Category Archives: essence best seller

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Essence Bestseller Pamela Samuels Young, author of Murder on the Down Low Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Pamela Samuels Young, author of Murder on the Down Low
(Goldman House Publishing)


A brazen gunman is targeting African-American men on the streets of L.A. and police are completely baffled. The victims are all quintessential family men. Well-educated. Attractive. Successful. But appearances can be deceiving.

Meanwhile, attorney Vernetta Henderson and her outrageous sidekick, Special, lead the charge for revenge against a young lawyer whose deception caused his fiance’s death. For Special, hauling the man into court and suing him for wrongful death just isn’t good enough.

While she exacts her own brand of justice, a shocking revelation connects the contentious lawsuit and the puzzling murders. When Special”s quest for payback goes way too far, it appears that not even Vernetta can save her.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Murder on the Down Low?

Pamela Samuels Young: I often have a hard time recalling exactly when or how the idea for a particular novel originated. For the most part, the concept simply pops into my head from some unknown place. That wasn’t the case with Murder on the Down Low. I have a crystal clear recollection of exactly when the idea for the book came to me.

I was watching an Oprah show featuring J.L. King, author of On the Down Low. I was completely stunned as I listened to his insider’s account of the mindset of men on the down low – guys, many of them married, who profess to be straight but engage in homosexual sex. My emotions during that sixty-minute program went from shock to anger to fear.

I was driving to work the next day, still disturbed by the show when a thought came to me. What if prominent, attractive, successful African-American men were being gunned down on the streets of L.A. and nobody knew why? And what if they all shared a dirty little secret? Within 24 hours, I had sketched out the basic plot for Murder on the Down Low.

JP: What sets Murder on the Down Low apart from other novels that tie in a legal aspect?

PSY: There are two aspects that set Murder on the Down Low apart from other legal thrillers. First, the book brings diversity to legal fiction. I started writing thrillers because I got tired of never seeing women or African-Americans depicted as lawyers in the legal thrillers I read. I started writing the kind of legal thriller that I wanted to read.

Second, Murder on the Down Low gave me an opportunity to both entertain and raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. While African-American and Latina women make up only 24% of the female population in the United States, we account for more than 80% of the total AIDS diagnoses for women, according to the latest statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I wanted to communicate to women that it’s time for us to take responsibility for our own bodies.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to Murder on the Down Low getting out to the public?

PSY: Without a doubt, sheer perseverance has been the primary key to my success. The publishing industry is a tough business. Getting into law school and passing the California Bar exam was a piece of cake in comparison to getting a book deal. As a result, you have to have faith in your talent and keep going despite the rejection.

I’ve worked in both television news and law and I never faced anywhere near the rejection and difficulties in those careers that I faced trying to become a published novelist. It’s also important to think like a businessperson, not a writer. My books are products. I have to be inventive and unrelenting about getting my product to readers.

I focus heavily on connecting with book clubs. During a trip to the D.C. area, I did three book clubs in one day, along with a reception at a friend’s home and a panel discussion at a bookstore. It was a long day, but I reached a lot of people. Book clubs are social networks, and they are a great source for word-of-mouth buzz. If the book club members enjoy reading one of my books, the’re like to encourage their friends, family and co-workers to read it too.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Murder on the Down Low?

PSY: It took me just over a year to writer Murder on the Down Low. It was probably my easiest book to write because I found the storyline so compelling. I typically spend anywhere from a few weeks to as long as three months outlining a book before I actually start writing. During this time, I mull over my story quite a bit. I’m thinking about it in the shower, while I’m standing in line at the grocery store and during my 45-minute commute to work.

Even during the outlining stage, I can almost see each chapter as if it were a scene in a movie. Only after I have a completed outline do I start writing. And when I write, I go from page one to the last page without doing much editing along the way. For me, it’s psychologically motivating to complete that first draft, even if it’s so bad I’d never dare show it to anyone. Once I have a first draft, then the real writing starts. I revise, and revise and revise some more. That process can last six months or more.

JP: What’s next for Pamela Samuels Young?

PSY: My fourth novel, Buying Time, goes on sale November 1st. It’s my first standalone book and I’m really excited about it. In Buying Time, Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer who comes to the aid of terminally ill people in desperate need of cash. All they have to do is sign over rights to their life insurance policies.

Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars – including a hefty broker’s fee for himself – in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

The early reviews of the book have been great. Here’s my favorite:

. . .a deftly plotted thriller that combines the best of
Lisa Scottoline and Robert Crais. Find a comfortable
chair and plan to stay up late. Highly recommended.
~ Sheldon Siegel, NY Times Best-Selling Author of Judgment Day

Honors/Blurbs for Murder on the Down Low —

  • 2009 African American Literary Awards finalist in the Mystery category
  • Editor’s Pick, Black Expressions Book Club
  • “…an entertaining read filled with heart-pumping suspense!” ~ Victoria Christopher Murray, Bestselling author of Lady Jasmin
  • “…keeps you teetering precariously on the edge of your seat the whole way through.” ~ The Book Club Queen
  • “…an excellent choice for fans of mystery, suspense or crime novels.” ~ APOOO BookClub
  • “…intricate plotting, memorable characters and intense action . . . with shades of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club.” ~ Jackie Houchin, Valley News

Please leave a comment to be eligible to win an autographed book and a 25 dollar gift card from Pamela Samuels Young.  One winner will be chosen each day for a total of FIVE winners.

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Keisha Ervin, author of Gunz and Roses Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Keisha Ervin, author of Gunz and Roses
(Urban Books)

keisha ervin gunz and roses on amazondotcom

Urban fiction diva Keisha Ervin is back with Gunz and Roses, her latest story of street love. Time stands still as up and coming fashion editor Gray Rose watches the man of her dreams walk into the club. The last thing St. Louis kingpin Gunz Marciano wants is to become attached to one woman-until he spots Gray.

After one night of erotic passion, Gunz and Gray embark on a tumultuous journey. When their obsessive love becomes too much and Gunz wants out, Gray is ready to let him go. She learns the identity of his new woman, and things get complicated.

Gunz and Roses is a sensational, passionate drama filled with an intense mix of suspense, lies, and murder.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Gunz and Roses?

Keisha Ervin: I actually got the story idea from some things that had happened in my own life. In the past two years, I have gone through so much relationship wise that I just felt that I needed to get it out on paper.

I also wanted to show people that I’m not perfect, that I make mistakes and that Iam still growing and learning as a woman. Hopefully, my story will help some other womn that may be going through the same thing.

JP: What sets Gunz and Roses apart from other the other cult-classic Keisha Ervin novels?

KE: This story is different because it’s based on real life events.

JP: The last time you were interviewed for “5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…”, you went from Triple Crown to Priority Books. How did you come to release Gunz and Roses through Urban Books?

KE: To set the record straight, I haven’t been signed to TCP since early 2008. After I left, I was a free agent and trying to broker a new deal. While doing that, the offer from Priority books was set on the table.  My agent and I discussed it and decided that it would be a good idea especially since Priority Books is a St. Louis based publishing company.

I knew that regardless of the publishing company, Gunz and Roses wouldn’t be out until 2009. I wanted to have a book out in-between that time, so I signed the one book deal and wrote my first novella. When I started working on Finding Forever, I signed my new publishing deal with Urban Books.

JP: What is your most memorable moment you experienced while getting this novel ready for publication?

KE: Finding the cover art. With this book, I really wanted the cover to reflect my character in the book. Urban Books presented me with a photo. It wasn’t what I was looking for, so I had to find another cover with in 24 hours.

Thankfully, my agent searched the net and found the cover that is on the book. When she sent it to me, I instantly fell in love with it. Another memorable moment was reliving all the funny and dramatic moments that has happened to me in the past two years.

JP: What’s next for Keisha Ervin?

KE: On August 25th, 2009, Gunz and Roses will be released as well as the fifth book from the Girls From The Hood series which I have a short story in called “Queen Pynn”. Currently, I’m working on my eight novel as well as a collabertive novel with my agent/author Brenda Hampton.

To contact me feel free to email me at or hit me up at

I am a National Best-Selling author and have been #1 on Essence Magazines Best Sellers List three times.

P.S. Join the Joey Reviews Newsletter at

P.S.S. If you want to be feature in a 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… series, email me at or

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Essence Best Seller Tracy Brown, author of Twisted Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Essence Best Seller Tracy Brown, author of Twisted
(St. Martin’s Press)

tracy brown twisted on amazondotcom

An extremely fed up Celeste Styles sets her beloved salon, Dime Piece, on fire in an attempt to head South and start her life anew, away from her married boyfriend Rah-lo, a dealer. Meanwhile, Ishmael, Rah-lo’s business partner, best friend and confidante, tries to forget his feelings for Celeste with a relationship with Nina-and a rekindled affair with Robin. Tracy Brown keeps the drama flowing and the pages turning as the love triangle converges explosively in Atlanta.

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

Tracy Brown: I wrote part one (Dime Piece) in 2003. The ending left many readers eager for a sequel. Everyone wanted to know who burned down the shop and what happened to all the characters. I penned the sequel in order to answer those questions.

JP: What sets Twisted apart from other novels in its genre?

TB: I think each of my novels adds something special to the genre of urban lit. I try each time to do something unique that sets my work apart from other novels. Twisted was no different. The main character, Celeste Styles, is a mistress for most of the storyline. Despite that negative label, readers cheer for her and like her character. I think that’s different. Usually the mistress is described us some cold, cruel bitch. Celeste is a likable character who makes some questionable decisions.

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

TB: I write mostly late at night. Once the house is quiet and the kids have left me alone, I can focus on being creative. Twisted took me three months to write. I changed the ending several times before deciding on the one we published.

JP: You have a huge following. What have your readers expressed that they like about your books that keep them coming back for more?

TB: My stories aren’t typical or predictable. The characters come to life in the story. I try to be different from all the other authors out there. Although I am a fan of several urban writers, I want my stories to be unique.

In my first novel Black, there is a teen pregnancy. Unlike the typical urban drama, the young male takes responsibility for his child and a saga unfolds as these two young lovers try to defy the odds. In Dime Piece and the sequel Twisted, Celeste Styles is a mistress with a heart. Again, this is different from the average story.

Criminal Minded was a story of friendship, and there was a focus on the grandfather, Papa, and the wisdom he imparts. In White Lines, I tried to tell the true story of the drug game from several different perspectives. In the end the story is about love and redemption, so the usual elements of urban lit are there with an unexpected twist in each novel.

JP: What’s next for Tracy Brown?

TB: I’m working on a novel called Snapped. I’m very excited about it! I think that the readers who loved the saga White Lines will adore Snapped. It’ll be released in early 2009, so stay tuned.

P.S. Join the Joey Reviews Newsletter at

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