Okay so what? I hit a snafu! For weeks I’ve been promising you the groundbreaking (I am so overdramatic) interview with Frederick Smith, author of ‘Down For Whatever,’ don’t you just love that title? I have a section on my website for interviews, but since I am revamping WritingStar.com right now, I use my blog as my medium to communicate with my readers. So look for the new site in June! Alright?
Fred Smith graced me with his presence at my book signing at Matais in Long Beach in March. I was pleasantly surprised that he came, but he did upstage my speech (by walking in late, and its all good!) and I sure did let him know “I see Fred Smith everybody!” and the funny thing was I had never met Fred before. I just saw his website and someone (me) apparently sent him the memo on my appearance, and I was definitely surprised and felt very much in the circle when he walked through the door, needless to say we’re both young, Black, gay writers apart of the new renaissance in Black literature (Hay Rashid, How You Doin'?), there isn’t an reason why we shouldn’t support each other. But Fred is a great guy, he’s a great supporter, and he is really funny, you have to read his blog! He is the one who introduced me to blogging. And I so want to do a book tour with he, myself, and Rashid. How many times have I said that? It's gonna happen. People want to see that too. The Power, the prestige, the success, three good looking, Black, gay, men...hmm. That sounds like a documentary too. Anyway...
Fred’s Book, ‘Down For Whatever,’ is due out July 5th through Kensington Books, I haven’t read the book, I will get it when the public gets it and report accordingly, but I let Fred tell us about the book and a little about him in the interview…Such a hot cover too.
Every couple of weeks I will interview a writer or another blogger and post it here. I have some targets, so if I ask for an interview, grant it to me or else I am going to put you on speakerphone!
Here’s Fred, great…
Trent: Hey Freddie “How You Doin’?”
Fred: I'm doing well. Thanks for wanting to interview me. I'm so surprised. But i'm doing well, even in the midst of being incredibly busy. The main thing I'm working on is preparing to launch my debut novel, ‘Down For Whatever,’ and starting editing work on my next novel.
Trent: I know you're preparing for promo things for the release of your book, how is that going?
Fred: I'm enjoying all aspects of the first novel experience. Everything is great. I went into this experience with a real positive attitude that the people in charge know best, and I'm here for the ride. Of course, it's not a passive process and I've been very proactive and assertive in getting my book and name to that fictional place called "out there", but so far everything is great and I'm having a wonderful first novel experience.
Trent: Sounds good, I can relate…Tell me about the book?
Fred: The book is about four friends-Keith, Tommie, Marco Antonio, and Rafael-who each ended up in L.A. for different reasons, via different paths, from Mexico to Michigan, from the Ivy League to the streets. They're all looking for love, life, and belonging... sometimes in all the wrong and right places.
Trent: Juicy…sounds like my life a little. What is the motivation behind writing "Down For Whatever?"
Fred: No motivation, honestly. It started out as an assignment for a writing class I was taking and grew from there into a novel. This is thanks to Kerry Madden, my UCLA instructor and an author herself, who challenged me each week with more questions, feedback, and suggestions on how I could make this story turn into a novel... and a publishable one too. I'm so grateful for her support and willingness to challenge me. That's why I love, and have always loved, teachers!
Trent: I credit my 8th grade teacher, Laura Press, who inspired me to keep writing and told me back then I would be a writer, so teachers should get more credit that they deserve. There is always that one teacher, that makes that impact-But what was the most challenging thing about writing the piece?
Fred: No challenges in writing at all. I love writing. Probably the most challenging part was making sure the book didn't sound anything like me or my friends. Every time I had an idea, or wanted to go somewhere with a story, I had to tell myself this is a work of fiction, not an autobiography, and not an expose of people I know. It's truly fiction, but so many people say it sounds like their story. I swear some people have egos the size of Montana.
Trent: Not Montana! I can’t say the same, I’ve actually given some the honor to appear on some of my sacred pages, but if I am writing about you, it isn’t necessarily a good thing either…Are there any elements of truth behind "Down For Whatever?"
Fred: Hmmm-it's set in L.A. That I use some real L.A. settings like clubs, coffee houses, cities, and streets. Those are the elements of truth in Down For Whatever, and I used them to give a sense of reality to the novel. So that people who know L.A. could be like, "I know this place." I think everyone thinks about how ethnicity and class play a role in their choices of friends, dates, and people they choose to have in their lives. And the characters in my novel talk about these things on a regular basis... just like real life people do.
Trent: What is your inspiration for writing?
Fred: I just like writing. And L.A. is such a rich place for storytelling; with so many communities, conflicts, and characters... this is an inspiring city. Plus, I want my parents to see me reach one of the lofty goals of my life. You know, I finished undergrad and grad school really quickly, but had additional dreams that brought me to L.A. By writing and having a novel published, I can show my parents and family my time in L.A. (and their tuition dollars) hasn't been wasted.
Trent: I like that…When did you first start writing? And did you always want to be a writer?
Fred: I have gone through phases of the writing life and then doing other things. I've always been talented in this area, and this is based on feedback I remember getting in elementary and middle school. I did journalism for a minute, before going back to grad school and doing academic writing. Fiction is something I always appreciated and wanted to do, but didn't get serious and dedicated to my goals until summer 2001.
Trent: Okay lets switch it for a second, tell me what your experience is with the Black gay community?
Fred: Fortunately, my life, my experience has had little conflict, sometimes it's hard to believe. I am so grateful for that. Yes, I have my own angst and temporary problems that arise, but who wants to hear that? I get over things really easily, so I'm not one of those people with major issues. I have always been encouraged to be the best at whatever I do, to work hard for what I want, and to treat people with kindness and respect in the process. I think that's why I've had such a drama free life. And no matter what communities or labels that applies to my life, I've always been the kind of person who gets along in any setting, with any type of people, in any community, and with no problems. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and say, "Is this my life?" "Will I have drama one day?" "Am I just lucky?" I think having supportive people around me my whole life has made me be a supportive and positive person with other people. There's room for everyone to have success and I try to make sure others in our community feel that way too.
Trent: Go Fred! Plug your book!
Fred: I hope that everyone, gay, straight, bi, undecided, man, woman will find something they can relate to in ‘Down For Whatever.’ We're all human, regardless of whatever labels society or we ourselves choose to put on ourselves. We're all looking for love, to give love, and to be the best people we can possibly be. I think this novel will speak to those elements of the human condition, yet is fun and light enough that readers won't feel it's too much. Just think of my novel as a vitamin-stuffed Twinkie... light, yet with substance :-)
Trent: I talk about that universal wanting for love in ‘At This Moment.’ Do you have any closing comments?
Fred: Just congratulations to you T for your success with ‘At This Moment.’ I think your work, along with that of others who have projects coming out in 2005, adds to the diversity of voices in our community. You're addressing issues that rarely get visited in fiction-really looking at weight and appearance and class-and that will only help people see the diversity and realities of others.
Alright, Fred Smith everybody. Tomorrow, my week wrap up, where I'll talk about my version of the Dave Chappelle Situation, Alexander, and you all (the blog galaxy). Unless something else happens.