Category Archives: 5 minutes 5 questions with

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Contel Bradford, author of Thug Nation Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Contel Bradford, author of Thug Nation
(Count Krew Publications)

Around the time gangs flooded the streets like mosquitoes after a good rain, teams of misguided, military-minded thugs pledged allegiance to one another, willing to die for what they felt to be sacred. Those who no longer infected the hood were residents of the prison system.

Just a couple of hours into his first full day, Gerald noticed several affiliates in the facility. Unlike many of them, he didn’t bring the bandanna with him. Still the vivid images of pitchforks and devil-tailed hearts covered his arms, letting everyone know the status.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Thug Nation?

Contel Bradford: I initially started Thug Nation in 1996. It’s not exactly a true story, but it was inspired by my life. Everybody around me and I were bangin’ at the time, so I decided to write about that whole experience. It took me 10 more years to complete it and release it as Thug Nation.

JP: What sets Thug Nation apart from other urban fiction novels set in Chicago?

CB: Only a small portion is set in Chicago, which is where the main character is from. The bulk of this novel takes place in Detroit, Michigan. It’s just real…the plot, the story itself. Not too many people write about gangs, specially not this in depth. I’m proud to say that Thug Nation is very original. You’ve never read anything like it.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to your own publishing company and multiple novels?

CB: I’m just a self-published author. That’s all. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a success either. I’m still in the hood dealing with the same hood drama. Deep down, I always wanted to be a writer, so I just saved up a li’l change and got my books out here. I still gotta long way to go.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and Thug Nation?

CB: I can write very fast. The problem is that I’m always working on more than one project at a time. I would say it took me about six months to complete Thug Nation.

JP: What’s next for Contel Bradford?

CB: I just completed an anthology with some of the game’s hottest authors from Detroit, aptly titled Bitch I’m From The D. This book is gonna be hot and features talents like Ms. Michel Moore, Dennis Reed and T.C. Littles to name a few.

I also have three books of my own that I can drop any time – well as soon as I raise the funds. Aside from that, I’m a professional freelancer. I’m looking into more lucrative fields to further myself as an all around writer.

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With Chase Von, author of Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Chase Von, author of Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak
(Von Chase Publishing Company)

Chase von, the author of Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak, has had a story included in this publication featured in the 2007 American Review Literary Journal Vol. One, edited by world famous author, poet and consultant to the stars, Bryant H. McGill. Pieces of Chase’s work have also been included in Songs of Hope, a compilation by Sachel.

Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak is a collection of poetry, song lyrics, quotes and short stories that address many of the issues in today’s world, as well as life in general. Soft and touching in some places and quite direct in others, this book’s impact is most aptly summed up by the collection of heart-felt comments and testimonies listed on the back of the book.

Commentaries are given by actresses, teachers, poets and story tellers and inspirational singers, songwriters and life coaches. This book is sure to leave its mark on the world of literature and will, no doubt, have something in it that touches and reaches whomever reads it, from whatever walk or station in life.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak?

Chase Von:
Hey Joey, and I appreciate you finding the time to speak with me. I’ve been writing off and on since I was 12 or 13. I moved around a lot as a child being a product of a military father so books became the friends that I knew I could always take with me.

Even though I did fail the first grade, reading just came to me later. I suddenly knew how to read when I was small. It’s like all the squiggly little lines just made sense one day. After that, I had my head stuck in a book. Regardless how many times we moved or who I had to say good bye to, I still had Black Beauty, Big Red, The Call Of the Wild, Charlotte’s Web, to bring with me.

JP: What is the significance of the title Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak? Why did you choose it for the collection of poetry?

CV: Well Joey, originally, I was going to do a joint project with an incredible writer and friend by the name of Glynis Boyd. That, for reasons I don’t want to get into, fell through.

It was going to be a book from both the male and female perspective. It was going to be based on a poem I wrote called “Vibrations. Loud Thoughts, Silent Statements, Quiet Whispers” if I remember correctly, but I changed the title when it did fall through to provide a separation of sorts.

We had art work by a famous artist that was to be included but when things went sour, I felt going alone I had to change the name. Do know me and Glynis are still friends. I just felt that I had to go forth and continue and change what we had originally agreed to call it for new birth.

The other thing about the title is we have all heard of Dead Poets. So, in my opinion whether, I am alive or not, if someone picks up my book, it will still be an opportunity for them to hear me speak.

Lastly, I am Black, Blackfoot and Cherokee Indian and possibly French. Lots of people have heard of Black Elk or Sitting Bull. The name The Last Panther is a tribute to my American Indian heritage. I’m a mutt, meaning I am Black and Indian and also perhaps French according to family lore.

I did receive a picture from an aunt not too long ago of my great, great Grandfather who was born a slave, and taught to read by his father, who was also his master. As you know, it was taboo for the slaves to know how to read. My great, great grandfather founded one of the first black churches in Virginia.

Looking at the name, which I don’t want to reveal here, leads even more credence to the French part, but my world being a mutt is simple. Good People, Bad People. I don’t try and see colors, I try and see hearts. Makes life pretty simple in those regards.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak getting out to the public?

CV: Well, to be honest, the primary one I call not only my friend but my boss as well is Judyth Piazza. A wonderful and intelligent woman who interviewed me on her show, The American Perspective. After our interview she asked me if I would like to write for her and also mentor students.

I was blown away! Here’s a woman that has interviewed Jack Canfield, Billy D. Williams and God knows how many other notables asking me if I wanted to be a part of what she was doing.

I told her I, through my writing had met many interesting people as well and maybe in addition to dropping in and giving praise to student writers, sharing some of the things I had written, I could perhaps contribute and interview here and there as well.

The rest is historical to me. I’ve interviewed some amazing people, and I am of the opinion of when you give you get. So helping others get the word out about what they do has certainly made me more visible than I would have otherwise imagined.

And I have Judyth Piazza to thank for that.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Your Chance to Hear the Last Panther Speak?

CV: I’m what you might call a catcher. I don’t get out of bed thinking I’m going to write something today. Thoughts hit me and if I’m near a computer I write them down. I’ve also been on buses writing them down on match books or what ever else I could find. Even the stories that come to me are things I catch. And have to find a way to get them before they get away.

Nothing takes long for me. In fact, it takes no time at all. I don’t live my life thinking. What can I write next? I live my life like wow. Another burst of thoughts that has to be caught!

JP: What’s next for Chase Von?

CV: I wish I knew, Joey. It’s hard to say. I am communicating and meeting and interviewing rising stars and stars that are already in place so who knows? I do hope to as the Game would say, have my pen feed me and mine one day. That’s a tall expectation for a poet although I also write song lyrics, quotes, and short stories, but I guess what’s next is I will continue to dream…and catch.

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Salim Amir, author of Get In Get Out Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Salim Amir, author of Get In Get Out
(Mitanni Entertainment)

Get In Get Out chronicles the life of Marquise Jackson – son of a hustling father, his tumultuous trek into manhood and the journey of a soul that is torn between what is right and what is necessary. In choosing the same life that took his father, he soon realizes that once a person is in the game it’s never as easy as one wishes to Get In Get Out.

This is the introspective story of a young man. Marquis Jackson is forced into manhood prematurely because of a tragedy that threatens the life and welfare of his family. He finds himself trying desperately to get out of the life before he’s claimed by the same fate that claimed his father.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Get In Get Out?

Salim Amir: I got the idea and inspiration from my life experiences and the unfortunate death of my comrade Kareem Williams.

JP: What sets Get In Get Out apart from other urban fiction novels where the main character is torn between crime and love?

SA: In order to big my project up without belittling other urban authors, I’ll tell you what makes this book special. The characters have depth, and they’re real. Not every hustler pushed keys. Some people hand-to-hand their entire drug career.

My characters reflect that realistic polarity of the game. You’re in their minds as they contemplate life. When they cry, you’ll probably cry or come close to it. I also focused on making sure my narration could be distinguished from my dialogue. I think that’s an important thing for street lit authors to do.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Get In Get Out getting out to the public?

SA: Studying your market. Anything you get into you should study. It’s like the stock market. You don’t just buy a stock without first researching the company whose stock you’re about to buy into. You learn all the tricks of the trade.

As an author and CEO of my own publishing company, Mitanni Entertainment, I feel it’s imperative to learn everything Random House, St. Martin’s Press and other major publishing houses know and use to stay on top of this game. Especially considering the top is my destination.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Get In Get Out?

SA: My writing process varies. Sometimes the thoughts and ideas come scattered like a collage and I put the pieces together like a puzzle. Other times it just flows. Get In Get Out took almost 2 years to perfect because I was new to writing. But I have a novel called Politics as Usual that took all of two months in the hole up state to write. So it all depends.

JP: What’s next for Salim Amir?

SA: Dying To Live! The sequel to Get In Get Out.

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