Lessons Before Dying Vol. 1 : Relationships
by Leonard Jenkins II
Publication Date: Sep 28, 2008
List Price: Unavailable
Format: Unknown Binding
Imprint: To Be Determined
Publisher: To Be Determined
Parent Company: To Be Determined
In this novel, Lessons Before Dying, the lives of five very powerful and influential black men unfold in front of you as they pursue this quest called Life.
The stately fraternal figure, Sterling, leads the Cole men and friend by facing death head on and penning the most beautiful lessons on living to serve as their guide. The reader will find the lessons learned in Lessons Before Dying are applicable to things they are currently going through in their Life. This piece will definitely transcend the element of time.
You will journey with each man as he confronts demons of War, Sexuality, Conspiracy and Death’
This book will definitely bring new meaning to the term "judging a cover by its book!"
On the subject of how he was able to manifest such believable characters in Lessons Before Dying, he simply asks, "Is the talented Anne Rice a vampire?"
Lessons Before Dying book excerpt
Theloneus’ I objected for nearly two solid months. Boris, my new agent, insisted that I allowed VikTor to shoot me for the Leonardz summer catalog cover to launch his entry into the coveted multi-billion dollar jewelry industry. I loved the concept: me featured in the picturesque deep green meadows nestled in the lush mountains of Switzerland. The song that immediately came to mind was by my favorite producer of all time, Norman Connors, Handle Me Gently (featuring Miss Adaritha). I love that song and it was an accurate account of my fragile state of mind and Spirit.
Switzerland is simply the epitome of peaceful living. And with all of the recent events having transpired in my life, I surely could use some form of peace. As you can see, my problem was not with the actual shoot itself. No. It was with the photographer, VikTor.
I met him a while back in New York City. We later crossed paths during the release of the famous elegant underwear introductory campaign and again at an awards banquet. The ad produced from our first photo shoot was honored for the Advertising Age magazine’s best concept award. This was mind boggling given that not one stitch of underwear was evident in the entire ad. This ad launched me into international ranking among fellow cover models; not to mention my picture in many bedrooms. Though totally naked, I must thank VikTor for the class and taste that he brought to this project.
During that shoot, I had never been more uncomfortable being naked in the presence of another man. I had on numerous occasions in the past been the subject of many naked artistic interpretations, but this was terribly different. Everything had to be perfect for Mr. VikTor. He wasn’t rude or anything like that; just very stoic. He didn’t say much at all during the whole shoot. However, he was very physical with me. Lifting me here and rubbing me there; tugging on this and pushing that’I felt totally embarrassed. It wasn’t that he was rough or even obtrusive. I know that this sounds strange even as I recall the eerie feeling he created during the shoot. I’ve got it; it was his eyes. His eyes were a harvest golden orange and I could feel them examining my soul for ransom. I could feel everything that his mouth didn’t say through those eyes.
Without any evidence in his motions (less his constant erection), I could feel that he was aroused by me, and that was very unnerving. For the record, VikTor is a very handsome man. I recall nervously joking with him during a meeting in Paris that he had a rare double-lensed talent, "an eye and physical beauty", for the lens. This didn’t go over well at all. He thought that I was making fun of his eyes. I had no idea that he was disturbed until at that very instant his right eye changed to an almost colorless gray-green.
I later learned from Boris that VikTor was once the hottest model in Europe with those piercing eyes and flawless body, but his uncontrollable temper was known to change his right eye quicker than a mood stone. Boris was very clear that this was my queue to leave VikTor’s presence. During these times, he became his self-destructive, alter ego, that I named Caine.
I was very curious as to how such a peaceful town as Thun could produce as destructive a by-product as VikTor. With that question alone, everything became crystal clear.
It turns out that his grandfather created a horrible act for love. This happened when he was a mere five years old. As he sat and played on his pa pa’s lap (that’s what he called his grandfather), he listened as his grandfather lamented over the recent loss of his wife. VikTor was sitting on his lap when he took a small caliber gun to his forehead and coated the cozy leather recliner with all of his mental matter. This once happy and upbeat child went into silence for nearly three years’
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Lessons Before Dying - frequently asked questions and other related links
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1. Where is your home?
Home is where the heart is. Right now my heart is in Miami. Beautiful beaches and people’a lot of spice. I fell in love with Miami as soon as I landed for my vacation. I would strongly consider living there. I can see a story unfolding with the wake of the season’s first hurricane. My birthplace is Birmingham, Alabama.
2. What is the most tropical/romantic place you have visited?
Before the political uprisings occurred across Indonesia, I would have easily said "Bali". I still will say that Bali is the most tropical/romantic place I’ve visited. I can see why one would be compelled to develop a movie such as South Pacific. Bali is a beautiful undisturbed place with rich traditions. I really loved that place. I’m still looking forward to making love along the shores of the Indian Ocean’hint ’ hint!
3. Have you ever been to Europe?
Yes, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Europe. In fact, I was very inspired by Switzerland for much of the picturesque scenery used with Theloneus’ character. Swiss people are very interesting. The still clean air and green countryside are enough to make anyone say "Peaceful Living."
4. What are your favorite novels?
I love many writings by James Baldwin. My favorite of James Baldwin is Giovanni’s Room. This novel made me long to be in Paris long enough to have the opportunity to experience such a bitter romance. My next favorite was Just Above My Head. I love the crafty descriptiveness of this guy. My next favorite novel (in no particular order of course) is by Richard Wright. I really loved the presentation of Black Boy. It was comical and quite colorful. I could actually picture him as a little kid swearing at the local saloon patrons and getting his azzzz whipped by his grandfather for inviting his grandmother to kiss his freshly cleaned azzzz. These are definitely two of my favorite authors and these are their novels that I’ve come to love.
5. What are your other interests beyond writing?
I love clothes and shoes. I guess if I had a choice for passions, I would strongly consider designing functional male clothing. I presently design my own "dressy casual/formal" line of wear. These designs are Leonardz exclusives. I would also love to serve on a board that oversees Pediatric AIDS research. I really think that the cure is in the genesis.
6. Have you ever modeled?
7. What one thing inspired your character Sterling and what was the most difficult part with this character?
There was not a "one thing" that inspired the character Sterling. There were several. Sterling represents a very strong and spiritual entity. He manages to transcend his blackness. Growing up in the South has helped me to understand in its totality "black and white". I wanted a lead black character that didn’t buckle but at the same time remained very humble even when facing death. I found him in Sterling, a most honorable and stately man. The hardest part of Sterling’s character was confronting death as a father, husband, brother and son. Sterling had to be all of this for many. He was my most complex character.
8. How did you prepare for your gay scenes?
I didn’t. I felt that as long as what I presented was enjoyable to a recipient or a giver regardless of: male/male, female/male, or even female/female, it would be viewed as passionate. Passion is passion. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything that is in this novel but for one to dismiss these relationships from life would certainly be a tainted picture. Life is full of everything. I have to live and exist in a world full of things that I don’t fully agree with. My prayer is that anyone who is offended by this novel will soon get over it.
9. What is the next project on the horizon for you?
Who knows? I’m just kidding. I’m living each day step by step to insure no regrets during retrospection!!! As this novel came to its sunset, it was clearly alluded that a sequel is eminent. Look for the forthcoming novel, Relationships (volume 2): A Time for New Beginnings.
10. What is the character Sterling dying from?
Sterling has a rare liver disease called primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. Please visit the website via the link on my webpage. The exact cause of this dreadful disease is still unknown. Be certain to visit this site as well as the link for the Pediatric AIDS site. The characters, Sterling and Jacobias, thank you for your interests in these topics.
Let us not perpetuate a cycle of our kids being the "silent victims" of diseases such as AIDS and child abuse.
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