What is a current project you are working on?
I actually don’t like getting into specifics of what I’m working on because I jinx myself every time. Problem is, I like talking about what I’m working on to the “uninitiated”. My only problem. So I’ll say this, what I’m working on is giving me the confidence to accomplish a dream of mine. I played videogames a lot when I was a kid. I always thought the characters were really cool but found their storylines lacking. The characters just weren’t people I could relate to. Before I knew what the literary genre was, I wanted to truly dive into the minds of the lone wolf characters like Ryu from Street Fighter, or lovers that lost like Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury. I always wanted to create something iconic and meaningful and beautiful like Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop. My thesis is the foundation of where I want to go on in my writing career.
What is the piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most?
It’s two percent inspiration, ninety-eight percent perspiration. I’ve astounded people by my growth as a writer, and I can easily say to dedicate a great chunk of your time to your craft. You’ll know growth, I promise you.
What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other writers or outside influences?
Jay-Z once said, everything that needs to be said has already been said. It’s up to us to figure out how to say it different. I’ve always taken to this, reaching past literary influences to contemporaries who more resemble me. I listen to Starlito, Curren$y, Nipsey Hussle, and a slew of underground artists that really challenge either my perception, my thinking, or my creativity. I would say hip-hop by far is my biggest influence.
Can you talk about your inspiration for the world itself of Blues for Niah? Where did this world come from, and what is its impact on you and the story as a whole? Is this a common setting in your writing or is this piece experimental in that way?
My inspiration for the story came from a clash of events. Someone very close to me died, and at the time, I was listening to Malanda J’s A Blues For Niah heavily while watching a lot of Black Lagoon. Her name was Brianna Montano. She was the first person I told I was going to Chatham University to get my Masters in creative writing. She was proud of me. Told me I would do well. I told her I would write a story about her one day. She was describing her mother and her life to me, and these sort of characters were being constructed in my head. It wasn’t until my first semester at Chatham that I found a place for her story. In that regard, I feel like I kept a promise to an angel of mine. I’m not crying. You’re crying.
Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us why?
Sure can’t. What I can do is recommend the process of finding this book for yourself. When you bump into a book that both dazzles you and terrifies you with its uncertainty, get that book. For me, it was Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. I had no idea what was going on with this book. There isn’t much of a description on the back. The cover is of a woman staring past the 1Q84. It’s over a thousand pages. I couldn’t look away. You run into a book like that, you get that book. It’ll change your life just like 1Q84 did me.