Thanks for joining us at the book club, Thomas. Can we begin by having you tell us how you got into writing urban fiction novels?
I’m glad to be here. As a young person I would write short stories while in class and I would receiving glowing compliments from my teachers. I turned my focus to writing urban fiction novels because I was passionate about telling the stories of city life among African-Americans.
Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?
My book takes place in Atlanta, Orlando and lastly Miami. Miami is a huge diverse metropolitan city with a lot of history.
Your urban fiction novel sounds perfect for a movie! If it were made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character?
I think Forest Whitaker would make a great main character for a movie adaptation of the book.
I’d like to know more about your main character, can you tell us more about him/her?
The main character is Chauncey Miller. He founded one of the first Mega-Churches in Miami before they became to be known as “Mega-Churches”. He is college educated and is well versed in the study of various religions.
Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?
Chauncey’s mentor and professors heavily influences his ideology. He also has a number of foot soldiers that carry out his directives.
They say all fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down. What’s one pivotal point in Risen?
When Chauncey converts from Christianity to Muslim.
What’s next on the agenda for you, Thomas?
What’s next for me is to keep writing! Watch for the next book release!
What would you like to say to your readers and fans?
Get the book. It’s a great read and follow me on social media!
Inside the Book:
Author: Thomas Barr Jr.
Publisher: Printhouse Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2016
Genre: Urban Fiction
The growth of "Mega churches" has risen considerably in the 21st century as compared to the past. Miami Urban Chronicles Volume I: Risen, seeks to set forth a fictional biopic of the rise of spiritual leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh of the Liberty City based movement the Nation of Yahweh, "Ben Yahweh's."
Chauncey Miller, the main character in the story is determined to be a success. He uses his natural skills of cultivating relationships and influence to draw his followers. Despite his meager rural southern background he dreams big and takes risks head-on in realization of his goals. It is significant in modern 21st century times that individuals take control of their life's path. The urban youth particularly need to realize by making deliberate decisions concerning their life they can live their dreams.
Chauncey meets a mentor whom cultivates his ideology and sharpens his mediation skills in working with people. He harnesses his skills by working with the youth ministry of a local church. As he attends college he learns the basics of economics and administration in his courses. He understands education is just one tool that can help him along his path. Individuals must utilize opportunities as they present themselves along life's path. The main character seizes upon this truth and follows it down the rabbit hole in a manner of speaking.
In most communities the Church is a place of worship, fellowship, family, communal meetings and refuge. Individuals seek comfort in its walls and the main character leverages this in amassing followers. Modern successful pastors have PhD's and fancy seminary school training. The main character can be viewed as the progenitor to the modern "Mega church" system. He is of the conviction that god must call a person to preach which is a spiritual mission.
The main character takes this mission on as any other profession and is determined to be a success as a spiritual leader, messenger of god, as well as a successful business entrepreneur. The main character goes from city to city while growing his followership and refining his professional talents. In addition his studies have led to him evolving his religious convictions.
The story enthralls with the turmoil of power, beliefs, sex, control, and all the human pitfalls that too often affect successful professionals. In desiring success and wealth upon any career path it is important to maintain composure. Chauncey, although a spiritual leader, is in realization of this truth.
In paralleling the lifestyles of the larger community many individuals become disillusioned and pigeonhole themselves. Only in selflessness can individuals walk a blemish-less path. Particularly urban youth must learn the lesson in traversing modern life goal paths in reaching their dreams.
This chronicle wraps with Chauncey answering to the communal guidelines of this prescribed society. All must answer to the allegations of their fellow community members and none is an exception to this rule. In acquisition of success and goal setting humility can be a lifesaver.
Chauncey Miller was a Carolina native that grew up in the south and knew the hard work of the tobacco fields. Raised in a Christian household he was fascinated with the bible and studied religion with a fervor. Little did his contemporaries know that he would rise to the level of a spiritual leader commanding a multi-million dollar enterprise. They surely wouldn’t realize that he was a megalomaniac capable of manipulating a band of killers.
It’s a sunny afternoon in 1976 and Chauncey was on the corner of 125th Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia. He had a stack of paper leaflets, as he is approached by pedestrians he offered a flyer to a man dressed in a black suit. The man took the flyer and read it, mouthed the words soundlessly.
“Do you believe in god,” asked the man in black.
“Surely I do,” responded Chauncey sternly.
The man continued to look at the flyer; he wore iron rimmed glasses and had shiny black shoes.
“I’m a history professor at the local community college and would like to have you join one of my focus group,” he asked.
The man stood and looked Chauncey in the face awaiting an answer to his inquiry. Chauncey had not expected such an immediate attention to himself and paused in response noting the man’s patient nature.
“I’m not sure what focus groups do but if you give me the address I’ll check it out,” said Chauncey.
The man pulled a business card from his blazer and handed it to Chauncey as pedestrians ushered pass them on the street. No one seemed to notice the exchange between the two men and was oblivious of them obstructing the walk way as they chatted.
“Don’t worry you’ll find out when you show,” the man replied.
He placed the flyer Chauncey had been passing to people on the street in his coat and continued on his way. Chauncey looked down at the flyers he had been passing out for the street team company. He had been working for the company weekends and at afterhours bar locations. Exhausted he read it. It said, let me tell you why the white man is the devil. Come hear CL Cayman speak truth to power at White Hall located on Jackie Robinson Avenue.
Chauncey never took notice of the leaflets he passed along to pedestrians and this one had a very inquisitive message. He wondered about the thoughts of the gentleman in which he had just met, had the message affected him so profoundly? He took the business card from his pocket looked at the address and contemplated the location. He had seen the address before on something he read at home and could not recall it do to his momentary failing memory.
The stack of leaflets sat on the sidewalk near a lamp post. A gust of wind arose that blew some of the top flyers into the street. The sudden barrage of papers broke his thoughts and he scrambled to grab them as people continued to bustle past.
“Get out the street,” yelled a disgruntled driver.
He blew his horn as he drove past and Chauncey continued to pick up the flyers ignoring the outburst. Chauncey had hardened his feelings to ridicule and he believed with his ability to project an icy persona could ward off potential personal threats. He had developed this ability while in grade school and used it throughout his young adult life as he entered his college years. As a youth he had dealt with bullies and experienced being singled out for jokes among friends in the neighborhood.
He decided he would attend the focus group the following day after his last class on campus and find out more about the strange gentleman that intrigued him on their meet.
Claude Donors was a tall wiry light skinned complexioned man with green eyes in his sixties and did social research on religions in historical contexts. He was an eccentric man with a direct nature. Chauncey’s curiosity of the gentleman had led him to the campus upon the issued invitation. Chauncey entered his office at the university and was immediately stopped at the door by Donor’s secretary.
“I’m sorry sir do you have an appointment?” She inquired.
The young woman was very pretty and Chauncey noticed that she had a curvy figure. He could see that she was highly educated by the way she addressed him. She was smartly dressed in a business suit. She smelled of light perfume and mints. Her hair was penned up into a bun and she sat positioned at her office desk. He quickly handed over the business card given him and she looked at the back of the card for a moment.
“Have a seat Dr. Donors will be with you in a minute,” said the young lady.
Chauncey took back the card he had given the girl and looked on the back of it as she did, his curiosity peeked. Let this man pass, it said written in a very legible hand written signature. He had not noticed it the entire time he had possession of the card and was surprised at himself for not realizing that fact.
As he sat awaiting Dr. Donors he noticed the office was cozy and decorated with plaques along the light blue colored walls. The carpet smelled as if it was freshly vacuumed and it being in the late evening not much pedestrian traffic came in or out. He noticed the young lady pick up the phone a number of times and she talked for just a few minutes on each instance. He assumed it was Donors and thought if he made the right decision in coming. Just as the thought popped in his head Donors brushed by him.
“Let’s go young man, we’re late.” He said.
Chauncey was out of his chair and behind Donors as he strode down the hallway taking giant steps to quickly reach his desired location.
“My focus group is designed to record the assumptions, thoughts and impressions of religion on the average working class individual,” he said as they walked.
“By the way what’s your name?” he asked turning to look at Chauncey.
“Chauncey Miller,” Chauncey replied.
“Well Mr. Miller you should find this to be very interesting,” he said as they entered a room with about seven people sitting around a circular table. Upon introduction by the four males and three females it was noted two were teachers, one was a factory worker, two were students, one was a paramedic and one was a shop keeper. The questions posed to the group were designed to elicit discussion and all responses were recorded by the professor.
The first question posed was do you believe in god followed up with what do you think about religion. All the participants believed in god but it was interesting to see their apparent ambiguity in the actual practice of religion. As the professor guided the group’s discussion a light bulb went off in Chauncey’s head. He had wondered throughout his life what his purpose was in this world. He had attended college and taken on various odd jobs to support himself in the city. He’d bounced around in search of a career interest to no avail. He was articulate and well regarded for his ability to persuade others. In observing the professor’s research he saw a need and an opportunity that could possibly be exploited. He decided from that instance he wanted to know more about the professor and the purpose for his work.
The session ended after about an hour of discussion and all the participants departed leaving Chauncey along with the professor in the room. As the professor put the finishing touches on the session notes Chauncey broke the silence which permeated the room after the last departed guest.
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Meet the Author
Born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair. I was the grandson of a share cropper whom taught me about hard work and education. At age 17 I began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors. While in college I was inspired to write when I read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright. I began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular. I Entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War. Upon leaving the Military I went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration. I began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant. I currently work for the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.
See website http://www.thomasbarrjr.com/ for more details.
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