Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Imprisoned Author Hood Chronicles

Hood Chronicles is the only name he would give me for the interview, and he communicated to me from prison in Georgia. Here is the exclusive interview on the inspiring and mysterious Hood Chronicles.

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
I am a native of Chicago, but I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. As a teen, I was very rebellious which led me into illegal activities such as the narcotics trade, trafficking weapons, and armed robbery. All of these negative choices eventually led me to where I sit today -- confined in a prison cell. While incarcerated, I discovered my talent for writing and began to work on several novels about the street life that I had grown to know so well.
My first novel, Black Love aka Juicy, is a fictional tale about a girl named Juicy, also hailing from Chicago, who had to endure similar life lessons as myself growing up in the inner city slums.
What inspired you to write your first book?
2 novels: One by Sidney Sheldon titled Master of the Game, and the other was a work by Teri Woods titled True to the Game. These two books opened up my eyes to the greatness of the literary world. The way Sidney Sheldon articulately expressed the different dynamics of one family's rise to power touched me in a way that reading had never done before. After reading Teri Woods' novel and viewing how she depicted the street life, I told myself that I could do that. And thus began my literary journey.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I don't like to place myself in a box or categorize my art. Therefore, what I write I would simply call vivid imagery because that's what anybody who reads my work will get from it.
How did you come up with the title?
Actually, the title was only supposed to be Juicy due to the main character's nickname, but I had a dream that the rapper T.I. came to visit me in prison and insisted that I entitle my work Black Love. After much debate, we concluded in an agreement that the book would be called Black Love aka Juicy with the "Black Love" marking the beginning of a series. Hahaha. True story.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, absolutely. That message is: No matter where you come from, no matter how bad things seem, no matter how many people turn their backs on you, you can not let present circumstances dictate the outcome of your future.
How much of the book is realistic?
I would say 89% of the book is realistic. And the 11% that is fictitious stem from eleven characters whose names I changed in order to keep from getting sued. (smiles)
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A little bit of both. I had the pleasure of dealing with a woman which gave me the idea of Juicy's personality, and the trials and tribulations that she shared with me I did place some of those in my book. As far as the men in my book, some of the things they had to endure do come from my very own experiences in life.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I could go on and on for days answering this question, but to some it up, I would have to simply say Trickbaby by Iceberg Slim and Dopefiend by Donald Goines. These two stories left an everlasting impression on me due to the fact that I knew these men were speaking from true experiences. If you haven't lived the street life, then you won't relate to the severity of the street life. You may be entertained, but you will never be able to fully grasp the sincerity of the words these two men expressed in order for you to be entertained.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Iceberg Slim hands down!!!! He is from Chicago, such as myself. He started writing in prison, such as myself. In his early career, he liked to keep his face out of the limelight, such as myself. He turned the street life around and made the transition into the family man, in which I am currently trying to do myself. Therefore, I think if he were still around he would be able to teach me a thing or two or maybe three.
What book are you reading now?
Power and Beauty by T.I. and David Ritz.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Chrishawn Simpson, Jai Ellis, Cole Hart, Alicia Howard for the most part.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working on a short story about a woman who was sexually assaulted. It is based on a true story including an intimate interview in her own words. My reason for writing this work is to shed light on the atrocities that women face in America and around the world when it comes to sexual abuse. Other than that, my next novel from the Black Love series is entitled The Chatline.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The inmates of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Without their encouraging words and motivation, I may have put my pen down a long time ago. The enthusiasm they show me after reading my work is a feeling that money can't buy. Some people have told me that they never read books before reading mine. To know that my work could open up the doors for people to want to read more is remarkable to say the least.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I see it as my career, my passion, and my joy.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Never would I ever. Whatever I write, it's straight from the experiences of real life. Therefore, I tell it like it is.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was in the hole for fighting and the only book that was in there was Master of the Game, which was in there to prop the window open. After I read it, I wanted more to read, and the guy slid True to the Game under my cell door. After those two books, nobody had any more books that they could get to my cell, so I started utilizing my time by fantasizing about different scenarios in the streets. Those scenarios eventually led to me wanting to write them out.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here is a small excerpt from the short story.
" Black -- the only color void of light. The only color in which Monica could see as she slowly attempted to lift her heavy eyelids. Her mind was befogged from the wet rag her captor used earlier to cloud her senses. The feel of the extension cords tied ever so tightly around her wrists and ankles gave the young girl an agonizing hurt that she had never experienced in her life. Monica did not want to accept the fact that this was reality. Desperately wanting to believe that she had some how become an actress playing out some horrid movie scene or better yet asleep having some terrible nightmare in which she would wake up from at any moment now. As he viciously took his hand and wrapped it snug around her throat, Monica instantly opened her eyes to the realization that she was neither in Hollywood nor La-La- Land."
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I would have to say no.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Iceberg Slim. What I like about his work is how raw it is and how you can feel his genuineness in every line.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Within the realm of my mind, I travel from here to outer space.
Who designed the covers?
Chrishawn Simpson for Worldhaven Agenda.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Revisiting certain traumatic incidents that I had encountered in my own personal life.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that even while incarcerated that with ambition and drive, you could do anything even when everybody tells you that you can't.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Watch out because here I come! (smiles) But no seriously, if this is really what you want to do, and you feel like you have a story to tell, never let the naysayers stop you from telling it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that you not only find entertainment within my words but also take from it the harsh realities and conditions that so many young people face growing up in the slums of America. I want for those readers that live under these circumstances to know that these very same circumstances do not define them.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
For me, unlike many other authors, I actually lived that life. Therefore, I simply speak about what I know about, and when you do that, there are no challenges.