Desoto County News

Northwest alum Ungurait publishes second novel

by Sarah Smith

Photo: Author James Ungurait and cover of “I’m the Same,” his latest novel. Credit: Addison Bridges

James Ungurait, Senatobia native and Northwest Mississippi Community College alumnus, is publishing his second novel “I’m the Same” on April 9 about a biracial young man fleeing from his small town in route to a writer’s retreat in Oregon after graduating. This novel is a story of self-discovery and acceptance.

Ungurait was inspired by his personal experience, growing up in a mixed family made up of Caucasian and Hispanic people, pulls pieces from his own life, like the complicated relationship with your identity, hometown and self. He said he has lots of wonderful experiences involving his church family and his friends, but there were also moments of struggle such as one highlighted in “I’m the Same” where the character Kodak, like Ungurait in real life, was pulled out of class to communicate with a child who spoke Spanish. When Ungurait couldn’t speak Spanish it was his first “I’m different” moment.

Like Kodak, Ungurait also had the opportunity to live in Oregon, which is where much of the inspiration for the novel and settings come from. He said while he was in Oregon, he found himself more comfortable with all sides of himself. But it was when he returned to Mississippi that work on the novel began.

While Ungurait and Kodak have similarities, there’s a lot of differences and struggles that his characters face that he has not. Ungurait said a good bit of research went into this book with some of the more severe content in this story and struggles that Kodak faces. Ungurait delved into research about natural disasters, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other issues to fully cultivate this book.

Ungurait now resides in Hattiesburg, where he writes and owns his own small indie publishing house, Ungurait House. Self-publishing is more than just hitting publish, Ungurait explained. One must assemble a team of editors, designers, and marketing professionals. He credits many of his friends and family who took time helping him shape his stories, but especially his editor, Jess, as well as professors who helped shape his writing such as Dr. Robert Bunce at Northwest and Beth Spencer at Ole Miss.

Ungurait’s debut novel, “The Lost Son,” was released by his independent publishing house Ungurait House Publishing in late April of 2022. “The Lost Son” was inspired by his time as a history student at Ole Miss, underground tunnels, and secret societies. His lead character Phoenix finds himself amid a hidden society and secrets lurking just underneath the surface.

“I’m the Same” and Ungurait’s other stories are available for purchase online through most booksellers online and available in person at select bookstores including Novel in Memphis.