Monday, May 2, 2011

Alexis Brooks de Vita - Giveaway, Book Review, Author Interview, and CHAT!


The Books of Joy, Volume 1: Burning Streams
by Alexis Brooks de Vita
Intellectual Dark Fantasy

When Eva Dennison learns that she has inherited the fallow sharecropping plantation in Mississippi that her parents fled to make a new life in L.A., she is eager to escape the big city and explore her historical roots. Eva abandons her dissertation about ancestral memory in African American literature and myth and takes with her Anastasia, her college-age daughter, and Charley, her investment broker cousin. Together, they plan to restore the old mansion and grounds and open a retreat and think-tank for activist women of the hard-hit Gulf region. 
But the three women’s arrival at Eva’s decayed mansion lands them in tragedy and terror. Eva falls in love with the troubled man researching her family’s supernatural folklore about how they freed themselves from slavery. Charley thinks she’s being stalked by a murderer. And beautiful Anastasia becomes enchanted by a mysterious wanderer in the woods who watches and waits for the family fairy tales to come true. 

Soon, Eva realizes that she must confront her family’s mythical past before it destroys them all.


The Books Of Joy: Burning Streams
Alexis Brooks de Vita

For the readers of Intellectual mixed with Dark fantasy this book is for you! Were should I start with this book? It has it all.  Historical, fantasy, werewolf?!?! Not to mention how it was all wrapped in a well written, and beautifully done story. You grow to love the characters and their family. The Characters were believable, realistic, and just awesome. I love how the humor, and wit of the two California Cousins  was mixed into it. The pace, was good. The Storyline Awesome. The ending will leave you wanting the next book for sure. Which is what we all love in books. I love the originality of this book. A little dramatic, touching, romantic, and thrilling all in one. I cant wait for the next book (as I said). 

My Rating: 5 Stars!


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was raised by my mother’s network of Mississippi-born relatives and their spouses from all over the U.S. I grew up in Los Angeles, visiting relatives in Colorado in the summers. There seemed to be outrageous secrecy surrounding everything about Mississippi and everyone from that state, and even the people along the escape route to LA through Texas. Old photos of these people and places would come out of my aunt’s cedar trunk, hidden deep in a dark closet of her sewing room, in her Victorian house with its basement and attic where my brother and cousins and I were never allowed to go. Everything about Mississippi, and even just sneaking to take a look at the photos and mementos about it, was just so Gothic and mysterious and dangerous. Eventually, my mother took my brother and me to live in the bush in Uganda during Idi Amin’s bloody revolt, and I was sent to a boarding school in a stone castle in Switzerland. But of all the mysterious and exciting places I’ve seen, that bottomless cedar chest of secrets from Mississippi has stayed with me as one of the most intriguing.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I learned to read very young, at age three, before I really learned to speak very well at all. I always tried to write little stories of my own, while learning to read. My most complicated stories were probably written while we lived in Uganda during Idi Amin’s takeover, when I also started keeping my first diary. There were architecture and city planning books from Israel in the university library where my mother taught. I studied these so I could design houses and cities for my imaginary people and their stories, and almost every day, I made simple notes about what happened in Uganda. I’ve been writing all my life, poetry, academic essays, and now, finally publishing my novels. I’m thrilled that people are taking an interest!

What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?

I’m surprised and very pleased by how digital publishing and the Internet have put writers back in touch with the whole publishing process. It’s wonderful to be in direct contact with editors, publishers, reviewers, and readers! This kind of close relationship gives the author a chance to know what readers like and want to see and what to write to keep readers involved and satisfied. I used to have a New York agent who was very good. But the big publishing houses did not want a risky story like Burning Streams that deals with so many issues. So I’m also excited to see that an e-book/paperback publisher like Blood Moon/Double Dragon takes chances on bringing readers the edgy kinds of books they want to read.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I asked my daughters which of their favorite fairy tales they wanted me to write a modern adaptation of! When they were growing up, I would read to them or sing to them at night. When I didn’t have a book with me or they didn’t want lullabies, they would tell me which of their favorite fairytales they wanted to hear. I always put my daughters into the fairytale stories I told by giving the fairytale heroines my daughters’ concerns to face and challenges to resolve. Eventually, I also asked my sons for their favorite fairytales. Teen boys are very different from young women, so this changed the stories a bit. I wonder if readers can tell which plot elements came from sons or daughters!

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

This is a very important question. I just came from a conference where a science fiction writer asked this question of a group of professors (I am also a professor of literature). The most important task of the writer is to be vulnerable and honest and just tell the story. If the characters in the story take a sudden turn and do something the writer didn’t plan or doesn’t approve of, she still has to get out of their way and let them do it, and do her very best to help the reader see it and feel it and experience it. The writer has to create people who feel real and then tell the truth to the reader about them, once they’ve come to life, even if she doesn’t understand why they behave as they do. I think that the writer’s vulnerability is one of her best communicative tools. The characters and the story have to belong to the reader, and readers are going to want to develop their own understanding of what is happening. Once the writer has written the story, I don’t think readers want her hanging on, trying to tell them what to think. The writer has to be ready to let the story go and let it live its own life, and then find out from her readers what it might have been all about!

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Thank you for this question! Gladly! I’m about to upload a free sample spin-off story about Charley’s mysterious little almost-romance in Louisiana, before Burning Streams opens when the California Cousins get to Mississippi, at All Romance e-Books. It’s called “Charley’s Cajun,” and I’d love for your readers to download it, when it posts! A Gothic short story of mine about a woman who is still grieving the death of her husband, which I’ve called “In His Arms in the Attic,” will be published in an anthology by the Innsmouth Free Press called Candle in the Attic Window. That should be coming out at the end of 2011, perhaps around Christmas time. And I’m figuring out the fairytales I want to use as the basis to write Charley’s story and Anastasia’s story, when the Books of Joy come back to the present, after Joy’s magical notebooks get published in May and October of 2011. I’d love to hear from your readers, if they have fairytales they particularly love and want to see included!

In Twitter Fashion use140 characters or less to sum up The Books of Joy, Volume 1: Burning Streams for us.

Eva inherits a haunted plantation in Mississippi, moving from LA with her cousin and daughter into her family’s fairytales, secrets and fears.

How did you come up with a story that was such a whirl wind of events?

I wanted each of the characters to have a full life and a full set of challenges to resolve, just like the people you meet every day. But once they were set in motion, just like in real life, their problems tended to impact each other and escalate. Just when it looked as if everyone who loved each other the most would destroy each other, my hardest job was to try to give the characters realistic opportunities to work some of these problems out. Thank goodness, that’s what they decided to do!

How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?

I’m very lucky that I haven’t ever suffered from writer’s block. The hardest thing is to tell the truth about scenes that didn’t turn out the way I expected, such as every time Eva goes into Bo’s stone dungeon in Burning Streams. I dreaded those dungeon scenes as much as Eva did because, like Eva, I never knew if I’d have enough nerve to write down what really happened in there!

Will we be seeing a following book to this stories?

I’m really pleased that the senior editor of Blood Moon and the owner of Double Dragon Publishing have given me a contract to publish all three of the books that have been written, so far, for this series: Burning Streams, followed in May and October of 2011 by two books of Joy’s historical stories, Blood of Angels and Chain Dance. I hope to write books that pick up the story from where it leaves off at the end of Burning Streams, so readers can see what happens next with Charley and the Louisiana fisherman she met on the way to Mississippi, and Anastasia and her mysterious lover in the woods. I was a finalist and won an award for some of my novels: Burning Streams, and its sequel coming out this month, Blood of Angels, and another book I’ll publish next year, Left Hand of the Moon.

How did you come up with the character Eva?

I wrote Burning Streams for my oldest daughter, so Eva has a lot of her more serious characteristics and self-doubts. I think my daughter was facing the kinds of challenges that most young women face today. I wanted to show her herself when she’s older, when most of the professional issues are resolved, so just the emotional issues need to be faced. Charley is Eva’s opposite, so she represents my oldest daughter’s more outgoing side. Eva’s daughter, Anastasia, was based on her sister, my youngest daughter, so she wouldn’t feel like she was thrown all alone into these adventures. It’s funny that my oldest daughter recognized her sister in the character of Anastasia, but she didn’t recognize herself in Eva or Charley! But she did tell me that Burning Streams had become her favorite book, even more important for her than Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which used to be her favorite. That means the world to me!

I always must ask, if you could pick one actress to portray Eva on the big screen who would it be and why?

That’s a great question. Lisa Bonet. She has the jumble of locks and braids, the philosophical and idealistic otherworldliness, and yet the down-to-earth need for love that plagues Eva and makes all of her decisions and choices so difficult for her. I think Lisa Bonet has the look and she would “get” Eva and bring her alive for audiences.


Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?

Since I wrote it for my oldest daughter, who was a very young adult at the time, I really struggled with how honest to be. In the end, before I gave it to her, I took out the heavy sex scenes. Maybe that was a mistake. But now that the book has been published, she can go back and read them, if she chooses to. The sex is, after all, a part of Eva and Bo’s relationship, and it’s important to factor in that aspect of how they are drawn together, and what sex means to them.

What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?

I screamed! I felt very lightheaded. I loved it at first sight. My first book ever published was a study of goddesses in African-descent women’s literature, and it had no cover art. I never liked the plain, dark blue and red cover. My second book is about an historical murder mystery, and its cover is a photo of my oldest daughter, who looks like the accused woman. I like that cover a lot. My third book is a translation of Dante’s Inferno subtitled A Wanderer in Hell, and its cover is a painting by my youngest daughter called Suspicion. I adore that cover and think it’s perfect! So I was really worried when I knew that I would have nothing to do with the cover of Burning Streams. The owner of Double Dragon Publishing, Deron Douglas, is a talented artist who does almost all the cover art for his company’s books. I know he’s a gifted artist (I’ve studied all the book covers he’s illustrated), but I wondered if he could understand the atmosphere of a story as strange and complicated as Burning Streams. He did a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere of the story. The cover is great, but I still have to stare at it to believe that the book is published and out there, for everyone to read!

I want to thank you and your readers for this chance to share our love of booksand stories. You have a fantastic website going on, and I’m honored to be a featured writer here!

Find This Author:





3 Lucky winners will win an Ecopy Of The Books of Joy, Volume 1: Burning Streams 
by Alexis Brooks de Vita!!



tears_of_fire said...

Well 5 stars :) sounds like it must be a great read. I am adding this to my to be read list.

Gabby said...

Well it sounds like an intriguing read! Not exactly like something I'd pick up, but I'm always looking for new reading material!

RFTC Blog said...

This book looks really interesting. I definitely would like to read this book.

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed the interview; it was interesting and entertaining.

This book has been added to my must have list; it sounds great.

I'm a follower.

Tracey D

Unknown said...


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