Hi guys we have j. leigh Bailey stopping by today with her upcoming Y/A release Do-Gooder, we have a fantastic guest post where j. leigh chats about the setting of Do-Gooder, we have a great excerpt and there’s also a chance to win a fabulous giveaway, so guys check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
j. leigh bailey
No good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it, though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.
However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first.
Welcome to Cameroon!
by j. leigh bailey
I spent the majority of my college days as part of the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh Model United Nations team. UW-O has the longest record of wins (Outstanding Delegation awards) at the National Model United Nations Conference. Not too shabby for a small state school from Wisconsin. During my tenure on the team, we always represented African countries, in part because of the size of our delegation, and partly because of the truly unique aspects of African foreign policy.
Since my first time representing an African government in a mock General Assembly, I have been fascinated by African issues and policies, especially the refugee crises throughout the region. I’ve waited more than 15 years to put that knowledge and interest in a book. DO-GOODER gave me the perfect opportunity to renew my research and delve into a culture so different from my own.
I chose to set DO-GOODER in Cameroon for a couple of different reasons. First, Cameroon is one of the least-developed countries in Africa. Yes, there are major metropolitan areas, but a lot of the country is steeped in poverty, with little-to-no healthcare, very little infrastructure, and limited technology. Second, Cameroon is sometimes referred to as a “mini-Africa.” There are several climate types in Africa, and all make an appearance in Cameroon. It’s not every country you can find rainforests, deserts, hardwood forests, and grassy hills. The different religions that exist in Africa, also exist in Cameroon—from Christianity to Islam to indigenous beliefs. And 96% of the animals that roam the different parts of Africa, also call Cameroon home.
I tried to showcase these different sides of Cameroon, especially the mix between the modern urban landscape and the underdeveloped part. I wanted to show both the beautiful and the rough.
The animals in particular became an important and fun part of DO-GOODER. Henry, the main character’s love interest, knows a lot about the local animal types, and shares that knowledge with Isaiah. They run into the great baboon spider—a large, furry arachnid that looks like someone painted a baboon’s face on its back. They come across a green bush viper, a poisonous snake with olive green scales. The boys get up close and personal while checking out the neon green love birds and the ugly/cute (it’s really hard to decide) talapoins. And there is, of course, a hippo in a tutu…sort of.
I wish I could say that the refugee situation, the shaky political atmosphere, the regional conflict, and the existence of mercenaries and other militant groups were part of the fiction, but the sad fact is they exist, both in Cameroon and in several places throughout Africa. Families walking miles upon miles to find somewhere safe, bringing nothing but the clothes on their backs and what could be shoved into a pack. Children being conscripted into war, losing limbs to landmines, ethnic conflict. These are things that have become a way of life for many. In DO-GOODER, these are things that help a (sort of) self-centered kid look beyond himself.
Anyway, Cameroon is an amazing place I hope I get a chance to visit one day. For now, I’ll let my research and my imagination take me there.
Are there any places you’ve gone to that changed you? Made you reevaluate who and/or what you were? Are there places you desperately want to visit? Where and why? *Commenters will be entered to win a grand prize basket that includes an African cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson, a children’s African folk tale picture book, a field guide to African animals, and some fun swag.*
“Does the radio work in this thing?” I reached forward and fiddled with the radio’s power button and volume knob. Static blared through the small space, and I cranked the volume back down. I turned the dial to scan for anything with actual music, or even talking. Anything to distract me.
“We can sometimes get a station in pretty clear when we’re in Yaoundé, and even Bertoua occasionally, but for the most part, it’s dead air.”
“No CDs or, hell, even cassettes? How can you stand the quiet?”
“I like quiet. When there are no distractions you can clear your head of everything else and just exist.”
That sounded a little too woo-woo for me. He must have caught and understood my expression. “I’m not talking about meditation or something like it, but more along the lines of appreciating what’s around you. Really, look around. What do you see?”
I scanned the empty road and the vegetation that tried to take it over. “I see a whole lot of nothing. No people, no buildings. A whole lot of creepy nothing.”
“That’s the city talking.” Henry pulled to the edge of the road and put the big vehicle in Park. “I see a forest that is as close to untouched by man as most people will ever see. Look.” Henry pointed out past my window. I followed the line of his arm and finger, trying to see what he wanted me to. “Do you see it?”
I found it hard to focus on anything else with Henry practically touching me. He’d leaned close to point, and I could feel the heat from his body. I wanted to lean back into him, extend the contact, but my previous “momentary lack of judgment” thing aside, I wasn’t stupid. I blamed my body’s reaction to jet lag. Jet lag and teenage hormones.
I forced myself to look past Henry’s pointing finger. I saw trees. Lots and lots of trees. There were tall, scraggly trees that looked like oversized bonsai plants, short squat trees that seemed almost bush-like, and thick, leafy trees that towered over them all. The canopy of tall branches stretched out until it almost covered the small road and pale, sun-bleached grasses sprouted between the bushes. Sure, it was different than I was used to, but I didn’t see anything to get excited about.
“Right there. Do you see it?”
I’d almost admitted defeat when a small movement from one of the branches caught my attention. No bigger than a house cat, it looked like a monkey (or some kind of monkey-like creature—I’m not a zoologist). It had yellowish fur and an almost skeletal face. On the whole, though, it was kind of cute.
“That’s a talapoin. This is one of three countries in the entire world that you can find them.”
“That is so fricking cool.” I leaned closer, trying to get a better look at the critter.
“See that flash of neon green over there?” This time when Henry pointed, it brought his body into even closer contact with mine. I closed my eyes, trying to rein in my frantically beating pulse. Teenage hormones sucked.
It took a minute—there were a lot of different greens in the dense forest—but eventually I noticed the flash of color. A tiny, neon green bird.
“That’s a lovebird,” he told me.
I snickered. “A lovebird? Seriously?”
“People in the States keep them as pets, but they’re indigenous here. See? Sometimes there’s a benefit to the quiet.”
About j. leigh
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.
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