JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Trae Macklin, author of Flippin’ The Hustle
(Wahida Clark Presents)
Born and raised in the Projects of Richmond, VA, Derrick Richards’ life was changed. His destiny to become a federal agent was forged at an early age when he witnessed the untimely death of his older brother and father figure Carlo at the hands of a up and coming drug dealer.
In the years that followed he worked tirelessly at accomplishing his goal of becoming an agent with the Bureau. When he was inducted into the organization upon graduation from college, he excelled at infiltrating and bringing down the drug crews and dealers that he hated with a passion!
It was Derrick’s skill for fitting in with the street element that brought him to the attention of his superiors, who quickly transferred him from Charlotte, NC, to New York City. His new assignment was to enter one of the largest and most deadly criminal organizations ever.
However, when Derrick took the assignment to bring down the Black Tar Boyz neither he nor the FBI could have known just how deep he would go undercover, how easily he would fit into his new persona, or how hard it would be to bring him back when the game, the mean Brooklyn streets and a new found love grabbed a hold of him!
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write “Flippin’ The Hustle”?
Trae Macklin: “Flippin’ The Hustle” book was inspired by lot of trips out of town on my grind and all the wild stuff I experienced and watched go down in the streets. That goes from the sex with dimes to the shootouts with killers.
Some of the stuff I wrote was not even a conscious decision. It just flowed naturally from inside me because that life has become a part of me after being in the game for so long. Some of the people that was really close to me on my team read the book and was buggin’ out because they see the similarities between shit that was really going down.
So for the readers that have been on the internet talking about how the book was official because it seem so real, it’s not just the fact I put time and energy into developing a plot and characters. “Flippin’ The Hustle” is my life. This book is the streets for real! Plus me and my wife Tasha made a bet to see who could write a book the best and the fastest. Hers is titled “Baller Dreams”. So we will see.
JP: What sets “Flippin’ The Hustle” apart from other books in the same genre?
TM: Good question. I try not to get caught up in what other authors are doing and make this into a competition. But I will say what makes my book fire, because that’s what readers wanna know: “Is the book fire?”
Starting first with what I mentioned earlier, it’s based in large on my life. And whoever knows me from New Jersey to New York to Philly, knows I was doing me on a major level for a long time and was fortunate enough to get out of the game with some real paper. I wrote this book shortly after that. All those years in the game was fresh on my mind, and those raw memories and experiences went into making “Flippin’ The Hustle” fire.
Not five or six years after I left the streets, but about a week after I sold my last brick, when the feel of the dope was still on my fingers as I started typing on my laptop. Another thing that makes the book fire is I’m giving you a story that touches on a different side of the game.
You get not only the perspective of Derrick, a Fed agent, but you get insight into his mindset as law enforcement and as a hustler. And the beauty of it is you actually see how somebody from the inside can be driven to go against his coworkers in one of the country’s biggest law enforcement agencies.
And he’s doing it not just for money, but money he needs to save his mother’s life. So “Flippin’ The Hustle” really delves into how far someone will go in the name of love and how deep they can get caught up and lose themselves in the material things in the game.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to “Flippin’ The Hustle” getting out to the public?
TM: A tight product and knowing somebody that knows somebody. It’s all about skills and networking. As I was writing the first draft of “Flippin’ The Hustle”, I was reading books on the craft of fiction, studying other writers and getting pointers on writing from online. So I was learning the importance of characterization, settings, plot and other elements of fiction as I was writing.
I was blessed to have a friend I used to hustle with that said give this to Wahida Clark. Because she knew of my rep in the streets, she knew I had a story to tell. Everybody got a story to tell, but everybody is not a writer. So I had to rewrite and rewrite to make sure my story was tight before I sent it to her.
Getting published boiled down to having a good story and connections. And at the bottom of all that is my past in the streets, because that’s where I experienced what went into this story and as everyone knows of my relationship with Wahida.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish “Flippin’ The Hustle”?
TM: My writing process was organic. I just had visions of characters and scenes that paralleled things I had seen and been through. I started jotting these down and making the connections to the streets.
From that, I came up with a plot that consisted of a federal Agent that was getting shitted on by the FBI and was desperate to get the money he needed to save his mother. So it became an issue of how does he get this money and all of the obstacles that slow him up from reaching his goal.
Once I had this plot foundation, I would get in a zone by going back to some of the places I hustled. I would park my Benz on the strips where I’d seen murders and almost been murdered. Or where my spots were and my connect was. I would pull out my laptop.
It was emotional and the ultimate way to put me in a mindset I needed to write some real gritty, street shit. Between traveling state-to-state to these places, writing and rewriting a million times, it took me about six months to complete “Flippin’ The Hustle”.
JP: What’s next for Trae Macklin?
TM: There’s a million more stories I can craft from my past about the streets, and I’m definitely gonna do some more writing in that vein. But a lot of people have been telling me how cinematic the book feels.
So I’m working now to get this on the big screen. It’s time that street lit become a part of Hollywood, and my goal is to be a part of making that happen. So if you’re interested in assisting me in that, contact my publisher Wahida Clark at 973.678.9982.