MURRAN is an Upper YA crime-drama with a positive message.
Trey Davis wanted to belong. He wanted respect. He wanted to be a man.
With his father dead and his mother a drug addict, Trey and his sister Nichelle are forced to go live with their grandmother in Brooklyn. Surrounded by inner-city crime and conflicting ideologies, Trey seeks security and recognition by becoming a member of a small street crew. When he’s framed for a crime and facing prison, Trey flees to a Maasai village in Kenya with his English teacher and mentor, Mr. Jackson. Though initially repulsed by the Maasai customs, Trey slowly comes to value their traditions and morals. As he goes through the Maasai warriors’ rite of passage becoming one of their own, he learns what Black African culture is truly about. Only after confronting lions, disapproving Maasai elders, and his own fears does Trey begin to understand that men are made and not born.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
The theme underlying the story is one of alienation. I underwent a period of alienation when I was in my 30s. I did a lot of research and pretty much self-medicated myself. I find that most of my stories have a theme of alienation running through them – sometimes very small but other times, like in MURRAN, an important part of the story. The story of Murran led me to the African-American culture and it also gave me the vehicle to pursue the alienation theme for the book. If any ethnic group in our country has been alienated the most, it’s the Africa-Americans because of the manner that they arrived to America. When asked what tribe are you from of an African-American – there is no answer. But almost every other ethnic and European culture in our society can point to a ‘tribe’ they came from.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Often quite a bit of the story is already in my mind. In fact, over the past 20 years, every story I have written is in my head before I begin. And the message I want to convey is there at the beginning as well.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?
Yes – A LOT! I drew on my experience of travels in Africa and my study of the Massai tribe. Also much of the research of this era, the 1980s of Black culture, was based on the book “Black Lies, White Lies” by Tony Brown. Brown attacks white racism, black self-victimization, and the whole concept of integration, which he feels has been disastrous for blacks and the country as a whole. I gathered from his probing that the core fabric of the African-American community was torn apart when middle-class Blacks moved away from the core neighborhoods leaving it open to devastation and drugs.
What is the inspiration of MURRAN? What would pique a reader’s interest?
Life is about choices. MURRAN illustrates this theme. The inspiration of the book is based on some of my experiences growing up in 1980s Brooklyn, where I was aware of gang members. On the streets you had no choice. Those young teens saw themselves as ‘warriors’ – bad asses, having to prove themselves. As a writer, I thought what if one of the teens in the gang really wanted to prove his courage. Really show he was a ‘warrior’. Like hunting a bear with nothing but a knife. But then I thought, that wouldn’t work. No bears in Brooklyn unless you break into the Brooklyn Zoo. I didn’t know where to go with that at the time so the idea just sat in the back of my head. A decade or so later, I went on African Safari and learned about the Maasai tribe and of their ‘rite of passage’ to manhood by killing a lion. Hey, I thought what if the gang member tried to hunt and kill a lion? But there where no lions in Brooklyn. That’s when I realized that if the gang member was an African-American, and I could figure a way for him to get to Africa and kill his lion to become a warrior, I had a tale. The story of MURRAN just fell into place after that.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading MURRAN?
I wanted Murran to show that I felt Black America once had a true unique culture that was abandoned in the mid 20th century for what is now claimed to be the African-American culture of today. African-Americans had a unique Black culture. It was called the Black Renaissance and it took place in the early part of the 20th century. A Renaissance steeped in values and a culture unique to Blacks. The music, literature, way of life and culture of that period were a big draw to the ‘swells’ in Manhattan – drawing well-to-do individuals to Harlem at night to enjoy and revel in it. I hope that MURRAN allows for the opportunity to open discussions and also perhaps provide a way for the threatened culture of the African Maasai tribe – a proud and brave culture with a strong rite of passage for their youth – to be introduced and hopefully embraced by today’s African-Americans who seem to want to live a true African culture. And, maybe some of the traits of Black Renaissance could return to inner cities and an improvement of opportunities for Black youth could happen.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I let one reviewer of MURRAN, author Alan Black, answer this for me.
“MURRAN is a startlingly accurate portrayal of the slim options offered urban African-American youths in the 1980s and even today. It is often politically incorrect and in-your-face real, yet it is so compelling and well written that a reader will continue to eat and digest page after page of this indictment of America’s failure to nurture our own young.”
What are you working on right now?
A book called Ijin – which means ‘alien’ or ‘outcast’ in Japanese. I’m writing a historical fiction with a twist. It is similar to ‘Winds of War’ but from a Japanese viewpoint.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?
An American teenager is adopted by a Japanese family and must find out who he is against the backdrop of World War II Japan.
What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
First plot. Then create characters that drive the plot. Character drives plot but plot demands characters to drive it. And I like to add plot twists – hiding some information from the reader o surprise them alter – even if I gave small hints ahead of time. Second, “show don’t tell. Or to quote an author,” Finally, “Make everyone fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.”
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
A fellow author in the beginning of my writing career told me the secret at the chance of becoming a noted author. It was – Write, Write, and Write. Don’t write a story then spend all your time mareting it. Continue to write story after story until one of them gains popularity. THEN, readers will say “Gee. I wonder what else he or she wrote” and they will go to what is called your ‘backlist’. The bigger your backlist the more chance of getting known – and making some coin.
What genre are your books?
I write in many genres of fiction. Techno-thrillers, Action/Adventure, SyFy, speculative fiction and general fiction. Much like Michael Crichton who I love to emulate.
Where can people learn more about your books?
My author site is http://www.frankfiore.com
My blog is https://frankfiore.wordpress.com/
My Twitter handle is @followthenovel
And the digital media kit for MURRAN where you can download the first 10 chapters FREE is http://indigoriverpub.com/mediakit/murran/