To say there are many layers to Lamar Prioleau would be an understatement.
Now a senior at North Carolina A&T University, the former Oceanside Collegiate Academy student and athlete is as layered as an onion and as complex as a Calculus equation.
Maybe that explains his love of big, complex stories and storytelling, such as the story in his first novel Angel Fall, which was written under his pen name LX Calypso – more about that later.
The release from his publishing company, Fulton Books, details his inspiration and writing style.
“LX Calypso’s book was inspired by the author’s desires to expand the misinterpretations and mysteries of the Bible, connect readers with characters from biblical times, and increase the number of characters in fiction that people of color can either identify with or relate to. Expertly paced and full of suspense, Angel Fall will leave readers spellbound and on the edge of their seats right up until the stirring conclusion.”
The release summarizes the plot of the book as, “a gripping story of three deacons who are conscripted into a game of trials in which the outcome will dictate the fate of the world and humanity.”
Before we dig into the author Calypso, we need to learn more about William Lamar Prioleau II, the person.
Lamar is the grandson of a Bishop, William A. Prioleau, who serves as the Jurisdictional Prelate for the Church of God in Christ in South Carolina. His parents, William Lamar Prioleau and Portia Prioleau, have provided him guidance and assistance throughout his journey. His father is a published author in his own right who works managing Information Technology Systems and his mother is retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force and is heavily involved in the lives of her children. Lamar’s sister Lauryn recently graduated from Campbell University with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree after completing her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University.
“My dad’s book was called ‘My Eyes Can See Clearly Now’ and it was about his life experiences,” Lamar said. “I remember watching him write when I was little and I think, subconsciously, that planted the joy of writing in my head. He is a huge history buff so reading and writing was always a part of my childhood.”
There was also an intense work ethic that was planted in his DNA.
Lamar attended Oceanside Collegiate Academy all four years of high school despite not living in the immediate area. He drove 45 minutes each way to school every day while competing as a member of the Landsharks’ football and track teams. He also took advantage of the opportunity to take classes at Trident Technical College while also holding down a near full-time job during his senior year.
“The thing that drew me to Oceanside the most was it was the only school that would allow me to also get my associate degree,” Lamar said. “My mom has always wanted me to get the best education that I could. I never really took school too seriously, so I knew I would never be able to get any kind of scholarships, but I also knew I didn’t want to pile up a bunch of student loans and debt.
“I didn’t want to have to ask my parents to pay for my college so, when I found out that Oceanside would give me the chance to cut my college time in half, I knew I had to take advantage of that.”
Lamar said the daily drives to school were never a problem for him.
“My family has always traveled a lot, so I was used to having those longer drives. A 45-minute drive to school was never much of a big deal for me. That, along with having a full-time job during my senior year and taking all the extra classes for college helped me to realize more about myself.”
Apparently, those daily drives back and forth to Mt. Pleasant for classes, the grind of being involved in two sports, a job and the junior college classes didn’t fill enough of his time, so it was during that hectic senior year he decided to begin putting the stories that had been swirling around in his head to paper.
“I always had stories in my head as a kid and Angel Fall is the story I had in my head when I was literally five years old,” Lamar said. “It has gone through several evolutions as I have aged. My main character, I knew him when I was six.”
His upbringing in the church has had a tremendous impact on not only who he is as a person, but also on who LX Calypso is as a writer.
“When I learned about the Book of Enoch, which is an apocryphal book from the time of the Bible, reading that changed my ideas about the type of stories I wanted to tell. Before, I was more into Greek mythology but when I saw how truly interesting the Christian religion really was, deep down, my stories completely changed.”
There have been other literary influences as well, but back to that later.
Lamar learned much from his time as an athlete at Oceanside, especially from his coaches, Chad Grier and Nate Green.
“Football was a very interesting time for me,” Lamar said. “It was very much a love-hate relationship. I hated it at the time, but I love looking back on that time now. Coach Grier was my head coach most of the time I was there, and he instilled in me a lot of the values I have. Things like being early any time you have to be anywhere, leaving places better than what you found them. I appreciate that he took the time to instill those values in all of us.”
His relationship with Green was different from the one he had with his head coach.
“Coach Green and I had a special and close relationship,” Lamar said. “He was actually one of the first people I told that I wanted to write a book, and he encouraged me to do it. If I could describe Coach Green, tough love isn’t the right way. He just gave it to you straight but in a way you could understand, even though, at the time, none of us knew he had cancer.”
Green passed away from Mantle Cell lymphoma on May 11, 2020, but the example he set for everyone at Oceanside carried special meaning for Lamar.
“After we found out what he was going through, and how he put the team above himself, going into my senior year I wanted to try to do that as well,” Lamar said. “I was a running back, and there was a running back behind me at the time named Vaughn Blue. I knew I didn’t want to play football in college, so I tried to give him reps in practice and put the focus on him because I knew his goal was to go to college and play football. I always tried to put him first because I knew football was his dream and it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Following that season, Lamar was selected as the first Nate Green Team Before Self Award Winner. Blue went on to earn a football scholarship to Liberty University.
“When I won that award, I felt like I had paid back Coach Green’s memory. It is a special award to me.”
In addition to football, Lamar was a standout on the track team.
“I basically did everything in track,” Lamar said. “I was a 400, 100, 200, 4 x 100, 4 x 400 and 400-meter hurdler. I was supposed to do some of the jumping events as well, but it was tough because I was doing so many other things. I wanted to try javelin, but I was sick on the day they were doing it at practice. Really the only things I didn’t do were the distance events.”
But while he was competing, he had the same stories from his childhood that were floating around in his head. Finally, he decided to let them out.
“I just made up stories in my head that I would go over and over when I went to bed,” Lamar said. “Eventually, I decided one day to try writing the book just to see if I could actually do it. I wrote the first chapter and told myself I couldn’t just write that and not write the second. I kind of had to lie to myself to finish the book, writing one chapter at a time.
“I was also writing my first book at the same time I was doing all those other things. I guess I just realized how much time you have in the day if you apply yourself. I feel like there are a lot of people in my generation who don’t realize how much time they spend swiping on their phone or looking at their phone. Whenever I was able to sit down and write, I would knock out two or three chapters in a couple of hours. Then I could spend those hours the next day editing. Even though I was able to accomplish a lot with work hard, I think God was able to ease a lot of the distraction I was facing.”
Even with all he had going on at that time, an injury on the football field helped him find a space to do his writing.
“I suffered a concussion my senior year, and my personality darkened a little because of that,” Lamar said. “I think writing was the only thing I did to help me through that. I can only write in dark areas with no lights on, maybe a couple of candles. I need that kind of space to create a dark, brooding, mood for me to write in.”
Now, two years later, that first book is a reality. The process of developing the characters and the story was the easy part of the process. Finding the right publisher was a completely different matter. The first step was setting up an email address so potential publishers could reach him. That was how his pen name, LX Calypso, came about.
“The L is for my name, Lamar, and the X is actually for Xerxes,” Lamar said. “When I first finished my book, I needed an email address for publishers to reach me. Xerxes is my favorite King in history, so I decided to use that as my email name. Calypso is my favorite Greek myth. When I was a little kid, I always imagined there was this really beautiful woman on an island just waiting for me to find her. So, Calypso has always had kind of a special place in my heart.”
Xerxes was a Persian ruler who served as the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 486 BC until his death by assassination in 465 BC. He was best known for an invasion of Greece in 480 BC which led to the eventual decline of the Achaemenid Empire. He was identified as King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther.
With his pen name settled, he began the process of reaching out to publishers after doing some online research.
“I can’t remember how I found the website, but it was one of those shady looking websites where if you click something you might be sent to a website you really don’t want to go to,” Lamar said. “They were asking me what kind of book it was and told them it was Christian/Action, and I sent them a page of copy through their web site.
“I didn’t think about it at all for a couple of days because I thought it was just a fake website. Then, out of nowhere, I started getting emails and calls from all these publishers. I was surprised because I didn’t think I would get a response that quickly and I was even more surprised when I was accepted by every publisher that read my original manuscript. I started feeling bad because I didn’t know which one to pick because I had 178 different publishers telling me how amazing my story was.”
One of the first publishers he heard from was Fulton Books, a self-publishing company based in Pennsylvania.
“I prayed to God to ask for help deciding which publisher to choose,” Lamar said. “I had one of the most vivid dreams that led to me choosing Fulton. The reason I love them is that they are a self-publisher, and I maintain all the rights. They just do some social media and things like that. I also like the fact that they don’t collect any royalties until I collect my return on investment from the book sales. They put themselves on the financial line with me.”
In addition to influences from the Bible and the Book of Esther, Lamar said his writing is heavily influenced by some of his favorite authors, most of whom would not wind up on the reading lists of many teenagers or college students.
“My favorite authors are John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost,” Lamar said. “Even though his writing is a little problematic (he was an unabashed atheist), I like H.P. Lovecraft’s mind and how he was able to create such a vast mythos in Cthulhu Mythos. I also love George R.R. Martin, who created Game of Thrones from his novel A Song of Ice and Fire. I love those kinds of stories and want my stories to have that kind of impact on society.”
In his own words, Lamar describes his writing as being about human relations, especially relationships with God.
“I want people who read my stories to see that the Christian God has, for a long time, been portrayed in a negative light by misrepresentation and misinterpretation,” Lamar said. “My stories are a more realistic retelling of stories from the Bible with a different viewpoint.
“A lot of people think their sins are so bad or so massive they can never get their lives right. If you analyze characters in the Bible, you’ll find their faults. For example, David was a mass murderer who ordered the death of his own general so that he could sleep with his wife. It just shows that if you have trouble with lying or something like that, God can still use you and you can change because there are so many people from the Bible who have done way worse than most people today, and God still used them. My story is a chance for people to be reintroduced to the Christian God, but also for people to be able to see that, even if there are things about you that are malevolent, God can still use you.”
With his first novel in print and available on Amazon.com, Lamar has focused on his education at North Carolina A&T where he is an English major with an emphasis on creative writing. He has continued to work on his stories while pursuing his degree and discovering more about himself.
“My first year of college was interesting because it was a time for self-discovery for me,” Lamar said. “I was trying to live my college life like I had heard my dad lived his college life and how others had lived their college lives. This year, in my second year of college, I realized what it was I wanted my own college life to be. I decided to stop trying to live up to someone else’s experience and define my own experience.”
He is on schedule to receive his bachelor’s degree in December in Creative Writing with the plan to become a full-time author. He also has his sights set on earning a master’s degree so that he can teach on the side and provide a method to support himself.
He has some specific plans for his next books, but he is open to whatever options present themselves.
“I’ll write anything that pays, but mainly I want to write novels,” Lamar said. “If someone came to me with an idea and wanted a screenplay, I would not be opposed to writing that. My mother taught me that I need to have multiple streams of income and to diversify my skills and ability to work to do whatever I can do. Next semester I am going to take a film writing class so I can add that to my repertoire.”
His first book, Angel Fall, is part of a planned six-book series that will also include a miniseries. Moving on to write the next chapters have not gone as he originally planned, but he is still writing.
“I finished Angel Fall in a year, during my senior year at Oceanside, and as soon as I finished it, I jumped right into writing the next book,” Lamar said. “I got about halfway through it and my publisher told me to stop writing book two because I was still editing the first one. After I finished editing this first book, I realized that I had to scrap what I had written for the second book in its entirety.”
The miniseries, which he has titled Whispers of the Rain, is his primary focus right now. He is working on the first two books of that series simultaneously.
“You will meet these characters from Angel Fall again, but one of the things I do is that the characters you meet at the start of the book are not the same as the characters at the end of the book. They are going to go through some sort of change, evolution, or devolution, of their personalities.”
Lamar said he tries to picture his characters as if they are in a music video, and then use the videos as the basis to his story.
“I watch those scenes over and over and then try to translate them into words while I am writing,” Lamar said. “Anyone who reads my book will see that I am very detail oriented with my imagery, almost to a fault. I want to make sure you have a vivid image in your mind of what I am writing about. I want to almost draw my story, but I can’t draw. The best thing I can do is use as many adjectives as I can to get my point across.”
He said that for anyone who does plan to read his book, they should be prepared.
“You may be a little shell-shocked when you read it,” Lamar said. “I am more of an Old Testament writer because there are some gory scenes. When my mom first read one of the fight scenes she came to ask if there was anything I needed to talk about. People who read it may look at me like I am demented, but I really appreciate the Old Testament because it shows the reality of man. We have the potential to be violent creatures and I think to deny that is to deny an aspect of the human self.”
About Oceanside Collegiate Academy: Oceanside Collegiate Academy (OCA), located in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., serves high school students in a safe, small and family-centered setting. Our students seek the opportunity and challenge of rigorous curriculum, high academic standards and elite athletics while earning up to two years of college credit. OCA serves students in grades 9-12 using an honors curriculum in 9th and 10 grades with a dual enrollment curriculum in 11th and 12th grades