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Tuesday, May 15, 2007
EXCLUSIVE: Conversations Magazine's interview with Bestselling author Roy Glenn
Bestselling author/Associate Publisher Roy Glenn proved to be somewhat of an enigma to me. After I became hooked on his novels (which include IS IT A CRIME, MOB, DRUG-RELATED and the newest mystery saga OUTLAW), I began my research on the man behind the books. To my surprise, there wasn’t much to find. Glenn, a 47 year old from Bronx, NY, does not seem to do many interviews or online discussions, but he is easily one of the top suspense writers—regardless of race—on the market at this time.
My phone conversation with Glenn covered a lot of ground, including what started his journey as a writer, the turbulence before his fame and what his fans can soon expect of the man behind the mystery.
Roy, first of all I want to say thank you for this opportunity to talk with you. If I could, I want to address one of the most fascinating things about you: that being the lack of information about you online.
Thank you for having me, Cyrus. I appreciate the interview. As for the online presence, I honestly don’t know what to say about it. Recently a friend told me to Google myself and see what came up and I was surprised as well.
Can you tell us when you decided you wanted to write?
In 1994, after my divorce from my 2nd wife, I told my sister that I just didn’t understand women. Mind you, this was during the time that the movie WAITING TO EXHALE had come out. That was my motivation right there. I wanted to write something to counter the male-bashing that was going on.
Was it an easy process for you to fall into?
I’ve always been an imaginative person. I enjoy making up stuff, creating my own worlds. Mine were always been better than what was going on in real life.
Tell us about the first book.
In 1999 I self published IS IT A CRIME. After I finished the book I initially found an agent and began to shop it to publishers. It was repeatedly rejected. In fact it became so depressing that at one point when the letters came, I would just open them over the trash can. After experiencing this for a while, I went out and got everything I could find about self-publishing and financed it myself.
What inspired IS IT A CRIME?
IS IT A CRIME was a story that just came to me. Everything about it: the characters, the dialogue and storyline just all fell into place. Of course I used some of the things I had seen and heard on the streets to bring the realism but it was truly a work of fiction.
Roy, on the cover of your books they are labeled as “Street Sagas”. All of your books are published by Urban Books (owned and operated by bestselling author Carl Weber). So many authors that I talk to tell my readers about the labels that are attached to African American authors and the books that they write. How do you feel about this?
Honestly, I don’t see myself as a writer of what is considered “Street”. I prefer to be called a mystery writer. That is what I write. That is what my books are. Yes I grew up in the Bronx, and my books reflect that life because I have seen a lot of things. My books are labeled as street sagas simply because I write about the streets, but as a GENRE they are mysteries.
I know it happens that people see street and may never pick up one of my books. My suggestion is that we should be shelved by genres with the spine facing out. Judge my books by their content, not a label.
I agree with you that your books are indeed mysteries. I think one of the things that sticks out to me the most about your body of work is that even your supposed “bad guys” have good qualities.
Exactly. My characters are like real people, like you and me. The things my characters do don’t define who they are. The same can be said about all of us.
For those who haven’t read your mystery series featuring Mike Black, they might be surprised to see that he appears in several of your titles. Was that planned from your first book, to keep the story going?
No, it wasn’t. when I wrote IS IT A CRIME, I had no idea that the others would come after it the way they did. The books weren’t meant to be a series, but fans kept wanting to know more about Mike black so he became more prominent. As the books have continued, I have been able to build anticipation for the next one.
Not many authors in your genre, Roy, have been able to keep the staying power that you have. What is the key?
Good writing. I took creative writing classes to learn how to properly develop a story so as to keep the interest up. I learned that you have to have the reader’s attention by page 5 or they will close the book and put it down. That is why I keep my books so action-packed, to keep them wanting more.
Writing about the underworld of the streets I’m sure has brought you a mixed bag of feedback. How does it affect you, if at all?
Writers have a great deal of responsibility, and I used to find myself apologizing for some of the themes that I addressed in my books. But at the end of the day this is a form of entertainment, so now I don’t apologize for what I write like I used to. It is what it is.
Out of all of the books you have released, two of them have strayed from what you are primarily known for, those being CRIMES OF PASSION and GIGOLOS GET LONELY TOO. What led to those two books, and were you concerned as to how your fans would receive them?
CRIMES OF PASSION was written in 2000, but was released by Urban Soul (a division of Urban Books) in 2006. That line of books are more geared towards female readers and has actually drawn a new market for me.
As for GIGOLOS, my publisher Carl Weber, wanted to do a guy anthology after the success of the Around The Way Girls and Girls from Da Hood series. Like the other anthologies, it was to feature three authors. Dwayne S. Joseph (bestselling author of The Womanizers & Never Say Never) was the first author involved in the project. Jihad (bestselling author of Street Life, Baby Girl and Riding Rhythm) was next, and then I joined the bunch. I actually already had my story written before Carl approached me about the project. My main thing was just to condense it.
I enjoyed both of the projects because they were a departure from what I ordinarily write. I think writing a full-length relationship book would be harder for me now, though.
What would you say has been the secret to your success?
There are so many components. I feel great about everything that I do. Getting people to read is the biggest thing for me. I had heard black people don’t read. In fact I was at a book signing as a self-published author and asked someone where were the readers. I was told they are in the county jail. People can relate to the stories we’re telling. I write about what I know.
If you had to judge your best work, what would it be?
Crime of passion is my best written work. Like I said, I enjoy writing a good mystery. I think what makes me unique in the genre is that mystery has a way of taking you on a straight line; I try and write in such a way as to get you to look around the corner sometime.
And your current projects?
Currently I am touring with my latest release OUTLAW. You can be on the lookout for AROUND THE WAY GIRLS 4 which will come out in July 2007. My novella is called “All About the Money”. Later this year I will also be releasing the full-length novel BODY OF EVIDENCE, and November 2008 my book IN A COLD SWEAT will be in stores.
Again we thank you for this unique opportunity. Do you have anything you want to say to your fans and aspiring authors who might be reading this interview?
To my fans I want to say that I love you all. My advice to aspiring writers would be to write something everyday and to remember that that the key to good writing is great dialogue.