JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Torrance Stephens, author of Dirt Behind My Ears
(Firefly Publishing & Entertainment)
Torrance Stephens delves into a range of subjects, from politics and relationships to sports and history, providing valuable insight to the African-American perspective of the world. These essays are an effort of the author to try and explain his belief orientation with respect to the relationship of humanity to the universe, himself and society , especially the African American community via scholarship and satire
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Dirt Behind My Ears?
Torrance Stephens: Well, I have been writing essays all of my life. I started early around age 10. I also read a lot of philosophy and opinion in newspapers. I amassed more than 1,100 essays and took about 190 to comprise my first book of essays.
I loved both philosophical thought and scholarship; it just seemed to me that what I read lacked the experience of the common man. I think a writer is a product of his reading, and I have a penchant for wanting to publish all my works. Poetry, essays, nonfiction in the form of history, short stories and plays. I think a writer of substance writes it all from essays to science fiction and plays.
JP: This front cover of Dirt Behind My Ears is interesting to say the least: A black man with long locks sitting on a rusty lawn chair wearing a jogging suit and Air Force Ones with a rifle across his shoulders. Care to explain?
TS: Well, the picture was taken on my farm. I figure we all have dirt behind our ears because of the stories we could tell, especially us from the dirty south. I’m from Memphis, and my essays reveal the connection I have with the South from the city streets to that which makes us country. I keep a rifle in each room. That’s just how I take care of mine. Can’t call 911. Plus, I can hunt all the deer and wild turkey I want. Where I live right now, hunting and fishing is all good. What I was wearing on that book cover is how I dress.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Dirt Behind My Ears getting out to the public?
TS: Outreach through my blog and book clubs. I have seen sales increase via my blog and book clubs because word of mouth is what pushes sales. In fact, the only reason Borders and other major chains carry it in select stores is because of request. The underground is important. I hope history judges my corpus of writings more so than folks living now. That is the honor for me.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Dirt Behind My Ears?
TS: Well, I write everyday. I am influenced by Voltaire, Neruda and folk like Camus, historians, scientist and philosophers. I write how I talk and try to ground the reader in information in order to educate and even inculcate my purview of a particular subject matter. Like I said, I have thousands of essays and poems and short stories. I’m just trying to publish as many books as I can. I write for myself first, and that is the advice I would share with any writer. Your readers will find you if you serve your craft first before getting published, book sales or fame.
JP: What’s next for Torrance Stephens?
TS: I have a book of plays at press called Why I am a Gangster, another book of love sonnets called Late Night Winds of Club Paradise (170 plus poems) and a book of Short Stories called Freak Type Scene. I serve as senior Opinion Editorial Writer for Rolling Out UrbanStyle Weekly (http://rollingout.com).
Bio of Torrance T. Stephens, PhD
Originally, from Memphis, Tennessee, he attended Morehouse College where he studied psychology, biology and chemistry. He received a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Measurement from Atlanta University and a PhD in Counseling from Clark Atlanta University. He is the father of two and currently lives in Palmetto, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. He is an author and has a novel, three books of short stories and a book of sonnets on the market. Dr. Stephens is also the owner of Braincell a store that specializes in merchandise and gourmet food for dogs.
Other Books by Torrance Stephens: Rockstar, Stud, Gigolo (short stories), A Matter of Attention (novel), Fast and Gamin’ (short stories), Butter Brown (short Stories), For U Who Left Me While I Slept (poetry) and a contributor to Bloggers’ Delight, Vol. 1.
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