Bringing a story to life in a compelling and riveting way is a gift that Brett Axel, the author of “Not Okay,” clearly has and then some. Peter Wilson, the story’s protagonist, was sexually abused as a child, and wrestles with mental illness – and “Not Okay” is his story, a fascinating one of trauma, and survival paved with layers upon layers of truth and, yes some wisecracks. But there is also a murder in the mix, so given all those variables, it is not surprising that this epic story keeps delivering over and over again from beginning to end.
While reading “Not Okay,” we were inspired and touched in a way that few books have in the past. As Axel took Peter Wilson, and yes us, through this story we were reminded quite vividly about the resilience and innate beauty of the human spirit. “Not Okay” is a must-read for this season, and frankly is destined to be a classic. While Axel is clearly a gifted writer he recently joined the team at Vinal Publishing, as an editor. When he agreed to sit down with us for a chat we were delighted because clearly, we are huge fans of his work.
In “Not Okay” you take your protagonist Peter Wilson on quite the ride, including being kidnapped and trafficked. What or who was the inspiration for this character. Did you give him any of your own characters when developing this dynamic and compelling character?
People who went to high school write about people who went to high school. I didn’t go to high school. I got abducted and sex trafficked. That is what I knew about so that’s what I wrote about.
“I’m OK You’re OK” is very much a character in your book. Do you see your inclusion of this book as a statement on self-help books in general? When you read “I’m OK You’re OK” did you learn anything about yourself?
I thought I did at the time, but it was really more bullshit. People who give advice presume your life was just like theirs they have no idea how poorly their platitudes apply to someone with real trauma.
Authors often have favorite characters in their books and it isn’t always the protagonist, but sometimes it is. Who is your favorite character, and why?
I really like Robin Blue. She is a composite of a few different women that I fell for when I was Peter’s age – people living with one foot in a fantasy world but smart enough and competent enough to function despite the crazy.
When you sit down to write, what is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Cutting good stuff out! That is the most difficult. I write a lot more than what ends up in the book. Some really fun parts have to be taken out because they don’t contribute anything to the story. I hate letting go of those, but it’s necessary to make the book work.
Do you have any projects you can tell us about coming out this year or in 2021?
My projects now are editing. I am working on several great books at once but I didn’t write them, other people did, so the hard work is done. I’m just second guessing their tiniest choices and suggesting spots that need tweaking. One is Narcotic Field Theory by Saint James Harris Wood. It’s the madcap adventures of a drug addicted con artist who believes that nothing can harm him while he is high. Another is Dead Man’s Donuts by Grace Baudino, who is a medical examiner. The book is comprised of true stories from her life and work that exemplify the absurdity of life by exploring the absurdity of death. These will both be out in 2021 and they are too good not to read.
“Not Okay” is available on Amazon.
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