Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Between Amos and Micah

Today's special guest is Alan Oakes, a Graduation Coach and Counselor at a Texas High School.  He is a featured writer for Green Building and Design magazine and a contributor to other magazines including Texas Architect and New American Luxury.  In the past, he served as Associate Pastor of Saint Austin Catholic Church and Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at UCLA.  

Alan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts degree from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.


What is it about the Young Adult genre that attracted your attention as an author?

Working nine years with at risk high school students does that to ya!  There is something so in flux with young minds – everything is vivid and in3-D!  It all may be going terrifically right one minute and then come crashing tragically down the next.  A genre of literature focusing on young people can’t help but be interesting. 

Does your book have a message for the reader?

Yes!  So much lousy stuff happens to young people that they have absolutely no control over.  We live in such a brutal world and it is easy to get swept away and be a victim.  But somehow we all have to find the inner strength to dig deep and claim our lives as our own.  And that’s not easy!

Is Ashleigh's character based on anyone you've actually known?

There is no one person out in the world whose life is the template for Ashleigh.  Certainly, young people I have the pleasure to work with have inspired me.  I wanted Ashleigh to embody some common plights I see a lot of young people coping with today.  I suppose I could say there is no one Ashleigh -- there are many!   

How is violence handled in a young adult novel versus a novel for an older audience?

I really struggled with this in this book.  I did a first draft that had more of an edge, including more vivid scenes of violence.  We all know that some of the most violent films and books are favorites for young adult audiences.  So it wasn’t like they would even have a problem necessarily with it at all.  But because I work in a school and I have parents and community members who might have other ideas about what is appropriate for young people to experience, felt I had to find a balance.  But I do find some of it kind of ironic – Julius Caesar is ripped to shreds by his assassins – that’s required reading – and nobody bats an eye! 

Are you originally from Texas? Were the towns of Micah and Amos based on any towns
you've known personally? 

I’m from Chicago originally.  Just a Yankee as my native Texan neighbors say.  In Texas if you go to the outer fringes of the suburbs of any of the major cities, you start running into towns like Amos and Micah – two towns next to each other – one seems to have all the money and the other, looks sorry and sad.  You know, I specifically checked maps to be sure there were no real towns of Micah and Amos in Texas – just so no one would slash my tires! 

What are you working on next?

I just submitted Crossfire to Whiskey Creek Press.  It is a novella that features Ashleigh’s boyfriend Billy and what happens to him about four months after the ending of Between Micah and Amos.  I want to follow the characters around more and make it a series.
Thanks for the great questions!!


Like a flash, the discharge from the gun lit up the inside of the dimly lit, filthy trailer Ashleigh called home. Ashleigh sat curled up on the stained pink carpet next to the pull-out bed in the living area where she slept.  The victim lay dead, slumped against the wall of the trailer.  Ashleigh looked at the motionless body.  She was petrified.

Meet Ashleigh Mae, a seventeen year old high school senior living in the small town of Micah, Texas.  Her boyfriend Billy calls her a wild child.  Her momma is always telling her she makes bad choices.  No matter what, no one really understands her.  

Ashleigh dreams of a life with Billy.  Their love is true, she thinks. When her mother forces them to leave Micah in the middle of the night and move in with her momma’s old boyfriend Casey, on the outskirts of a town called Amos, Ashleigh’s life is torn apart.  

This is her fight to get it back….


Ashleigh loved Billy. The faster she raced down the deserted country road to his singlewide mobile home, the more excited she grew at the prospects of their life together. She just wanted to see him, to hold him, to breathe in his manly aroma. Many times in school, Ashleigh daydreamed of settling down with Billy. They met only a year ago, but it seemed as if they had known each other a lifetime. They would have cute kids. Ashleigh would become a mother and care for her beautiful children. Her children would adore her and need her. She and Billy would buy a house in the new development on the outskirts of Micah—a real house with a real back yard.

            It seemed like no time when Ashleigh arrived at the trailer park where Billy rented his singlewide. The place looked so huge compared to Casey’s trailer, she thought, as she pulled up next to the mobile home. Ashleigh could see there were lights on in the living room and she could hear death metal rock music blaring. I’m gonna surprise his ass, Ashleigh thought. She opened the door to the single-wide. The place wasn’t as dirty as Casey’s but Billy still lived like a boy—dirty clothes strewn about, trash needing to be taken out and everything needed a good scrubbing, but not as bad as Casey’s.

            Ashleigh gleefully snuck up to the door to the bedroom. She couldn’t wait to surprise her handsome man. She would hold him and tell him what hell she’d been through and they would get it on as they never did before.

            She swung open the bedroom door, calling out, “Look honey, I’m home!”

            Before her was Billy on top of some fat chic. Billy stopped and looked her way. He was indeed surprised!

            “Are you serious?!” Ashleigh called out. Impulsively, Ashleigh dove into the bed, fists flying at the other girl. “You ugly slut!” Ashleigh hollered, throwing punches at the girl’s face. 


Alan will be awarding gift cards to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour. The characters are always going to Sonic – so he is giving away gift cards in the names of the main characters: Grand Prize: Billy-sized $25.00 2nd Prize: Manuel-sized: $15.00 3rd Prize: Ashleigh-sized: $10.00 If the winner prefers, they can get either an Amazon or BN.com gift card instead of the Sonic card. 

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/01/virtual-book-tour-between-micah-and.html

To learn more about the author, feel free to go to his website:   http://www.alanoakes.net/ 

Websites for Between Micah and Amos: 
Publisher Link:

Buy it:
Ebook Amazon:
Paperback Amazon:
Ebook Barnes and Noble:


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Andra Lyn said...

I know a girl in a relationship like Ashleigh and Billy...in fact, her man's name is Billy...I can definitely picture them in this scene unfortunately

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

Lyra L7 said...

It must be very rewarding to help young people, what was your memorable student?

lyra.lucky7 AT gmail DOT com

Alan Oakes said...

Good Morning! Thank you so much for hosting Between Micah and Amos -- I will be back later this afternoon to answer any and all questions you throw at me! lol! Have a great day!

p.m.terrell said...

Thank you for visiting with us today, Alan! Your book sounds very interesting. I am sure there are many who can relate to both the characters and the plot!

Catherine Lee said...

Alan...I'm sure your work with teens has given you endless fodder for future books!

p.m....It sounds like your Book 'Em event is outgrowing Robeson Community College. When will you consider moving to Wilmington?
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Anas said...

Did you write your book primerily for your students?

moonsurfer123 AT gmail DOT com

Ami said...

How do you go about researching for your book?


MomJane said...

You really do understand and your writing shows, how much you know about young people. This sounds like a very sensitive story.

Alan Oakes said...

Hi Everyone! I'm back home from work let me try to answer some of your great questions....

Alan Oakes said...

Memorable Student -- I can't go into specifics because it is against the law. But I will say, I am so proud of so many! I love hearing back especially from the students from 9 years ago, my first group of kids. A couple of them have friended me on facebook now that they are adults. I have to say I get a lump in my throat when I see that one of them is serving our country in the military in the Middle East and I get a kick out of another one - what a good parent he has become - when he was such a handful in high school!

Alan Oakes said...

Catherine Lee - Yes! Students' struggles and triumphs continue to inspire me!

Anas - Yes, I did -I wrote the book for young people who may be like Ashleigh, Billy and Manuel. So far young people have told me that they really can relate to the characters and they are sharing the book with friends.

Alan Oakes said...

p.m. terrell -- Thank you so much for the compliment and thanks for having me drop by!

Ami - I didn't need to research too much for this book -- We did double check Texas laws to make sure that the age of consent was 17 in Texas. I also double checked the run away rules for 17 year olds in Texas to make sure the guidance counselor was accurate with what she says to Ashleigh. (I hope that's not too much of a spoiler!!)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm not sure I could handle knowing girls like ashleigh

hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

Alan Oakes said...

Unfortunatley, there are more Ashleighs in the world than we realize.

Mary Preston said...

I like the thought of Ashleigh being part of many. That actually makes a lot of sense.


Anonymous said...

Does the title of your book have anything to do with the Old Testament?