Being a native Angeleno has given me a unique perspective on life. I feel because I know so many areas and communities, I’m somewhat of an authority on my city. I’ve always been observant and that can be traced back as far as elementary school where my talent was first recognized. From that point on, whether I knew it or not, I was working on my skill set. By the time I reached my twenties, I gave screenwriting a shot. I wrote a couple of scripts for independent films and from there I transitioned to novels.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I knew I wanted the title to be abstract and a little obtuse. I think I succeeded on both counts. As a matter of fact. I chose the title and settled on it before I even knew what it meant. That’s when I had to crack down and come up with a definition. Original Mind Disconnect: “Original” and “Mind” because the birthplace of humankind is in Africa, and that’s where the first thoughts and intellect were formed. “Disconnect” because Jericho’s third great-grandmother Sudie believes that Jericho is disconnected from his roots and his identity as a man of African descent. She feels that it is her duty to bring him back around to his spirit, which she believes he has put off to the side while he pursues his success.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
Knocked out!!! LOL. Seriously, Ronaldo the art director and I worked well together. First, he asked me to put together a list of images that I would like to see on the cover and I did that. After a few alterations, we narrowed it down to a few choices and I chose the one that I liked the most. Then when I first held my novel in my hands, I said, “DAMN. I did it.” It was a feeling of relief that I got it done, and accomplishment that I was one step closer to bringing it out into the world.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I believe one of the main reasons I’m a writer is because first I was a reader. I knew I could put words down on paper and from there create something. My influences as far as other writers would be Richard Wright, Hemingway, Walter Mosely, and others too numerous to mention here. I believe as I entered my teen years, movies became a major influence on my style. The works of Spike Lee, Scorcese, Coppola, Billy Wilder, and Gordon Parks all played a role in developing my craft.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
Well…at one point in high school I seriously considered becoming a psychiatrist. Even at that age I knew I had a way of getting people to open up and talk to me and tell me things. I said I might as well get paid and paid well for it. That was, until I found out how much longer I would have to go to school. In high school I was in a program called Med-Cor for students who wanted a career in the healthcare industry. It was affiliated with USC and I took courses there every Saturday. During the summer I had a paid job at USC County General Hospital feeding patients and shaving male patients (even though I had no facial hair of my own).
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Original Mind Disconnect was nearly 100% influenced by rap and hip-hop. The whole tone, rhythm, and pacing took cues from that. Since the protagonist was young, as were his clients, I thought it was an apt and logical fit. The soundtrack would have to include Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Kool Moe Dee’s I Go to Work, Anything by Kendrick Lamar, and Illmatic by Nas.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
As of now I’m working on a sequel to Original Mind Disconnect tentatively titled Got to be More Careful. It picks up several years after the first novel, but this time the focus will be on the high school and college basketball world. Now that the Supreme Court has sided with the student-athletes, these kids can now profit from their NILs. That’s name, image, and likeness. This development will add a whole other layer to that subculture, which I find so fascinating. I started this project after working on another manuscript that I put off to the side—that’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I’m a staunch believer in finishing what I start. Matter of fact, I will be going back to that one since I’m close to the finish line. It’s titled With That Voice… The protagonist is a popular singer who deals with the ups and downs of her life and career. I gave her a sense of humor because I believe there’s enough darkness in this world right now. A few laughs are good right about now.