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Interview with K'wan

How has your environment, upbringing, where you live, influenced your writing?

K'WAN - My upbringing was pretty much the same as every other kid who grew up in the projects during the crack era... rough! Crack destroyed a great deal of families including mine. For as bad as it was, I was fortunate enough to come up in a house filled with love. This is the reason why my mother sent me out of district to go to school. Academically I was more advanced than most kids in my neighborhood, so she wanted me to go to a school where I would be challenged. The downside of that is as one of the few black kids in the school I had to deal with a lot of B.S.

What’s something you are really good at that few people know?

K'WAN - Probably cooking.  

How did you break in to the publishing world?

K'WAN - By accident to be honest with you. I was researching publishing to help my mom get some of her stuff out there. When she got sick I started writing as therapy. I still had no clue what to do with the book once I was done. I queried a few publishers and received either no response or rude responses. Tried vanity presses, but I didn't have the start up capital, which turned out to be a good thing. My next step was reaching out to authors for advice. Vickie Stringer (TCP) was one of the only ones to reply. She offered to help me get a deal or sign me to a publishing house she was about to start. I chose to sign with TCP because I would be the only author and didn't have to worry about being lost in the shuffle of a big roster.  

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?  K'WAN - This came from my mom. She was the writer, not me. While most kids were watching TV and outside playing, I was in the house reading. I was only allowed to watch TV for one hour per day on weekdays and the rest of my time was spent reading. 

What are your top three favorite books of all time? K'WAN - My Top 3? That's a hard question. One book I can read over and over is "Monster" by Sinyaka Shakur (Monster Cody). "Gangrel" by Gherbod Flemming is one I enjoyed too, but its part of  13 book series that I really like. All of the books in the series have different authors. "Whoreson" by Donald Goines. "Black Girl Lost" also by Goines. "Blackwater" by Michael McDowell. "The Vampire Lestat" Anne Rice...its hard to narrow them down to three because I have favorites in different genres. 

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing? K'WAN - Walter Mosley and Donald Goines most definitely. You can see their fingerprints in all my stuff. Goines with the dialogue and Mosley with setting the scene.  

What do you think most characterizes your writing? K'WAN - The way I can take a slew of different characters that seemingly have no connection and weave them together.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? K'WAN - I've evolved as a writer because I've evolved as a person. The content is a bit more mature. I'm still a gritty writer, but I think I look at stories differently now. It shows in the work. For example: Gangsta vs a story like Wrath. Same me, but different mindset.  

What inspires you? K'WAN - Life inspires me, literally. Some of my greatest stories were crafted while sitting and looking out of windows. Windows are one thing I absolutely have to have when I'm writing. I see the world and I translate what I see onto the pages. 

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? K'WAN - No, I never know. I may have an idea for a character, but the intimate connection comes as I'm writing. All my stories are freestyled so I never know what's going to happen from one page to the next.

Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?