Tag Archives: African American Author
By Ordinary Servant | Published April 3, 2017
As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time, Rashid was serving a sentence of twenty years to life for his part in a murder. The Prisoner’s Wife is a testimony, for wives and mothers, friends and families. It’s a tribute to anyone who has ever chosen, against the odds, to love.
*** Vlog Review: https://youtu.be/N4kqoD6gDmw ***
I decided to read The Prisoner’s Wife after reviewing Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor. Shaka listed it as one of his favorite books, and I can see why. Asha Bandele is a beautiful writer, who penned a powerful memoir like a poet that she is.
I must admit, it was not an easy read. She touches on topics which gave me pause and had me reflect on my own life. In some ways, she and I share similar pasts which is why I identified and was profoundly moved by her writing.
The Prisoner’s Wife is a love story, but not an ordinary one. It was about her personal journey of falling in love and marrying a man named Rashid, who was serving a life sentence for murder.
One of the things I learned from reading this memoir is when someone is incarcerated, not only are they doing time, but so are their loved ones, which is what happened to Asha. She spent the majority of her time alone, other than the letters, phone calls and occasional visits.
I commend her for writing the truth and not painting an unrealistic picture. She did not romanticize her experience, but was bold, brave and courageous. She exposes the truth, shows the difficulties, and obstacles related to loving someone in prison.
If you were ever curious about what it’s like to be married to someone serving time, I highly recommend The Prisoner’s Wife.
Asha Bandele is an author and journalist. A former features editor for Essence magazine, Asha is the author of two collections of poems, the award-winning memoir The Prisoner’s Wife, and the novel Daughter. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.
By Ordinary Servant | Published May 25, 2015
Every now and then, you come across someone who is unique and special. I have had the pleasure of discovering this talented and creative author a few months ago. I began reading his first book, The Hustle Chronicles and was hooked ever since. I can’t get enough of his writing. I devoured all of his books.
Besides being an amazing and gifted writer, he is one of the hardest workers I know. When you read what his typical day looks like, you will respect his grind. It is an honor to introduce to you, Novelist Blacc Topp.
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1) Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
My name is Blacc Topp and I grew up on the south side of Dallas Texas in a neighborhood called Dixon Circle. My childhood was ideal until my father lost his job at Boeing Aircraft and that’s when things got rough. We went from a three bedroom two story house to living in the back of a laundromat bathing from a mop sink.
2) Were you always a reader? What kind of books did you read?
I started really losing myself in books when I was about 8 years old. I started out reading the newspaper with my father, helping him to sound out words. He only had a third grade education so we were learning together, you know? My first real book treat was the Fat Albert and the Gang collection that my father bought for me at a yard sale.
3) Can you remember when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?
Not really. I don’t think I ever really thought about it until I started penning it. My mother had dropped a book and I kind of got bitten by that bug but, never pursued it.
4) Was there a major life changing event that catapulted you to write?
After my mother passed, I was doing some digging and found some things that made me want to put it on paper. There were literally hundreds of letters that I’d written to her over the course of my incarceration and also journals from my teenaged years.
5) Were there any writers you read who influenced you and why?
I don’t think that any writers really influenced me. I think I admired some writer’s work but, not enough to influence my style one way or another.
6) What are some of your favorite authors and books?
Whoreson by Donald Goines, Pimp The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim, The Falconhurst series by Kyle Onstott, almost anything by Stephen King, Sydney Sheldon and Walter Moseley. The list goes on and on.
7) Do you have a favorite genre?
No. I just like good, tight, cohesive writing.
8) Who were your biggest influences in life?
My father probably influenced me more than anyone. As I stated before he only had a third grade education but, he was a genius. He could pull a motor apart and put it back together again. He would literally work from sun up to sun down trying to put us in a better position.
9) Did you have any teachers who encouraged you to write?
My 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Van Hooks always encouraged her students. She was a great teacher.
10) Did you always know you were a fiction writer?
Well, coming from a background in music, we wrote our songs with a sort of fictional flare. In a song, you only had four minutes to tell a story. In literature, you have 70,000 plus words, so it was a win win for me.
11) What does your typical day look like?
I’m out of bed by 4am, at the gym by 4:30am, work out until 6am, shower, on the clock at my job by 7am. I work there until 5:30pm. I’m back home by 6:30pm. I shower, kick it with my wife and kids until 8:30 or 9 when they go to bed and then I write from 9pm until midnight or 1am. All the while I am marketing and promoting for current and future projects. Go to sleep and then it’s back to the same routine again.
12) What is your writing process and practice?
I prefer to wait on my mojo. I see people write articles saying that the best way to become good or great is to write everyday no matter how you feel. To me that leads to fluff. If you write when you really have something to say then it’s effortless.
13) Do you prefer to write out your novels in longhand or by computer?
It depends. When I’m at home I prefer the computer but, when I’m at work I generally write in longhand and transfer it to the computer later.
14) Are you particular about the type of notebook and pen you use to write with?
Notebooks are either 1 subject spiral or legal pads. I only write with fine point felt tip pens though.
15) How long does it take for you to write a novel?
It really depends on the extent of the research that I have to put into a particular book. On any given day I log between 1,000 and 3,000 words. So if it was absolutely necessary I could bang out a full length novel in 60 days, but I never rush myself.
16) How do you come up with the ideas to write about in your books?
Most of the stories that I come up with are from personal experience or bits and pieces of characters milling around in my head.
17) When did you decide to write The Hustle Chronicles series?
The Hustle Chronicles came about from trying to escape the pain of losing my mother. I tried to think whether I had ever been a good son and I started writing the Chronicles as a way of recollecting.
18) How did Tainted and Tainted Too begin? Was it a character, or a particular image?
19) How did Corporate Amerikkka come about?
Without going into specifics, I went through a similar situation a few years back. I decided against retaliating the way that I was expected to and decided to let the courts handle it. In Corporate Amerikkka, Tristan took it to another level you know? Showed the powers that be that violence only begets more violence.
20) Which books were your favorite to write?
All of them. I immensely enjoy the entire process of building characters and bringing them to life.
21) What project are you working on now?
I’m currently working on two projects simultaneously, the third installment to Tainted and the prequel to The Hustle Chronicles called Gage.
22) What do you believe constitutes good writing?
I think good writing isn’t mechanical you know? It’s organic, it flows naturally and you feel it. Good fleshed out characters in believable situations.
23) How does one become a good writer?
That’s a question that I don’t believe I’m qualified to answer. I actually think good writers are born not made.
24) What is your goal as a writer? What do you want to convey to your readers?
I want my readers to expect quality from me because they know that I’ll deliver. I want to be your favorite author’s favorite author. I want the name Blacc Topp to sit on the tongues and coffee tables of every reader in the United States.
25) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years I’ll be the most successful and sought after African American author in recent history.
26) I’ve read all of your books and can see them becoming movies? Is this something you would be interested in?
I write from the perspective of movies. Meaning if I can’t visualize a particular scene in my head I’ll scrap it. So I suppose I would really love to see my novels make it to the big screen.
27) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?
Write until your fingers bleed, find a lane and stay in it, mind your own business, write from the gut and follow your heart. If you can’t read your own work and enjoy, then it’s possible that no one else will either. Go hard or go home and write on!!!
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Thank you for this wonderful interview, Novelist Blacc Topp. I look forward to reading more of your magnificent work.
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