Brett Axel is renowned for being a brilliant writer and poet, who has been featured in over 100 literary journals and magazines, books of poetry, and a critically-acclaimed children’s book. His new book “Not Okay,” is absolutely riveting, and has roared into the literary world, receiving rave reviews from the critics and readers alike.
In “Not Okay,” Peter Wilson, the books protagonist, seeks healing from child sexual abuse and mental illness in the 1980’s, along the way he lays out truth, and wisecracks – and there may well be a bit of murder too. After getting our hands on the book, we found it to be inspiring, heartfelt and deep to the core on ones inner being. It shows and exemplifies the essence on humanity through choices that one confronts on the playing field of survival. There is humor in what one has to do to survive in the world, the overall plot theme digs deep into the common factor of choice and how choices influence life. This book definitely gets 5 stars and is a must-read for all.
Brett recently also switched gears, taking on the role of editor at Vinal Publishing. We were thrilled to be able to sit down with him to find out what inspired him to write this fascinating book, and get the inside scoop on his new role at Vinal Publishing.
“Not Okay” had me riveted from beginning to end, and had me losing a bit of sleep but it was well worth it. What was the process of writing this book like for you? Did you include parts of your own life in it?
When you are an object, your story is what is done to you. That story has been told and told again. I wanted to tell a story that hadn’t been told. The story of trying to become a self-determined person after being a victim. What was done to my character is drawn very heavily from what I went through, but he is a fabrication. He makes different choices.
You have not had an easy life by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it’s quite the opposite but in your work, you still include the fun and silliness of life. Was that a conscious choice or is it who you are at your core, and it found its way into your work?
I think it is essential to the authenticity of the story to include the coping mechanisms that kept my character from self-destruction. It’s funny to the reader, but to him, it’s a necessity to survive.
Frida Kahlo’s portrait is in your picture. Does she have a special place in your heart, psyche, or work?
That’s my boss, Jeanne Vinal. She has portraits of strong women all over the office. Frida Kahlo is on one wall, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is on another, Angela Davis is on another. I love having them there, but that’s to her credit. In my office, I have a portrait of William S. Burroughs. On my desk is a quote by Hunter S Thompson. I think the melding of serious and fun inspirations is evident in every book Vinal has signed so far.
You also became the editor at Vinal Publishing. Being an author and an editor are very different, what was the transition like for you?
It really wasn’t a transition for me. Over the years I was an editor for several periodicals. In college I was the student editor of the campus literary journal. I went from there to three different publications, plus edited an anthology. The only real difference is now I get a steady paycheck for it. I like that. It’s nice to know there will be food and shelter from one month to the next.
What kinds of books are you currently looking to publish? What kind of advice do you have for authors looking to get published these days?
Vinal publishes 8 to 12 titles a year, we are really looking for books that stand out rather than fit in. We want books that are gutsy and take chances, but that can’t be all they have going for them. They need to be written exceptionally well.
Advice for aspiring authors? I could go on for hours. If I have to limit myself to one thing it is this: don’t ever think you are good enough. The worst writers are the ones that think they are so great they never try hard enough to actually be great. The best are the ones that are always looking for even the smallest thing that could be better.
“Not Okay” is currently available on Amazon