Monday, October 30, 2006
OCT 06 FEATURED AUTHOR: Clarence Nero
SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
Clarence Nero: I’m originally from New Orleans lower 9th Ward that was demolished in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Most of my family is from this community, and I grew up in the Desire Project--one of the worst projects in the city where drugs, violence, and homicides were an everyday happening. I began writing out of my personal desire to deal with the pain and suffering I experienced in my childhood. Growing up in a place like the 9th Ward, I had seen so much poverty and decay that I had to get it out of me so I could heal and move on. Therefore, I’m very aware of the problems and issues threatening the black community when I put pen to paper and I hope to not only entertain my readers but educate them as well.
SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?
NERO: Three Sides to Every Story is a love a triangle that unfolds in the voices of Tonya, Johnny, and James. It’s set in the 9th Ward, pre-Hurricane Katrina, and tackles many timely issues from black men in prison, sex and sexuality in urban America, HIV and AIDS, just to touch on a few. The story revolves around Johnny, the son of a popular preacher in New Orleans, who falls in love with Tonya all the while concealing his attractions for men. After getting into some trouble with the law, Johnny goes to prison where he meets James, an openly gay man and the two of them fall in love behind bars. Once Johnny comes home, both Tonya and James are waiting for him and thus begins the drama. But don’t get it twisted, this is not your everyday down-low brotha scenario. Three Sides goes deeper into the lives of three people struggling on the fringes of life who must face the consequences of their actions to find hope, forgiveness, salvation and ultimately redemption.
SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
NERO: I would like my readers to understand that we, black people, are facing some serious issues in our communities that we can no longer afford to turn the other way and just pretend that our children aren’t dying and suffering. AIDS is a serious threat to black people and we must have open, honest, and positive dialogue about sex and sexuality, and stop pointing the finger. We have to eradicate homophobia so that men and women, too, can feel comfortable coming out of the closet and living authentic lives. Until we accept people without condemnation and hatred, we will continue to have men marrying women and taking up with men on the side. That type of scenario poses a real threat to black women, and I’m really concerned when black women are the target because they have always been the backbone of our community.
SORMAG: What led you to the idea of writing this book, and then to the actual writing of it?
NERO: I actually started writing the book many years before J. L. King made the topic of “down-low” men popular in the news. But I finished the final draft right after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The situation in the 9th Ward really inspired me to finish the novel. So many of our people were trapped long before the Hurricane held them captive, and I wanted to tell their story with honesty and integrity--to set the record straight once and for all.
SORMAG: What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
NERO: It’s a lonely business being a writer and a very hard career to try and make a living on. You spend hours alone at your computer creating work that you hope will change, inspire, empower, and entertain people. And the last thing you want is to receive any type of negativity. You want people to appreciate your book and to go out and buy it, too. That’s most important. Black writers have a hard time convincing mainstream publishers that our stories deserved to be told, and it‘s important for “us“ to support each other.
SORMAG: How are you marketing your book and what are your thoughts about the importance of marketing for authors?
NERO: I think it’s very important for authors to market their books. You can’t rely on the publisher to do everything. Some of them just don’t understand how to promote a book to our people, anyway. Most black people, particularly in the inner city, won’t read the newspaper for a book review. You have to get on the radio and walk the streets and tell people about your book. That’s what I’ve been doing. I go to beauty salons, hair shows, college football games to tell folks about my book. I also do a lot of internet marketing on popular websites that have a high traffic of African American consumers. Getting published is only half the battle. I’ve spent so much time and money marketing my book that I can only pray and hope that people go out and buy it and enjoy the read. From the positive feedback and sales so far, I’m doing pretty good though.
SORMAG: Name your top five favorite writing books of all time.
NERO: Wow. That’s hard. I have so many books that I like. I love The Color Purple, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Invisible Life, and Go Tell It On the Mountain.
SORMAG: What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?
NERO: For What I Hate I Do, by M. W. Moore. He’s a self-published author who I had the pleasure of meeting in Dallas, TX. We served on a panel together. His true story of being an Olympic champion, to falling to drugs and robbing banks, to going to jail and getting involve with men to finding out he’s HIV positive. I was like wow! I thought I had been through a lot of pain. But the beauty and blessing out this story is that M.W. Moore finds redemption and now has a story to tell that might help empower other people. I just love stories that have a lesson at the end that rings loud and clear.
SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?
NERO: There are a couple of sites I love to visit that I now advertise on. Keithboykin.com has a ton of information on politics, books, movies, gay/lesbian issues and popular culture in general. I also love popular blogger Rod 2.0. I often frequent African American Literary Book Club website (AALBC.com), Cushcity.com, and MosaicBooks.com. I’m always on Essence.com and Bet.com, as well.
SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you?
NERO: My website at WWW.CLARENCENERO.COM! Register to be on my email list so I can send you updates on the book. My email address and telephone number are also on my website. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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