JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Roy L. Pickering Jr., author of Patches of Grey
(M.U.D. House Books)
With Bronx tenements pre-“rise of Obama” as backdrop, an ambitious young man falls in love with the “wrong girl” and asserts independence rather than allowing his fate to be set by chance, circumstance, prejudice and his domineering father’s iron will.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write Patches of Grey?
Roy L. Pickering Jr.: There was no particular event that led to the writing of Patches of Grey. I’m not really sure where the story came from. It more or less called out to me, asked me to explore through fiction the dynamics of various relationships.
Friendship, sibling, romantic, forbidden, and family – particularly the loosening of ties that bind when a father has a distinctive viewpoint of the world and his son chooses to search for self in a different direction. This form of rejection is at the heart of my novel.
JP: What sets Patches of Grey apart from other books in the same genre?
RLP: Patches of Grey is literary fiction, which is basically anti-genre, for books within the scope of literary fiction stand apart from each other since guide posts are minimal. There are aspects of my book that cross over into various genres.
The majority of main characters are teens with high school serving as the setting for a significant portion of the narrative. Yet, I wouldn’t call it a YA novel. The language is too harsh, the content too mature. If ever made into a movie it surely won’t be PG or PG-13.
Patches of Grey also skims the urban/gangsta/hip hop genre (it probably has a couple more names that I missed) as one of the main characters is in a gang. Is Interracial Relationships a genre? If so, Patches of Grey falls into that territory as well.
I wouldn’t call it particularly high brow or flowery lit fiction though. I’m much more interested as a writer in exploring emotions than in exhausting my thesaurus and sending people to their dictionary every other paragraph.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to Patches of Grey getting out to the public?
RLP: I wrote the best novel within my capability at the time of writing. I invested myself fully in the characters. They became family to me, a part of me, yet distinctly themselves. I worked extremely hard at creating a story I would be proud of, that would absorb readers the way great books have absorbed me.
Regardless of how many copies end up being sold, that is the only path to success that I’m interested in following. Patches of Grey was not written because a particular genre or subject matter was trendy at the moment. Over the years I have read a considerable number of wonderful novels, but Patches of Grey was not among them. Nothing quite like it was. So, I had no choice but to write it.
The result has led to wonderful reviews from book bloggers as well as readers who decided to give it a chance. Hopefully word of mouth will continue to propel it towards more readers.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish Patches of Grey?
RLP: I am not nearly as disciplined as I’d like to be when it comes to setting a strict writing schedule. There is no particular time of day, duration of time, or location that I consistently write in. Although I have a very nice writing desk, in truth the world is my writing desk. This isn’t to say that I write exclusively when inspiration hits, though it’s very helpful when present.
My blocks of writing time just tend to be all over the place. If I’m ever lucky enough to enjoy writing as my full time job, I’ll certainly work with a more rigid timetable. At present, I’m often writing but never often enough for my liking.
JP: What’s next for Roy L. Pickering Jr.?
RLP: I am wrapping up my second novel – Matters of Convenience. It has at least a couple more drafts of work ahead, at which point my search for a literary agent and the traditional publishing path will commence. If that fails to work out, my very own M.U.D. House Books will continue the journey on this independent author path.
I do not have a plot for novel #3 in mind yet. There’s a good chance that before coming up with one I will try my hand at a children’s book series. I’m married to a very talented illustrator which gives me a nice head start.
Thank you for this opportunity.