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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Joey Pinkney, author of Like Father, Like Son (The Son of a Man Edition)

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… (The Soul of a Man Edition)
Joey Pinkney, author of “Like Father, Like Son”
(Peace In The Storm Publishing)

“Like Father, Like Son” follows the trials and tribulations of Terrence Greene, his wife Mary and his step-son Andre. In addition to dealing with teenage sex, drug use and criminal behavior from his teenage step-son, Terrence is also dealing with navigating step-fatherhood and gaining proper respect from Andre.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write “Like Father, Like Son”?

Joey Pinkney: The foundation of “Like Father, Like Son” came from my personal experiences as a step-father. There are a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts that swirl around a man’s head when attempting to father a boy who is not your own. One major hurdle is trying to bring a boy into his manhood properly and to your best abilities, since parenthood is a never-ending learning experience. On the other hand, the child has to be given room to figure out his place in the world in the context of a missing father and a stepfather.

As I dug deeper into the characters and their various motivations, they began to take a life of their own. In some ways, Mary has the same attitudes possessed by my wife in terms of their firstborn son. But truthfully, Mary and my wife are far from being the same person. As Terrence’s story began to come forth, I felt his pain but questioned some of his methods. Andre was easy to flesh out hard to read and re-read.

I wanted “Like Father, Like Son” to give the life of a step-father some airtime. Many times, we don’t see the man who takes care of a child who is not his own. Many times, we don’t question a mother’s enabling behavior in terms of her young man’s growth into adulthood. In this short story, I set out to make sure there was another side of the story to not only step-fatherhood but also step-parenthood.

JP: What has been your personal experience in being a part of The Soul of a Man Anthology?

JP: Participating in The Soul of a Man Anthology has increased by desire to be published and get my stories out. I can’t begin to tell you how many books I’ve given away to people who smile wide smiles and have the sincerest admiration for a book housing 13 African-American men of various backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints.

We call ourselves The Soul Brothers collectively, and Elissa Gabrielle is known as the Soul Mother. I think the names fit because we communicate and even meet up for joint ventures. I have also personally brushed shoulders with the likes of Marc Lacy, Brian Ganges, Alvin Romer and Maurice Gray, Jr. in addition to having many thought provoking conversations with K.L. Belvin and Elissa Gabrielle. I really do enjoy the cohesiveness of our group.

I have had the opportunity to travel around The South supporting The Soul of a Man Anthology both by myself and with The Soul Brothers. The Phenomenal Women Book Club of New Orleans, LA, made me feel so special when they invited me to their book discussion. Their no-holds-barred discussions brought a life to my characters that I didn’t know exist.

The Ladies of Flavor Book Club of my beloved hometown Memphis, TN, stands out in my mind for various reasons. One, it was co-founded by one of my high school buddies. That brought our relationship full circle. Most importantly, my mother and my brother got a chance to see me in action. The enjoyment my family got from seeing me interacting with a group of highly intelligent women because of something I created was priceless.

JP: What is your most memorable moment of The Soul of a Man Anthology in terms of what has been expressed of you by someone who has had a chance to read this book?

JP: One day, I was doing a radio show to promote the book, and the host asked me to read an excerpt of “Like Father, Like Son”. I love my story, so I got wrapped up in the emotion of the dialogue. I read the section where Terrence admits his “hate” for Andre and his reasons why.

When I finished with my section of the story, the host had an epiphany. The show went in a different direction, and I was no longer the focus. She began to tell me how she always shielded her son from her boyfriend, no matter the circumstance. She then told me that now she sees why her boyfriend got so mad at her for doing that. That small part of “Like Father, Like Son” made her realize how hard it is to raise a boy as a step-father when the mother is over-protective.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish “Like Father, Like Son”?

JP: My writing process for “Like Father, Like Son” was simple. The characters talked; I listened. Different things were revealed to me as I drove to work or showered or talked to my wife. When I say the characters really took a life of their own, I mean it. It’s funny how family members read the story and think that they got an inside scoop on my family. Instead of getting frustrated, I began to take that as a testament of how realistic that short story actually is.

JP: What is next for Joey Pinkney?

JP: The response from readers of The Soul of a Man Anthology has been inspirational. They want to know more about Terrence, Mary and Andre. I am in the process of writing a full-length novel based on those characters to give people more before/during/after in dealing with this blended family. I have half of the novel done, and I need to find the time to get the rest out of my head, edited and printed for the world to digest.

Joey Pinkney is an award-winning author (The Soul of a Man Anthology, 2009 African American Literary Award for Best Short Stories/Best Anthology) and an award winning blogger (2010 AAMBC Book Reviewer of The Year).

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Joey Pinkney’s meeting with The Ladies of Flavor Book Club on 01-23-10 for The Soul of a Man Anthology

Because of my day job (yes, I have a day job…lol) I don’t get to travel much to promote my literary efforts or attend book events. Recently I had the pleasure of traveling from Garner, NC, a suburb of Raleigh, to my beloved hometown of Memphis, TN, to participate in a book discussion with The Ladies of Flavor Book Club (http://ladiesofflavor.com/).

We met to discuss my short story “Like Father, Like Son” in specific and The Soul of a Man in general. (“Like Father, Like Son” is a featured short story in The Soul of a Man: The Triumph of My Soul Anthology, winner of 2009 Best Short Stories/Best Anthology at the African-American Literary Awards Show)

To say I was excited was an understatement. Here I was, about to go back home and meet up with a book club co-founded by a high school friend, Marchieta Taylor. (Shout out to Central High School aka “The High School”, Class of ’93!) My mother, her boyfriend and my little brother were going with me, and they were almost excited as was.

The book discussion was held at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill (http://www.firebirdsrockymountaingrill.com) My entourage and I were fashionably late. Just kidding, my flight got me in right around the time they started. When we got there, we were greeted by a beautiful group of women. No fake smiles, no fake attitudes…a real family and friends vibe. You can’t beat that.

Marchieta moderated the discussion based on the questions she prepared and shared with me and the book club beforehand. Let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed their realistic take on The Soul of a Man Anthology and my short story. I mean, it was no-holds-barred, yet far from rude. You know how we do…

We talked about a lot of things. We covered a lot from personal feelings and perspectives to the editing of The Soul of a Man. I was great. I really enjoyed their discussion of “Like Father, Like Son”, but not for the obvious reasons. Sure I wrote it, but I’m not egotistical like that.

I was intrigued by the things they got from my characters that I didn’t notice in writing the story. I didn’t agree with every single thing said, but I didn’t have to. To tell you the truth, I didn’t agree with everything my characters said and did. That’s real life…

In addition to being in the presence of a great group of women who take reading seriously, my family was there to experience that with me. If you could have seen my mother, you would know exactly what I’m saying. I mean, she was smiling from ear to ear the whole time. That’s precious. Anybody who loves their mother would understand that.

I was also happy to hear that being there with The Ladies of Flavor Book Club inspired my brother Anthony Pinkney and my mother’s boyfriend Michael Johnson to join a book club for the fellowship and discussion. They might not do it, but the spark was enough for me.

If you want to have your book get an honest appraisal and if you want to meet a fabulous group of women, please check out the Ladies of Flavor Book Club. Now, don’t just try to drop your books off and let that be it. Actually go out there and meet up with them, if you can, when they discuss the book. You will not be sorry.


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