J.R. Tompkins

Biography

J.R. Tompkins grew up among the gorges and waterfalls of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where he gained an early admiration of nature and landscapes. While attending Ithaca College, he studied Film Production and Art History, acquiring a Bachelors degree in Cinematography.

After graduation, he moved to Southern California and spent several years working in many different aspects of the motion picture industry in Hollywood. In 1986, he started his own company to produce sports and event videos, and later co-founded a trade organization for professional video producers, now called the Professional Videographers Network (PVN).

In 1996, J.R. retraced the two-thousand-mile-long Oregon Trail to produce a historical/travel-adventure film entitled “Emigrant Road - An Oregon Trail Adventure,” one of the first travelogues produced on digital cinema. His second production, “Four Corners,” focused on the mountains, rivers, canyons and cultures of the American Southwest. For his third production, J.R. hiked up to seven miles a day carrying thirty pounds of equipment across eight European alpine countries to film “The Alps.”

J.R. has presented his travel films throughout the United States, including performances at the National Geographic Society in Washington, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and the SunDome in Phoenix. The Travel Adventure Cinema Society awarded him its “Rising Star” award in 2000, and its highest honor for a speaker, the “Hall of Fame” award in 2003.

Most recently, J.R. has written and released a short story, “Goddess of the Moon,” and a novel, “Price of the Child.”

Smashwords Interview

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.”
Read more of this interview.

Where to find J.R. Tompkins online


Videos

"Price Of The Child" Book Trailer
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 understand Jake’s heroism, channel it to find the hero within herself, and somehow rescue Sam from an unstable father who might just be given a third chance at killing him?

Books

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?

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Smashwords book reviews by J.R. Tompkins

  • Blowdown on Nov. 02, 2014

    “Blowdown; Tales inspired by the wind & Stanley Park” is a book that even its author Craig Spence admits is “hard for me to classify. On the one hand it scans like children’s literature, which I delight in both reading and writing; on the other, the themes and language may be challenging even for adults.” Spence puts that right up there in his introduction for the reader to ponder. But it’s a short enough effort in which to invest, at least that’s what I’m thinking as I breeze into it. His intention, he says, was to understand the storm of 2006, a cataclysm that destroyed many of the beloved ancient trees of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, from a spiritual perspective. Again, he warns us that he is drawing, and adapting, from First Nations’ tales, stating that his story is written “from the only perspective I know – that of a European child growing up in a multicultural land,” “trying to understand his place in family, society and nature.” Past its seemingly disconcerting introduction, Spence leads us into the world of the park at the feet of Spirit Bird, “an ancient spirit, who lived in a secret grove in the Land Between the Waters.” His tales are told out of any real order, seemingly as gusts of wind, forming into thoughts, words, fables. And what, at first, seems like a lot of rattling of leaves and swaying of treetops, becomes, indeed, a difficult-to-describe breezy storytelling that weaves legend, spirituality, and boyhood mischief. “It’s surprising how close you can get to Squirrel or Rat if you pretend your real intention is to pee on a bush,” he shares at one point. At another, “’call it a Big Bang, Genesis, the cracking of the Cosmic Egg, whatever you like,’ Spirit Bird laughed. ‘I say it was the waking of the Creator and that she is awakening still.’” “Blowdown” is that yearning you have to walk into a windstorm to feel mist upon your face, to feel pine bristles brush past your shoulders as you walk into the dimming night, to sense underfoot the distant surfcrash when such a storm wishes to roll rocks to sand. These tales swirl around a time of change and growing up and culmination for one small boy. You see him struggle with an altering family life, see him wishing to be happy in the world, seeking his own private natural world, growing, with Spirit Bird as his teacher. Inhale the wind, smell the cool, musty scent of the firs, and enjoy this unique bit of storytelling.