JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Rahiem Brooks, author of Laugh Now
(Prodigy Publishing Group)
Set in Philadelphia and its suburbs, Laugh Now proposes that, although you’re taken out the ghetto, if you were born to be a hustler that is what you’ll be. The story does shift to New York, New York, but before the brothers get there, Dre is under suspicion for a murder. Plus, a rogue city councilman is killed along with Dre’s first business partner: a white kid, who worked for Agent McKenzey.
Laugh Now has all of the elements: erotic sex, bangin’ club scenes, lavish shopping spree, murderous robberies, a crafty escape from a hospital under the nose of federal agents and leads to a dangerous high-speed police chase and something new to urban fiction: white collar crime highlighting a whole new form of trickery.
By the stories end, the brothers have a decorated federal agent exposed for the fraud that he is and a story to tell: “The agent made us do it, or he would have us locked up like he did our dad.” The brothers escape without arrest, and will Laugh Now; however, someone will Die Later, the title of book 2, which I am diligently working on.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Laugh Now?
Rahiem Brooks: I was inspired to write during my first federal prison term in 2004. I was suffering from insomnia, so I often read late into the night. I did not just read urban street lit. I was an avid reader of legal fiction and crime thrillers by James Patterson and John Grisham. It seemed that all of the street lit authors centered their stories around drug dealers, robbers, and baby-mama drama.
I was in prison for credit card fraud and theft of mail. I knew that I had a compelling story to tell regarding my sort of white collar crimes. I sat and penned Laugh Now knowing that I would have to expose some of my crimes and maybe even speak about things that may assist law enforcement curb my sort of crimes. The ability to add to the street lit genre with a touch of crime thriller inspired me.
JP: There will be those who look at your criminal background and the subject matter of Laugh Now and think that you are doing nothing more than glorifying horrible behaviors, attitudes and behaviors. What does Laugh Now give to the reader that will make him a better person? How does this book go beyond shining a spotlight on our vices as an American culture?
RB: Laugh Now covers a broad range of topics: teenage pregnancy, pursuing career goals, learning to effectively blend with all of American social-economic classes and respecting women. I sought to avoid painting young black men that live on the dole as ignorant derelicts that cannot make it to the top earning percentile in American society. Additionally, Laugh Now is riddled with subliminal identity theft prevention tips and lends a hand to American denizen that have an interest in protecting themselves from becoming an unsuspecting victim.
I am not concerned with people that seek to advance the idea that I have glorified white-collar crime. I have written an article titled, “Stop Identity Theft” for the Oak Lane Magazine, a small independent Philadelphia neighborhood rag. And I plan to lecture to law students on the topic of identifying fraud related crimes.
Bottom line, no one questioned the writers of Italian Job or The Thomas Crown Affair for their literary contributions. Law & Order SVU is not bashed for promoting sex crimes. I have a refreshing story to tell, and I intend too.
JP: You have taken it upon yourself to broaden the scope of Urban Lit. What do you see as stumbling blocks in Urban Lit as it has been represented up until now? And how are you, Laugh Now and your publishing company going to take it to another level as of yet unseen?
RB: Right now, I am pursuing being on the tip of every tongue and the sole topic of book clubs, book store owners and book readers. I regularly attend other author’s book signings, and I review the work of my peers as well. I have forwarded media kits and novels to book stores spanning the United States and Canada, scheduled interviews with blog talk radio hosts and planned a tentative book tour.
I work hard to be unique and to re-define the art of self-publishing. I am from Philadelphia, and I refused to be boxed into the East Coast. Laugh Now releases September 6th, 2010, and I plan to be in Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, DC, and Baltimore that week. I plan to begin the following week in Philadelphia, Delaware, Newark and New York.
I am an advocate of hard work and loath work ethic that appears sloppy and ill-planned. Street lit authors often complain of not being taken seriously in the publishing world. To me, their cries are like the actor that complains of not getting an Oscar. Blockbuster actors want Oscars, but use their money and star power to produce Barbershop that was not a shot at a barbershop.
I am just establishing that no one is going to give you anything. You want their award, then you cater to them. I want literary awards and accolades, and I am going to work to take them. I plan to be the star quarterback, not on the bench with a championship ring by default.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Laugh Now?
RB: My writing process is very strict, like a diet. I do write a story map because I write urban thrillers, and the plot has to be tightly woven with a neat and tidy conclusion. I write small chapters because I play each of them in my mind like a movie scene. I edit and revise extensively to be sure that each chapter has the five senses so that my readers are watching the same movie as me.
I properly format each thing that I write. I never scribble things all over the place. But, I must confess that when I was locked in solitary confinement once, I wrote on brown paper bags that my lunch came in because the COs refused to give me paper. It took me four months to complete the first draft of Laugh Now. I have five drafts to date.
JP: What’s next for Rahiem Brooks?
RB: I am planning an extensive book tour and getting ready for my book release party in Philadelphia. I am also planning with Richburg Promotions another book release party in a city that is less frequented by hot urban authors. In the back of Laugh Now is an excerpt of my second novel to be released, Con Test, an urban psychological thriller. I am also editing Truth, Lies and Confessions by Kevin Woodard, who is slated to be Prodigy Publishing Group’s second author.