent most of my adult life trying to become as humble as I can be, and when I talk about my book, I feel like it’s a little bit of ego showing its face. Truth be told, I’d rather see the book sell itself—which means getting it in bookstores.
What advise would you give to someone wanting to write/publish a book?
Just write it. Give yourself a short deadline of one or two months to write the whole book without worrying about anything. Forget grammar, spelling, whatever else concerns you. The key is to get the rough draft finished. Once that’s done, the rewriting is where you polish it into something you feel is presentable. I’m fortunate to have a background in Journalism, so I feel confident with my writing skills and my love for the English language. At the same time, for those who just feel they have a great story to tell, they can write the story and let someone work with them to polish up the language. We can’t let our fears or doubts stop us before we even begin.
Time to wrap up this interview! Anything else you’d like to share, or would like the readers to know about you?
Just that it’s more important to me that people enjoy the book I’ve written and cherish the effort I put into it—I like to keep the focus on the work, not on me as a person.
Autographed copies can be ordered for a short time only by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. $12 plus $3 shipping. Paypal or checks accepted.
If anyone would like a non-autographed copy sooner, go to the CreateSpace store:
If anyone would like to read a free excerpt of the first two chapters, visit www.thegoblinroad.com.