Joins us as we chat with Caleb Alexander, author of Belly Of The Beast and one of Sexy Ebony Book Club's June 2010 Featured Authors. Please feel free to comment on the interview. And don't forget to visit the Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club website for a chance to win the Caleb Alexander Prize Packet. Contest ends July 3, 2010. Visit http://www.sexyebonybbwaabookclub.com for more information.
1) Tell us about yourself? I am an author, publisher, screenwriter, and ghostwriter. I’ve written some of the hottest books in Urban Lit, and been the force behind many peoples writing careers. I’ve ghost written several New York Times Best Sellers, I’ve launched publishing companies, and publishing imprints, and publishing lines. I’ve done so many things in this industry that I can‘t even begin to name them all. But besides all of that, first and foremost, I am a proud father of three. I have a 14 year old son, a 5 year old son, and a 3 year old daughter. My wife and I have been together for 18 years. I love motorcycles, I love coaching my kids in sports, and I love to read and write. I am a humble man, who has been extremely blessed.
2) How long have you been writing? What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’ve been writing since 1997-98 I want to say. Eastside was my first novel. It was set in the early nineties. I picked up the pen because I had friends involved in screenwriting, and so I decided to try my hand at writing. But I wanted to write a novel, not a script. I wanted to send a message. And Eastside did that. Eastside was like therapy for me. It allowed me to express my anger at what was going on in our communities, and it allowed me to tell the stories of the kids that we lost during that era. An entire generation was hulled out. Half went to prison, the other half to the cemetery. During that time period, I felt like a survivor. And that’s sad. I need to tell that story for those kids, for the parents and the children that they left behind, and for the generations after them.
3) This month we will be giving away a copy of Belly Of The Beast. Please tell us a little about your novel. Why should readers run out and buy a copy today? Readers should run out and buy a copy of Belly of the Beast because it’s unlike any other novel out there. There’s no drug dealing, or bling bling in the book. There are no dope dealer girlfriends looking for a come up. It doesn’t read like a mall registry plugging all the fancy stores, or a Christmas wish book plugging a bunch of fancy clothing and shoes. So, for readers who are tired of the same old hood stories with the ballers and name brand clothes, and the mansions, and the fancy cars, then this is the book for you. This book is real writing, without relying on fashion labels. This book sends a powerful message to our communities, to the brothers and sisters on lock, and it lets the readers know what’s really going on behind the fence, and what’s really going on in our society. It deals with real shit, like the prison industrial complex that’s eating up generations of our Black men. It deals with Black and Latino race relations. It is an extremely powerful book, and it has been receiving rave reviews from all of the people who have read it. Check out your favorite and most trusted reviewers, and see what they had to say about the book.
4) When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? You mentioned in your bio that your debut novel Eastside was picked to launch the Strebor On The Streetz Publication Line. Is there a story behind Strebor picking Eastside for the launch?
I’m shooting for this year for my next book. There is an excerpt for ‘When Lion’s Dance’ in the back of Belly of the Beast. It is real literary. It will take the readers on an incredible journey through the eyes of an African American woman, as we follow her life. The book opens with her burying her son at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a powerful book, and a moving social commentary on our history.
I am also working on another book, a crime drama, that I think readers will love. And then, I may also pick up a book that I have been working on for years, and complete that book this year. It is straight gangster, in the tradition of the Deadly Reigns series. As far as Strebor picking Eastside for the launching of Strebor on the Streetz, I believe it was a matter of people believing in Eastside. Eastside was a fantastic book, and instant Urban Lit classic. Here it is years later, and I’m still getting emails about Eastside. People are passing that book to sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, and to others they feel are in danger of falling prey to the type of lifestyles portrayed in Eastside. That’s a fantastic thing when people pull your book off of their book shelf as a reference, or to pass it along to a loved one who is in danger. That’s a powerful testimony to that book.
5) And now we move from Strebor On The Streetz to President and CEO of Golden Ink Publishing? Please tell us a little about Golden Ink Publishing and what the reading public can expect from Golden Ink. What will make Golden Ink stand out from the other independent publishers? Golden Ink Publishing was launched to fill a void in the publishing industry. I want to see excellent writing in the street lit genre, and I also want to expand the types of stories that are being told. So many times we see street lit stories being thrown out there, and the stories aren’t developed, the characters aren’t developed, the editing is horrible, and the covers are elementary. And sometimes, it’s that majors that are throwing this crap out there. Which tells me a lot about what they think of us as readers and consumers. We can do better. And not just in the street lit or urban lit genre, but across the board. I want to see better stories. I want to see stories that matter. I want to publish stories that are going to stand the test of time, and still be relevant 50 years from now. Quality, is going to make Golden Ink stand out from all the other publishing houses.
6) How can those interested in finding more information about and/or submitting their work to Golden Ink Publishing go to find more? They can go to the website. www.goldeninkpublishing.com
7) You are a busy man? How do you manage the many hats that you wear both in and out of your literary career? What is a typical day in the life of Caleb Alexander? Oh my God, I am busier than you know. My day starts off with e-mails, then usually phone calls. This is my work day that I’m speaking of. Because my actual day starts off with getting the kids off to school. Once that’s done, then comes the e-mails, and telephone calls. I usually try to get in some writing in the morning, and also a little Mafia Wars. LOL I’m a Mafia Wars addict. I’ve admitted that problem several times. After getting some work done, it’s lunch, and then time with my baby girl. I basically have school time and play time with her. We practice our ABC’s, counting, our colors, and we do some reading. After that, it’s back to work, with the after lunch/ late afternoon meetings and phone calls. It’s making sure books get sent out, it’s pulling in manuscripts and assigning them, it’s so many other things. Then it’s picking up kids. I usually catch some news after that, then it’s off to more meetings in the evening. I belong to several different organizations, one of which is putting on a literary festival in June, so I find myself working on that. If it’s football or basketball or track season, then I’m attending games or meets, or taking kids to practice, squeezing in a meeting, and then picking kids up. After dinner, it’s ghostwriting, and then getting the kids ready for bed. After they are sleep, then it’s wrapping up whatever I didn’t get to wrap up during the day, and then more ghostwriting. I don’t want to ghostwrite anything, anymore, because of the time constraints. My meetings are for ghostwriting, for scriptwriting, for various things concerning publishing, for the different organizations that I belong too, for my other businesses, and even parent teacher meetings. My day begins at 6 a.m. and ends about midnight, if I’m lucky.
8) What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your literary career? The biggest challenge was starting my own publishing company. Stepping out and doing it on my own. And It was really challenging because not only was I putting together a business, and taking care of all that that entails, but putting together a novel, and all that goes with that as well. It was two projects at the same time, in addition to my other business ventures, that was a really challenging time. All in all, it was definitely worth it though. Belly of the Beast turned out really well. And so, that has really given me the momentum to push forward with other projects under Golden Ink.
9) Where do you see yourself a year from now? A year from now, I’ll have perhaps one or two more books out, as well as the books from a few of the authors I’ve been working with at Golden Ink. I see myself managing the day to day operations at Golden Ink less, and being more involved in some other ventures. I definitely do not want to be ghostwriting. I know I’ll be involved in one or two television shows. Other than that, who knows? I’ll be cheering for my oldest son in his endeavors, coaching my youngest son in whatever he‘s doing, and generally, just being happy. I am at a very happy time in my life. I’m doing the things that I want to do. And so a year from now, I hope that I am still doing the things that I want to do.
10) Tell us about the online and offline personal appearances you have planned over the next couple of months. Where can readers connect with you up close and personal? The biggest thing that I have scheduled is the literary festival that my organization, Black Men United For Reading And Writing, is putting on at the George Washington Carver Library on Juneteenth. I’ll be on television, on a show called Great Day SA, plugging the event. I’ll be on several literary panels throughout the state during the summer months. I was planning on setting up a book tour for the summer, but my apologies to the readers who wanted the opportunity to chat with me in person, and get a signed copy of my books. I haven’t scheduled that tour yet, but I will soon. Things have been hectic. I also do a lot of outreach to young people in my community, as a member of several organizations. So, hopefully, summer will bring a respite in my schedule, and I can set things up. I do plan on going on a nice, long vacation this summer. Where, I have no idea yet. But it will be on a beach, I can tell you that. So the book tour will have to come after my vacation. Other than that, readers can reach me on Facebook. I love to hear from readers on Facebook, and I love to chat with reviewers and other authors, and book club members. So I hope that everyone feels free to contact me.
11) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Readers can hit me up on Facebook. I don’t have a personal website, but I do have the Golden Ink Website. My email address is on the Golden Ink website.
12) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? That I view our relationship as a covenant, and that I won’t turn out any trash. I also want them to know where my writing comes from. It comes from a love of them. I want to write stories that uplift, that warn, and that chronicle our time here. I am going to be true to them, in every sense of the word. I am going to keep it real, and tell real stories. I am going to tell stories that speak truth to power.
13) If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? It’s hard to limit myself to telling an aspiring writer only one thing! I talk way to much for that! But since those are the parameters, I would have to say practice, practice, practice. You can tell the most bullshit of stories, just tell it well. I and others may not agree with what you write, but make us respect how you write it. You can be corrupting minds, you can be the devil’s advocate, you can be whatever, just do it well. This is the craft that you have chosen, so master it. Fifty years from now, when someone picks up your book, they can say, “That dude was a real son of a bitch!” And that’s fine. As long as they follow that sentence with, “But he was the best at it.”