Friday, March 25, 2016

Guest Post : IA Initiate by John Darryl Winston


My guest today is John Darryl Winston, the author of IA: Initiate. Below you will find all the information you need to get inspired by this man and his work, and hopefully to become a firm fan and follower of his books.

Of course there is something in it for you. Click on the link just below to enter the give-away!

Link to the give-away

IA: Initiate is origin story and a hero’s journey that follows thirteen-year-old orphan Naz Andersen and his nine-year-old sister, Meri. They live in a present day alternate Detroit/Chicago-like city known as the Exclave where they are surrounded by poverty, gang violence threatens every corner, and drug dealers rule the streets. Naz thinks he is ordinary except that he hears voices, has nightmares, and walks in his sleep.

The most important thing in the world to Naz is protecting Meri and gettingher out of the Exclave and into the prestigious International Academy. But Naz has a secret, one that he is oblivious to, and only Meri knows. When Naz becomes the target of a notorious street gang he begins to discover the voices in his head, the nightmares, and sleepwalking are actually telekinesis and telepathy at play, a gift from his father of whom he has no memory.

About this wonderful author



John Darryl Winston is a recording artist, turned educator, turned author. He dates his love of storytelling back to reading the bible with his father and sisters and later when he first saw Superman The Movie as an 11th grader in his high school auditorium. He got the idea for his debut series while piloted a Boys’ Read program as a Detroit Public School teacher. He is the founder of the Adopt an Author program, which has as its mission to create an atmosphere where boys and girls learn to love reading and writing.


He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Jordan Hill, Gerald Alston, and many others.


He’s a graduate of the Recording Institute of Detroit, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and Wayne State University. He has his MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and will be graduating, June 2016 with his MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes. He lives in Detroit with daughter, Marquette and plans to buy an African Grey Parrot when he conquers his irrational fear of birds and name him or her Tony or Toni.


Here is a taster of what to expect from this book:


Naz watched the two boys as they continued to approach. They were a block away. Why would they be here in this section … today … so early in the morning? If they’re new to this section and on their way to Union High School—a half mile away—they should have been long gone by now. He had seen them only twenty minutes ago two blocks away. Why are they still here? Something’s wrong. It doesn’t feel right.

Ham continued. “I think they call it—”

“Let’s cross here.” Naz began to nudge Ham.

Ham nudged back and said, “Like I was saying, I think they call it lucid dreaming.”

“Enough about dreams. Let’s cross here.”

“Why? Lincoln’s on this side.”

“I know, but …” He didn’t know what else to say to persuade Ham to cross the street. But something was definitely wrong. He could somehow sense the emergence of danger. He could feel it, and he knew now he wasn’t going to be able to get Ham to cross. Ham was no coward. Naz had never seen it for himself, but had heard from others in Section 31 that Ham was good in a fight and had the scars, including a nasty one under his right eye, to prove that he had been in wars. Naz had never been in a fight, at least not one that he could remember. 

Ham now noticed the two boys in front of them and caught on, only he had a different reaction. “Cross for them? This is our section. We ain’tgoin’ nowhere.” Ham’s whole attitude and body language changed, and instead of slowing, he sped up a bit. It was another side of him that Naz had only heard about, but had never seen.  

“What are you gonna do?” Naz asked nervously.

“Nothin’. We’re just on our way to school talking about dreams is all, right?”

The boys were now within a half block of each other.

“Have you ever had a lucid dream?” Ham asked, as he slowly reached into his back pocket.

“A what?” Naz asked in confusion.

Ham continued the conversation as if nothing had changed. “A lucid dream, you know, when you actually know you’re dreaming.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Naz saw Ham pull a black object out of his back pocket and hold it behind his back. Naz and Ham were now about fifty feet from the two boys. They were even bigger and possibly older than Naz first thought, but that didn’t seem to bother Ham.

“I don’t … I … I don’t think I ever had that dream … before.” Naz struggled to speak not even knowing what he was saying. 

When the boys were within thirty feet of each other, Ham said something in Spanish, something that came out very fast that Naz didn’t understand. His hope that it was a peaceful greeting faded when he saw the reflection off a shining blade—a blade from the black object Ham was concealing behind his back. The husky boy in front of Ham said something back in Spanish—something Naz remembered the taller boy saying earlier.

“Únete a nosotros,” said the husky boy.

Then, as if on cue, like something out of a Western, they all stopped about fifteen feet from each other. The two strange boys and Ham were smiling at one another, and Naz hoped that it was because they knew each other. But he was soon certain that wasn’t the case, especially when the taller boy, who was also concealing something behind his back, began to taunt Naz and started moving slowly from facing him to Naz’s side. His voice was unusually gruff, as he was laughing and speaking in Spanish. Naz was confused. Is this a robbery? He didn’t have a whole lot of money. He didn’t understand what this was all about.     

Naz said, “No habloespañol.”

It was something he remembered Ham teaching him, but the boy just continued to laugh. The taller boy was obviously trying to angle around and get behind Naz, but with the boy’s every move, Naz turned to face him.     

Suddenly Ham and the husky boy with the Mohawk pulled their knives and crouched in what looked to Naz like some sort of attack position. They were still smiling and still making verbal exchanges in Spanish.

That’s when it happened. Naz hadn’t heard the voices in almost two months and now they were back.

Inspiration behind IA : Initiate

When I first started writing the IA story, it was about creating a superhero story that felt real. As I got further along, it took on different dimensions. I didn’t want the story of Naz Andersen to be so complex that it was boring or too hard to get into, but at the same time I wanted it to have layers. I wanted Naz to have to deal with the questions that face real human beings, not questions that fit in the square boxes of a comic book, the widescreen in a theatre or on the pages of a sci-fi novel, but the ones we’re faced with every day, the ones that often don’t have a right or wrong answer.

In the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire, the Green Goblin puts Spider-Man in a position where he has to decide who lives: a group of people or MJ. Well, I was disappointed that Spider-Man found a way to save both. In the Dark Knight, Batman had no such luck with the Joker and was not able to save Rachel or Harvey for that matter. These are the situations Naz ultimately finds himself in and the outcome will almost always look more like the Dark Knight ending than the Spider-Man ending because it’s real.

I like not only putting my protagonist up a high tree like that but my readers as well. I want my reader to constantly ask themselves what would they do given the same situation. People classify IA as a youth read, but I call it straight fiction with a touch of science, written for all. I believe kids have to learn earlier these days that it’s not always about right and wrong, there’s often more than one answer to most questions, and sometimes there’s no answer at all. I was taught lying was wrong. Stealing was wrong. Cheating was wrong. But I learned on my own that there’s time to lie, steal, and cheat.

My dad is a 80-year-old, church-going, God-fearing man. I grew up in the church and always questioned its tenets. When I got old enough, I stopped going to church in favor of my own search for enlightenment. One day my dad came home from church and told me as he sat in the pew that day he asked himself “Why am I here? Why do I come here every Sunday?” I asked him what answer he came up with and he said he couldn’t come up with one. But he still goes to church every Sunday without fail.

I want to write in a way to make people think beyond the words. When I describe the Exclave as poverty-ridden and gang-infested. It’s not to make you think something should be done about the poverty or gangs. It’s just to make you think. Is a lie wrong if it saves a life? Is revenge always a bad thing or is it ever justified? When my readers turn the last page of my books, I would like to think that I’ve planted a seed for further enlightenment, not preached a sermon or dropped some knowledge.