On November 22, 2015, Poughkeepsie Begins, the final installment of the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood series, will be released. I have been alternately anticipating and dreading this release, knowing that while I will surely love the book, I do not want this wild ride to end.
I was fortunate enought to receive an advance review copy of the book and also to spend a few moments with Debra to ask her a few questions. Let’s start with the book, shall we?
It ends with the beginning. This legendary, indie, cult-favorite series ends its tale with the story of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood before the tattoo. Before the train station, before the church, before a criminal empire, there was a foster home and three teen boys who weren’t related by blood. But damn if they aren’t closer than most blood families by their choice.
Still in high school, Beckett is already laying the groundwork for a grander life ahead, one where his brothers want for nothing and get some respect for once. But even as he plans, Beckett must decide if he’s ready to make that choice—diving into a life that trades his chance at a future, his chance at something as simple as first love with a girl named Candy Cox, for the chance for his brothers to find happiness.
Blake, Beckett, and Cole’s devotion to each other is forged by fists and the driving need to belong somewhere, to do more than just survive this life. Readers of the series know they each get there in the end, but before we count smiles, we must first shed tears. These early days of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood will play on your heartstrings before serrating them with a knife; they’ll lift your soul with music, only to leave you with nothing but a desperate prayer for hope.
It’s safe to say Debra Anastasia is one of my favorite authors, and the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood series has captivated me since the very beginning—reading the first story as fanfiction in chapters as it was posted online. Was it the love story that drew me in? Or was it the tale of a family held together by bonds stronger than blood? Perhaps it was the way she wove the tale with powerful imagery peppered with the most amazing and creative swearing I’ve ever read. I will venture to say it’s all of the above.
Poughkeepsie Begins, while being the last book in the series, takes us back to the beginning, when the boys are foster brothers who learn to rely on each other to simply survive the nightmare that is their foster home. Did you ever wonder what made Cole the quiet, spiritual soul who struggles with his own self-worth? Why did Blake always feel more at home outdoors, even though the sun was an enemy? What was the catalyst for Beckett’s life of crime? All the answers are here.
The story focuses primary on the brothers’ struggle to make it through their senior year of high school while dodging the abuse at home, and Beckett’s relationship with good girl Candy Cox as he begins to build his dynasty. I was surprised at the first glimpse inside Candy’s head—I did not expect her to be a contributing point of view—but not disappointed. We learn so much about Beckett through her eyes. As a teen, he is already confident beyond his years; his “fake it ’til you make it” attitude sees him through many a situation. He’s got so much good in him, though. All three boys do. From the way they protect their little sisters to the secret gifts they leave for a widow to keep the memory of her husband alive. But he’s walking a fine line and he knows it. Once he crosses that line, there’s no turning back, and he’ll have to let Candy go. Can he do it? How does Candy feel about that? Will she let him go?
Cole’s backstory is heartbreaking and makes you want to reach into the book so you can surround him in love and safety. He carries more pain inside him than I’d suspected. We learn more about Blake’s issues with the sun—where it stems from and how the way it was handled earlier in life affects his sense of himself. It makes the fact that he’s homeless in Poughkeepsie completely understandable. As teens, the boys rely on each other. They have already learned to read each other well enough to know when one needs the others. And there is never a hesitation. Never a doubt. A brother needs me. I am there. A brother never faces anything alone.
Poughkeepsie Begins is aptly named. Although it is the last book in the series, it provides the foundation for the rest of the story. I’m so grateful it was written. And while most of it tore my heart out, there are funny moments, too. Like all the new and creative swears. And each and every new version of Zyler’s name that Beckett comes up with. There are moments that make your heart ache with the sweetness—trick-or-treating and dancing come to mind. But as Beckett comes closer to making his choice, to crossing that line, the overall emotion is sadness because I know what is going to happen and cannot stop it. The story has already been written and the boys must walk their path. If you haven’t read the series, read it and find out where their paths lead them.
Interview with the author:
I chatted with Debra to get some insight on her writing and motivation.
- When you’re writing, do you treat it like a job—sitting down from nine to five and pounding out the words—or do you set yourself a goal for each day and as long as you reach that it doesn’t matter if you’re writing at 3:17 a.m. or while you’re sitting at a kid’s practice?
I for sure work every day. I always get 1700 words of something down, but that can happen at any time of the day. I prefer to get it done early, but I’m more creative a night. I work from a desktop, so if I think of anything while away from my desk I’ll send myself emails. Some days it’s only words, most days it’s promo, editing and writing.
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you want to be a writer or was that something that evolved as you did?
I wanted to be the President of the United States for a long time. I also wanted to be a priest and a lawyer. That sounds like the start of a bad joke. I wrote a really horrible story in a notebook, and the character’s name was like Mebra Lanastasia. Then after I read Twilight I gave writing fanfiction a try. And I fell in love hard.
- What is the last book you read simply for pleasure? What about this book drew you in?
Kian by Tijan. I love her writing and her bad boy characters. She’s a go-to read for me, so it was easy. Oh! and I read Sweet Nothing by Mummert and McGuire. Loved that one too. The twist at the end though! Super great. And I’ve been reading “Pucked Over” in the pieces that Helena Hunting sends me, and that one is going to blow everyone’s pants off. I love reading so, so much. And I feel like I take time to appreciate the effort put into a book by the authors more now that I know what it takes to get it done.
- What non-author/writer person in your life would you consider your biggest influence and why?
I feel like I can’t just name one. My parents, uncles, and, aunts were huge storytellers. They taught me how to develop a story in the long, long chunks of time sitting around the dinner table recounting their favorite childhood stories. The brotherhood for the Poughkeepsie boys was really born there. My uncle and my father have really set the precedent for doing the right things and going about them in the “wrong” way. They grew up in a different time, when punching someone in the mouth didn’t get you arrested. And of course, my family. My husband is why I can write a love scene, he is a tremendous human, and my kids are the reason I’m on this planet, so they influence the family aspect of the story.
- Beckett, Blake, and Cole are your last three bachelors, Bachelorette. Who gets your final rose?
That’s a mean question, Jen, and you know it. Lol. I love them each so much. I would eat the rose and hug them all.
This was, of course, a trick question since I knew she’d never choose between her boys. I just wanted to see how she’d answer. And as always, Debra Anastasia did not disappoint!
About the author:
There are a lot of eyes in Debra Anastasia’s house in Maryland. First, her own creepy peepers are there, staring at her computer screen. She’s made two more sets of eyes with her body, and the kids they belong to are amazing. The poor husband is still looking at her after 17 years of marriage. At least he likes to laugh. Then the freaking dogs are looking at her—six eyeballs altogether, though the old dog is blind.
In between taking care of everything those eyes involve, Debra creates pretend people in her head and paints them on the giant, beautiful canvas of your imagination. What an amazing job that is. The stories hit her hard while driving the minivan or shaving her legs, especially when there’s no paper and pen around. Within all of the lies she writes hides her heart, so thank you for letting it play in your mind.
And the cat watches her too, mostly while knocking stuff off the counter and doing that internal kitty laugh when Deb can’t catch the items fast enough.
Debra has written a smattering of books in a few genres. There are two paranormal romances in the Seraphim Series and now four contemporary romances in the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series, Fire Down Below is the first in the comedic Gynazule series, with the second, Fire in the Hole, coming in late 2015. The Revenger, a dark paranormal romance, is lurking in the wings, waiting for its upcoming debut, and the last, a novella called Late Night with Andres, is special because 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. (So go get it right now, please!)