The Twist is a coming of age tale about a seemingly successful, young, black male professional named Travon Brown. Travon did not grow up with a silver-spoon, however he had a male role model named Willie, who spoiled Travon with not just gifts and material things, he spoiled Travon with women as well.
Now close to thirty, Travon feels he has the world in his hands, until a terrible misstep puts his life and the lives of those he loves in jeopardy.
The Twist shows the effects of having a male role model in a young man’s life whether the influence is positive or negative. The choices young black males make can change the course of their lives forever, and that decision leads down one of two roads: good or evil.
Travon Brown lives the life most 28-year-olds can only dream. He’s charismatic, established in his career and popular with the ladies. At a bachelor party for his frat brother, Travon meets Angel, a curvaceous dancer who appears to be a novice in the hardcore world of seduction.
When the two talk about their lives, they realize that they have a lot more in common than just physical attraction. They share an explosive moment that leaves them both wanting more.
But when Travon gets into a scuffle with Angel’s boss, it sets off a chain reaction that leads to an all-out war between two headstrong strip club owners. It isn’t until later that Travon realizes the consequences of his one-night stand. Will the war between the others extinguish their chances, or will the heat of their affair be enough to rekindle the fire?
“So this is how you’re going to punish me, huh, god? I mean, you made me feel cursed from the day I was born. Let’s look at how you done me wrong,” Memphis says, grinning at himself through his drunkenness. He ticks off the list of betrayals on his fingers.
“You took my mother from me two weeks after I was born. Killed off my aunt on Christmas Day when I was five, after her nigga beat her to death with a pipe wrench ’cause he thought she stole his heroin. Had my foster mother rape and beat me for ten years. Ripped my baby out of my wife’s womb, and that wasn’t enough so you took my second child ten months later. Now you take my wife. My wife? What the fuck?”
“What else do you want? Oh yeah, I forgot you want my club, too.” Memphis laughs and slaps his knee. “God, you is a big ole pimp. I can see that now. I told you after you took my aunt that I would never bow down to you. I ain’t changed my mind. I guess that’s how I managed to get this far without playing by the rules. You can’t break me. You can have my wife, she’s probably better off with you. But as long as I’m here, I’m going to be hell on earth. Remember, you created a monster.”
James has only had two jobs in his life. His first job was working as a busboy for a national steakhouse chain and his second was working for newspapers in the community in which he was born and raised.
He obtained his first newspaper job working for the Milwaukee Community Journal – Wisconsin’s largest African American owned newspaper – at the age of 14. The newspaper offered him a job covering teenage issues after it published an article he had written on “Why Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Dream Has Not Been Realized.”
After working for the Community Journal for a year, he became the Milwaukee Sentinel’s first high school intern during his junior year of high school. What started as an opportunity to acclimate a minority high school student into a newspaper environment quickly became his passion. He worked at the morning newspaper every summer filling in for reporters who took their vacations. He also worked on his strengths – finding news in the community that was often overlooked.
While at Marquette University, he worked part-time at the newspaper covering the night police beat and was the rewrite person the night the biggest story of 1991 broke; his name was Jeffrey Dahmer. The serial killer was responsible for a series of gruesome murders of 17 young men in Ohio and Milwaukee – most of them gay or bisexual. James became the connection to that community by talking to the victims’ families.
After graduating from Marquette, he was hired by the newspaper full-time and – until the 1995 merger of the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal – he covered nearly every beat at the paper from civil and criminal court to public education and sports. After the merger, James became the first black male business reporter at the newspaper and the first that either paper had ever had.
James steadily increased his skill set, and received his MBA from Cardinal Stritch in 2002. He became president of the Wisconsin Black Media Association in 2009, and is an active member of NABJ, the National Association for Black Journalists.
In 2012, he won several awards for editorial writing including the Casey Medal-for reporting on issues affecting children and families. James would like to have the success as an author that has he already established as a journalist and columnist.
Get To Know James:
What or who inspired you in your writing career? I was inspired by a number of great people. But I would give the most credit to my grandfather. He was a very good story teller. He didn’t watch television or listen to the radio, but every night when the sun would go down, neighbors would come up to the house and sit under the shade tree and share stories over coffee. My grandfather’s delivery was awesome. He had perfect pitch, tone, and suspense. Even though he would tell the same stories over and over again, he had a way of keeping you interested. So he was the first person to get me interested in storytelling.
Do you have a favorite character in the book? I loved Crazy Nate’s character. His character is based on a man who lived on my block named Crazy Jim. He was a war vet who really didn’t take no mess off of anyone. He was tougher than nails, an alcoholic but one of the smartest men you ever want to meet. He helped to make me tough and build me into the person I turned out to be.
With your journalism background, did you find writing books to be a natural progression? The short answer is no. As a columnist, editorial writer and blogger I write very tight. The concept of telling a story is still there, but as a journalist I have other tools at my disposal to make a story come to life. I can use pictures, videos, graphics and supporting arguments to prove a point. As a novelist you use some of those things, but the emphasis is more on the written word.
What did you find the most difficult aspect of writing to be? Time. Making time after working full-time as a columnist and spending time with family definitely makes finding time to write, hard-pressed. You have to be in a writing mood and it’s hard to do that when you have other responsibilities. The best way to get around that is to schedule time aside for just writing. For me, it’s usually an hour before I go to bed.
What would you like the reader to take away from the book? While my book may come across as a gritty love story with some violence, the underlying story is that of fatherhood and what happens to a young man when his father is absent.
Talk a bit about fatherhood. Well things are different today. Too many young people, especially black and brown boys are not only growing up with their father’s not living in the home, they don’t even have a relationship with their dads. More than not it is either due to violence or the correctional system. There is a study that I read recently that indicated that 1 out of 3 black men will be incarcerated in their life time. For white men that number is 1 in 7. That is a lot of brothers, uncles, dads and cousins taken out of the households and communities.
What other projects are you working on? My next big project is the story of former middleweight champion Gerald McClellan. He was injured in a bout in London while battling Nigel Benn for Benn’s super middleweight belt. McClellan suffered a major brain injury during the bout and has never been the same. I’m telling his story because he was my friend. We actually boxed at the same gym together growing up. Look for that later this year.
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