Interview with Thomas Barr, author of Notorious P-Man Sam


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Hailing from Miami Florida; Author Thomas Barr was born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  He is the grandson of a share cropper whom taught him the value of hard work and education.  At age 17 he began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college he was inspired to write when he read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  He began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  He entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military he went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  He began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.  His current works were inspired by his work with the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.

Thomas Barr’s writings reflect the everyday struggle of the average individual trying to make something of life.  Every person has a story to tell and the job of an inspirational writer is to bring those stories to life for the good of all.  As an author Thomas Barr desires to be the chronicler of inspirational stories designed to assist dreamers in achieving.   

Connect with Thomas:

Author Website: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com 
Author Blog: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com/367815247
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.j.barr.5
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ThomasBarrJr
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31179667-thomas-barr-jr



About The Book

  Notorious P-Man Sam  

TitleNotorious P-Man Sam: Miami's Urban Chronicles Vol. 1 
Vol. 1: Miami's Urban Chronicles
Author: Thomas Barr., Jr.
Publisher: VIP INK Publishing Group, Inc. / Printhouse Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Format: Paperback - 88 pages / eBook
ASIN: B00U37SSM2
Genre: Urban Fiction  


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Book Excerpt: 


In the tenth year of the millennium, on the major Interstate of I-95 cars sped up the roadway and zinged pass construction barriers.  Many of the vehicles just barely swipe distressed vehicles’ parked roadside.  Sam Silvasteen drove with his windows down taking in the South Florida breeze as his car cruised at a comfortable speed.  A black car with a high performance sounding engine screeched up next to Sam’s car.  The sound of gunfire erupted and peppered the passenger’s side of Sam’s car with silver dollar sized bullet holes.  Sam jerked the steering wheel in an attempt to dodge the spray of bullets.  The men in the car continued to pace Sam’s car firing ruthlessly into the frame of the automobile.  Hot lead ripped through Sam’s flesh as he was hit with a volley of bullets. 

Sam slammed into the median and the men sped off as his car coasted to a halt along the concrete rail.  Sam could hear the screaming brakes of other cars on the road and smell the scent of twisted metal as he faded out.  The Entrepreneurial President of Bandstand Magazine lay shot along the Miami corridor among twisted metal.  His life flashed before his eyes and he thought back on the events that led him to his current predicament.

Sam was a street wise entrepreneur who had escaped the shadows of the crime filled eighties drug environment of Miami.  Cocaine was the major drug that circulated thru the community of Dade County.  He transformed his life into a respectable businessman and attempted to help other urban youth in becoming productive community citizens.  Within the blink of an eye his life was turned upside down and the phantoms of his past attempted to snatch his mortal essence from existence. 
Sam was initially raised in a single parent home.  When Sam turned ten in the year 1977, he was placed in an orphanage by his grandparents due to his mother’s early dementia among her other mental illness related problems.  Sam’s grandparents had six adult kids living in their home and couldn’t afford a proper home for young Sam. 

***

“Who turned the damn T.V.,” yelled a burly kid his hair dripped with Gerri curl juice.  His voice echoed through the bare white walled dayroom of the orphanage.  Sam sat motionless as the other kids looked around not saying a word in response to the question.  The scarcely decorated room remained silent.  Most of the juveniles were Cuban exiles and spoke little English.  The burly kid steaming with rage yanked the plug out of the wall and kicked the T.V. over.  The loud crash and sound of breaking glass alerted the nearby sisters from the hallway entrance. 

“What happened to the T.V.?”  Asked Sister Alice, she was new to Saint Joseph and relocated from Nicaragua to assist with the influx of prospective exiled children of political patriots.  She wore the traditional long flowing robes of her profession.  She was a looker and it could be speculated that she had her pick of the litter before being ordained.

“Jose kicked it over,” said the burly kid as he pointed at Jose Marti a skinny pale Cuban teen.  Jose possessed long limbs but his skinny frame made him look a bit goofy in appearance. 

“Jose is this true?”  Replied Sister Alice, as she wheeled in his direction.  Jose remained silent as Sister Alice waited for him to respond. 

“Jose didn’t do it Sister Alice,” Sam exclaimed.  His voice was firm and controlled.  “Well it didn’t happen on its on Sam,” replied Sister Alice in a sarcastic tone.  The burly kid cut his eyes at Sam and gave him a hard look.

She now turned to the burly kid, “Trey Brownlee if you’re fibbing you get twenty lashes,” She exclaimed. 

“I swear….,” replied Trey before he could finish his sentence Sister Alice smacked him in the chest with a ruler.  In a heavy Spanish accent she sentenced Trey to spend the rest of the day in time out. 

“Sam get this mess cleaned up,” she said as she escorted Trey from the room.

Sam immediately grabbed a garbage can to pick up the shards of glass that covered the floor.  Jose found a broom and swept some of the glass in a pile for Sam to scoop into the garbage.  The other kids resumed their activities as the hype died down. 

Sam made a friend in Jose from the day of the T.V. incident with Trey.  They began their friendship working as partners at anything they did together.  Sam was a husky twelve year old and Jose was three years his senior.  The two got along quite well with no regards to their respective ages.  Lucky Barnes was a younger kid who hung around Burt Ramos the only Puerto Rican kid at the orphanage.  Lucky was a portly black kid with big hands.  Burt often used little Lucky when he was trying to hustle the other boys in marbles.

“Hey Sam,” said Burt.  “Trey is going to be pissed that you stuck your nose in his business.”

“Forget Trey,” responded Sam.  “If you’re down with Trey than forget you too,” said Sam as he flopped down onto a sofa in the dayroom of the orphanage.  A group of boys congregated at the corner of the day room and shot a game of marbles. 

“Oh I’m down for myself and I was just making sure you knew what time it was,” said Burt as he made his way to the marbles game.  Lucky gave Sam thumbs up as he shuffled close behind Burt.
Jose pulled up a chair alongside Sam and said, “Now we have nothing to watch because of Trey.”
The boys protested loudly in the corner of the room while Burt tried to convince them he was not cheating.  “Hey I got ya back don’t let them get to you about that Trey stuff,” he said. 

Sam sat straight up and replied, “I’m not worried about a thing.”  He extended his hand and slapped Jose five.  Jose watched a lot of T.V. and was hip to the street ways of black culture.  He understood the gesture and was happy to have made a friend in a place where watching out for self was paramount.  Sam was also careful in not being labeled a rat while sticking up for Jose.  He knew in befriending an older kid his chances of survival had increased tenfold. 

***

The females were housed in an entirely different dorm wing as compared with the males.  The only times the two would mingle was during mealtimes and that was usually three times a day.  All the kids in the orphanage were supervised by nuns and the Mon Senior had final call on all activities.  Sam had his eye on this one pigtailed hair girl named Vivian Smart.  She was a beautiful vivacious teen who was present at the orphanage upon Sam’s arrival.

“Hi Sam,” she said as she sat down with her lunch at Sam’s table.  “I heard what you did for that Cuban kid the other day and I think it was courageous.”  Sam shifted in his chair.

“No big thing,” he replied.  “The kid looked as if he needed help and I stepped in.”  Sam dropped his head and continued to munch on his sandwich.  Vivian took a cookie from her tray and placed it on a napkin in front of Sam’s tray.  Sam didn’t raise his head but his heart quickened its pace. 

“This is for your bravery,” she replied as she slid the napkin in Sam’s direction.  Sam was at a loss of words, and before he uttered his faint thank you Vivian had strode off and rejoined her friends. 

The cafeteria was a bustle with kids and they were being closely monitored by the nuns for any improprieties.  Sam sat brooding as he finished his meal.  He missed he mother and siblings, while the orphanage provided a vibrant surrounding it lacked genuine personal connections.  Before his mother’s unfortunate problems Sam was often doted on by his family.  He was the youngest and the last born of his mother’s children.  His siblings were years older than he was and were all away trying to establish a life for themselves.  Sam hated being poor but what else could he do he thought to himself. 

Sam made his way to the day room after lunch and sat looking at one of the day room windows.  He had a second period of classes in which he contemplated cutting.  Jose walked up to him and slapped him on the back, “What up Sam!”  He said in his best English. 

“What’s up Jose,” replied Sam.  I got a couple of classes for second period and I do not feel like going,” said Sam with a sigh. 

Jose was only a grade higher than Sam although he was fifteen.  His problems with the language barrier relegated him to grades lower than his normal level in Cuba.  “Let’s hangout in the courtyard or sneak over to the girl’s dorm,” replied Jose.

“Cool,” replied Sam.  He stashed his books under a nearby sofa and was out the door along with Jose. 

***

The girl’s wing was well kept and immaculate in comparison to the facilities the boys maintained.  When not in class the girls milled around outside and played dodge ball on the cement courts.  The males and females rarely participated in physical activities except when there was a yearly festival occurring.  Jose and Sam hid behind a dumpster near the courts of the girl’s dormitory.  “Hey there’s Vivian,” said Sam as he ducked so he wouldn’t be seen by her. 

“Who is Vivian?” Jose inquired. 

“Nobody,” replied Sam.

The girls walked on a nearby court and began their ritual jump rope Double Dutch game.  Jose whistled trying to get one of the girls’ attention, Sam nudged him in the side.

“Are you trying to get us busted,” exclaimed Sam.

“No, just trying to get us some trim,” replied Jose. 

One of the girls heard the commotion and walked over to where Sam and Jose were held up.  She saw them crouched behind the dumpster and immediately began screaming.  The boys tore out of their hiding place and ran for the nearest place to hide for cover.  Jose laughed hysterically as he tried to catch his breath from the sprint to the dormitory.

“You’re crazy,” remarked Sam bending over in exhaustion. 

“That was a rush,” said Jose. 

***

The two boys walked back to the day room and talked about the look on the girls’ faces when they realized they were being spied upon.  Classes were ending for the day and the dayroom was filled with students.  Music appreciation seminars were usually held by Sister Alice after dinner and Sam really enjoyed the sessions.  He profiled the different types of music genre as well as the musicians of past and contemporary times.  “I’m going to my room before dinner,” said Jose.

“See you later,” remarked Sam.

Sam remained in the dayroom leafing through his school books as he sat on a bench in the back of the room.  Sister Alice entered the dayroom recruiting groups to complete chores.  Sister Alice mentioned that the females were also participating and Sam decided to volunteer.  One group of males and one group of females were directed to the gymnasium area of the compound.  The two groups were instructed to scrub the floors and wash the walls.  Sam joined the chore group hoping to get a chance to be around Vivian.  Sam began scrubbing and to his dismay saw no sign of Vivian in the other group.  

Sam continued to volunteer his services for the chores squad of Sister Alice in hopes of seeing Vivian.  On this one particular day the squad was tasked to clean the main administrative offices of parish officials.  Vivian was assigned to the task and Sam was delighted his persistence had finally paid off.  Sam decided he would work closely with Vivian and learn more about her interests. 

“Hey what are you doing here?” said Sam.  Vivian stopped what she was doing and put her hands on his hips.

“The same thing you’re doing,” She said.  The girls giggled as Vivian smiled at Sam. 

Sam thought to himself that was a dumb question to ask.  He never knew the right words to say to the members of the opposite sex.  She looked so beautiful standing there with a twinkle in her eyes and sass in her voice thought Sam. 

“Well I was offering to help but I see you’re good,” Sam replied with a smirk. 

“You’re such a good guy,” said Vivian with a wink.

Sam continued to work while the girls chatted about what guys they thought were cute in the boys’ dormitory.  Sam pondered his next move on how to get Vivian’s attention without her friends being around.  He thought he would have a better chance at an honest conversation on a one on one basis.  Sam would have to covertly recruit individuals to help with his plan and a major part of his plan would be Sister Alice.

Sam was exhausted after his chores and he lounged in the dayroom and watched the boys roll marbles.  A couple of maintenance men coordinated the installment of a new T.V. in place of the damaged one.  Jose walked in and made his way over to a nearby by sofa avoiding the guys on the floor as they shot marbles. 

“So you were doing chores,” remarked Jose.  “Did you see your sweetheart Vivian,” he remarked with a laugh.  Sam ignored Jose’s remark and continued to watch the boys argue over taking a turn to roll marbles. 

“When are you going to volunteer to help out around here?” asked Sam.  “Maybe you’ll meet a nice female.”  Sam remarked. 

“My uncles say the best way to get a fine girl is with a lot of money,” said Jose.  

“Yeah that works too,” said Sam with a chuckle.

Sam was intent on wining the heart of Vivian and he assured himself that love was his reason for his persistence.  Sam had not really known the love of a woman outside of his mother but he could not resist the emotion he felt when he was around Vivian.  Sam would be careful about revealing his feelings around the people he interacted with daily, because in his environment this could be a source of perceived weakness.   

Trey entered the dayroom and stomped through the circled marbles on the floor where the boys were shooting marbles.  The sound of grinding glass against the floor could be heard as Trey twisted his foot on each stomp.  Marbles shot out from under Trey’s foot hitting the sides of nearby chairs, tables and walls.   The boys scuttled out of Trey’s path dodging flying marbles.   

“Man why’d you do that!”  One of the enraged boys responded.

“Shut your trap,” retorted Trey.

Sam knew Trey was pissed he had challenged his rule in standing up for Jose.  Sam was ready for whatever retaliation Trey would seek to impose.  Sam continued to lounge nonchalantly on the sofa as Trey marauded around the dayroom.  Jose remained silent as he sat on the other sofa.  Sam could see Jose was tense and his demeanor had drastically shifted in relation to his earlier mood.  Sister Alice stuck her head through the doorway of the day room. 

“We will have no trouble out of you today Trey,” She said as she disappeared down the hallway. 
Sam sat at the breakfast table alone and ate his bowl of oatmeal in silence.  He soon felt a hand on his shoulder.  It was Sister Alice standing over him smiling with her black nun’s head dress draped over her hair. 

“Sam don’t mind Trey much,” she said.  “Both his parents died of aids when he was just a toddler.”  She pulled up a chair and sat next to Sam.  Sam paused between spoons full of oatmeal as she continued to talk. 

“He was raised by his grandmother until she died a couple of months ago and he seems to have a hard time adjusting.”  She said. 

Sam thought to himself he was not having an easy time here either and why is she telling this story to someone who loathes Trey.  Sam began to fidget with his silverware as Sister Alice told Trey’s life story.  He desperately wished Jose would appear and interrupt her oration.  Sam could appreciate the concern Sister Alice felt for the kids of the orphanage.  He wondered if she spoke of his situation and issues with others as she did of Trey.

Sam’s own home situation was what led to his current occupancy and he felt little empathy for Trey’s story.  Sam had few adult role models; however Sister Alice influenced the good in him.  Sam dreamed of the day when he could stand on his own without the need of the orphanage.  He was tired of being a kid and was ready to venture out into the world.  Sam was in his own thoughts now and subconsciously caught bits and pieces of Sister Alice’s conversation.  “You know Sam Saint Joseph will seek to be a solid base for your upbringing when you grow up,” she said.  Her voice seemed to trail off as her last comment reverberated in his thoughts.

Sam desired to make a good impression to others by making himself who they thought he should be.  He would do tasks that made other people happy and would go all out to fit in with others.  Sam felt uneasy in the aftermath when he thought of this act of self repression.  His true nature was to be himself and explore who the real Sam was as an individual.

Sam viewed Trey as a bully and an enemy to the free spirit of those around him.  Trey’s bully tactics blunted the freewill of others stunting their growth.  Sam in an attempt to be ordinary like everyone else downplayed his true abilities.  He had no desire to be recognized as exceptional in comparison to his colleagues.  The Trey types sought to bring out such exceptional abilities which made Sam hate him even more. 

Sam’s perceived abandonment issues stoked his desires for the camaraderie of others and he highly valued friendship.  Trey bullying tampered with that concept which in turn was a source for instability in Sam’s world.  Sam would mesh out any instability that threatened his contentment.  Trey would be met with the harsh retaliation whenever he threatened to disrupt Sam’s reality. 

Sister Alice realized Sam was not soaking in her words and stopped speaking.  She looked at Sam as he sat gazing into the distance.  She raised herself from her seated position and stood with her hands on her hips.  She shook her head and walked away from Sam as he continued his gaze. 

“Kids,” she said.      

Author Interview

      
Welcome to The Writer's Life! 

Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was inspired to write my novel by a former Miami music magazine executive, who tragically was killed in a drive-by shooting. I wanted to detail his life experiences and portray the incident in a fictionalized chronology. Many people have interesting life stories and often good stories go unnoticed due to the mundane routine of life. I think it's important to take note of those around us and document experiences. Kind of like oral story telling of old which is passed from generation to generation. Books and novels document our human worldly experiences and passes them on to others. In writing this man's experience i wanted to display to others the pressures of the music media business, the experience of being a black influential figure, the vices and the indulgences of the elite and a view behind the curtains so to speak.


How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was not hard at all to write a book like this, however it does take commitment. The passion you have for a story will drive you to put it on paper. Commitment is taking the time each day or determined schedule to finish the book. What also makes the writing process easier is to know the subject. Research what you are going to write about rather it's fiction based or biographical. I do this for most things i write about and it makes for a more interesting read for the readers.


Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Printhouse Books, a company based out of Atlanta Georgia. It's an independent publisher which is an imprint of VIP INK Publishing Group. I saw an online ad where they were accepting submissions from authors and I submitted my drafts. After a couple of months they contacted me saying they liked my work and we began editing the book for publication.


Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes, it was a surprise to realize how long the process took. It takes months editing the book and going back and forth with the publisher. Then there is the writing of forwards, acknowledgements, etc., which extends the process. The entire process can take up to a year for just one book.


What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I published a book which debuted in 2014 titled Overlords Karma: Miami's Urban Chronicles Volume I. The novel is apart of the Miami's Urban Chronicles series which includes Notorious P Man Sam. I'm also working to close out the series with a work entitled Risen due to come out in 2016.


What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

My favorite place to hang out online is on twitter. I can be found @thomasbarrjr on twitter.


Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I would like to stress the entrepreneurial concept and that we all can succeed with our found talents.


Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

I would like to thank my publisher Antwan "Ant" Banks of Printhouse Books and his staff. In addition, I want to thank Ms. Kathleen Anderson for the amazing work she does with her marketing company Pump Up Your Book.



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