Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Books Awards Winner. 2013 Next Generation Book Awards, Finalist. 2013 Readers’ Favorite Book, Finalist. 2013 San Francisco Book Festival, Honorable Mention. BRAG Medallion Honoree. In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980’s, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens. By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn’t believe he has it in him. In The Clock Of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father’s son. This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends
Targeted Age Group:: 15 to 100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The idea of human inequality and how it comes to be has always baffled me, so the foundation for The Clock Of Life was more emotional than cerebral. Few things in our history magnify unfairness more than the Civil Rights struggle. This past March was the 49th anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. I devoted a chapter to one of my characters experience during the march. Also, it was hard for me to stomach the politics of our involvement in Vietnam. In exploring both these events, it’s clear that our American protests changed the status quo.
As my bio states, The Clock Of Life began as a short story. A writing instructor encouraged me to expand it as a novel.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters came to me very organically because of the setting and circumstances of this story. I fell in love with my protagonist, Jason Lee Rainey and his best friend Samson, so they were easy.
The Sunday after my first week at Cobb’s Creek School, Uncle Mooks settled himself outside on his couch before the sun burned its way through the morning clouds. I carried out our two bowls of grits drenched in melted butter and yelled out, like always, “True grits, more grits, fish grits, and collards.” It was our custom for Uncle Mooks to finish with, “Life is good where grits are swallar’d.”
But that morning he just stared off in the distance and rubbed his prized possession, the gold pocket watch he always carried with him.
“Time for breakfast,” I said, holding one of the bowls out to him.
“Time for breakfast,” he repeated and put his watch on the couch. Instead of reaching for the bowl, he continued to stare out past the yard.
He rocked forward and back, causing the couch springs to chirp like a nest of irate crickets. “When’s it that bastard’s time?” He looked at me as if I knew what he meant.
“That bastard, that God damn bastard.” He pointed to the road. I watched a faded green truck roll out of sight, just ahead of a cloud of dust.
“Who was it?”
“Peek,” he said. “The bastard Peek.”
Sometimes scattered memories about his time in Vietnam sprouted from Uncle Mooks’ mind and caused him to have an agitated spell, but I was sure it wasn’t the case that day.
He rocked faster and I knew not to ask more questions. The bowls of grits began to weigh my arms down as I continued to stand there.
“Here, take this.” I forced one toward his lap so he’d reach for it. He stared into the bowl of grits, then began to eat. We sat together in silence, smothered in the stillness of the morning, thinking our own thoughts.
Sure as summer clouds bring rain, it wasn’t long before a funeral parade rolled by―a hearse that led a procession of two sedans and five pickups.
“There’s nothin wrong with takin a ride in a hearse, so long as you’re sittin up front.” Uncle Mooks said.
“You say the same thing every time we have a parade.”
We sat in place and waved until the last of the taillights were so far away they looked small as red marbles. Uncle Mooks glanced my way.
“Jason Lee, the clock of life’s always tickin towards the funeral parlor.”
“I mean, whatever you do, make sure you stay one step ahead of the second hand. You hear what I’m sayin, son?”
I looked into his flecked blue eyes and bobbed my head up and down. “You okay, Uncle Mooks?”
“Damn right I’m okay.” He pointed to the dent in his left temple. It was more of a hole the size of a quail egg and the very reason for all his troubles. His voice rose. “Don’t never go fight a war drummed up by politicians who don’t have the balls to call it a war. They never send their own kin there. Vietnam conflict, my ass. Conflicts are for talkin out. You hear me, son?”
He rocked some more, picked up the watch, and stroked his fingers across its face. Mama opened the screen door and stepped out, the worry line between her brows pinched.
About the Author:
I tried my hand at writing short fiction while traveling for work in advertising and marketing, as a creative outlet on long plane rides. That led to me signing up for writing classes, writer’s conferences and local workshops. My goal―to create unique stories told in a distinctive voice. I’m happy to say some of the stories have garnered awards and publication in anthologies. Eleven of them are published in my collection of short stories titled, Like The Flies On The Patio.
Short stories were my primary genre until one morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I read an excerpt. When I finished, the instructor asked what I was doing for the next couple years, because, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.” After a good deal of foot dragging I came to realize the subject matter was compelling, and I penned the novel, The Clock of Life.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy The Clock Of Life Print Edition at Amazon