Please welcome J. Gabriel Gates, one of the authors of the Tracks Series. He’s here today to share a guest post as part of his TLC Book Tour. But first, check out the books’ synopses below:

Star-crossed love, martial arts, and supernatural evil meet at the abandoned tracks in the deceptively quaint town of Middleburg…

When Ignacio Torrez moved from the rough streets of Los Angeles to a small town dead smack in the middle of nowhere, he never expected to find himself in the midst of a gang war. But, he soon learns, these are no ordinary gangs. The wealthy, preppie Toppers on one side of the tracks and the working-class Flatliners on the other adhere to a strict code of honor and use their deadly martial arts skills, taught to them by the wise Master Chin, to battle one another for pride, territory, and survival. When Raphael, leader of the Flatliners, falls for Aimee, a Topper girl, the rival gangs prepare for a bloody, all-out war. The only hope for peace between them lies within the dark territory of the abandoned train tunnels where the tracks cross. Under the direction of the mysterious and frightening Magician, the awesome power within the crossing sends the rivals on a terrifying mystical quest to fight the malevolent force that threatens the existence of Middleburg.

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

The second book in the Tracks Series is Ghost Crown:

A priceless mystical treasure, a dark secret order, and a vengeful fallen angel—forces collide as the battle for Middleburg continues…

For gang members Raphael and Ignacio, plans for the homecoming dance are almost as harrowing as their recent victory against the demonic forces that threaten their town. Despite their tentative alliance, a fight breaks out between the preppie Toppers and the goth Flatliners when Topper girl Aimee shows up at the dance with Raphael, the rival gang’s leader. In the midst of an all-out rumble, the homecoming queen discovers a supernatural power that causes a potentially deadly catastrophe. Meanwhile, a charismatic half-angel, half-human arrives in Middleburg with plans to steal Aimee from Raphael.

To add to the bizarre circumstances surrounding the town, real-estate moguls begin buying up most of the Flats and evicting the tenants. These mysterious men seek a priceless treasure prophesied in ancient Chinese writings and will stop at nothing to find it. But Raphael and his friends vow to get to it first and use it to reclaim their homes.

As Raphael and the Flatliners and Zhai and the Toppers hone their supernatural abilities and search for the treasure, Aimee begins kung fu training, intent on using her new skills to locate and rescue her mother. When she discovers that the elusive treasure may be the key, the race to find it intensifies.

But there are others who seek the treasure too, and they have the power to reduce all of Middleburg, and perhaps the world, to ashes…

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

How Did You Come Up with That?

by J. Gabriel Gates

As an author, one of the most common questions you get about your books is “where did you come up with that idea?” That especially holds true with “Dark Territory” and “Ghost Crown,” the first two books of my new paranormal romance / urban fantasy series “The Tracks.” It’s a wild mash-up of kung fu, star-crossed love, vengeful fallen angels, and a class-based gang war all set in the city limits of a small town in the middle of nowhere in Kansas.

The tale begins with a young man named Ignacio, who comes to his new home of Middleburg hoping to escape the gangs and crime of his home in South Central L.A. Much to his surprise, on his first day of school he finds himself in the middle of a gang war between the wealthy, preppy Toppers and the underprivileged, goth Flatliners. The leaders of the two gangs, Raphael (Flatliner) and Zhai (Topper) used to be best buds, until the death of Raphael’s father in Zhai’s father’s factory caused a rift between the two friends. Add to that the fact that Aimee, a Topper girl, has just fallen for Raphael, and it the stage is set for a battle royal. And I haven’t even mentioned the supernatural evil that’s descending on the town yet…

So how did I come up with such a wild concept for a story?

It started when I was hanging with some friends back in L.A. At the time, I was taking Wing Chun Kung Fu and they were into watching teen shows like Degrassi and the O.C. One day I came home from training and sat down on the couch to watch Degrassi with them when I thought to myself: you know what would make this show way cooler? A kung fu throw-down! My friends laughed—little did they know that this little offhand comment was to become the seeds for such a big idea!

The initial kernel of the idea was a teen drama with kung fu—but I knew the story needed some more elements to be successful; it wasn’t ready for prime-time yet. I’ve always loved Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story (in my other life as an actor, I played the character Riff in a community production of Westside, and Tybalt in a crazy, re-imagined version of R & J during college.) I always thought gangs were interesting, but I felt that the mindless, macho brutality of modern street gangs is just awful. So, the gangs in “The Tracks” live by the Wu-de, a code of conduct set out for martial artists. Their battles are brutal and violent for sure, but they adhere to a code that requires honorable behavior above all else.

There are few reasons that I chose to bring the gangs into the story. First, the fact that the gangs are divided along economic lines is important and, I think, timely. In this era of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, when the masses are stirred up against the proverbial 1% and everyone on either side of the argument seems concerned with ideas of fairness, it’s important to examine the things that divide us—and the ideas that might unite us again.

Martial arts, in addition to simply being bad-ass and interesting, provide a backbone that seems to stretch all the way back to the beginnings of human history—a history which, so often, is really a history of conflict.

At the same time as the gang war is brewing, another force is beginning to infiltrate Middleburg—a dark and malevolent evil that seems to emanate from the abandoned railroad tunnels at the edge of town. As the crisis worsens, the gang leaders must choose whether to continue their war, or to unite and face the evil that threatens their town.

With these other concepts in place, it was my co-author Charlene Keel who provided the next ingredient by insisting that we add ever more magical and supernatural elements into the story. This opened the door not only to the inclusion of all sorts of cool villains and unique powers for the story’s protagonists, but also gave us as authors a chance to examine the spiritual underpinnings of human relationships. The magic in “Dark Territory” and “Ghost Crown” is based on real, Eastern metaphysical traditions—Tao, Buddhism, and even mystical wings of Christianity, such as Gnosticism. So the story’s heroes, rather than relying on magical items or particular teachings to increase their “shen,” or spirit powers, develop their abilities through meditation, fasting, trials and experiences. As a Christian who has always been interested in a variety of spiritual traditions, I felt it was important to tie the story’s magical elements to real practices of personal growth and, hopefully, inspire readers to examine the real forms of magic that are available to all of us, if we simply look within ourselves.

Once all these seemingly chaotic ideas are laid out, the job of an author is to weave it all together in a way so seamless and natural that the reader simply says “of course!” As Charlene and I work on book 3 of the series, “Shadow Train,” we’re bringing all these seemingly disparate elements to a conclusion that should leave readers amazed. By the end of the series all these opposing story elements that seemed so opposite—kung fu, fallen angels, class wars, gangs and romance—will all fit together in a perfect harmony. And with any luck, perhaps the Flatliners and the Toppers will find a little harmony, too.

J. Gabriel GatesAbout the authors:

 J. GABRIEL GATES is a Michigan native and a graduate of Florida State University. He has worked as a professional actor, written several Hollywood screenplays, and is the author of “Dark Territory: The Tracks, Book 1,” “Ghost Crown: The Tracks Book 2,” teen horror novel “The Sleepwalkers,” and upcoming dystopian, sci-fu epic “Blood Zero Sky.”

Charlene KeelLinks for J. Gabriel Gates and the Tracks Series:
Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

CHARLENE KEEL is the author of a dozen novels and how-to-books. She has also ghostwritten books for celebrities, doctors, and corporate moguls. Connect with Charlene at her website.

Thanks to J. Gabriel Gates for stopping by to tell us about the Tracks Series, and for giving away a set of the Tracks Series (books 1 and 2)! To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter below. Only one entry per person (per option), sadly, I do check entries now. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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12 Responses to Blog Tour & Giveaway: Tracks Series – How Did You Come Up with That?

  1. Vivien
    Twitter: deadtossedwaves

    My favorite martial art is capoeta. It’s so flowy and like a dance.

  2. Jeff Rivera says:

    That was a great post. I love the books and the authors are very talented. Their stories are unique and definitely a page turner. Thanks for sharing this awesome post with us.

  3. Linda says:

    Def. The Karate Kid!

  4. Kerry says:

    Tae Kwon Do – I love to watch, but Im not coordinated enough for it myself 🙂 Im pretty clumsy! Thanks for the interview it was great!!

  5. Suz Reads says:

    I loved The Karate Kid! Thanks for this amazing giveaway – I would love to win!

  6. kimbacaffeinate
    Twitter: kimbacaffeinate

    Neat how you cam up with the concept..great post!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted..A Bad Day for Voodoo Guest Post by Jeff Strand & GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Cyn says:

    Ive never liked martial arts much, so I don’t know.

  8. Roxanne says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t seen any martial art films that I like. I doubt Kung Pow counts. I will have to give the original Karate Kid a chance or maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

  9. […] week author J. Gabriel Gates (Sleepwalkers, Tracks Series) visited to tell us how he came up with the concept for the Tracks Series and is giving away a set of the […]

  10. […] Snark (Dark Territory)Friday, July 20th:  Live to Read (Ghost Crown)Monday, July 23rd:  A Book and a Latte – author guest post and giveawayTuesday, July 24th:  A Soul Unsung (Dark Territory)Thursday, July […]

  11. Thanks for featuring this guest post for the tour!

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