Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Victor McGlothin Secrets of Newberry

I started a writing career after reading my first African American novel. I was almost thirty and reluctant to read anything other than financial reports pertaining to my banking career. Upon finishing "Brothers and Sisters" I was convinced I could also write an interesting story worth the price of purchase. 18 months later, it was finished and so was I. Or, so I thought. It was harder than I imagined but I was addicted.

“The Secrets of Newberry” is about, Ivory Bones Arcineaux and Julian Bynote, where life in 1950s New Orleans couldn't be sweeter. Friends since they met in an illegal gambling house in Newberry, Louisiana, they have their pick of all the fine women, good food, and hot nights they can handle. They seem to have it made-especially Julian who begins to make a new life for himself after meeting the beautiful, classy Magnolia Holiday at a social. But both men are about to find out that letting the good times roll can be deadly when a simple robbery goes wrong and Julian witnesses Bones murdering a man in cold blood. The victim was a white city councilman with all the right connections-and if the two are discovered, it will mean the end to everything they've built together. With the New Orleans police hot on their trail, Julian must decide whether rolling in the fast lane is worth losing his freedom and his life.

What did I learn while writing "The Secrets of Newberry"? Through researching New Orleans and its rich culture, I realized that Voodoo, Black Magic, faith, hope and determination can co-exist in a riveting story created to be savored and shared liberally... like gumbo.

I feel the hardest parts to write in any story are the transitions. Making transitions from scene to scene and chapter to chapter as seamless as possible is rough at times. Believe me, it takes lots of practice. Perhaps the easiest thing to write is the last chapter. Bringing a heart-felt story, all of the dialogue and action packed scenes to an end is such a rush. Then, there’s an immediate lull that goes on for weeks when there is no more of that story to tell.

There is always a point or theme in my novels where fans discover something I’ve written then subsequently make an astounding find or revelation. When characters and storylines become real to readers, they often draw inferences from their own lives and past histories. I really dig it when my readers go even deeper than I have. Pun intended.

My literary journey has spanned 12 years and 12 titles. It has been more challenging, rewarding, and disappointing than I expected. But, such in life, if I were 100% satisfied, I wouldn’t be me. “Never satisfied,” I think that’ll be my new mantra. Yeah, I like that.

My epiphany in writing occurred after I’d written “Ms. Etta’s Fast House” then read it as a reader the following year. I thought, “Man, I’m getting pretty good at this. Everybody can’t create a story circa 1947, build a community and all of its characters, then deliver an unforgettable story.”

Baltimore Floyd is my favorite all time character. He’s a cross between Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins and his sidekick Mouse. Baltimore is a good man to know, a smooth ladies man who every woman wants and every man wants to be.

I write because I’m half the man I’m intended to be when I don’t!

I purposely study the styles of Kimberla Lawson Roby, Walter Mosley and John Grisham… each are masters of putting readers inside of the rooms, situations and dilemmas of their characters. I love a skillful writer and will always aspire to join them in their mastery.

While writing, I must listen to music… syncopated beats, rhythmic sways and sighs of torment and joy. It sets the mood for me to connect to my characters on the same level.

When I finish penning a novel, I thank my Heavenly Father for all he inspired and helped me to become. Then, I enjoy an adult beverage to celebrate another milestone.

“Down On My Knees,” my first Christian Fiction novel was the most difficult to write.
I wasn’t comfortable putting Christian characters in adult situations. So, I called Victoria Christopher Murray for advice. She quickly asked me a very pointed question, “How do you think we get little Christians?” After I fell over laughing, I thanked her immensely then got on with writing the novel.

The best and worst advice I've received as an author were both from E. Lynn Harris. He told me to grasp the idea of a franchise character that readers look forward to loving or loving to hate, time and time again. What I would consider the worst, "to stay published". Although I agree wholeheartedly with the advice, I also believe it provides excuses for authors to do and/or say anything to stay published; including writing junk with hopes of remaining relevant.

I would like non-writers to understand that writers expose ourselves in every story we share, including the depths of our souls.

Do's and Don'ts for aspiring writers: Do write what you believe will make a great story. Don't write anything else.

The toughest test I've faced as a writer is staying true to my original story concepts. With each new book proposal, there is always a possibility of allowing the story to dictate the pace and prospective. Remaining focused on the outline, written aforehand, is so difficult once the characters have their say. Especially those with the steepest bravado.

Hot Seat!
“Brothers and Sisters” changed my life. After reading it, I became immediately convinced that I too could write a novel. A month later, I had a 45 page novella and an embolden desire to complete it.

I have read several of Walter Mosley’s and John Grisham’s novels over and over again. Loving and learning from every noun, verb and well-plotted adjective.

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Victor McGlothin


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