Nuance Art: Are you the First Lady of Cash Money?
Wahida Clark: Nikki Minaj is the First Lady of Cash Money. However, I am proud to say that I am the First Lady of Cash Money Content (CMC), the publishing arm of Cash Money. But CMC also has my girl Ashley Antoinette, the female half of the dynamic and unstoppable duo, Ashley & JaQuavis, and the Basketball Wife herself, Ms. Evelyn Lozada.
NA: What makes Payback Ain’t Enough different from Payback is a Mutha or Payback with Ya Life?
WC: Payback Ain’t Enough is the third installment of the Payback Series. Go in expecting the unexpected. I promise, and as always I deliver. It’s grimier, grittier, darker, and sucks you in against your will. It’s thrilling, captivating, and breathtaking.
NA: Is it true that the majority of your readers are incarcerated?
WC: Good question. Since I began my writing career while incarcerated, my books were heavily promoted throughout the prison system, and of course I have a huge prison following. Now that I am home, I realize how many people I’ve touched or reached with my books.
For example, when I am out doing book events, at least one male will come up to me, bow and say, “Your books got me through my bid.” I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t read until they go to jail, and I have received countless letters stating that one of my books was the first book that a person has ever read. And that always touches me.
On the flip side of that, you don’t make the New York Times best sellers list by just selling books to prisoners. The majority of my readers are women who are free. They love me and support me book after book, year after year. Some women and men have incarcerated loved ones who they buy my books for and mail them into the prison.
I have fans/readers who are prison guards, police officers, bus drivers, nurses, doctors, and as comedian Michael Colyar told me, “Girl, my dentist read your book, Payback Is A Mutha and loved it!” There would be no me without my readers, and for that I am forever humbled and grateful.
NA: Are these Street Lit or Hood Stories a fad?
WC: (Smile) Fad? Is Jackie Collins ever asked if her books are a fad? I think not. Street Lit is an actual genre. Don’t let the word ‘street’ fool you . . . it’s not new. I’ve been published since 2003, but more importantly, keep in mind before me there was Chester Himes, Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim, Nathan ‘Boobie’ Heard, whose works were published as far back as the 50s, and sold through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, and their titles are still selling.
Now in 2012, Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim have both had their catalogs republished. But what is even more exciting to me is that Chester Himes’ books were turned into movies such as Cotton Comes to Harlem, Come Back Charleston Blue, and A Rage in Harlem. Donald Goines’ novel Never Die Alone also became a feature film.
Presently, several well-known street lit authors such as Nikki Turner, Vickie Stringer, Ashley & JaQuavis, K’wan, T. Styles, Deja King, J.M. Benjamin and more, who all have a minimum of five titles under their belt and head their own publishing companies. Ashley & JaQuavis are currently working on their book-to-film adaptation and so am I. Check out my link at http://youtu.be/U03TFlgWpTI
NA: What makes you the Queen of Street Lit?
WC: Nikki Turner drove to Alderson, West Virginia, to visit me, and I was talking about how the ladies on the inside love her to death and how she was the Princess of Hip-Hop fiction. And she said, “I’m the Queen of Hip-Hop fiction. I’ve elevated.” So I said, “I’m the Queen too. But wait. We can’t have two Queens reigning at the same time.” (LOL) Then she said, “You’re the Queen of Thug Love Fiction. I’m giving you that.” I thought about it and then I said, “Yeah. I’m the Queen of Thug Love Fiction.”
Since then, and like Nikki, I’ve elevated my pen game and status as well. I take pride in my work. I am obsessed with making sure that once my readers pick up one of my books, it is very hard for them to put it down. I owe them that. Next, we are talking longevity, consistency, and eleven novels—and the fact that seven of those novels were written and published behind the prison wall.
And while behind the wall I made the Essence, Blackboard, USA Today, Black Issues Book Review, and Don Diva best sellers list. And those are just the lists that I know about. While many writers were trying to get one publishing contract, I had TWO publishing contracts with two major publishing houses (while behind the wall).
I reached another major milestone in 2011 when five of my titles appeared on the Best Selling Books of the year list for the African-American Literature Book Club (http://aalbc.com), which is the largest and one of the first online book clubs. (I’ve always had multiple titles on the list, but never five at one time).
I am blessed to say that my books, starting with my very first title, Thugs and the Women Who Love Them, and the other Thug Series books still sell today as if they have just come out. I am also the first Street Lit author to write a series. Many Street Lit authors now offer readers a Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. However, I was the first to do that with Thugs and the Women Who Love Them, Every Thug Needs a Lady, Thug Matrimony . . . you know the rest.
Other accolades I’ve received acknowledging my work include The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature by Vanessa Irvin Morris, published by the American Library Association in 2011. This guide cites how my books have created, or spawned, a new ‘sub-genre’ of Street Lit (Thug Love) and is leading the ‘Thug Love’ sub-genre. So, yes . . . humbly and respectively I accept the title “Queen of Street Lit” because in the words of Jay-Z, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.”
NA: Is Wahida Clark Presents Publishing an imprint of Cash Money?
WC: I love them brothers . . . they are so innovative. Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams and Bryan ‘Baby’ Williams started the Cash Money record label and are always one step ahead of the game. They felt that they could sell as many books as they do CDs, so they started Cash Money Content to publish books, and more importantly, promote literacy. You see, many of us in the publishing industry feel it’s not what you read, it’s the fact that you’re reading.
Wahida Clark Presents (WCP) is the publishing company I started while incarcerated. To date I have fourteen authors, including: Cash (Trust No Man), NeNe Capri (The Pussy Trap), Mike Sanders (Thirsty), Anthony Fields (The Ultimate Sacrifice), Victor L. Martin (Nude Awakening), Tash Hawthorne (Karma: With A Vengeance), Missy Jackson (Cheetah), Intelligent Allah (Lickin’ License), Sereniti Hall (Feenin’) and others. I also have Young Adult authors such as Rashawn Hughes (Under Pressure), Sparkle (Sade’s Secrets), Gloria Dotson-Lewis (Ninety-Nine Problems) and Charmaine White (The Boy Is Mine!).
Additionally, I have an imprint, Yah Yah Publications, where I publish more conscious material such as, Uncle Yah Yah: 21st Century Man of Wisdom and Part 2, which drops April 19th. To date WCP has eighteen titles in independent and major bookstores and libraries around the country. I am always looking for new material, and my goal is to have all WCP authors hit the New York Times best sellers list.
NA: Are you going to give us a sneak peek of the highly anticipated sequel to Justify My Thug (Thugs Part 6)?
WC: No doubt! Visit my website http://www.wclarkpublishing.com for specific details on getting your sneak peek of Thugs Part 6. You will need to provide your pre-order receipt from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or iTunes.com to get it.