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John Davidson Takes Us Behind-the-Scenes in His Debut Novel

Bricks banner Today on The Story Sanctuary, John Davidson, author of Bricks, is here to give us some behind-the-scenes information about the development of his thought-provoking debut novel.

A story is often inspired by a question. What question inspired you to write this novel?

What a great question. For BRICKS, I think it would be: When the pieces of your life are shattered, where do you begin to put them back together? I think the answer for me was family, but what if your family wasn’t who they said they were? All stories are about questions asked and (sometimes) answered.

Were there things about your favorite character which couldn’t be included in the novel?

I didn’t really put a lot about Slim’s mother in the book, but part of that was because not going into too much depth allowed for the greater unspoken sympathy for him. I watch my wife mother our kids, and I know what lengths she would go for them, so to have a mother that abandoned you. Nothing in life can shape and scar you as much as that.

Is there a scene or moment in your novel that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I like the scene in Slim’s trailer where Cori realizes what all Slim has been going through, but I really enjoyed building the individual characters stories—helping them recover the things the storm stole from them. In the Wizard of Oz, a culminating scene reveals how the characters had what they’d gone looking for all along. But I wanted to give each of the characters their own scene where they fully appreciate what they lost—each of those scenes are the ones I had the most fun writing.

What do you most hope that readers take away from your novel?

That life is a journey. It’s not necessarily about building or rebuilding, it’s about something more basic, keeping on. It’s about depending on your family and learning that the truest way to feel better about yourself is to do as the Bible says in Philippians 2:3: Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

I recently read Torn Away by Jennifer Brown, also about the aftermath of a vicious tornado. Are you familiar with this story? If so, how is your novel similar or different? (Do you think Brown’s readers would also enjoy Bricks?)

Yes! I definitely think there are similarities. The biggest being the loss of family and how the idea of family doesn’t necessarily have to fit inside a preconceived notion. While Jersey, the MC in Jennifer’s book, physically loses part of her family in the storm, my MC—Cori, finds that the tornado reveals things that force her to redefine what she always thought family was. I do think they would enjoy it—hope they would, at least.

If you can share, can you tell us a little bit about a new project you’re working on?

I’ve just finished up a YA fantasy/fairy tale that falls somewhere between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Princess Bride about a princess whose parents divorce has broken true love’s bonds. As a result a divorce court curse is placed on their daughter. To replace what her parent’s broke, she must now find her own true love before she turns eighteen–only she’s pretty sure true love is just a fairy tale. It’s comedic absurdity—Monty Python or maybe even like Galavant.

I love writing, and I write a lot. My biggest problem is I love stories first and foremost which means I don’t really stick to any one genre. I love thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary and any mish-mash of sub-genres mostly in the middle-grade or young-adult age group. For now, I just plan to enjoy writing and let the rest of the stuff work itself out.

Is there an up-and-coming author you’re following with interest right now? Can you tell us about an author or novel you think deserves a greater spotlight?

I had been writing quite a bit of sci-fi, dystopian, post-apocalyptic stuff so I was reading several titles from those genres. One author that did a really nice job of matching style with setting was Mindy McGinnis. She has a new novel coming out soon—her third, so I’m interested to see if she uses the same style or varies it. I know my writing still is mostly all over the map, so I like to keep an eye on that.

More about Bricks by John Davidson

Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn’t know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated.

Read my review of Bricks by John Davidson here.

Find Bricks on: Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

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Review: Bricks by John Davidson

John Davidson
Anaiah Press
Published February 3, 2015

Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When an EF5 tornado rips through sixteen year-old Cori’s neighborhood, more than her house is reduced to rubble. Shocking truths about her family emerge in the aftermath. Her nemesis suffers amnesia and Cori can’t seem to get rid of her. Her best friend Slim becomes angry and reclusive. Everything is out of order, and for not-precisely-OCD Cori, this is a huge problem.

As a character, Cori is absolutely the believable high school princess. Davidson does a great job crafting this selfish yet somehow endearing heroine. Cori’s friends are great foils for her, too, often much more noble than she herself can be.

The story bears some cute references to The Wizard of Oz. Cori nicknames the tornado “the witch.” Her friends include Toni “Toto,” Leo (her cowardly lion) and Slim (her scarecrow and courageous buddy.)

Entertaining dialogue fills the scenes between Cori and her friends. Parental figures remain a bit awkward. There were a couple of places where issues between Cori and her parents were left hanging. She lies to them and later discovers they knew the truth, but there’s no confrontation about it at any point. Even when Cori finds out that they were aware of her deceit, it doesn’t seem to register with her. She also avoids contact with them to get money to pay an important debt, but seems to have no problem getting money for a prom dress immediately afterward. Not a big deal, but it definitely felt off.

I really enjoyed the way the author pulled threads from The Wizard of Oz into the story without trying to make it a retelling or getting carried away with the references. There were just enough to add zest. Like Dorothy, Cori learns the value of community and that family doesn’t always look the way one expects.

Language Content
No profanity.

Sexual Content
One brief kiss.

Spiritual Content
One of Cori’s neighbors is a devout Christian and prays openly in addition to telling Cori that she prays for her.

The immediate aftermath of the tornado is a bit intense. Much of Cori’s neighborhood is destroyed, and many people are injured. Damage and injuries are briefly described.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.