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What are the odds? The very same magazine writer for POP Culture magazine, Blaise Taylor DuPree, contacted author Chris Colston for a Q&A regarding his James Hoak series. Colston agrees with old Hoak; B. Taylor DuPree’s name does sound overly rhythmic, like something out of a Dr. Seuss children’s book, but he understood why he uses the initial “B” instead of “Blaise.” Too similar in spelling to `blasé. For a writer, not a good word. (Although ‘Blaise DuPree’ does have a nice ring to it.) Maybe if he had spelled it B-L-A-Z-E? Blaze DuPree?… But enough of that. Let’s get on with the Q&A.
B. TAYLOR DUPREE: You’ve branded these books as “The James Hoak series,” featuring Hoak’s name prominently on the cover. What was the inspiration for the Hoak character? Is it autobiographical?
CHRIS COLSTON: Are you crazy? Do you think I would do things like verbally joust with the sports editor of national newspaper, incur the wrath of a Heisman Trophy winner, travel to New Orleans just to solve a mystery of why a beach club closed without warning, woo an aspiring Hollywood actress, transport a six-foot-tall pink elephant cross country, poop in the woods in front of a billionaire pro football owner, survive a car explosion, and hang from the arm of a giant mechanical cowboy at the Super Bowl? The answer is yes, it is somewhat autobiographical.
BTD: How would you describe these books? Why would I want to read them?
CC: Imagine if Fletch and Elaine Benes from Seinfeld had a baby who grew up to be a sportswriter; that’s James Hoak. They are quick reads, they’re fun, they’re full of action and witty banter, and if you’re paying attention, maybe you’ll end up a better person after reading them.
BTD: Who is the target audience?
CC: Teen and young adults of all ages, from twelve to one hundred and twelve. But they particularly fill a void for young males who might not be inclined to read otherwise. As a freshman English teacher, I saw the void first-hand in the classroom.
BTD: I understand you originally published these books as the American Sportswriter series. Why the rebranding?
CC: Ah, I see you’ve done your homework. The American Sportswriter series was inspired by the late Dan Jenkins and geared toward mature audiences. A couple of my fellow teachers had urged me to clean up the books to make them teen & young adult appropriate, giving teen & young adult boys some books of their own to read. Much like the Harry Potter and Greyson Gray series, these are character-driven books. James Hoak just happens to be a sportswriter, but his adventures are universal. So for the covers I doubled down on that. When you see the covers, it’s clear James Hoak is the driving force of these books.
BTD: OK, last question. I ask this of all my interview subjects. You can have dinner with four people, living or dead. With whom do you dine?
CC: Where is this alleged dinner taking place?
BTD: Don’t worry about that. That’s not the point.
CC: When we’re talking food, it’s always the point.
BTD: Fine. It’s got to be someplace you’ve been before.
CC: Who’s picking up the tab?
BTD: Really? You do realize this is a hypothetical question.
CC: To answer it accurately, I need to know who’s picking up the tab.
BTD: Fine. Me. I’m picking up the tab, OK? Geez Louise. Can you just answer the question?
CC: You? OK. Then it would have to be either Jacques Imo’s in New Orleans, or L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Virginia. You said I can only invite four people?
BTD: I’m beginning to regret asking this, but yes. Four.
CC: Can they be deceased family members?
BTD: Let’s stick with famous people.
CC: Then the first two are easy. Jesus of Nazareth is a no-brainer. Although the language barrier could be a problem, as I don’t speak Aramaic. If he brings an interpreter, does that count as one of the guests?
BTD: (Pauses, thinking it over). No.
CC: I mean, it must be Jesus, right? Even if you’re not religious? Just to get to the bottom of it all? That’s all I’d really need; the rest are just the sprinkles on top of the ice cream. Number two is the great American rocker Bruce Springsteen, if only to ask him what in God’s name he’s saying in the song “Streets of Fire,” right after he warns the listener not to look at his face.
BTD: Wait, doesn’t Springsteen provide the lyrics to all of his songs?
CC: Yes, he does. But for some reason, the official album ignores those lines. You can Google the lyrics, but you’ll get different answers. I even listened to the live versions he did at the Paramount in 2009, and you can’t decipher them. It’s a true mystery. Don’t come over to my place? Don’t come around my place? I’m coming home to this place? To be honest, I don’t think even Bruce himself knows.
BTD: With so many fans, you’d think someone would have figured it out.”
CC: You’d think. All right, number three. That’s tougher. John Steinbeck, to pick his brain on writing? Cleopatra, to see if her hair really was red? Or Abraham Lincoln, if for no other reason than to just see the man in person? Oh, heck yeah. Gotta go with Abe.
BTD: And the fourth?
CC: It would have to be someone funny, to lighten things up. Chris Rock.
BTD: That would definitely be one interesting dinner. So, where can people find these James Hoak books?
CC: Simply click on these words of wisdom: Make Me Happy and take me to the James Hoak series page!