JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… (The Soul of a Man Edition)
Maurice Gray, Jr., author of “Long Term”
(Peace In The Storm Publishing)
Nate Carter has turned his life over to God, but that doesnâ€™t exempt him from the consequences of his promiscuous past. He is challenged when a former conquest comes to work for him and wants to pick up where they left off a few years prior. The man he is now struggles with the man he was. Who will win? God knows.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write “Long Term”?
Maurice Gray, Jr.: From my days working as a temp. A lot of the folks I worked with on various assignments treated their relationships the same way they did their work assignments; purely temporary. I really saw a lot of this when I got a long term assignment.
Peopleâ€™s attitudes on a long term assignment differ dramatically from those of people working on assignments of a month or less in length. A person who knew their assignment would only last a weekwouldn â€™t get too attached to anyone there, while someone there for a month or longer was more likely to make friends and settle in a bit.
I stopped temping and got a full time job in 1996 and had the idea to write this story back then. However, I put it aside to finish my first novel To Whom Much Is Given and kept it on the back burner through the sequel All Things Work Together and other projects.
When it came time to write something for The Soul Of A Man Anthology, I looked through my ideas to see if anything caught my attention and “Long Term” jumped out at me. My story involves a man who has made a change in his life. His attitude towards employment and relationships is now less temporary and more long term, but everyone from his pastdoesnâ€™t want to accept that he has changed.
JP: What has been your personal experience in being a part of The Soul of a Man Anthology?
MG: It has been great! I enjoy being Soul Brother #13. I get to be among a multitude of talented brothers willing to share their creativity with the world. Iâ€™ve had several opportunities to participate in signings with various other Soul Brothers, and those were great experiences.
I havenâ€™t yet worked with all the Soul Brothers, but so far, Iâ€™ve had the chance to do signings in various states with the likes of K.L. Belvin, Brian Ganges, Jihad, Marc Lacy, Clarence Mollock, Alvin Romer and of course, Joey Pinkney.
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?
MG: Iâ€™ve had many memorable moments as a Soul Brother. Our first signings in Atlanta last August were unforgettable for a variety of reasons, J. Folks just marveled at the fact that there were several positive black men able to work together well enough to put forth such a project and willing to come together to promote it.
In terms of something from a reader, I once had a single mom come to my table as I did a signing alone, here in Delaware. My novels caught her eye, but she chose The Soul Of A Man Anthology because she wanted her teenage son to see the product of cooperation among a group of strong black men.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish “Long Term”?
MG: Once I got started, it only took me a month to get “Long Term” written and edited. I usually get ideas from something I see or hear while at work or out grocery shopping or something, write them down and flesh them out when I get the chance.
In this instance, I took my story from an idea I had years ago but never fully developed. Iâ€™d partially written it, but it was nowhere near finished. I had to reread what I had and then start over again. I kept the character names basically the same and kept a few good lines of dialogue, but for the most part, this is new.
JP: You contributed “Family Matters” to the upcoming anthology Home Again: Stories of Restored Relationships. And what has been your journey with that book?
MG: So far, so good! Weâ€™re scheduled for release on November 1, 2010, through Micah 6:8 Books. (details on the release party to come). This is the brainchild of my author friend Wanda B. Campbell, and Iâ€™m happy to be part of it. There are nine of us involved, both new and established authors, and itâ€™s been fun getting to know one another as we work the preparation process.
At first I wasnâ€™t sure Iâ€™d be able to participate in this new anthology. When I was invited to make a submission, I was intrigued by the concept andcouldnâ€™t resist giving it a try. My story introduces Erik Dawson, who is one of the main characters in my upcoming novel Female Problems, set to release around the same time. That book is heavily on my mind these days Iâ€™m looking at an October release. It made sense when I was given the theme of the anthology to use a character from the novel in my story.
Being accepted to Home Again meant a chance for me to give more background information about Erik, the kind of stuff that I just didnâ€™t have enough room for in Female Problems. As the title says, each story is about the restoration of a relationship. Mine involves a mother and son. Erik and his mother have been on less than cordial terms for quite some time following an argument, but when Erik is badly injured in a car crash, they both realize how unimportant their disagreement was and is.
This story has helped me better understand Erikâ€™s character as I revise Female Problems. The book is set about a year after the events of Family Matters, and relationships are the theme here too; the bond of friendship that Erik and two other men from his church form, the relationships between these men and the women in their lives (or the lack thereof) and most importantly, all of their relationships with God.
For anyone in the area, I will teach a writing workshop at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in Langhorne, PA, this year. The conference runs from August 11-14. I will teach a workshop on Friday August 13. (And no, that date doesnâ€™t make me the least bit nervous, J!). Information about the conference is available at http://www.writehisanswer.com/.