Published: August 10th, 2013
When crime scene cleaner Charles 'Yey' Reyes helps a detective friend solve a Roanoke homicide, he shuns the attention and plans to avoid further investigating.
He quickly changes his mind when his friend is killed while on duty. But this time, his offer to help is rejected by the police captain.
Meanwhile, homegrown celebrity Sydney Estes buys a house near town. As the citizens swoon, Yey notices a link between Sydney and a flurry of homicides.
Harangued by the captain, local media, and Sydney's fans, Yey struggles to connect clues which will prove his theories.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was "As Is", a coming-of-age story set in high school. I used a print on demand company to release it in 1999. I actually wrote the book ten years prior, before I started the ninth grade. It was about 90 handwritten pages back then, about an interracial relationship between two high school seniors. I remember laughing at myself, because at the time I was barely a teenager, and had never dated anyone.
Some have asked if the book is based on real experiences, but I didn't have any of that kind. I was a weird hybrid of jock and bookworm, and that combined with my mother's vigilance about teaching me to be a respectful young man, meant that I was a gentleman (or basically a nerd in the world's eyes), when it came to the ladies. The plus side of having that character meant that I didn't become a teenage baby daddy. The flip side was that people expected me to fit into a stereotype of the promiscuous young black man, and when I proved to be something else, I was discarded or ridiculed by black and white alike in many cases. It was a confusing time. But all teenagers are confused on some level.
Even if all of that weren't so, I had already realized from my early short story writing that trying to twist real life into fiction didn't work for me. Charles Bukowski, a writer I once admired and read much of in my school years, could do that well. He could change his name to "Hank Chinaski" and twist life into entertaining tales that made me laugh out loud--it is not easy for a writer to make a reader do that. I couldn't do the "journal as story with names changed" thing. My characters always seem to take a life of their own, and I go with them; their voices are more interesting. It is similar to why I knew I'd never be a beat reporter or news journalist, which is what some people expected me to do with my life.
"As Is" was inspired by what I saw around me. At that age, I was noticing America's racial dynamics clearly for the first time. I was digging more deeply into history, and hearing the things that people said with a young adult's ears rather than those of a child. I felt a combination of curiosity, disgust, and maybe something like awe that so many people were caught up in skin color. Of course, even the youngest children are aware of these things on some level, and I was no different, but to me it was a triviality. To this day, I still have a toddler-like mentality: "You like me, I like you, let's go talk and play!" And I rarely meet others with that heart. So in the eighth grade, I was finally acknowledging that my view of the world did not always match up to the prevalent view. To be blunt, I was understanding that people of all kinds and from all quarters were really in anguish over "race," which is a complicated and much misunderstood concept.
Since then, I've come to terms with the fact that the word of God will never match up to what most of the unsaved world believes. The Bible declares in the book of Romans that all men and women are sinners, therefore none of us should see ourselves as superior or inferior. In the Lord's eyes we are equally flawed. Our only salvation is in the belief and faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, something no other person can claim. I say all of that to point out why all of the conflicts about race, ethnicity, skin color and other related concepts are ultimately irrelevant. That was really the point of "As Is," though I was not mature enough to express all of it as a young teen. I consider my real family to be those who call on Christ, and that is something I still am learning to say in my writing, music, art, and life. No matter the subject matter and theme, this is my foundation.
About the author
Chris DeBrie is an American publisher, author, and artist. He has written hundreds of news and sports articles for a variety of sources. DeBrie has independently published several novels and comic books. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia.