As told to NJURBAN NEWS writer, Glenn Townes
1) Why the near 20-year hiatus from writing novels? Your books Until and Forever were popular, well-received, and widely read. Many of your fans were upset and shocked when you all but disappeared from the literary scene? Explain what happened….
First, thank you so much for considering me for an article. Yes, it’s been a while. I left the publishing industry for several reasons. First, my kids were getting older, and I was a single dad. It was tough being on the road for weeks and missing out on some of the best years of their lives. But I also left because I ran for a calling on my life, which I ignored for years and decided to pursue.
2) You, along with the late greats, including Eric Jerome Dickey, E. Lynn Harris and Bebe Moore Campbell, and many others, stormed onto the literary scene in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In your opinion, has that onslaught of African American writers and the hunger for stories written by writers of color dissipated in recent years? Please share your thoughts….
There is nothing more appealing to the human ear than the words, “Let me tell you a story,” or “Once upon a time.” So yes, the hunger is still there, but the novelty of seeing black books or black authors is not what it once was. Some may say because there are so many authors out there now, the desire is less, but I look at it differently. They are looking for different stories. Creative stories. Stories that answer what if’s in their lives. I believe in the year 1920; the patent office considered closing because it was taught that all the best ideas had already been thought of. I see Fiction the same way. There is another Native Son. Another To Kill A Mockingbird, and I’m excited about being a part of this new wave or writers.
3) How much of your new book is autobiographical? Reading some of the excerpts online and hearing you read some passages of it, Divorcing Atlanta sounds deeply personal and perhaps, not wholly a work of Fiction…..?
That’s flattering. Thank you. No, it’s not me. I did pastor a church and went through a divorce in Atlanta, but that’s basically where the similarities end. I wrote it close to the vest but did not in any way write my story. I look at it this way. I created a story but infused it with my emotions for seasoning. But I want Lorenzo and Elizabeth to leap off the pages and become a part of people’s lives, so thank you.
4) Any final words or comments that you would like for me to include in the article? How has the book been received? I know it won’t be officially released until the end of the month–what’s been the reception thus far? Quick question–why did you decide to do the self-publishing route and not the traditional agent-publishing house route? At one time, you were a popular and bestselling author. Despite taking a respite from writing, one would think that literary agents and major publishing houses would have been eager to represent and publish you? Comments…
The book takes place in 2020 and the craziness of this year, and I was not sure it would wear well in 2022, and often it takes 18 months to get the book out there. Secondly, I did not want to give up 85% of the rev from a pure business perspective, so I thought I would try something a little different. The publishing date was pushed back to February. There were a few things I wanted to reconstruct, and it’s not a Happy Holidays book, so I did not want to drop in December. As far as how the book has been received, I have literally had it read by less than five people. I think I shocked a few of them with the sex scenes, so for that reason, I am removing the title of Pastor from the book and website. It has a tag in it that indicates it’s not Christian Fiction, but I think people will ignore that, and it might be a little set back to have a pastor writing swear words or writing about sexual desires.