AJ: As a psychologist, I think I’ve accumulated a lot of good ideas for stories from many of the bizarre, real-life situations that people talk about when they come for counselling. I don’t think anything is more interesting or entertaining than real life. So I think I had been mulling around ideas for characters and possible stories for years. I’m not sure whether “inspired" is the right word, because I’m not sure I ever felt inspired to write. I think “compelled” would be a better word. When the story for Walls started forming in my head, I just felt compelled to let it come out, and to capture it on paper.
AJ: In addition to accumulating possible stories in my head, I also love watching people. So, one night while my wife and I were on vacation in Manarola, Italy, and while we were waiting for our dinner in a restaurant, I was watching an interesting looking couple that were sitting behind my wife. I found myself asking: “I wonder what these people do?” Then I found my mind wandering to some of the possible stories that had been floating around in my mind. Suddenly, I found myself creating two characters from that couple in the restaurant, and began the process of building a story around them from the ideas I had mentally filed away. I pretty much had the outline of Walls jotted down in my iPhone by the time we got back from Italy. I had the images of that couple etched in my mind as I wrote Walls, and I can still see that image clearly today.
BBB: Tell us about your main character, Dan Whitney.
AJ: Dan starts off being a pretty average guy in Walls. Like many psychologists, he’s relatively conservative and doesn’t take a lot of chances in his life. He loves his wife, Michelle, and is extremely loyal to her. He has strong moral and ethical values, both personal and professional, and is careful not to compromise them. But Michelle finds her life with Dan is boring, and she’s looking for something - anything - that will spice up her life. When she starts flirting with other couples while she’s on vacation with Dan, he is forced to make a choice between his love for his wife, and entering into a world of sexual exploration where he must set aside some of his moral values and start taking chances, or risk losing his wife. He is forced to make choices that take him far out of his comfort zone, and force him to grow as a person. His world, as he knows it, is turned upside down by the time the action in Walls ends. Over the course of the second and third books in my trilogy, Dan will go through the process of rediscovering himself, and of becoming a much stronger, more likeable character. As the lead character in the Identity Trilogy, he goes through the process of earning the readers’ respect throughout the three books, so that he finally realizes his potential and becomes a true hero in the end.
BBB: What do you think readers will enjoy most about your book?
AJ: I hope readers will enjoy the book for a few reasons. First, I hope they will enjoy the psychological complexity of the four main characters in the book, who all bring emotional baggage from their past, into the present. I also hope that readers will have strong emotional responses, both good and bad, to the characters and their predicaments. Second, I hope I can use the story in walls to help to inform readers, in an entertaining way, of the devastating effects of trauma and abuse on people’s personalities and the choices they make in life. Finally, I hope I’ve created moral and ethical dilemmas in Walls that will prompt readers to ask themselves what they would do in similar life situations. I am hopeful that many readers will enjoy the erotic journey of love and pain that Michelle and Dan embark upon, but I also realize that it could be too intense, and perhaps controversial, for some.
AJ: Yes, I’m actually working on two books at the moment. The first is sort of a Prequel to the Identity Trilogy, titledAngela’s Eyes. It will essentially be the back story for a character who emerges in the final paragraphs of Walls, and who plays a major role in the Faces, the sequel to Walls. It will be written in first person, so it will be a bit different that Walls. It won’t be an essential part of the trilogy, but will be a bonus for readers that will give them additional insight into Angela’s character. I’ve just finished a first draft of that book, and will take some time away from it before I go back to editing it.
My second project is Faces, the second book of the trilogy. In Faces, Dan is drawn into dealing with another terrible kind of abuse - the abduction of a child by one of their parents. It takes him on a race around the globe to find the missing child of one of his oldest and closest friends. At the same time, he is having to face his own internal conflicts and the demons raised by his experiences in Walls.
AJ: The best way for readers to connect with me is through the Contact page on my website or by email:
They can also contact me on the social media at: