Sunday, May 26, 2019

Hicks Road: Jacob's Story by Julian P. Flores

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Today we are interviewing Julian P. Flores about his young adult/adventure book, titled "Hicks Road: Jacob's Story."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a very spirited, open person. I tend to be the person to bust out a very funny joke during gatherings.  I have a lot of artistic hobbies and skills including painting, digital design, and making fermented things like sauerkraut and Kombucha.  I also love everything about the outdoors, from gardening to fishing to camping. As a storyteller I love reading whenever I can, and watching movies, especially thrillers and horror.

Describe the plot of your book, “Hicks Road: Jacob's Story,” in a few sentences.
This is a story taken from a “personal journal.” As you read you’re alongside the main character, Jacob, as he goes through his life to develop into the person he is destined to become.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Readers who have a love for a deep story, perseverance - overcoming huge obstacles and survival. It’s a story for people who can relate to “doing what needs to be done, at any costs.” 

What inspirations contributed to this book? 
Being a native to the land, being born and raised near Almaden, and growing up hearing the urban legends of Hicks Road inspired much of this story. As well as the local history of the Ohlone tribe that used to occupy this land, plus my own personal experiences, contributed greatly to this book.  

Tell us about the protagonist, Jacob.
Jacob is an incredibly caring person who is very, very strong willed. He goes through a lot in his life, growing up with struggles or what not, but he finds a way, and a purpose, to keep going. Some of our fans question how I found this character, I would say most of this character is based on me… 

The book is set in the 1850s. Was it challenging to capture the spirit of that time? Did you have to do any research? 
Putting myself into that time when I was writing was a big help.  Researching enormously was another thing, detailing down to the clothes that they used to wear back then.  It was a challenge in the beginning, but after immersing myself in the era I started to get a good feel for it.

What made you choose to set the story in Almaden, California? What can you tell us about the history of this location? 
Hicks Road weaves through Almaden, so the location naturally had to be, Almaden Valley. Growing up in the area sites like the iconic “Casa Grande” hotel and the Quicksilver parks, the New Almaden mines, inspired the history of Jacob’s story. Historically, the region grew their wealth due to mercury, nicknamed “Quicksilver,” and to this day remnants of the mines and equipment can be found in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
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Author Julian P. Flores.

Mount Umunhum plays an important role in the story. Can you tell us what is special about this mountain? 
It is a very spiritual mountain, the name itself translates to mean “resting place of the humming birds” for the Ohlone people.  And yes, hummingbirds do occupy and nest there. When you look at the mountain in person, which can be seen from almost anywhere in Almaden Valley, you can feel the spiritually of the landmark and monumental presence of it.    

In the story, Jacob moves from being a victim of bullying to playing an important role in fulfilling his destiny. Did you set out to explore the theme of someone fulfilling their destiny? Or was it something that evolved as you wrote?
I think it was about 85% established from the beginning, that he’d be fulfilling his destiny, but the rest evolved through my storytelling.

An ancient Native plays a pivotal role in changing the course of Jacob’s life. What can you tell us about this character? 
Bodaway is a very wise and deeply spiritual character. He meets Jacob early on in the book and it is revealed that Bodaway has a sense of what the future of the tribe will be. He reveals that Jacob plays a major part in that and becomes Jacob’s primary teacher throughout his journey. I will go out and say he naturally becomes a role model for Jacob. 

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
I would say Stephen King, especially his book called “On Writing,” which really gave me that extra boost to start writing. Of all my hobbies I’d say that storytelling is my specialty. I’ve been creating ever since I can remember, kindergarten, maybe before. I’ve always had a very big imagination.

What genre do you read most frequently?
Mysteries/thrillers, then horror and then fantasy.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I am learning quite a bit of the “ins-and-outs” of the book industry, and especially being self-published (for now). I am learning as I go.  I can already see the progression forming at a good pace.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been practicing?  
I tend to get very detailed when I write, I am not sure if that is a good thing or not yet, LOL.  I am pretty much just letting my writing flow and not changing anything. Outlines are my life savers.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years? 
To keep doing what I love (storytelling) and create stories for the whole world to see.  

How have your readers responded to the book so far?
The response has been good, the locals and non-locals love it and the character.  I get a lot of responses about how they were very attached to the character, emotionally. Of course, not all responses are like this. Some say it’s “not their cup of tea,” while others may not realize that the book is intended for young adult readers, so it’s an easy read for some, but not all.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
None whatsoever.  I appreciate all parts of writing.

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?
Yes, MANY times! How I dealt with it is to just stop, “stop what you’re doing,” I tell myself. I would either go for a walk, go to a coffee shop, garden, or tend to my hens. Whatever it took to clear my mind and then it eventually would come back to me.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
Follow the Hicks Road/ Silent Eye Productions via social media to see.
Or  www.silenteyeproductions.com  ☺

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book? 
The way my storytelling is, well, I think it makes my book different than others out there.  It definitely does not follow a normal type of structural reading. I like to bend the rules a lot. If you are into that, then give my book a shot.   

An excerpt from "Hicks Road: Jacob's Story":
I followed the sounds, turning my body around, and in amazement watched as the tribal marking became visible in the darkness.  They were light, very slowly shimmering.  I started to hear the loud cracklings behind me and turned to face it. 
Unsteadied by the turn alone, the ground began to shake and I fell down.  On the ground it felt as though everything was moving very quickly.  The ground itself was moving and the voices became much louder.  With it the cracking came too, more violently than before.  Rolling on my back I looked at the markings on the cave walls.  They had started to glow brighter and brighter.  
In awe of the spectacle I noticed new noise had come to the cavern, it was an “ummmm” sound. 
Suddenly, the light from the markings burst out and the glow of the source took form.  Spirits walked towards me.  The shapes, although dark, I knew were dressed in feathers.  Nearing me something else followed them, birds.  Flying behind the spirits.  They soared quickly before the approaching figures and I saw that they were giant hummingbirds.  Their eyes were large and glowing. 
There were a total of six spirits, all comprised of light, that approached me.  At least that is what I saw at first.  They slowed in their pace as they neared me and tilted their heads back, all looking at one particular marking in the cave.  They took one last step then stopped when the marking burst and light was expelled from the cavern.  A man stepped out. 
His face was pale and he had long hair.  The other spirits moved aside to let him through as he exited from the marking.  The spirit looked directly to me and spoke in Skitchan.  Then there was silence followed by the humming of birds, flying around me. 
I said, “I do not understand you.” 
Silence fell again in the cavern.   
The man said, “Jacob, I am The Skitcha.  The Skitcha people know me by this name alone.  And you Jacob, are my grandson.” 
I must have taken a step forward towards The Skitcha because we grew closer as he said this.   
“You are the chosen one.  You are chosen because my blood runs through you.”  
“You, you are my grandfather?”  
More Information
Visit the "Hicks Road: Jacob's Story" website.

Buy the "Hicks Road: Jacob's Story" on Kindle.

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