The Other Cheek throws light on the existing but ignored aspect of domestic violence. This book challenges us to see the vice of domestic violence from a broader perspective. Bookish Fame had the pleasure of talking to Jafe Danbury, where he talked about his book, his inspiration behind writing, and more. Read the author’s interview here.
- Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Jafe Danbury, and I am the author of the psychological novel, THE OTHER CHEEK: Boy meets girl. Girl beats boy. Just your typical love story.
- When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
It’s funny, but it took a long time for the writing bug to come around and bite me, but once it did…ouch! My background is a bit diverse, and my careers have been varied, but my most recent incarnation is as Writer, and I am happy to have embraced that. From having joined the U.S. Navy at a young age and traveled the seven seas, to working for a couple decades in Hollywood as a camera guy and director, to teaching…I’ve done a lot, and it’s helped me weave a pretty rich tapestry of experiences.
My mother was the first person to take notice of my writing, once declaring, “You should be a writer!” It only took me about twenty years to finally do something about that advice, and I wish she could’ve enjoyed my success in becoming a published author. I’m sure she’s looking down on me now; I know she’d be proud.
- What inspires you to write books? What are the things which catch your attention?
The things that inspire me to write books, and the things that catch my attention, are things that are not oft written about, and in some cases not oft talked about. An example of that would be my debut novel, THE OTHER CHEEK. I wrote that book because I had to write it. By that, I mean it was a story that needed to be told, as it’s from a perspective that is largely ignored and involves an underreported dilemma: domestic violence, and specifically as it applies to a man being abused by a woman.
I’ve had responses from readers telling me that they had no idea that this even occurs! For many, it’s a scenario that’s hard to imagine: a very capable male finding himself on the receiving end of years of protracted physical abuse, inflicted by a much smaller and–in the eyes of society–less threatening female. I’ve also had several readers thank me for writing the book because they either knew someone who had gone through such an experience or in a few cases, were going through that nightmare themselves. I had no idea that the response would be as such.
- Tell me something in brief about your book?
The protagonist in my book is Rich, a talented and successful professional in the Hollywood media scene. He marries Tami, an aspiring actress whose inner demons emerge when her world is challenged, and when her mental illness flares menacingly. Rich took his vows seriously, plus he was taught at a very young age that boys don’t hit girls–ever. As Tami’s psyche unravels, she directs her venom at Rich, pummeling him often, and mercilessly, literally beating him down into a place of utter submission, to a point where he is her unwitting punching bag, domestic slave, and he begins to doubt his own sanity. He is a prisoner of war in his own home, and she does everything in her considerable power to prevent his escape.
- How do you organize yourself, as a writer, to keep track of the world you’re writing about?
One thing I learned from writing my debut novel was that–in my case anyway–it was important to jot down ideas that came to me, as they came to me. I’m one of those people who too often have a brilliant idea come to me–maybe while I’m sleeping or driving–and I’ll tell myself, “Yeah, that’s awesome…I’ll definitely remember that!”…only to have it later slip away into the ether because I hadn’t written it down! So frustrating…
So, now I use a note-taking app on my phone and when an idea comes to me (it could be a snippet of dialogue, a scenario, a character trait, a plot point), I enter a note into my phone’s app and I can consult it later. I find that it’s better to have written it down, for review later, and it’s easy to delete if it later doesn’t pass muster. Better than taking the chance on my memory! As far as other routines go, I don’t necessarily have any that I can think of. When I’m inspired to sit down and write, some days it can be a slow trickle, but others can be an opened floodgate…cranking out twenty-plus pages sometimes. Those are the days I relish!
- How did you approach the writing process this time around? Do you have a set routine or does it vary? And how do you manage it with your full-time work?
I confess to the fact that I’m not one of those that adhere to a strict regimen or routine. I don’t set defined hours to begin writing, and I don’t strive for a daily page count. When I am immersed in the story, though, I will make it a point to give it my level best effort in order to move it along, but only if the quality is there. I’m not a fan of stories that meander too much, that stray, that deviate from the path they set.
Another pet peeve of mine is stories that have plot holes and loose ends. I feel like the reader is cheated in those instances. I try to circle back in the manuscript and make sure I’ve addressed everything satisfactorily. It’s also tough to “find” time to write sometimes, especially if you have other work you’re doing (in my case teaching at the moment). But you have to keep your eye on the prize if you want to see it to fruition, so one can’t sit back and hope for the perfect time. If it’s something worth doing, it’s worth digging deep in order to put it in motion.
- How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
I am grateful that the circuitous path of life has led me to writing. In my case, it took a hellish amount of personal experience to get there. The story of Rich, and the nightmare scenario he found himself trying to survive, mirrors my own–not only in that we shared the same career, but we also suffered the same tortures behind closed doors. That is what led me to write, and, frankly, it took a great deal of courage to decide to write it.
As you can probably imagine, it was also a very painful process to revisit, but a necessary one. My mantra while I was writing it was, “If this helps one person, it’ll be worth it.” And, apparently, it has, so I feel very fulfilled in that mission. The book was written in the interest of promoting awareness of this underreported dilemma, and contributing to the discussion has helped me as a person. I’m quite proud, truth be told.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
To be honest, I don’t carve out enough time to read these days. Growing up, I usually asked my mother to bring me library books that were of the nonfiction variety, things about dinosaurs, true stories about the FBI, and such. When I was traveling a lot for Hollywood business and often found myself on long flights, I was devouring a couple of novels a week, but these days…not so much. I enjoy it though. It feels like such a guilty pleasure sometimes, nest-ce pas? I’d say some of my favorite authors would include Nelson DeMille, the late James Kirkwood, some of the early Tom Clancy.
- What does being a successful author look like to you?
When I wrote THE OTHER CHEEK, I really didn’t know what to expect as to what kind of audience it would appeal to, or even if it would. I had a bit of self-doubt at first, asking myself, “Who would want to read about…THAT?” (or thoughts to that effect). The subject matter was dark, and the scenario atypical, and I wasn’t sure anybody would read it.
As the Amazon and Goodreads reviews started to trickle in, I was bolstered by the fact that they were overwhelmingly five-star reviews, and many offered several paragraphs of supporting arguments for the book and justifying their star ratings. People were reading it, people were responding to it, some people were being changed by it. It was amazing.
Around that same time, I got wild hair and decided to enter it into a contest, just for fun. What’s the worst that could happen, right? Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I was contacted by the judges at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and told that my debut novel had been awarded a Finalist Medal in its category of Best First Novel! Yeah, that happened… Still pinching myself!
- Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers.
My advice to aspiring authors would be simple: Write from a place of truth. Regardless of the subject or genre, write from a place of truth. Weave it in there. The reader will respect you for it. My two cents.
- Are we going to hear more from you in the future?
I’m happy to report that I’m about to sit down and begin the process of busting out my second novel. This will be a new challenge for me, as this story will be completely from the invention, yet it will bring a generous amount of that aforementioned truth to it. I’m keeping the story close to my vest for now, but this time out I’m going to be focusing on a female protagonist. She’ll be flawed, yet strong, and it’ll be an interesting–even controversial–story of redemption. Oh, and like my first book, it’ll have a killer soundtrack! Stay tuned!
*We wish Author Jafe Danbury all the best for his future endeavors.*