writin' and whatnot

Q: Is all that your...

A: Yes. It's all my hair. 

Q: Are your books about real people?

A: Absolutely. My life has been so filled with color and spark, that it only makes sense to put some of these real life characters in books. I mean, life has pretty much written all these stories for me. When I'm punching away at the keys, working on whatever it is I'm working on, I often think to myself, Man, I wish the whole world could sit in on a family dinner at my mom's house. Or see what a Friday night with my homeboys is like. You wouldn't believe it!

Q: Are all of your stories about Brooklyn?

A: No. But Brooklyn is amazing. But I'm working on some other things that don't take place there. 

Q: Do you think it's important that the main characters in your work are people of color?

A: Absolutely. I'm a black man. I know...SURPRISE! Hahaha. But seriously, it means the world to me to share some stories about people and families and neighborhoods that not everyone knows, or even considers. There is so much beauty in the world. So many different stories to tell, not just within a particular country, or a particular culture, but even just in a single person. My job is to try to peel away some of the layers and walls to expose the humanness and the connectivity in us all. Plus, just because we're all different, have various backgrounds and customs, doesn't mean we can't celebrate the very creativity that makes us unique. 

Q: Are you writing a sequel to When I Was The Greatest?

A: Not right now. But it could happen. I love Needles and Noodles and would love to follow them on their journey. So, who knows?

Q: Why the gun on the cover?

A: It's just symbolism. The knitted gun is meant to represent the duality in the story. Aggression and compassion. Violence and peace. Cursing and compliments. Hard and soft. That's what almost every character in this story is dealing with — this duality that we ALL deal with. That's all. The gun has caused quite a stir, and I'm okay with that. Like I always tell people, if a teenager is walking through school with this book and another teenager stops and asks what it is, guess what? That's a GOOD thing. Like I said, we don't like boring and the book cover ain't boring, that's for sure!

Q: What made you want to write The Boy in The Black Suit?

A: Honest answer, a strange obsession with funerals. Not in a weird way. I mean...not in a weird, weird way. Only a little weird. Not like...y'know.

Q: Will you come talk to my school?

A: Only if we can take selfies. (Go the contact page!)

Q: Who do you like to read?

A: Matt de la Pena, Brendan Kiely, John Corey Whaley, Laurie Halse Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Draper, Jaqueline Woodson, John Green, Jesmyn Ward, Zadie Smith, Taiye Selasi, Kiese Laymon...I mean, seriously, this could go on FOREVER. But I will say this, when you're ready, when you're REALLY ready, read James Baldwin, and James Baldwin, and James Baldwin. Okay?