Author Interview: Al-Saadiq Banks

What else can I say about this brilliant author? Besides the fact, that he’s absolutely gifted and a gem of a person. Someone I’m grateful to know. Someone who is real, deep, spiritual, and intellectual. Someone who God has blessed with so much talent and creativity, that he touches people’s lives. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Al-Saadiq Banks.

1) Did you always know you were a writer?

No, I never knew I was a writer. Never even considered it. Never dreamed of being one or even wanted to be one. Never crossed my mind.

2) What type of books do you like to read?

I like to read self-help books, spiritually motivated books, and books on conspiracy theory.

3) Do you have some favorite authors or books?

No, I don’t have a favorite author. I really just freestyle when it comes to my reading selection. I love the Celestine Prophecy, The Secret, and all of Robert Greene’s books. I have a very militant mindset, so I enjoy all of the books on the Art of War.

4) When did you first decide to write a book?

I considered writing for the first time in 2002.

5) Do you use an outline?

I don’t use an outline until I’m trying to close the story out. I want to be sure that I didn’t forget any of the key points that I want to include. The hardest part for me is closing out. I can go on and on and on. LOL.

6) What is your writing process? Do you have a writing ritual or routine?

No ritual, I just write whenever I can and anywhere I can get it in.

7) What does your typical day look like?

I spend most of my day on the computer researching the business side of publishing and I slide some writing time in between that. I used to write all day 16-17 hours a day, but once I learned the business side of it, I write less. You can write all the books in the world, but if you don’t understand the business, the books will never reach the masses. You must understand the business.

8) Out of all the books you have written, which was your favorite to write?

Basically all my books are special to me because they all were written during different time periods in my life and each one means and represents something different to me. I do have a three top ones though, Caught ’em Slippin’, Block Party 3 and Strapped, in that order.

9) How do you come up with the ideas for your books? Is it based on your life?

They are not necessarily based on my life, but things I have seen in my life.

10) How long does it take for you to write a book?

I never put a time limit on a book. I just let it flow. My earlier books only took a month and a half, but lately, it’s nine months at least.

11) What do you want your readers to take from your books?

I want my readers to take a look into the lives of some of the most vicious individuals in the world and through my books, I want them to understand what motivates certain individuals. A lot of us are so quick to judge, but never having been in the shoes of the people that we judge. Most of the time, it’s all about cause and effect and we can never say what we will or won’t do in life if we have never been forced to make certain decisions. To see my readers cheer for the bad guy makes me realize they must have felt his pain in life.

12) What is your dream now?

I don’t really dream, I just make things happen. My next move is film.

13) Thinking back on your life, what would you have done differently?

For the most part, nothing at all. Everything I have been through in life made me who I am and also gave me the information to write over a dozen books so far.

14) When did you decide to start True 2 Life Productions and why?

After the first book was written. There was no other way. I couldn’t even imagine signing my book over to another publisher and wait for a royalty. I’m wired differently than most.

15) What brings you the most satisfaction in life?

It’s the little things that mean the most to me. Big things are nice, but I don’t need big things. I’m quite easy to please.

16) You just released your new book Outlaw Chick, how did the idea to write this story come about?

Riding in my truck one day, and listening to the words of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s song, and the whole book presented itself in my mind.

17) How did you perfect your craft as a writer?

I wouldn’t say it’s perfected, but I will say I work on it every day. I write something every day and I read every day. I also study the dictionary. Plus before books, as a child, I was an art major, so I’m quite visual. That helps me tremendously because it helps me to paint the perfect picture.

18) What do you believe constitutes good writing?

Good writing to me, is when the reader feels like they’re watching a movie. They finish reading the book and feel like they actually know the characters. It’s all about character development. If a reader reads 300 pages of your book and doesn’t remember your character’s names, the character development was weak and you haven’t done your job as a writer.

19) Are you currently working on any new projects?

I just finished up the fifth part to my Block Party series due to release in the Fall of this year.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give someone coming up in this game?

The advice that I would give a writer is read just as much as you write. You will thank me later! LOL.

Thank you so much for a fantastic interview, Al-Saadiq Banks.

Al- Saadiq Banks made his entrance into the literary world in 2002. Al-Saadiq Banks and his brother Naim Banks formed a publishing house under the imprint of True 2 Life Publications, using their first title No Exit as a launching pad to knock the doors of the genre off the hinges, selling approximately 90,000 books the first year.

Al-Saadiq Banks is widely respected by his readership base and colleagues in the business for penning True 2 Life, hard core, raw and uncut, crime novels, which all take place in the city of Newark, New Jersey throughout a variety of eras, dating back from the 80’s and 90’s to the current day. He’s appreciated for his story-telling ability and the in-depth development of his characters which leaves readers feeling as if these are real life characters that they’ve known all of their lives. Al-Saadiq Banks and True 2 Life Publications has just recently taken a leap into the world of comics, wherein they just adapted Block Party into a comic book. Their mission is to transform all of their titles into comic books and graphic novels. The future of Al-Saadiq Banks and True 2 Life Publications will be the conversion of the graphic novels into animated comic series and the independent film “Block Party”. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Are you coming to the online event of the year?

The Self-Publishing Success Summit starts MONDAY — are you going?

Here’s the scoop, in case you missed it:

Over the past few months, my friend Chandler Bolt gathered 35+ world-famous authors & entrepreneurs for a one-time-only online event.

And you can get in for free:

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

The list of speakers keeps growing.

So far it’s Brian Tracy, Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn, Michael Port, Hal Elrod, Russell Brunson, Ryan Deiss, Joseph Michael, James Clear, Pat Flynn, Charlie Hoehn, Ty Cohen, Nick Loper, Jaime Tardy, Hollis Carter, and over 20 more top entrepreneurs and bestselling authors.

If you want to become a bestselling author — and use your book to build your brand, following, or 6-figure business — you don’t want to miss this.

But get your ticket fast.

Because after the event, the only way to catch these speakers is to buy the All-Access Priority Pass — which costs $297.

So hurry and get your free ticket now (takes 10 seconds).

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

Pilar Arsenec

P.S. I can only hold your spot for a few more days, so get your ticket now.

https://xe172.isrefer.com/go/spss/pilar/

Author Interview: Silk White

I’m excited to interview the multi-talented Silk White. He is an author, actor, and film director extraordinaire. We connected on Facebook, and then I started watching his web series called “The Hand That I Was Dealt” and got hooked. I fell in love with his writing and characters. He plays a smooth operating drug dealer named Zoe, who cheats on his wife. Author Silk White is one cool, laid back, and talented dude.

1) What was it like growing up in Harlem?

Growing up in Harlem was fun, it made me have to grow up fast, but that’s where I learned how to be a man.

2) Were you creative as a child?

I wasn’t too creative as a child. I just enjoyed the regular things that kids enjoy. I was a good kid.

3) What made you start writing?

I started writing because I was doing a lot of reading and found an interest in it. I thought I could be great at it and found a love in it. I love to create a good story that everyone loves.

4) Do you have a favorite author and book?

Yes, my favorite author is K’wan and my favorite book by him is called Street Dreams, that’s the book that got me wanting to start writing from the beginning.

5) When did you start getting interested in film and acting?

I started getting interested in film and acting when I saw how people loved the characters in my book and I wanted to see if I could bring those characters to life on the screen. I love a challenge.

6) Do you like to act more than write?

Acting and writing are two things that I love to do. I am currently working on my acting and trying to improve

7) Which book did you enjoy writing the most?

I enjoyed writing my new book Business Is Business the most, that story just somehow came to life in my head.

8) What is your philosophy on life?

My philosophy on life is to just make the best of it and continue to try and get better and better each and every day.

9) How do you overcome obstacles?

I overcome obstacles by dealing with them. There will be obstacles in everything you do, there is no getting around it.

10) What means the most to you?

Just being creative and putting out good material means the most to me.

11) Who has been your greatest influence in life?

I think I would have to say that I have been the greatest influence on my life. I’ve been through a lot and have seen a lot, but still stay motivated to be great.

12) How do the ideas come for your books and film?

Lol! I don’t know, the ideas just come to me, it’s hard to explain. It’s kind of weird.

13) When did you decide to start Good2Go?

I decided to start Good2Go in 2007. I only started the company at first because nobody else would sign me lol, well I guess I showed them.

14) Do you enjoy the business end of publishing?

Yes, I do enjoy the business end of publishing. I’ve definitely learned a lot, but now nothing surprises me in this business anymore.

15) You have done a couple of films, “No Way Out” and “Black Barbie”. You also have an excellent web series out called “The Hand I Was Dealt”. Where did the inspiration for them come about?

The inspiration for the movies and books come from just wanting to give the viewers a great story. And with each project, I continue to get better and better.

16) How do you balance writing, publishing, filmmaking and acting?

Lol, it gets pretty difficult when it comes to balancing all these different things, but I just do my best to make time for those things. When it’s all said and done, I want to be great. So in order to be great, I have to put in the work.

17) Where do you see yourself in ten years? What other goals do you want to achieve?

In ten years, I see myself owning several other businesses…having a show on cable television, having one of my books turned into a motion picture, and living in Los Angeles somewhere.

18) What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing “The Hand I Was Dealt” Season 2. I’m also working on a few other things that I’m not allowed to discuss right now, but just know I’m definitely working.

19) What helped you hone your skills as a writer, actor, etc…

Me just wanting to be good at those things helped me hone my skills, and I did a lot of studying. As far as acting goes, I continue to work on the craft until it’s mastered.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer or filmmaker? What are the things you have learned that you can pass on to someone coming up?

What I can pass on to someone on the come up is don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Be ready to work hard for what you want and never give up. Also, don’t just jump into something, do your homework and research first.

Thank you so much, Author Silk White.

A native of Harlem, New York, Silk White began his writing career in 2006.

He is a best selling author of Urban Fiction Novels & Co-Owner of good2go publishing/good2go films. Silk also produces movies and has “No Way Out” and “Black Barbie” as film credits to his name.

In his spare time, Silk loves to write and act. He is currently producing a new movie and is hard at work on his next novel. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Pilar Talks Books: G-Spot by Noire

I discuss G-Spot by Noire on this week’s segment of Pilar Talks Books. As I mentioned on the video, Noire has an amazing writing voice. The second you start this book, you won’t want to put it down. It’s that good.

If you want to purchase this book or any of her books, you can do so here.

Thanks for watching and have a great week.

This Quiet Madness

Have you ever wanted to give up? You look around you and everything looks grey? A sense of hopelessness envelopes you, that you can’t seem to shake it off?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Well, you are not alone. Throughout my life, I have struggled with the torment composed of invisible scars. I’ve danced to the same tune more times than I care to admit.

It’s a combination of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair rolled into one. Unless someone goes through it, they won’t understand. So it’s like you are walking through life, on the outside looking in. Disconnected, disoriented, and in a bubble.

I get it, I do. You wonder when you will ever feel “normal”? Whatever normal is. You try hard to mask the gnawing pain with a smile. Sometimes someone will *see* and a wave of shame will come over you. Pushing you to hide, avoid and isolate even more.

This quiet madness is as real as real can be. No one knows how you truly feel or what you are going through. These invisible whips and chains torture you daily.

The incessant voices inside your head telling you, you don’t matter. You are worthless, you have no value, and you are failure.

Yes, yes… I know all too well what this is about. I’m living it right now.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. Most people don’t know the road I’ve been on, or the suffering and pain I’ve endured.

These invisible scars are hidden from the naked eye, but this silent disability is alive and well. It frames my life, and experiences.

I long for the day where I can truly be free. I envision the day where I can fly. Where I won’t be subjected to people’s opinions, or criticisms. Where I can be me and accepted and loved unconditionally for who I am without judgment. Or perhaps reach the point, where it won’t matter anymore.

This journey of mine has been a long and hard one. There have been times I have wanted to give up. But as hard as it is, by the grace of God, I continue on. I am grateful for the praying friends God has graciously placed in my life who know of my internal struggle.

I am writing this post today for those of you who may be struggling too. Depression and anxiety are real. It’s considered a disability. Please join me in trying not to beat yourself up. Know that you are not alone, that God is with you and somehow, someway, you will heal and overcome. Be encouraged even in the midst of the storm. God promised to never leave or forsake you. I’m gripping on to that word for dear life. I hope you will too.

If you are struggling, please let me know in the comment section below. You are not alone. Let’s pray for one another. There is power in prayer and community.

Author Interview: Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas

Me with 848 Web Series Team

I have been following Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas for quite some time now and I think he is an exceptional man. I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time last month. It was a real treat, because I got to spend time with him and the rest of the 848 Web Series team. Inch is one of the most down to earth and humblest men I know. Besides being incredibly talented as a writer, actor and filmmaker. If you haven’t read any his books, or watched the 848 Web Series, I highly recommend it.

1) Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I grew up in the Northeast Bronx, New York City, a housing development called Edenwald Houses. My childhood was fair…my mother was a single mom raising six children on her own. My older siblings were dipping and dabbing in drugs. Mom was on welfare, no real male role model around…just my mother, mostly.

2) What was your dream or aspiration?

My dream was always to own my own business. Nothing in particular..a store perhaps, but something that I could call my own and run it how I wanted to run it.

3) Who did you look up to or admire? Who was your greatest influence?

I had no one that I wanted to be like except the neighborhood drug dealer. There were a few, but one or two stood out to me for various reasons. For those reasons, primarily materialistic reasons, and me growing up poor, I wanted what they had. I wanted to be them.

4) What has gotten you through hard times in life?

My faith in the almighty Creator has gotten me through the times when most people were expected to crack or break. I am a practicing Muslim and I have been so for 23 years. Islam the religion, is perfect. People ruin it!

5) What kind of music do you like or listen to?

I listen to hip hop and R&B music.

6) What is your favorite movie and why?

One of my favorite movies of all time has to be “Scarface”. The story of a Cuban immigrant who made something out of nothing. According to him, all he had was his balls (courage) and his word (honor). Sometimes that’s all that we need.

7) Who are your favorite authors and books?

My favorite authors are different from my favorite books because an author can write an awesome story, but once you get big headed and appear as if your shit doesn’t stink, Fuck You! But a few of my favorite stories are: The Coldest Winter Ever, True To The Game, Dutch, B More Careful, Block Party, Do or Die, Standing At The Scratch Line (My all time favorite), Gangsta, Kiss The Girls, and Flower’s Bed.

Some of my favorite authors are: Treasure Blue, Al-Saadiq Banks, James Patterson, John Grisham, Thomas Long, T. Benson Glover, and Michael Whitby.

8) Tell us a little bit about the books you’ve written? How did you come up with the ideas for them?

No Regrets, the first book that I’ve ever written was inspired by my own childhood. Flower’s Bed, the novel that set off my company is a story about a young lady and domestic molestation. I wrote that book to grab the attention of the readers. Unwilling To Suffer is a hood love story inspired by a personal experience and That Gangsta Shit, an anthology was created to introduce my authors on a level smaller than debuting a full length novel.

9) How long does it take you to write a book?

I wrote my first book in eight days, it’s first draft. Flower’s Bed took me three weeks. Black Rose’s took sixteen days and Unwilling To Suffer took me six months to complete.

10) What are some of the things you learned from writing books?

From writing stories, I’ve learned how to read and write better, I’ve enhanced my vocabulary and I’ve also learned how to improve on story line.

11) What inspires or motivates you?

My will to succeed and win motivates me to reach for the stars. I feel like I have so much potential that I almost wasted running around in those streets that now I try to be an example for the ones headed down that same route.

12) What would you do differently if you had a second chance?

If I had a second chance, I wouldn’t do anything different because everything today for me is the way it is because life was the way that it was.

13) How did you come up with the concept for the 848 web series?

I am a huge fan of “The Wire”. I enjoy the tv show “Power”. I was intrigued by how so many people were so excited about, the following week’s episode of “Empire”. I absolutely admired the show, “Money & Violence”. So I grouped all of those elements together along with incorporating my preparation for writing a novel and boom, 848 was born. I always say, nothing too ratchet, something easy on the tongue, something familiar, easy to remember and something unordinary.

14) What do you want people to take from your books and 848?

I want people to know that the man behind my books and 848 had one time given up on society and life. There was a time when I thought that I would never be shit, so why even try. And here I am today, with maybe not much financially but I am so happy that I made it this far and how other people can see me as a source of encouragement. Hope, for lack of a better term.

15) Do you enjoy acting or writing more?

I enjoy acting and writing equally. I really enjoy coming up with the ideas of how a scene should be played out, camera angles etc.

16) What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for a loving family. I love my children with all of my dear heart.

17) Where do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

In five or ten years, with enough hard work, determination, sacrifice and consistency, I see myself on the big screen.

18) What advice would you give the youth today?

To the youth of 2015, although it may sound cliché, never give up. Never give up hope because God is real. We cannot enjoy the rainbow without first enduring the storm. We must experience hardship in order to truly appreciate success.

19) Are you currently working on a new book or project?

Right now, I am still in the production stages of rounding out the end of Season 1 of 848.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

When it comes to being an author, the READERS, MAKE you, or they break you, figuratively, of course. NEVER, release material that you aren’t 100 with, from its title, the cover, down to every page, every chapter, every paragraph & every sentence. Begin EVERY story with some action, or over the top drama. Be descriptive in your sex scenes, & graphic when there’s action or violence. Exaggerate, but make everything believable & imaginable. Be unpredictable with your story & lead folks to believe one thing, then give them something they wouldn’t expect. Make your readers sympathize with your characters, show compassion… many will empathize automatically with them (when one actually went through it as well). Make them connect with your character, the best way that you can, then bring your character to a low point. Once you’re there, your readers will begin to have hope of a rise. Once YOU feel that way, drop your character into some deeper shit, where the only way out, IS, up…then you give him or her a triumphant rise.

Give your character issues (health, education, family, financial & morals), within the story itself. Make folks LOVE your character and write your narration, and most of your dialogue in correct English. Proper English. Everyone speaks different, but we understand what we read, and interpret it, the way that we talk. So a country nigga and a bitch from Boston can read the same story, & identify exactly the same understanding as the writer, from their experiences, but will actually be hearing it, in their own lingo.

Most importantly, appear to be tangible. Many authors are arrogant and seem surreal so readers look at them as fake & don’t want anything personally to do with them. That creates a barrier, a gap, or a form of distance, between reader & writer, yet the idea is to be on one accord, so the overall understanding of a story and the author behind it, is fundamental and very simple to connect. Be as friendly & sociable, literary wise, as possible. You never know what a simple smile, a wave, handshake or response to an email or inbox, can accomplish.

Be available & WILLING, to do signings. Every signing may not be advantageous, financially, but it can be filed as a learning experience, it can be deemed a rehearsal for future events, and it’s also a form of promotion. Folks may not have the money at that time but they’ll remember your presence and when they return and you aren’t there, they’ll purchase your material because you were kind. Be open minded and patient. Stay hopeful. Believe in yourself and your work. Forget anything negative that anyone has to say, be thankful for the compliments you receive, and be appreciative for any constructive criticism. Without it, we’ll never know where to improve!

Wow! What an incredible and generous interview. Thank you so much, Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas.

Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas was born and raised in the Bronx. He’s talented, impulsive, and a passionate writer who thrives on being creative. You can fallow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Promises

It was about three years ago when I attended a Christian Writer’s Conference. I took a class taught by Cindy Sproles about how to write devotionals. I took many classes, but this particular class stood out for me the most. I guess it’s because Cindy is an amazing woman of God, and she taught with such love. She was also the one who introduced me to the concept of writing devotions using God’s promises.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

She told us to get “Our Daily Bread Promise Box“, which contains 240 promises from the Word of God. Cindy said for us to use this as an exercise and practice writing devotions.

I admit, I haven’t done this for a while, but this morning something tugged at me to go look in the box. I nearly cried because it read, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22.

This Scripture is particular encouraging to me right now because this year has been challenging for me. With all the struggles I’ve been faced with, I kind of lost my way for a bit. But in the past couple of months, the Lord has wooed me back. I also have some amazing Godly friends who earnestly pray for me (you know who you are, thank you).

Last Friday, I had a spiritual breakthrough. I began the day with a meaningful telephone conversation with a friend of mine. It was deep and fruitful. We talked about the power of prayer. I don’t know why, but that conversation sparked something in me.

Then in the evening, I met up with a sister in Christ for dinner. She’s known me for years and has witnessed many chapters in my life. We hadn’t seen each other in over 2 years. But we always manage to pick up where we left off as if no time passed. God used her to remind me of who I am in Christ and all of His promises upon my life.

It was as if I had amnesia and forgot… but as she spoke, memories flooded back, reminding me of everything God has done throughout my life. Miracle upon miracle. I felt something break, and a peace come over me. A peace and assurance that I haven’t felt in quite some time.

I say all this to say, that no matter what you are facing or going through right now, no matter how deep the pain, no matter how lost you feel. God is with you, He is by your side, and He promises to never leave you or forsake you. I am a witness. So be encouraged today.

Please let me know how I can pray for you today. Leave your prayer requests in the comment section below.

Pilar Talks Books

Hi friends, welcome to a new segment I have created, in which I will be discussing and/or reviewing books on my YouTube channel.

So, instead of just reading my reviews, you will now be able to see me discuss books on a weekly basis.

Just to give you a brief summary, I read two books this week. One was an advanced copy of Caught Up by Shannon Holmes, courtesy of Akashic Books. And the other was 9: based on a true story by E. James.

The stories were different, but equally as good. I also included a shout out to Nikki from 9: based on a true story.

Thanks for watching this week’s segment of Pilar Talks Books. Have a great week.

Fakes, Frauds & Opportunists

I haven’t been in the urban genre circle for long. But in my short time, I’ve had certain people tell me to be careful, because not everyone in this business is your friend.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

What’s interesting is that these same people, who I believed had my best interest in mind and had my back, were the very ones who stabbed it.

It is a sad shame when people portray an image of themselves, only to find out they were frauds.

Some people come into your life with an agenda and that is, to use and exploit you. I call them opportunists. They study and watch you from the sidelines, to figure out what you can do to help them. They seek and prey upon good, selfless and giving people.

They will say anything to get you to do what they want, until they’ve exhausted their use of you. As soon as they believe you have nothing left to give or offer them, they no longer have any interest in you. They will act as if you never existed.

They are manipulators, schemers and users who only care about themselves. They are out for themselves and what they can get, even if it’s at your expense. They will use their words masterfully to convince and deceive you with their lies and deception.

They will smile to your face, but speak negatively about you behind your back. Thereby, turning others against you in the process.

This is what I’ve experienced recently, and it was a hard, painful, costly, but valuable lesson for me to learn. One of which opened my eyes to the reality that people aren’t always what they seem, appear or what you would like to believe. They put on a good front and hide behind their mask.

You are probably wondering how I wound up in the urban genre circle? Well, I’ve always enjoyed watching mafia and gangster movies since I was a teenager. I never knew about this genre until about approximately nine months ago. I enjoy the raw, real, grittiness of the writing.

I am not familiar with the streets or the game… this isn’t the world I was raised in or grew up around. I guess because of that, it always intrigued and fascinated me. But never did I fathom that I would fall prey or victim to it in the process of helping others.

What is the solution going forward? I’m not quite sure, but for one, I’m definitely going to be more careful and not be so trusting. Trust and respect is earned, not freely given. But, I am the type of person who genuinely seeks and wants to see the good in people, until they betray me. I’m not interested in being chewed up and spit out by the people in this business. I don’t want to become heartless or ruthless as a result of getting burned by selfish people. All I’m interested in is reading, reviewing books and promoting authors who I believe craft unique plots, interesting characters and, are great writers. That’s it.

All that other “stuff” doesn’t interest me. So I humbly request that those with their personal agendas stay as far away from me as possible, because I’m not in this genre or business to be used, abused or exploited by anyone who wishes to utilize my gifts and talents for their benefit. I’m a professional and I take my work and time seriously.

Have you had a similar experience?  How did you go about handling it?

Author Interview: Dutch

It began several months ago, when I wrote a letter to Dutch telling him how much I enjoyed reading his book, Above The Law.  Little did I know it would blossom into a beautiful friendship. I have a deep respect and admiration for him. Not only is he a phenomenal writer, he is a genius and wonderful person. I am blessed to know him and call him friend. It is with great pleasure to introduce to you, Kwame Teague, aka Dutch.

1. Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Normal ghetto story, grew up too fast. DJ’d, stole cars and sold drugs. Cliché.

2. What is the most memorable event you experienced as a child?

When I was three, I ditched my babysitter and went to the store. Everybody thought I got abducted. I came back and got my ass whooped.

3. What was your dream?

To be Scarface (lol). Who else? I also wanted to go into politics and be president.

4. Do you remember a teacher encouraging you in school?

Yep. My third grade teacher, Ms. McGeorge. She’s the one who said I’d be president (she may’ve told us all this).

5. Who had the greatest influence on you growing up?

My Uncle Hakim (God bless the dead). He was cool and didn’t take no shit. He spoke six languages and when he died in his 80’s, he looked like he was 50.

6. When did you realize you were a writer?

When I was twelve. I wrote a story about selling drugs.

7. Were you into reading books as a child? What book stood out for you?

Yes, a lot! Still do. I think that is the most important thing for kids, reading. My favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

8. How were your teenage years?

I was selling drugs, State to State. Delaware, Baltimore, Virginia and North Carolina. I wasn’t a king pin, not even close, just young and wild.

9. Was Dutch your first book published?

No. Ghetto Sam is my first book.

10. What did it feel like to be a published author?

To be published gave me a sense of accomplishment.

11. How did it feel to become an award winning, critically acclaimed and Essence #1 best selling author?

To win awards kept me humble.

12. What is your philosophy in life?

Act as if you are right, but know you can be wrong.

13. What gets you through difficult times?

My belief in myself.

14. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Wahida Clark, Al-Saadiq Banks, Eyonne Williams, Stone Ramsey and DC BookDiva (who is just so damn sexy).

15. Besides being an incredibly gifted writer, and prolific author, you are currently fighting for your innocence. Can you share how that is going?

I’ve been incarcerated for twenty-one years, and trying to prove my innocence. I’m currently raising money for a top notch lawyer, but I need all the help I can get!

16. What do you believe constitutes good writing?

Good writing paints a picture, takes few words and makes you think.

17. How did you become the talented writer that you are?

Working hard and eating Wheaties. No really, I love life, so I see the beauty and the ugliness in it.

18. What did you do to hone your skills?

Live, love and learn.

19. What is your principle goal when you began penning books?

To make you think, challenge what you think and make you wet…

20. What is your writing process?

Listen to music and then ask what if…

21. Do you use an outline?

Very rarely.

22. Do you write every day or only when you are inspired?

I write ten pages a day.

23. How long does it take you to write a book?

Thirty days on average.

24. How did you develop the confidence as a writer?

Because I’m confident as a man.

25. What is your vision?

To be free and free minds along the way.

26. Was there a particular book that you enjoyed writing the most?

Good question… I have a book called God that I haven’t released yet. God is my favorite.

27. Lastly, what would you tell a novice writer coming up in the industry? What advice would you give them?

Build your brand and open up the overseas market! The American market is saturated.

Bio: Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Kwame Teague is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include Above The Law, the Dynasty trilogy, ? (pronounced Que), The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Kwame is hard at work on his next novel.

Author Interview: Treasure E. Blue

It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to interview this prolific author. He is such a gifted writer. I’m enamored by him. I love his heart, authenticity, transparency and humility. I am grateful he was willing to do this interview with me. Besides being an talented writer, he is an amazing person too. Without further ado, I present to you, Treasure Blue.

1) What was your childhood like?

It was adventurous, me being the youngest of four. Didn’t really know bad, until the foundation of my family fell apart after my mother became afflicted with mental illness, alcoholism and a few tragic events. After that, sadly, it became one big horror show. I was eleven.

2) What was your childhood dream?

To have peace, have a family and lasting happiness. Didn’t necessary turn out that way, but still try.

3) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

No. I started very late. I always been above average with words, verbally, but I was an excellent liar. All one the same if you ask me. It started when I joined the military at 17, many of my fellow soldiers didn’t know how to express their sentiments/loneliness/feelings to their loved ones back home and would ask for my help. I ended up writing and embellishing their entire letters, and me being an opportunist, I began to charge them per letter – ten dollars a pop. I must have proposed to at least two dozen of their girlfriends for them. Lol.

4) When did it become a reality for you?

After years of people telling me I had a gift, and should explore it as a career.

5) What helped you develop as a writer?

Reading. Period!

6) Were you always a reader?

My mother was a public school teacher and a great disciplinary. I was a rather rambunctious young lad that stayed into trouble, and would always get beatings because of my youthful transgressions. So, by 13, she realized it was to no avail, so she switched tactics by putting me on a punishment. No going outside to play with my friends, no company, and I had to read an entire novel, and write a detailed essay on the story. When I tell you that was ten times worse than a beating, it was. It was no way around no how much I tried to get around, so I read. Thing was, and unexpectedly, I began to fall head over heels for stories, reading. I became intoxicated.

7) What books influenced you and your writing?

The Count of Monte Crisco by Alexandre Dumas. My first full read from punishment from my mother. The heavens opened up for me.

8) What are some of your favorite authors or books?

James Baldwin, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, James Patterson, Walter Mosley, Donald Goines, Stephen King, just to name a few.

9) Do you find writing to be therapeutic?

In the beginning, yes, today, not really, because it became business, and business is work.

10) How did you develop confidence as a writer?

I started my writing career as a screenwriter, so I guess I removed all doubt and became confident in my writing by beating out and pitted against dozens of other wannabe writers in a contest I entered and won in New York City’s West Village. I was way advance than them after reading their work. After I won the Blue Ribbon, I believed.

11) How did Harlem Girl Lost come about?

I went back to college at John Jay University in Manhattan, and our professor said that an author was having a speaking engagement in the school and were serving food and drinks. I was hungry and struggling with child support and finances back then, well, I think I was homeless too, so I heard food, so I went down there after I finished the test. That author wound up being Shannon Holmes. I was impressed and honestly didn’t know urban fiction made a comeback. Long story short, I bought and read his novel B-MORE CAREFUL and loved it and felt I could write far better. I read the book in one day, the next day after that, I began writing Harlem Girl Lost.

12) How did Random House pick it up?

I became avidly into publishing and committed to it fully. It was all or nothing and I gave up EVERYTHING, my job, women, partying, drugs, alcohol, and to a certain extent, my own children. I ended up selling 65,000 paperback copies of Harlem Girl Lost and it was everywhere, breaking all kinds of records, ringing many bells. I hooked up with the best agent in the business Tracy Sherrod, the same person who presented the world to The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Soulja. It was a bidding war with about six major and mid publishing houses and Random House won.

13) How do your ideas come?

Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t shut down, even when I’m sleeping I’m thinking, processing, and plotting. Hence why I’m so eccentric at times.

14) What is your writing process, routine or ritual?

When I’m under contract, all the above, when it’s for me, and just me, I do it when and how I feel like it.

15) Do you use an outline?

Sometimes.

16) How long does it take you to write a novel?

Under contract or under deadline, very fast. I want to get to the money.

17) What is your goal as a writer?

I’ve reached many goals that I could ever imagine. I’m satisfied. I’m actually ready to begin the next chapter in my life. Real estate. I think I lost the allure of writing and publishing these days.

18) What do you want to communicate to your readers?

I do not merely want you to read my stories, my goal is to make you feel my stories.

19) What do you think makes you a better writer?

I do not, and I’ll repeat do not write from my head, I write from my heart.

20) Who was you biggest influence in life?

My mother and father.

21) What is your worldview?

Be confident in your own skin at all times. But that comes with growth.

22) What do you want your readers to get from your books?

Reality. Life on life’s terms. You will always be as sick as your secrets. Expose them with someone you trust, or it will poison your future.

23) Talk to us about your other books, i.e., A Street Girl Named Desire, Fly Betty… how did they come about?

Painful memories of my past and others I knew.

24) Do you ever speak to the youth?

Always. This is the reason that I write in the first place.

25) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

If you’re writing for money, instead of the passion……. YOU FAIL. Thank you for having me.

Thank you, Treasure Blue. It was an honor having you.

Many have called Treasure E. Blue the reincarnated Donald Goines. This prolific author without doubt is one of the most shocking and controversial writers that we have seen in decades. Blue’s background is as almost as compelling as his mouth-dropping debut novel entitled “Harlem Girl Lost”. Using the streets as a means of survival, he soon found himself involved with some of Harlem’s most notorious elements. Retiring from the game at the tender age of sixteen, Blue, who dropped out of High School after being banned from the entire Board of Education system, in New York City, managed to become one of the youngest people to receive his G.E.D. in New York State. Joining the military at seventeen, he developed a voracious appetite for books going on to read well over 2000 novels. After serving his country honorably, he joined the New York City Fire Department and worked as a Supervising Fire Inspector in the Bronx. Blue is a father of 4 and won praise for his screenwriting skills. He is also an active member of the American Studies Association. Blue has an uncanny way of not only telling a story, he makes you feel it emotionally as well.