29 September 2011

Author Interview: Kiki Swinson of the "Wifey series"

Kiki Swinson

Kiki Swinson is one of the earliest authors of contemporary Street Literature. Her "Wifey" series is one of the most popular series in the genre, with five installments: Wifey (part 1), I'm Still Wifey (part 2), Life After Wifey (part 3),  Still Wifey Material (part 4), and Wifey 4 Life (part 5). Other titles related to the series include Wife Extraordinaire and Wife Extraordinaire Returns.

Kiki's Cheaper to Keep Her series is also highly popular with its third installment, Cheaper to Keep Her, part 3 (More Money More Problems), expected by early 2012.

Swinson is a prolific author penning additional titles independently with Notorious, The Candy Shop, Still Candy Shopping, A Sticky Situation, and Playing Dirty ... and also collaboratively with titles such as The Heist (with De'Nesha Diamond), Sleeping with the Enemy  (with Wahida Clark), and Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless (with Noire).

Swinson's latest release is the highly anticipated, New York's Finest, The First of a Trilogy, due for its paperback release, October 2011. It is currently available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com, already boasting a strong 5-star review status.

Ms. Swinson's impact and contribution to Street Lit is indisputable. She is a powerhouse of an author, who has been a consistent Essence bestselling author, as well as an emerging publisher, with her company, KS Publications

Kiki graciously shared her insights about her work and the literary industry in the following interview with StreetLiterature.com:


ALL THE PROTAGONISTS IN YOUR BOOKS ARE WOMEN. 
WHAT DO THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON?
All my characters are strong ladies: Kira (Wifey), Yosi (Playing Dirty),  Faith (The Candy Shop), Maxine (A Sticky Situation), Lynise (Cheaper to Keep Her), and Naomi (New York’s Finest). They aren’t ashamed to play up their sexy-feminine qualities in their roles of leadership.

WHERE  DO YOUR BOOK IDEAS COME FROM?
Wow with over 15 titles and counting, the ideas come from all kinds of places. The Wifey series was derived from what I went through in the late 80's to the early 90's when I was involved with a guy who sold drugs. That relationship is what led to my federal case. I wasn't married to him and by street culture I was considered his “wifey“.

My Candy Shop series came about while I watched my uncle damn near kill himself with a heroin addiction. I felt compelled to weave that into a novel.

The Playing Dirty/Notorious series came about because I wanted to touch on another area of the drug enterprise. I had already written a series on how drug dealers make plenty of money to supply a lavish lifestyle for themselves. I wrote about how the drugs effect the drug addicts. This series talked about the attorney's who fight to get their high price clients off & set free. My character Yosi Lomax was greedy and crooked just like her clients.

My latest creations: Cheaper to Keep Her a 3-part series and New York's Finest were written to entice readers into another free-fall of my writing style. Cheaper to Keep Her has recently become one of my most popular series, following Wifey & Playing Dirty/Notorious. I can also see my series New York's Finest get into the running as some of my best work simply because the characters are fun, realistic & daring.





IT SEEMS MOST OF YOUR SOLO WRITINGS ARE IN SERIES. WHY?
I feel like when I tell my stories, I can't do it all in one book. The way my mind works, there is so much to say about my characters. I want them to have a life span like us. I want my readers to form the love/hate relationships with them.  After 2-3 books with the same folks, readers know them well.

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BOOK TITLES?
Catchy and hard to define, those are how I’d describe my titles. When I first came up with the Candy Shop people automatically assumed I was talking about a whore house. The title Cheaper to Keep Her, people assumed I was talking about a married woman scorned. Lastly, when I came up with New York's Finest, it was amazing to see that people thought I had written a story about police officers and when they found out my story was about a flight attendant who was trafficking huge amounts of cocaine for her brother, folks were shocked. It’s so much fun, the  shock value that readers get when they think they know what the book will be about from the title. It makes the reading more enjoyable when the plot is a pleasant surprise.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO COMPLETE A NOVEL?
It generally takes me about 2 months to write a book. I've been on tight deadlines and have churned out a book in 6 weeks. 

WHY IS THE WIFEY SERIES SO POPULAR?
I believe the Wifey series became so popular because that story stemmed from some events that happened in my life when I was going through my FED investigation. My readers know that Kira was me. Plus, a lot of my readers can identify with Kira because she resonates with them in a personal manner. Kira is your around the way girl who loves her man, who also plays the ride-or-die-chick. When opposition comes her way my readers automatically side with her because she's their “girl”.

HOW HAVE YOU KEPT THE WIFEY SERIES ALIVE INTO 2011? 
One word, well, two words - “the fans“. I’m truly blessed that fans kept the Wifey series alive into 2011. I keep writing because readers keep reading and loving the stories. They love my character Kira so much that they want her to live beyond. I've written part 6 to the series, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't been able to release it. Hopefully, I will be able to do so in the near future. I know the readers would love that.

CHEAPER TO KEEP HER HAS PICKED UP MUCH STEAM. WHAT ARE YOU PLANS FOR THE SERIES?
I picked my series Cheaper to Keep Her to move forward with a production schedule for my writings. Cheaper to Keep Her is my first series released by KS Publications, which is my own publishing company. So far there are 3 parts to the story of Lynise Carter. Cheaper to Keep Her has been chosen for a TV pilot, which is being shot Fall 2011.  The reviews have been great, so I expect great things for the release of part 3 in December 2011.
  
CONGRATS ON KS PUBLICATIONS. WILL YOU BE PUBLISHING OTHER AUTHOR WORKS IN THE FUTURE? KS Publications is currently accepting manuscripts.

WITH 20 BOOKS IN YOUR CATALOG, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU THIS FALL?
New York’s Finest (Oct 2011), Cheaper to Keep Her (Dec. 2011) via KS Publications, and much more in 2012.

Thank you Kiki, for all of your amazing work and contribution to the Street Literature genre!

Note: For collection development purposes, Kiki Swinson's novels are widely available in paperback and ebook formats.

Kiki Swinson is available via the following web and social media outlets:Web: www.cheapertokeepher.net or www.kikiswinson.net 
Twitter: @kikiswinson 

15 September 2011

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Note: Thank you to Erykah Badu for posting this very important story on Facebook.

11 September 2011

September 2011 Book Review: One Lyfe to Live by Erick S. Gray

Gray, Erick S. 2011. One Lyfe to Live: A Novel. NY: Deja Vu Publications. Paperback | $14.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0981729695 | 239 pages


Erick S. Gray can be considered one of the foremost pioneering authors in the street lit game. He is one of the earliest male authors to bring forth quality, interesting work. An author of approximately 8 novels and 13 collaborations (including the awesome series, The Streets of New York, with Shannon Holmes and Anthony Whyte), Erick S. Gray is a solid contributor to contemporary street literature.

Lyfe Benjamin is a young adult (about 20 years old) African American male living with his mom and his sister in Jamaica, Queens, New York, with a baby on the way. Unemployed and a high school drop out, Lyfe, is a restless soul, with little direction for his life. His older brothers are incarcerated or dead from street violence; his older sister is the wifey of the biggest and most dangerous drug lord in the area. He doesn't know who his father is. Lyfe's 2-bit street hustle with his childhood friends keeps digging him deeper and deeper into the scary abyss of the streets - his guardian angel is a crackhead older man, named Jimmy, who always has Lyfe's back.

A silver lining appears for Lyfe, in the form of a new girlfriend, Ayana, who is a college student from Kenya. Ayana inspires Lyfe to study for his GED, which prompts him to take a trip to the public library. (Yes - you read that right - Erick S. Gray sends Lyfe to the library to talk to a librarian. Gray devotes two pages to detail the reference interaction and Lyfe's experience as a patron. Yes - in a street lit novel.) Lyfe's road to redemption takes a U-turn when Ayana is called back to Nairobi, Kenya, due to the unexpected death of her father. This abandonment sends Lyfe back to what he knows best - the hood.

Upon his return back to Queens, action gets intense as Lyfe finds himself in the middle of various misunderstandings that turn violent. His sister gets caught in the cross-fire, and this sends Lyfe reeling. Lyfe further suffers betrayal after betrayal from his closest friends, which are heavy costs for the price of a drug war.

Does Lyfe make it through all the violence and turmoil? How does his actions impact his pending fatherhood? What does it mean to being living a life, for Lyfe? Lyfe lives fast and hard, and ultimately pays all prices charged to the game.

Gray's storytelling is superb in this novel. He depicts Lyfe's struggles and confusion with an authenticity in language and character development that is awesome. I found myself totally immersed in Lyfe's world and in his heart - gaining an understanding for who he was and why he made the choices he did. Gray makes it plain that one's circumstances greatly determines the life one lives. In the character of Lyfe, we have empathy for the hard ladder he has to climb in order to get up and out of an impoverished life. We are rooting for Lyfe as he slips and falls along the way.

Highly recommended for public library collections. Suitable for mature A/YA readers. A must have addition to any reputable street lit collection.


Erick S. Gray's next novel is a collaborative effort with esteemed street lit author, Anthony White. Entitled "America's Soul" is due for release October 25, 2011. "America's Soul" is the final installment to "Crave All Lose All"  (2008) and "Love and a Gangsta" (2009).


To connect with Erick S. Gray:
Facebook: Erick Gray
MySpace: Erick S Gray
Amazon Bookstore: http://astore.amazon.com