F.F. Fiore, or Frank Fiore, is an author with many talents. His books have sold over 30,000 copies and he is currently working his way through a new novel. His latest book “Murran” is a hard-hitting tale of an inner-city boy who finds his way to manhood in Africa. Fiore has also just re-released his popular collection of “Twilight Zone” style stories “The Oracle.”
This interview was done exclusively with Frank for this blog. Enjoy!
What is the title and genre of your book?
It’s called MURRAN. Murran is the story of a young African-American boy named Trey coming of age in the 1980s, and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a ‘crew’ in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a violent street gang. He is eventually framed for murder and flees with his high school teacher to the teacher’s Maasai village in Kenya. Trey goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, becomes a young shaman, and returns to America to confront and defeat the gang leader that framed him.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
It’s a general audience story but is very worthwhile for young teens to read the book. Besides that I wanted to show that Black America had a true unique culture that was abandoned in the mid 20th century for what they claim is an African-American culture today. Black 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 culture unique to Blacks. MURRAN proposes that the Maasai cultural values of children and family first and the success of their culture living amidst the dangers of the African bush should be copied by Black Americans today to create a successful community.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
MURRAN means ‘warrior’ in Maasai. Trey, the young teen in the book, joins a teen gang called the ‘Warriors’. But when he goes to Africa and lives with the Maasai, he sees the Maasai warriors and learns what a true warrior is.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
I wanted to show the two different sides of a warrior. The street warrior – gang member – on one side and the Maasai warrior on the other. It was designed under the direction of myself.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
There are several characters I like but the best one that speaks to me is the Maasai shaman – ol Sanke. He plays the role of the wise old man. His role in the story is the same as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars or Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s books.
How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
That would be the District Sheriff in Kenya. He is crook and used his office to shield himself from any ramifications of his actions. He eventually goes too far.
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
Nothing. It is a perfect story. It’s the most perfect one I have ever written. When you read it you’ll agree.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Trey was astonished to learn that Pi burned hot coals into her thighs. When asked why, he was told they served the same purpose as tattoos on girls do in the US. Another is the fact that of all the big cats, the lion is the only one that was a spur on the end of its tail. No one knows whey wand what purpose it serves. But ol Sanki knows why and tells the story to Trey how the lion got its spur.
What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
Any book or movie that shows the coming of age of a young person – boy or girl faced with a moral or physical challenge. The Hunger Games is one. Star Wars Episode IV and V is another.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Go to my author website at http://www.frankfiore.com
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am writing my 7th novel now. Its entitled IJIN. Ijin is an historical fiction novel of a young American boy named Connor adopted by a Japanese family who grows up against the backdrop of World War Two Japan. Similar to Herman Wouk’s ‘Winds of War’ but from the Japanese side – with a twist. The young boy name Connor has to struggle against his alienation as an outcast – an Ijin – in 1940s Japan. The story follows real and fictional characters through the political, social and military events that span the years from 1936 to 1945 told through the eyes of a Japanese-American reporter working in Japan at a major Tokyo newspaper.
Here’s the twist.
The story opens up with the statement that Connor is about to join fellow kamikaze pilots attacking the American fleet off of Okinawa. How Connor arrives at this strange fate and the evolution of how he arrives there is the main theme of the story.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Write reviews on AMAZON. Reviews are extremely important for sales.
Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
A fellow writer of mine – Paul McCarthy. He said to write as many books as possible. Get them out into the marketplace. If they are good, when one hits, readers will go back and read all your others. Keep producing. Never stop.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I watch movies because I write my novels as movies. Movie scripts have a structure that is shared by novels. Both have a similar 3 or 4 act structure (spine/skeleton) that involves a hook, generally with the main character involved, then the ordinary world (who they are, etc) the first turning point, tests and trials, reversals, black moment when all seems lost, climax, the epiphany and reward. This is not a formula, it’s classic mythic structure and it’s used in both mediums. Current contemporary commercial novels are much faster paced than in the past, no matter what genre. Some genres (action and thrillers) move faster than others but the whole market has shifted. We are a USA Today society that deals in sound bites and Tweets, and that doesn’t bode well for the slow moving novel.
And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
Lemasolai lay on his back, placed his hands behind his head, and stared up into the stark blue sky. A few beats later, he sat up when he heard the excited chatter of a bird. “That’s a honey guide!” he exclaimed excitedly. He stood up and pulled on
Trey’s arms. “Come on!”
“Where are we going?”
“The honey guide will lead us to a treat!” he cried with glee.
They followed the chattering of the small bird down the hill a ways and came upon a nest of wild bees in the trunk of a dead tree.
Lemasolai sat beside the dried-out log and pulled two sticks from its dead branches. He rubbed the sticks together hard, and they smouldered and formed a small smoking torch that he waved over the nest. Trey watched in amazement as the lightly billowing smoke calmed the bees into a stupor.
Then, Lemasolai scooped up the honeycomb, leaving just enough for the honey guide circling above their heads. The young boy gave a handful of honeycomb to Trey, and they fed themselves with the sweet nectar.
After their fill, they made their way back to the small hill when Trey stepped into a large patty of dung up to his ankle.
“Shit!” he exclaimed in disgust. “I stepped in all this…this…shit!”
“No,” Lemasolai replied. “That’s the hippo’s pact with God.”
“Whachu talkin’ ‘bout?”
Lemasolai helped Trey scrape the foul mess from his foot with the small spear as he spoke.
“When God created all the animals, the hippos complained that their sensitive skin would burn under the scorching African sun. They pleaded with God for them to live in the lakes and rivers.”
“That makes sense,” Trey replied, grappling with some stuck manure between his toes. “So what has that got to do with me stepping in shit?”
Lemasolai ignored Trey complaint. “God said ‘No.’ God worried that the hippos would eat all his fishes in the lakes and rivers.”
“So the hippos made a holy pact with God. They promised that they would be vegetarians and would not eat God’s fishes.
But God wanted proof. So each night the hippos leave their watery home, come up on land, and crap there so God can see their manure and prove that they were not eating the fish.”
Lemasolai laughed and his belly shook. “Their pact. Your foot. So there you go.”
When they reached the small hill, Lemasolai, his belly bloated, laid down and closed his eyes.
“I ate too much,” he groaned, rubbing his ample tummy.
“You’d make a fine feast for a lion,” Trey joked. “I doubt you could outrun one.” He poked Lemasolai in the tummy.
The chubby youth laughed but stopped when his stomach started to hurt.
“Go and check the herd. One of the goats is bleating. He sounds nervous. Find out what it’s doing and leave me alone in my misery,” he moaned.
Trey laughed and headed down the hill with Lemasolai’s small spear to look for the goat. He found it stuck in a thicket. It had reached in too far for some green treat and had gotten its head stuck. Trey reached in to pull it out, but it wasn’t as easy as it had appeared.
He used the small spear to jab at the thicket and was able to pry some of it from around the goat’s body. With a hard tug, he released the animal from its predicament and then gave it a swat in the rear with the little spear so that it would wander back to herd.
Trey turned to rejoin his chubby friend when he heard a sound behind him. Something had brushed against a clump of thickets.
He turned, bent down, and looked through the thicket.
There was a strong smell of musk, then a saffron mane and a pair of deep amber eyes met his in return.
A lion! A muthafuckin’ lion!
The beast was still and crouched, staring straight at him. Its eyes burned into Trey, gleaming with hungry anticipation. But Trey noticed something else. The lion’s muzzle had whiskers missing on one side.
A memory flashed through his mind. It was the “simba marara.” The stuck goat was meant to be its meal, but Trey would do.
In an instant, the crouching animal leaped over the thicket and lunged at Trey.
A panicked cry to Lemasolai began to surface from Trey’s throat as the great beast flew through the air at him.
A blur of flaxen yellow, a strong odor from a maw of ochre jaws, then a blast of hot, foul breath—Trey instinctively threw up his arms in defense. But before a cry for help could reach his mouth, his shoulder exploded into intense pain, and the air was suddenly knocked out of his lungs.
An inky blackness rolled over him as he slipped into unconsciousness.
The two latest Frank Fiore novels are below, and are available from Amazon. You can buy your copies by clicking on the links below…