A prolific writer, poet and publishing professional, Brett Axel switched gears when he set out to publish his latest book, “Not Okay.” After years of publishing poetry and fiction, including in over 100 literary journals and magazines, books of poetry, and a critically-acclaimed children’s book, Axel takes on one of the most powerful and fastest growing industries in America: the Self Help industry, but through the spell-binding pages of a thriller. In short, “Not Okay,” is the must read book of the summer.
Today we sit down with the man himself to learn more about what inspired this book– as well as his other writing. “Not Okay” will be released by Vinal Publishing on September 22, 2020.
You have a unique ability to take on hard topics, while also seeing the humor in life, does this come naturally to you, or is it something you have developed over time?
If you’ve spent a lot of times in the gallows, you either develop gallows humor, or you die. I didn’t die.
When you did the final read-through for “Not Okay”, what was your favorite part of this book, and why?
I like the little things. Like Peter throwing grapes in the air and trying to catch them in his mouth. I like showing that people who are suffering an extraordinarily difficult life and still human, can still be silly, can find ways to make fun.
If you could travel back in time, what would tell your younger self about life and the pursuit of happiness?
I don’t think I would do that. If my younger self knew how many hours, how many years, how much effort went into writing this one book and getting it the way I wanted it, I wouldn’t have done it. Now that it is finished and people are reading it I am glad, but it was more of an undertaking than my younger self would have agreed to.
When it’s time for you to chill out with a good book, what kinds of books are you reading?
I wrote the novel I wanted to read. If someone else had done it I wouldn’t have needed to. I read the first chapter or two of a lot of books and then groan at something stupid or cliché, or overdone and have to put it down, once in a while throw it across the room. Novels I really like are few and far between. It wasn’t that way when I started reading. The bookstore shelves were full of Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Ira Levin, authors who took pride in their work, who didn’t settle, who took the time to make a book a great read. That isn’t the bookstore today. Pages and pages of churned out, cookie cutter stories with two denominational characters, it’s sad, people don’t know what they are missing.
Also what writers do you look up to most, either for their writing or as human beings?
At heart I am an existentialist. I love Samuel Becket, Edward Albee, and Jean-Paul Sartre. But I think it is important to be accessible – to tell a real story about real people. I love Victor Hugo. I also have a quote from Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on my desk. It reminds me to keep it real, to keep it raw, and to remember that existence is absurd.
With the release of this book, I’m sure readers will be wondering if you are working on another book. Is there something brewing that you can tell us about?
I am always writing something. But I take my time. I won’t be churning out a new novel every couple of years. Ask me again in ten years. In the meantime, if you really liked “Not Okay”, read it again.
“Not Okay” is available for preorder on Amazon.