Author Interview: ‘Mendel’ by Damone Bester

About the Book:

Imagine the mid 1980’s, last day of school, summer break. A teen rushes to meet his mother, who is being released from the hospital after cancer surgery. When the teen arrives, he finds out his mother is dead, but his ex-gangbanging dad, who has been in jail the last seven years, is at the hospital ready to take the teen home.

Mendel, is a coming-of-age story about a senior at Chicago’s legendary Mendel High who must learn how to forgive as he navigates life without his mother. Things come to a head when the teen accidentally finds his mom’s diary. In the journal, he discovers his mother’s dreams of becoming a collegiate track star were derailed due to getting pregnant with him. To honor his mother, he joins Mendel’s track team and excels, but before he can cash in on any scholarship offers, his father’s thuggish past catches up with them when a gun toting nemesis comes seeking revenge. The teen must decide between saving his own life or sacrificing it all to save his estranged father.

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Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

Sure. In addition to novels, I’m a poet, an aspiring screenwriter and I also do voiceover work. I got into writing a lot later than I should have. I never recognized that it was “talent” in high school and college when term papers were such a breeze for me. I vividly remember friends complaining about 3, 10, or 25-page papers we had to complete. I couldn’t understand why that was a big deal, lol. It wasn’t until several years after graduating college, while taking a continuing education course in Business of Screenwriting that I considered writing anything as a career. The director of the program told me that I had a real talent and that my strong suit was dialogue. Who knew?

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Absolutely not. I never wanted to have a “usual” or “favorite” place to write as I felt that would shackle my creativity. What happens if my favorite coffee shop is too crowded, or closed, or “life” prevents me from writing at 10a and I ALWAYS write at 10a. I understand that some people need their favorite hat or can’t write without having their green tea or caramel latte. I can write anyplace, any time, rain, sleet, or snow (I live in MN. lol) whether I have my yummy turtle latte or water.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Dreams (nighttime or daydreams). People watching. Old memories. Conversations. Quotes. Documentaries. Pictures. Movies. TV series. Music. 

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

A combination of both. I always have a beginning and end in mind. But, before this, I write down the inception of my idea/story on post-it notes, napkins, my phone, whatever I can get my hands on so that I can get the idea out of my head. If I don’t, I’ll forget it, guaranteed, LOL. So, I try to do this immediately. Once I have that beginning and ending, then I will gather all those notes I collected and decide whether there’s something good enough for a story. If I have a story, then I begin my outline. If I don’t have a good story, I scrape it, no questions asked. During the writing process this is where I’ll allow more freedom to let the story take me where it wants to go. But I keep a tight leash. I’m in control of the story, it doesn’t control me. I must be responsible for what I put out into the world. I’ve never seen “the story” held responsible for offensive material.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

My current book, MENDEL is a young adult, fictional drama. However, this might be disappointing to some, I don’t want to be held to just “young adult, fictional dramas.” I want to be free to write whatever genre my mind comes up with for a great story, period. I know that could be a bit unconventional in books (and even screenwriting) because it’s drummed into our heads by the powers that be, “your fan base needs to know where to find you.” (btw, I like the word “supporters” not “fans”). I get that, but we never hold Actors to that same rule. No one tells Sandra Bullock or Bradley Cooper they can only do dramas, or they can only do comedies, or only thrillers. Imagine all the laughs we would have missed out on if Robert Dinero could only do dramas. Actors are celebrated for being multidimensional. But writers get TOLD, “your first book was a young adult novel, you’re a young adult author. First book was middle-grade, you can only write middle-grade. Horror, you can only write horror.” I think supporters (not “fans”) don’t get enough credit. I feel supporters are intelligent enough to find their favorite writer regardless of what genre the writer decides to write.  

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Denzel Washington – as Coach Abrams. Taraji P. Henson – as Auntie Emma. Ving Rhames – as Keko and Lil J.J.- as the main character, BJ.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I do read a wide variety of things: fiction novels, stage plays, screenplays, self-help books, non-fiction books, poetry, biographies. 

8: What book/s are you reading at present? 

Just a couple of books on writing. Always trying to get better.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Actually, biographies are my favorites to read. Real life stories spark ideas for fictional stories for me. Terror By Night is one of the most captivating stories for me. 

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Don’t go at it alone. Get into writing groups and get mentors. Mentors are a must.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

Sure, my website is the best way to find out more about me. An audiobook snippet is on the site as well. The audiobook is read by me.

About the Author:

 Damone Bester was born and raised on Chicago’s Southside. He is an author, poet, aspiring screenwriter, and voiceover artist. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Illinois State University. Damone currently lives in the Twin Cities area.


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