James Baptiste was born and raised and Brooklyn of Haitian parents, and he paints his childhood there as—his words—“interesting”. Baptiste attended Walt Whitman Junior High, and afterwards attended Madison High School. He admits that he wasn’t one of those heavenly creatures with wings, as he got himself into all sorts of trouble. In looking back at those years, he doesn’t want to neither glorify nor sensationalize any of his actions as a troubled child. “School back then wasn’t the way it is today,” he observes. And then there was the situation at home. He lived in a two-parent household, but felt like it was more like a single parent home. “My mother was the only person besides my sister I could relate to,” he says of those times. His father was distant and didn’t want anything to do with him.
With time, Baptiste found out that the man he thought was his father, was actually his stepfather and he connected the man’s attitude towards him with the fact that the Senior Baptiste wasn’t his biological father. “Lack of fatherly bonding angered me which inevitably led to me indulging in the streets. Choosing friends over family was the worst thing I could’ve done looking back in hindsight. Loyalty to friends nearly cost me my life as the book illustrates.”
The book Baptiste is referring to is Suspended in Time, his semi-autobiographical debut, that chronicles the life journey of Deshaun, from an angry and troubled teenager to the responsible citizen that he strives to be now.
Bapstiste did a stint in prison, and upon his release, he sought to rehabilitate his life. He attended college and gradually received a degree in Sociology from Brooklyn College. Allen begun writing shortly after, and is now the author of four books. He often thinks back to his childhood and to his tumultuous teenage years: the confusion and the anger, and he has established SAP—Seeking Aid Personally—a non-profit to help troubled youths in his area.
Q & A
Were you one of those type of authors who started out writing poetry and short stories?
Didn’t start off writing poetry or short stories, never thought I was good enough. Never imagined writing books, but it was therapeutic during that particular time and what I was dealing with.
Suspended in Time: The Price of Loyalty was your first book. How did the writing process go, and how did you go about promoting it?
The idea for my first book came by chance, I used to work a freight elevator once. I used to be so bored, I kept a writing pad with me when it was slow. I started writing, and before I knew it I had a manuscript completed. The writing process took a while. Since I was in college, ideas and thoughts came to me everywhere I went. I could be on the train, my inner voice told me to write my story. As time passed, writing became natural. Promoting was the hardest, especially since we live in an era where everything is dumbed down for the audience. Its hard to promote positivity when negativity travels faster. I utilized friends, family, word of mouth, social media, and I hit the road selling my books anywhere there was traffic.
Chasing the Dream was the first novel you wrote.
Chasing a Dream is my first fictional novel, Runaway Bride was the follow up to Suspended in Time: The Price of Loyalty. It picks up right where Suspended in Time ended. Both based off [of] life experiences. I wrote four books altogether, but the first two are available on Amazon kindle. Chasing a Dream is about four women chasing their dreams and what they encounter trying to get there. Denise, the main character will do any and everything to keep her man out of trouble. After serving time, temptations of the street and trying to stay positive has Denise’s man indecisive. He has to choose what side he wants if he wants to stay with her.
You graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Do you find that helps you develop your characters?
Graduating from college has definitely helped my writing in terms of formatting and creativity. But alot of my writing is motivated by everyday life and things I’ve experienced. My goal is to reach the youth by putting a message in my stories.
What advice do you have for those who want to be authors?
Message to authors: Dont expect anyone to give you anything. It’s best for you to invest in yourself when it’s time to put your work out. Make sure you learn the nuances of writing before getting into it. Theres a lot of things people fail to grasp, so its imperative you master your craft before selling it to the consumers.
What’s next for you in terms of publishing?
What else in publishing? Currently seeking business partners, my passion is to be a motivational speaker and talk to students all over the world. Also completed two other novels and looking to be signed to a major. Hopefully all my hard work pays off someday but I wont believe it until I see my books on screen. That is the ultimate goal.
You can visit the author’s Facebook page here.
You can purchase Suspended in Time by clicking on this link.a>