Friday, May 27, 2011
Featured Author: Booker T. Mattison
Booker T. Mattison is an author and filmmaker who wrote the screenplay for and directed the film adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's classic story "The Gilded Six Bits," which aired on Showtime.
His second novel Snitch was published May 1st. His debut novel Unsigned Hype was published in June 2009 and is in its third printing. Mattison received his Master of Fine Arts in film from New York University and his Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Norfolk State University. He has taught Literary Criticism at the College of New Rochelle in New York, film production at Brooklyn College and Advanced Directing, Screenwriting and Directing Actors at Regent University in Virginia.
How did you start out your writing career?
My writing career actually started long before I ever drafted a sentence. I have been creating characters for as long as I can remember. When I was three I created a game called "The Working-tics" where I got up and went to work every day. I made up an entire cast of characters, and my two older brothers would join in and play the game. Essentially, I was creating characters and directing. I guess that was a
prelude to me becoming an author and filmmaker.
What did you learn while writing this book?
As I wrote Snitch I learned that writing a novel can be excruciatingly difficult. I wrote my first novel Unsigned Hype in six weeks. It took me two and a half years to write Snitch! There were times when I really had to wrestle through difficult plot points, characterization issues and lulls in creativity. I had to 'do' many of the things that I teach my students because it was a battle!
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I hope that Snitch contributes to a larger discussion on witness intimidation, snitching and community involvement in the legal process. I consider that triumvirate to be a silent crisis that is not getting enough attention.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
The character of Rock was fun to write because he is so dramatically different from any other character that I've written or read. He is arguably the most interesting character in Snitch.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
What has surprised me the most about being a published author is the way that people respond to you. I write stories. Always have. And I never thought that writing stories made me special. But sometimes readers can be awestruck by an author; reverential even. That takes some getting used to because I don't consider myself to be special. God has just gifted me to be able to put words together on the page.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
That's easy. What I like most about writing is reading the completed story. What I like least is the work of writing it!
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
The three things that I wish I knew before I reached where I am now are: a.) Hard work doesn't always translate into dollar signs. b.) As it relates to writing, skill is not the most important factor in determining success.. c.) Serving God will not keep you out of the wilderness, rather it will likely land you smack in the middle of it!
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
As an aspiring writer the most important thing that you can do is finish your manuscript, because it's not about writing it's about re-writing. As for a 'don't do' - never approach someone and ask them for help unless you know SPECIFICALLY what you want them to help you with, but don't get offended if that person says no.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
This answer is related to your previous question - many authors are busy in ways that non-writers can’t imagine. Let's say an author sells five thousand copies of their novel. Imagine if only a third of those readers sent that author an email or asked that author to read their ideas or help them get their book published. That's over 1,600 requests for an author that is not even that popular! Imagine the same scenario if the author sold 50,000 copies of their book. Requests can become maddening.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
I would like to be Ralph the mouse in Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I was intrigued with where he went and what he did on his motorcycle. I especially liked the crash helmet that Keith fashioned for Ralph out of a ping pong ball. When I read that story as a kid I became Ralph and enjoyed the wonder and excitement of riding his toy motorcycle along with him.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not writing I’m a full time father and husband.. My wife and I will celebrate ten years of marriage in December and we have four kids ages 8, 7, 6 and 3.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I accept all friend requests on Facebook, and often engage in Facebook IM conversations with readers. I also respond to every email that readers send me through my website. I think it’s important to acknowledge, and communicate with people who make the financial and time investment of buying and reading your books.
Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Give a shot out to five book clubs who have featured your books.
I’m sorry, but there are six that have been extremely supportive so I must list them all. There is Black Expressions Book Club who has as its editor-in-chief my “label mate” Carol Mackey and AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club) founded by my good friend Troy Johnson. Then there is Go On Girl Book Club which just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They featured me as part of their 20th anniversary celebration activities. There is also the Sankofa Literary Society, founded by Ella Curry, which is a collection of 30 book clubs, Conversations Book Club founded by my friend Cyrus Webb and last, but certainly not least, AAMBC (African Americans on the Move Book Club) founded by my cut buddy Tamika Newhouse.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
What I know for sure is that God is real and He has a son named Jesus.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
I have yet to begin writing my next book, however I have two stories that I am kicking around in my head. One is titled Great Falls, and the second The Art of Loss. Both stories are mere fetuses, so I am not at liberty to divulge what kind of life they will grow into. Nevertheless, I plan to finish the screenplays for Snitch and my debut novel Unsigned Hype before I start my third novel.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Readers can email me through my website
I also accept all friend requests on Facebook. You can also ‘Like’ me on my Facebook artist page. My personal and artist page are both Booker T. Mattison. My twitter handle is @bookertmattison.
On the streets of Jersey City there is a simple code. You don’t talk to the cops. You don’t snitch. Period. But when young bus driver Andre Bolden witnesses a crime on his route, he is compelled to make a choice. If he keeps silent, he might lose his job and be gnawed by his conscience. If he snitches, he could lose his family—even his life.
This explosive story explores the clash between a working man and the code of the street. Gifted storyteller Booker T. Mattison has crafted a realistic tale full of tension and raw suspense yet infused with spiritual truth. Snitch rewrites the rule to mind your own business, peers into the hearts of those who seek revenge and redemption, and celebrates the ability of a community to triumph over violence and intimidation.
"Snitch: A Novel" Book Trailer: http://vimeo.com/23012447
"Snitch: A Novel" Author Commentary: http://vimeo.com/23834111
Praise for Snitch
"Mattison has a suberb ear and his skill keeps on growing." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Snitch should be required reading for anyone with a pulse and a conscience." —Lisa Cortés, executive producer of the Academy Award–winning film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.
"AMAZING--down to the last line. Bravo!"--Victoria Christopher Murray, Essence bestselling author
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