Interview with J.R. Tompkins

What inspired the title of your latest book, “Price of the Child?”
As a very naive young man, I saw the systemized mistreatment of children by institutions and individuals who claimed to be protecting kids but were in fact only protecting their own positions and political power. The cost, to the children, the price they paid, seemed so absolutely senseless to me.

The experience, in a very real way, left me speechless, and for a very, very long time, I couldn't find a way to write about it. But it kept eating at me. I needed some sort of a catharsis.

Finally, through the cascading idea of a boy who barely survives a near-fatal mountainside fall, I found myself writing a story of his rescue, about the price of personal heroism upon the young man who commits to rescuing this abused boy and seeing him through to a safe landing. Taking that kind of a risk costs him something. It exacts a price. Unlike comic book heroics, true heroism deprives the hero of a carefree future. It takes a toll and it leaves scars. It hurts.

Then I found myself writing about a woman who might share with him similar scars, who, like him, struggles to understand that sacrifice’s whopping effects upon their lives. About how it takes from them all and inflicts on them a kind of systemized brand of victimization via the courts. But like I said, I wanted them to be able to share this struggle between them, and be better, and closer, for having survived it together, in a common understanding.

A high “price” paid should equal a thing of value earned, which, in turn, should become rewarding for those invested. That’s the hope they hold within the story, anyway. There are more allusions to the title in the book, of course, but for that, you’ll just have to read it!
If you had to pick just one, what would be the single most favorite passage that you've written?
Easy. There are one-hundred-and-eighty words from the end of Chapter Seventeen of “Price Of The Child” which I think sum up something simple and so important. They are, as a passage, a distillation of what the whole book is about, yet graph a moment in character and atmosphere:

“Jake filled his lungs with breath, and felt Sam’s head rise and fall. This is true peace, he thought. This must be what parents feel in those rare moments they get to treasure their children.

Jake looked down upon Sam’s dark strands of hair, his eyebrows, the tiny lashes of his sleepy eyelids, and wondered to himself what it must be like to have a child like Sam for a son. What must it be like to share the birth of one’s own child?, he wondered. What would it be like to feel so attached, so intrinsically bonded, so protective of one’s own best connection with time and the ages, of generations past and future, of another human life, of their time?

Jake looked down at Sam’s small fingernails, and gently touched Sam’s fingers with his own. How could anyone turn away a child like Sam, or any child, ever? How?

Jake just couldn’t even approach an imagining of it, nor did he really want to. He just sat there, quietly breathing Sam’s presence, feeling Sam’s weight upon his heart.”
Published 2016-12-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price of the Child
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 63,680. Language: American English. Published: August 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Literature » Literary
The desperate, overnight, nine-mile wilderness struggle to keep seven-year-old Sam alive and save his life after a near-fatal mountainside fall will forever bind Sam to his reluctant hero Jake. But can social worker Helen channel Jake’s heroism, find the hero within herself, and somehow rescue Sam from his dangerously unstable father?