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Interview with Tracy Brown

Tracy Brown is essentially the Godmother or Urban Fiction. To consider yourself a fan of the genre, you must cross through her gates, and when I say cross through her gates, I mean read one of her books. I remember walking in Borders many moons ago looking for my next read. One of the guys that worked there suggested Criminal Minded by Tracy Brown, and I've been hooked ever since. I found myself binging her entire catalog within a matter of weeks. To be able to interview her was an honor and a privilege. Keep scrolling to check out her exclusive interview.

1. Out of all your books, which one resonates with you the most?

White Lines is (and probably always will be) my favorite of the books I’ve written so far. The characters became ‘real’ to me. I went to bed each night thinking about them and woke up each morning pondering their story. I am also really excited about my upcoming novel Single Black Female. I’m excited for its release.

2. As an OG in the industry, what are your thoughts on the direction the literary world is going in? (i.e. e-Books, book clubs, etc.)

I’m old school. So I still love the feeling of an actual book in my hands, the texture and smell of the pages. All of that excites me. But I do understand the convenience of e-books and their popularity. My only “gripe” if there is one is that so many bookstores have closed that it makes it hard for authors to connect with readers. I miss the days of in-store book signings where I got the chance to speak directly to fans and hear what they loved, what they hated, and how the books changed their perspectives.

3. What would you tell a new author that no one has ever told you?

That you need to decide very early in your career what it is that you want to say. Are you writing purely for entertainment? Do you have a commentary on social issues that you want to use your characters to illustrate? Are you writing with an objective? Once I figured out what it was that I wanted to say through my books, what legacy I wanted my work to leave behind after I’m gone, I think my writing got a lot bolder and richer and it became easier for me to choose my next project.

4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell the young poet, essay writer, amateur songwriter and aspiring author in me to be brave with my words. I think writers have a tendency to second guess what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. I look back at the things I wrote in my teens and 20s and I’m amazed that I was so blunt and candid when I wrote. I’m impressed by the boldness and fearlessness in my early writing and I wish I had done even more of that.

5. What inspired you to begin writing?

Writing was something I always did in my private time. It was my hobby. What inspired me to do it professionally was being a poet. I read my poetry onstage across NYC in the early 2000s. One night I recited one of my poems and I received a standing ovation. Shocked me! I had always loved writing but was unsure if it was really good or just average. When I stepped off the stage that night, a woman met me at the foot of the stairs. She said, “You can WRITE! You should write a book!” It was a life changing moment for me. A light went off in my head and that night I went home and began writing my first novel. (I never saw that woman again. But she changed my life! It’s still one of my favorite lessons so far. ALWAYS encourage someone when you enjoy their work. You never know how your encouragement can effect their lives and inspire them. That woman set me on a whole new path with her words, and she may never know it.)