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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Holliday Vann, author of When Sexy Came Black to Cleveland

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Holliday Vann, author of When Sexy Came Black to Cleveland
(Outskirts Press)


original holliday vann sexy came to cleveland on amazondotcom

When Sexy Came Black to Cleveland is a fast-paced tale of sinsuality committed in the backyards of C-Town (Cleveland, OH). Odessah Johnson, the heroine of the story is a young and sometimes dumb 23-year-old mother of three. She is mostly bored with living an impoverished lifestyle. When the unexpected happens, Odessah finds that she has all the backing she needs to lure excitement into her life-and the city of Cleveland.

With the problems that plague Clevelanders in the background, the book will surprise the typical john who is expecting just sex. The true entree may be the dinner, arts & culture, or the wickedly good social commentary.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write When Sexy Came Back to Cleveland?

Holliday Vann: “Sexy Black” was initially written as a short story of erotica called Applesauce. Odessah comes home from her cleaning job at one of the ho’ & mo’tels in Big Dirty Cleveland. After not being able to reach her boyfriend Nougat, she arrives to a dark apartment and romantic candles glowing from room to room. She believes the gesture is for her.

With mouth agape and fingers pressed lightly against her chest, she turns to mush-like applesauce. I submitted Applesauce to Zane to be included in an anthology. So . . . if . . . they don’t write . . . or call? Yeah, that means it was rejected. First, I felt sorry for me. Then I felt sorry for Odessah-and others like her-not living, but merely existing in “da Land.” That’s when I decided to tell her whole story. The reader who likes food as much as sex will enjoy sampling my descriptions.

JP: Why did you choose to write this novel in diary style?

HV: Diary format? What diary format? That’s a misconception. It’s written in the third-person, and the omniscient narrator often speaks directly to the reader. So hardly… The date stamp is there to add to the setting. I wanted to conjure up atmospherics-the sounds that add to the reality of a scene-and to further enhance a sense of urgency to a story that’s already written in a style that makes it consumable within a matter of hours.

Won’t you always remember where you were on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008? Same thing but conversely. Odessah’s story is a colorful illustration of how it takes no time at all to ruin a life.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to When Sexy Came Back to Cleveland getting out to the public?

HV: I am uncomfortable calling my efforts in getting When Sexy Came Black to Cleveland out to the public a success. I’m not there yet. There is so much more to do. Perseverance will be key. But as far as getting it published? If it hadn’t been this book, it would have been another. Probably should have been another book. I was very angry when I wrote Sexy Black.

But all anyone needs to know is that I love to write. I was meant to write. This is not a hobby… I love struggling with the words and their positioning to express a thing in just the right way and sometimes in a way that is uniquely my own. I always aspire to write lines and unveil revelations that give people chills-in a good way-like a singer’s voice when truly blessed. LOL. Whether I am successful at that is for others to say.

JP: Many people would like to clump this novel into the Urban Lit genre. How would you classify this book?

HV: I classify this book as “comical erotica with a social conscience.” What’s that? Well, the sex provides much of the levity in this story. But the novel deals with serious issues: poverty; racism; narcissism and self-hate; inequality in healthcare; government decisions ruining livelihoods; motherless and fatherless children-with parents; how no life should be in vain; and can love really conquer all?

The novel is funny, providing a cultural adventure when the Blackberries clash and “interact” with businessmen from China, Ghana, France, Russia, and Italy. Readers might be shocked to learn that the artists, writers, cultural events, and charitable projects mentioned in the book are real. Just Google them.

I tried to incorporate literary technique, which is mostly missing from most Urban Lit. I like using personification. I believe that every object, human or not, has life: “The day was several shades of gray depending upon where the eye wandered, and the streets were wet. But in a lower part of the sky, where the sun was yawning, the clouds were pink, lavender, and slow in moving into darkness.” I am so glad that I didn’t give up after the first chapter of Wuthering Heights.

Metaphors are fun, too: “Nougat’s car was a garbage bag short of being a rolling trash can.” I use similes, repetition, foreshadowing, fragments, vary sentence length, etc., not by accident, but with intention-just as the great Maya Angelou does. Her mind is amazing.

JP: What’s next for Holliday Vann?

HV: I’m working on the anti- or non-sequel to When Sexy Came Black to Cleveland, which is still available on Amazon.com. Buy it today! I keep some of the elements from Sexy Black. But with a new heroine, I take the storyline into some strange, new, but appealing directions. It’s half-finished. Thanks, Joey!

http://wwww.myspace.com/hollidayvann

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P.S.S. If you want to be feature in a 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… series, email me at joey.pinkney@gmail.com or http://myspace.com/joeyreviews

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Thomas Overton, author of Murder with a Deadly Weapon

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Thomas Overton, author of Murder with a Deadly Weapon
(Live to Die Publishing)


thomas overton murder with a deadly weapon amazondotcom

When a Glock nine-millimeter is snatched from a pawnshop by two would-be robbers, it embarks on a wild journey. From the hood to the ‘burbs and back again, this gun is a vehicle for murder. The Glock reaches the hands of several individuals and is used as the weapon for diverse malicious crimes. Detectives Peterson and James are determined to locate the whereabouts of this deadly weapon, but realize the task at hand is more difficult than they expected. Why? Villains, more often, move faster than law officials. After a person is killed and another gun goes unrecoverable, who will be the next to be murdered with an undiscovered deadly weapon? If it fell into your hands, what would you do?

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Murder with a Deadly Weapon?

Thomas Overton: I was serving a two-year sentence in prison, and that is where I became inspired to write. Out of boredom, and the fact that there was nothing else to do, I came up with the concept. I began to wonder whatever happened to the first two guns I owned. I remembered my cousin giving me a gun to handle some business with at one point in my life. Because of the mass gun violence that takes place in our streets these days and personal life experiences, I thought that a gun with a voice that travels from hand to hand would be an excellent concept.

JP: What sets Murder with a Deadly Weapon apart from other novels in its genre?

TO: It’s not the same old street lit: girl meets drug dealer, they go through some drama, they end up either dead, in jail, etc….. That’s the same old stuff. I like to write about different things that go on in the streets. And the a gun that travels is definitely reality.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Murder with a Deadly Weapon getting out to the public?

TO: I’ve only been out for a few weeks now. It has been difficult getting out to the masses, but Terry Woods said it best. She said, “At first no one will buy your book. After one or two readers embrace the story, masses of others will follow.”  So…. I’m just waiting on the masses. I haven’t gotten any bad responses, so that’s a blessing. Just keepin’ it movin’ is what I’ll have to do.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Murder with a Deadly Weapon?

TO: I usually try to write something everyday. A sentence, a paragraph, a page, etc…until the story is complete. When I was in college, my professors use to tell me that I was a good writer. So, when I got to prison, I just expanded what the college teachers use to compliment me on. After I read True to the Game and Bloody Money 1 by Leodrei Prince, I decided to write my own tale. Originally while incarcerated, I self-taught myself how to write a screenplay. Murder With a Deadly Weapon was originally a movie script, however Leodrei Prince and my baby-mama convinced me to convert it into a novel. Plus, it was easier to shop that way. It took me about 3 months to do the conversion, but I liked the novel writing process. It allows me to express my full vision of what is going on in the story.

JP: What’s next for Thomas Overton?

TO: I’m working on three novels at once. (1.) Keys to the Franchise is about five drug dealers who come up in the game to purchase a professional football franchise but will they see their dream come to life. That’s actually done already. (2.) It Was All Good Just a Week Ago is about a woman who is on top, however, takes a trip to the bottom of the food chain after she looses her job, relationships, and her freedom. When she decides that enough is enough, she devises a plan to get back on top. (3.) Now Who has the Last Laugh which is a tale about a young black man with ambitions to be a successful entrepreneur, but negativity surrounds his lifestyle. He struggles to survive the clutches of life in a way that all ambitious black men can relate to. Also, look out for “THE URBAN BOOK OUTLET.” An online bookstore strictly for the urban reader and/or the urban author to promote and sell his/her work.

www.myspace.com/livetodiepub

P.S. Join the Joey Reviews Newsletter at http://joeypinkney.com/joey-reviews-newsletter.html

P.S.S. If you want to be feature in a 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… series, email me at joey.pinkney@gmail.com or http://myspace.com/joeyreviews

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Joey Pinkney returns to Adrienna Turner’s BlogTalkRadio Show (12-20-08)

I had the honor of returning to Adrienna Turner’s BlogTalkRadio Show on 12-20-08. (To check out the first show click here.)

This show was a great experience. I talked about:

  • how book reviewers can help authors sell more books
  • guerilla marketing tactics to gain more exposure
  • why building a following is more important pursuing large publishing houses

Check it out here:

Listen to it and let me know what you think.

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