Today I'm joined on the blog by author J. Gabriel Gates to talk a little bit about the first book in The Tracks series which he writes with Charlene Keel. Books one and two, Dark Territory and Ghost Crown, are available now from HCI books, and you can read my review of Dark Territory and enter a giveaway for both books here. This series features a wide variety of elements including paranormal entities, gang wars, martial arts, and forbidden romance, and Mr. Gates was nice enough to answer all my questions about the different pieces that make up The Tracks!
Aside from the classic Romeo and Juliet, I’d have to say it’s The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. It loved that book as a kid. It really captures that feeling of longing that can’t quite come to fruition, and I think that’s a very poignant and real experience for many of us, especially as teenagers, where we might be pining for someone who, for whatever reason, is unattainable.
Both Raphael and Zhai have been studying Kung Fu with Master Chin for a long time. What is the very first thing he taught both of them?
Great question! This isn’t in the book, of course, but from my training in Wing Chun Kung Fu and my knowledge of how Master Chin thinks, I’d say that since Raph and Zhai started very young (at seven years old) he would have started by teaching them discipline and patience. He would have had them stand in horse stance without moving for five minutes at a time. “Horse Stance” means knees bent, legs shoulder width apart, hips cocked forward, back straight, knees pulled in, elbows bent and hands in fists and pulled back until the knuckles are next to the pectorals. Believe me, standing for five minutes like that is pretty tiring—it can seem like an eternity!
Those who want to join the Flatliners have to go through an initiation wherein they leave a mark in the railroad track tunnels. If you were to join, what mark would you leave?
Well, I’m a Christian, so I’d probably leave a cross, along with my initials.
After Tyler’s death and her time away in Montana, Aimee has returned to town a very different person. How might Raphael describe the change in her from a year ago to now
I think Raphael would say that the biggest change is that she’s more independent. Before, she was always hanging out with her click of popular, sometimes mean friends, and she seemed totally unattainable to him. When she comes back after going through a really rough time at boarding school, she’s no longer the “golden child” she was before, and as a result, she’s less judgmental of people – even of Flatliners like Raphael and Dalton. Now that she’s been gone for a while, she’s able to see her friends with fresh eyes, and she doesn’t like what she sees. That leaves her open for new friends and, in Raphael’s case, a new love.
If students signed up to participate in school production of Grease in any way, they received a full grade increase. Which aspect of the production would you have signed up for if you signed up at all?
Ha ha! Well, confession: I’m pretty much a ham. When I was in high school I was the lead in quite a few school plays, I majored in theater at Florida State, then I moved to LA and worked as a professional actor. I did a bunch of TV commercials and stuff. So, I probably would have been on stage in the spotlight!
Dark Territory has a large cast of characters, all of who have a unique role to play in the supernatural happenings of Middleburg. Was it ever challenging to keep each of their individual stories and how they linked to the overall story straight?
In the beginning was difficult at times, particularly when I’d be working on one character’s plotline for a while and then I’d have to go back and say: wait, what was this other person doing? In that regard, it was great to have my co-author, Charlene on board. We each had our favorite characters, so while I was concentrating on my favorites like Raphael and Zhai and Aimee, she’d be going “what about Maggie?” (her favorite) or “We need a Kate scene here,” or “It’s time for some Violet!” I think that really helped to ensure that all our many characters got totally fleshed out and brought to life.
As the process has gone on, though, it’s gotten easier. In Book 2, Ghost Crown – which just came out, it was much easier to take all those threads and weave them together. Now, we’re working on Book 3, Shadow Train, and the whole massive story is coming together for this incredible climax, and the thing is almost writing itself! It’s a great feeling.
What three words might Ignacio use to describe his time in Middleburg?
Crazy. Scary. Amazing.
Thanks so much for these wonderful, thoughtful questions!
Thanks for stopping by Mr. Gates! More information on J. Gabriel Gates and The Tracks series can be found here:
Buy Dark Territory on Amazon
Buy Ghost Crown on Amazon