Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Interview + Giveaway with Jack Chaucer

Hello my lovely followers. I hope your week is off too a good start! I'm really excited today to present to you an interview with Jack Chaucer, author of Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and even provide a few ebooks for you to win! This book is a very emotional, thought provoking one, and I am very grateful that I had the chance to pick his brain for a bit. And now, without further ado, Jack Chaucer- be sure to thank him for stopping by!


Streaks of Blue is a story that touches a very sensitive, but unfortunately all too familiar topic. What drove you to write a book about a school shooting?

The Newtown massacre happened in the state where I live, Connecticut, so it really hit close to home. There's this feeling of hopelessness and helplessness after something so awful. As a novelist, I decided to try to write something meaningful about the issue of school violence. My hope is "Streaks of Blue" will inspire people, especially young people, to think twice about their words and actions, and try to make a positive difference in the world. Make friends, not enemies, especially with kids who might need a hand up in life.

What steps did you take to write from inside the would-be killers' perspectives? Was it a hard frame of mind to get into?

It's an impossible frame of mind to get into for someone who prefers not to kill anything, not even spiders, but for the sake of the story, I forced myself to try. I just used my imagination and, by Chapter 8, I had developed Adam's character enough to write the scene where he daydreams, while hunting, about teaming up with Lee to wipe out the entire school. That was a brutal scene to conjure up and write, but I think it was necessary to get into the mind of this kid and present that very real danger to the reader. The only good thing about that scene is Adam was already being affected by Nicole's involvement in his life. The thought of Lee shooting her as she is running toward him makes him feel sick. And that, believe it or not, was a good sign. Nikki had made this kid really think about consequences for the first time since the plot was hatched.

A portion of the proceeds of Streaks of Blue is donated to the Newtown Memorial Fund, which is a great step to take as an author. How much have you raised so far for these families?

To date, I have sold 14 Amazon paperbacks, 7 Kindle copies and 2 iTunes copies for a total of 23 books sold. Net proceeds are $62.12. That means my readers and I have raised $31.06 for the Newtown Memorial Fund so far. I think that's great considering the book has been out for only a little over a month. I'm a largely unknown indie author so those sales and donations are the result of my own online marketing/social media efforts and awesome book bloggers like yourself who help spread the word. So thank you, Jill! My plan is to make my donations to the Newtown Memorial Fund website every year on December 14th, the anniversary of the tragedy. I love that the NMF's motto is "Hitch Your Wagon to a Star." Well, the character Star who appears to Nicole in her dream in Chapter 2 of my book is inspired by little Emilie Parker, one of the victims. And the teacher in the dream is inspired by Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung. Some readers have criticized me for using the dream angle as implausible, but my response is this: I wanted these victims directly in this story. I wanted them to warn Nicole and everyone who reads this book that if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone, so do SOMETHING to help stop this madness. The clock could strike 12:14 for us at anytime. I wanted them to relay this sense of urgency directly because it's very easy to let a few months go by and forget the horror and pain that occurred on 12-14-12.

No, thank you. I've heard of some writers that need to have a favorite pen or to be drinking a certain kind of pop while they write to channel creativity. Are there any methods or quirks that you have while you're writing?

Well, I sit in a comfy blue recliner and hand write the first draft. I guess that's my zone. I used to listen to music while I write, but now I find that too distracting. I do, however, like listening to music in the car on the way to work. That's when I seem to come up with good ideas for the characters, scenes and plot as I'm working on the story.

I myself am without children, and stories about shootings such as the one plotted in Streaks of Blue in the news terrify me enough. As a father, can you shed some light on how a parent feels when these horrors happen?

My twins are 2, so it's not like they're in school yet, but just being a parent puts Newtown in a whole new level of ... there are no words that can describe what happened. The bottom line is we have to treat what happened as if OUR kids were murdered that day ... because they are OUR kids. All of humanity loses when we send first graders to school to learn and they never come home. It's a chilling plague on our country and it's not just about guns. It's about basic human relationships. We need to bring at-risk kids in from the fringe very early and make them feel accepted, befriended, loved, etc. If we don't, this cycle of horror will continue to repeat itself.

You're really angry or are having a really rough day: what's the one thing that can always cheer you up?

My kids are pretty good at it because they are so cute and funny. Running and fantasy football are good diversions, too.

Are there any writing projects in the works that you can tell us about?

I'm taking a break for a while after this tough one, but most people haven't read my previous works. "Queens are Wild" is an awesome adult sci-fi thriller with a political bent that takes teen Margeaux Quigley from 1984 to 2036 (52 years) in 52 minutes. She gets dragged into a mission to help thwart an overthrow of the U.S. government in 2036. That book is available on Amazon and everywhere else, just like "Streaks of Blue." "Freeway & the Vin Numbers" is a novella about a Jimi Hendrix-inspired band with original song lyrics that's available for free on Booksie. Just do a search for Jack Chaucer. And my first novel, "Rocco & the Russian Mountains," is a YA e-book also available for free on Booksie. I have a couple of short stories on there as well. If I do write another novel, my goal is to tackle a trilogy. I've been toying with the title "Mammyth." And if "Streaks of Blue" were to really take off, I could possibly see doing a sequel at some point.

Well, I personally vote for a sequel. I'd love to read more. Here's my final question: If you could share advice or a message with all of the bullying victims and outcasts reading this interview, what would you tell them?

I would say hang in there. Life can get much better. The teen years are tough, but as you mature and allow yourself to experience more things in life, you'll learn to put things in perspective, not get so freaked out about various obstacles and grow into a unique and special person. Everybody can turn his or her life around. Sometimes all it takes is one friend or one positive experience, like a hike up a mountain with a spectacular view. It worked for Adam Upton. Try to get away from the negativity and do something positive with positive people. You'll feel better about yourself and expand your mind to see what's possible if life.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Now, to those who missed my earlier review of Streaks of Blue, here are my thoughts!


Title: Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School
Author: Jack Chaucer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 27th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Four stars.

While camping out with her best friend Candace, Nikki has the strangest dream. A dream that seems to be a warning that social outcast of their high school, Adam, has plans to shoot up the school. Though her friend tells her that it's probably just nothing, Nikki can't shake the bad feelings that it stirs inside her, and she comes up with a simple plan- to become Adam's friend when he might not have any others. But is her friendship too little, too late?


I have to first get off my chest the horrible timing with which I finished this novel. Today, October 21st, 2013, there was a shooting at a Nevada middle school that left two dead, and two injured (as of now). The shooter is believed to be 13 or 14. I am greatly disturbed even more so by this book because it is an issue that clearly is still in need of great discussion.

Nikki is a girl that everyone should be a little bit more like. It's true that I didn't always agree with her choices- befriending two boys who are emotionally unstable enough to plan on a mass murder is obviously extremely dangerous- but she had the cahones to stand up to her school, and her friends who questioned why she'd want to be friends with such a "trailer trash train wreck." I could not help but to think of the wise words of Albus Dumbledore: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Though her best friend was loyal and in the right for being worried, Nikki stood up for what she thought was right, and that's a really hard thing to do in life, high school especially.

School shootings are a widely controversial topic, but Jack Chaucer is gentle and understanding when referencing other shootings- namely Sandy Hook. I was afraid that this book would have been insincere and abuse a hot news story in order to have a plot, but that was definitely not the case. This whole book is gritty and frighteningly real, and driven with emotion.

I did have a few small issues with the book that resulted in its four star review in lieu of five. The conversations between characters had a tendency to feel forced, which led to a small disconnect for me. The end was also patched up rather quickly, but to be honest, I'd rather have it wrapped up a little fast than drag on for too long. And, though this personal opinion isn't reflected in the rating, I'd have really liked to hear more of Adam's story.

It's a sad but true fact that most of us (thankfully) will never know exactly what's going on inside a shooter's head. It's for that reason that things like this need to be taught and discussed: You don't know the life of anyone else. Just because someone is different is no reason to taunt, bully, or pick on them. A little friendship and kindness can go a long way. Embrace differences, and be kind. It's preachy and cliche but god damn it if it isn't true.

Be warned that this book addresses a sensitive topic, contains colorful language, and references drugs and alcohol. The author is donating half of all profits from this book to the Newtown Memorial Fund.

Thank you to Netgalley for my chance to read this.


Now, here's your chance to win an ebook copy of Streaks of Blue.

The Rules:
-This giveaway will run from November 6th, 2013 to November 13th, 2013.
-This giveaway is open to those 18+ or those with parental consent.
-It is open to anyone over that age who can legally enter, receive, and use their prize.
-Three (3) winners will win a digital copy from Smashwords, via code.
-This giveaway is sponsored wholly by the author.
-This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity.
-Winner will have 48 hours to reply, or a new winner will be chosen. Winner will be chosen using Rafflecopter.
-Invalid entries will be removed, so please don't cheat.
-Void where prohibited. Odds will vary. No purchase necessary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contact the Author



  1. Sounds like it will be an emotional read.

  2. I'm usually terrified more by books that can really happen.

    1. I am too. That's what made this one so haunting.

  3. I always have a hard time deciding to read an emotional book, but once I start, I usually love them. This sounds like a tear jerker.

  4. This topic is definitely one that needs attention. The world is such a different place today than it was when I attended school. I have a hard time understanding why this is so. It's important to address school shootings in a realistic way so repeat episodes can be avoided and closure from past ones can occur.

  5. I was interested in this book ever since I first read your review, definitely entering for this!