Young players early deaths sparks writing of Phantoms of Rockwood!
Julius Thompson’s presentation at Decatur Book Festival Good Afternoon, I want to thank you for attending the debut of my fourth novel, Phantoms of Rockwood. Sometimes, you meet people who affect you and encounter experiences that change your life. When that encounter is with a young person, it is more intense and emotional. As a high school varsity basketball coach, I experienced the death of several basketball players. A dramatic example was my ninth-grade rising basketball star. He had a tremendous future and was killed at fifteen. He was riding with an older cousin, going to a pickup basketball game, and when the cousin passed a car and a cement truck was barreling down the two-lane high way. They were killed instantly! This tragic event and several others affected my life as a coach, a teacher and a person. For years I kept these events in the back of my mind. When I finished writing the Julius Thompson Trilogy: A Brownstone in Brooklyn, Philly Style and Philly Profile and the national award winning Ghost of Atlanta…I knew it was time to tackle Purple Phantoms. The death of young athletes was the genesis of Phantoms of Rockwood: What if these young players could return for just one basketball season? The emotions of those tragic moments created a desire to make this book happen. As I was writing Purple Phantoms, I could sense a presence in my home office as I was typing the words, creating vivid scenes and watching the evolution of the carnival of characters come alive on the pages of this young adult novel. My former players lived again, played basketball on the hardwood again, sweated in games again and pulled readers in the moment of this young adult novel. In my dedication I wrote: “Purple Phantoms is dedicated to all the young athletes who died too young. May God keep you close to Him.” Now…I could feel their presence again in the writing of this novel. I knew I had connected with the reader when I received a five-star book review from Readers Favorite, a national book reviewing company, that’s received wide-spread acclaim in the literary world. The Book Reviewer said: “Purple Phantoms is a brilliant book that both young adults and adults will adore.” Wow, I’m still shocked at my second-straight five-star book review as the Gold-Medal winning 2011 Ghost of Atlanta received this honor. Now, I’m writing my fifth novel, The Killer Kudzu, which is taking up most of my writing time. With the publication of A Brownstone in Brooklyn in 2001, I thought my novel writing days were over. Now, four books later and I’m going strong in crafting novels. I’m on a roll! (smile) However, the crafting of a novel is never easy. There is character development with character resumes, scene construction, setting or the sense of place in a book, point of view, descriptive details, pacing, etc. The elements of a novel are daunting and must be conquered and woven together into a cohesive book that will grab and keep readers turning the pages. I want to thank you for listening and please enjoy the Decatur Book Festival!