I am so honored and thrilled to play host today to Dr. Braxton A. Cosby. You’ve heard of his uncle–the beloved Bill Cosby–and Dr. Cosby, like his uncle, seeks to make the world a better place through his experience and influence. His latest adventures include writing Young Adult fiction. ProtoStar, book #1 of his Star-Crossed Saga is due out next year. Check it out on Goodreads by clicking HERE. And coming soon–VERY soon–is his novel The School of Ministry: The Windgate. Below, Cosby explains just what this book is about, and gives us some insights into his writing process and goals as an author.
Dr. Cosby and I connected on Twitter–isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? Therefore, through some messaging, I have the awesome privilege of reading and reviewing an ARC of The Windgate, and will post as soon as I’m finished with it. But now, without further ado, I’ll hand you all over to Dr. Cosby so you can find out more about him through an interview we conducted via e-mail:
BIO: Dr. Braxton A. Cosby received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami and has been an experienced clinician for over 12 years. He is also a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. He currently co-hosts a weekly radio show with Jamie Dukes on Atlanta’s own 1380 WAOK called “Ask The Fat Doctors” where they discuss current events and matters of health and wellness. Braxton (A.K.A. the FatDoc) runs his own blog called “Cosby’s Corner”, where he dishes on almost everything from books and movies, to fitness and sports. He also models, acts, and is an award-winning Young Adult author.
TH: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
BC: Well, admittedly, my knack for storytelling is definitely in the genes. My Uncle has been doing stand-up for years where he shares his tales of fatherhood and family. My stories probably parallel his in some aspects because the focus is on values of accountability and the importance of making the right choices and accepting the consequences.
TH: What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
BC: I think it is so important for people to share their culture with everyone. There is such a big world out there, with communities of people that can be appreciated from various aspects. Storytelling is a great way to share that with others. I try to write stories that have people everyone can relate to in some way beyond color and ethnicity. The focuses of my books are to pull people in to the personalities of the characters and the hope is that people will identify with them in some way or another.
TH: What does your writing process “look” like? How do you get your ideas and inspiration?
BC: I start with an outline and I brainstorm ideas that I think would be interesting to the story and see if they fit. The characters have to fit, the setting has to make sense, and the ending has to be engaging. If it all works, then I start to piece it together and make it flow from beginning to end. Moving things around as I write has become a practice that although slightly painful at first, is much appreciated once it is executed and smoothed out.
TH: What is the genre in which you write and why did you choose it?
BC: I love Young Adult. I have to admit that I still envy young folks. The more that I am around them I appreciate the essence of being young. The responsibilities are less, the feeling of invincibility is there and the lack of cynicism is daunting. I love the way our young people today are so accepting of each other’s differences. It’s not perfect, but overall, they are so much less serious as generations past. I think that’s why they can lose themselves in books so easily. The pitch to them is ridiculously less nerve-racking as speaking to adults.
TH: You live a busy life. How long did it take to finish The School of Ministry: The Windgate and did you ever strike a balance between writing and all your other commitments?
BC: Wow. It is kind of crazy. I do have the gift of “Stick-to-it-ness” and that’s what helps me stay focused. SOM probably took 3 months to complete the first rough draft (one that I thought was the final draft). Then, the much needed editing process: probably another 2 months.
Navigating the schedule is something that has become an artwork. I have so many plates spinning at once that I wonder how I get through it all. But I just add things as necessary and let God sort out what needs to go. Who knows what task or project is going to be the next big thing.
TH: Can you briefly tell us what the book and the series are about?
BC: It’s the spiritual successor of The Harry Potter Series, in a nutshell. Orphan Ziv, trying to find the meaning of life, is recruited by a secret society when his lifelong friend and crush goes missing. They ask him to join them in their quest to hunt down evil and protect the weak, promising to help him find his friend.
Along the way, he learns that he has gifts and talents of his own that must be perfected if he is to both survive and find the things he is looking for: love and the truth. There’s a wonderful triple love triangle that evolves, awesome action scenes, and comical dialogue throughout the book. Even though the story is told through Ziv’s perspective, the development of the other characters in the story is what I’m the most proud of.
TH: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
BC: Tell a fresh, new story, that hadn’t been told before. Also, give young people something that was sleek and unique, that incorporates spirituality as being both real and cool. I think I came close.
TH: How does your book relate to your spiritual practice?
BC: Believing as much as possible; without always having the visual proof that there is a plan in place that is directing your life. Sometimes road maps are best left at home and that voice that speaks to you at the times when you most feel discouraged could ultimately be the only directive you’ll ever receive. Life is tough, but the decision to Choose is the most essential component of our fate.
TH: What are your thoughts on writing a book series and what will we see from you in your literary future?
BC: Love it or leave it. It is a huge endeavor because you are always thinking ahead as you write. Do I save this for part three, or put it in part two? How do I introduce this character, and can I kill off this one here? Wait a minute, that’s one of the main focuses of part five! It can be kind of crazy. But once you structure the thing, there is nothing that has been more rewarding in my professional career.
SOM has five planned books, while The Star-Crossed Saga (coming in early 2014) is a trilogy. I will be adding short books in between to give more background on characters and settings to keep readers interested. I have a lot of plans for each series.
TH: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
BC: Some of the toughest criticism is when people make statements about your work without offering objective examples. I don’t mind the comments, but show me in the work where it is so that I can possibly make it better. Nobody’s perfect and I’d like to make something that is my best effort. In the midst of the criticism, hopefully I can find some positive takeaways that can make the stories better and me a better writer.
Best compliment: A recent reviewer said that SOM was fresh and new; they hope they can have the opportunity to review the next installment. That’s exactly what I want people to get from it.
TH: What is your favorite book and why?
BC: The Hunger Games. I’ve only read the first two because I am trying to follow as close to the movies as I can. Suzanne Collins is a literary “beast”. Her writing is magnificent!
TH: How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
BC: Prayer from my grandmother, love from my mother, support from my wife, and a whole heck of a lot of perseverance. Life is not easy by any haul and I know that I’ve earned my way to the point I am today. I love what I do.
TH: What advice can you offer to aspiring and/or struggling writers?
BC: Find a story, don’t re-write one. Believe in what you have come up with and choose a path to publication. Don’t let it choose you. You have to decide why you are writing in the first place. Beyond the money and fame lies the true essence of a story that will move minds and hearts.
TH: Anything else you would like to share?
BC: Thank you for the interview Tamar, and for those who have connected with me: I hope you enjoy everything I’m giving to the world today.
Find Dr. Braxton A. Cosby at these sites:
Series website: www.theschoolofministry.com