This was precisely what happened when Mario D. King introduced his debut novel. It was one sentence in the synopsis… 'As Malcolm becomes the adoration of multiple women, he has a difficult decision to make.'
That's the sentence that grabbed me. The intrigue in the vibe of that line, and storyline together, reminding me so much of another book that turned out to be a memorable experience, I decided to check this one out too. I did, and was pleasantly pleased. And now I'm even more pleased that the author himself has granted me with this fascinating interview.
Interviewed by OEBooks/RYCJ June 2013
OEB: Excellent job on drawing out that ending! So badly I wanted to skip to the end, but didn't want to cheat myself out of reading the twists and turns leading up to it. So, I must ask about the writing process. How was writing the first draft? And how many drafts did you write before settling on the final one?
MDK: Writing the first draft was definitely a journey for me. I didn't worry about the mechanics per se; I just wanted to make sure the characters and situations were relatable and not forced. I'm laughing as I write this, but I had about five or six different drafts. This was my first novel, my baby, so I wanted to make sure that my first impression was my best impression. The core of the story stayed the same, but there were some minor and major changes made. For instance the current ending of the story, is not what I initially intended. From what I've been hearing from the readers of my novel, they enjoyed it…so I'm happy with the decision I finally made. I must admit it was a tough one, but overall I'm pleased.
OEB: I can't recall if I read this anywhere so I'll go on and ask if the characters are based on anyone you know? You did such a fantastic job writing them it seemed as if you knew them intimately.
MDK: Honestly the characters were based solely on my imagination. I didn't subconsciously base the characters on anyone in particular. However, some of my friends and family have likened certain characters to me from certain periods in my life. As I read the novel throughout from beginning to end, I would catch myself at times saying, "Man, I would have done the same thing or responded the same way." I tried to veer off to the side as much as possible as I didn't want people trying to put two and two together, etc. I didn't want to be like Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) in the movie, The Best Man.
OEB: Your overall storytelling was impressive as well, though I must ask about your writing style. (i.e., some of my writing styles I like using are long and sophisticated sentences, or short and clipped, or 1st person natural (PG, R, or X-rated & etc.,)) Is this something you consider? Or what style of writing do you think is important to storytelling, and why?
MDK: I consider books to be movies in words. What I mean by that is, when you read my work I want you to be able to visualize every sentence as if you were watching it on the big screen. I'm a fan of guys such as Omar Tyree and Eric Jerome Dickey. I like how they incorporate a sense of humor along with relatable situations. However, I want to create my own lane in terms of my writing style. While I enjoy those writers, I also love writers such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison. As far as rating my work, while I have a lot of respect for my x-rated writers, I wanted to create something that my Momma wouldn't be too shocked about. I'm laughing again as I write this. Today a lot of people are driven by "shock value". While there are intimate scenes in my novel, I didn't want to go over the top. I want to show that a good story still can be told without all the "extra" fluff.
OEB: Fair enough, but now… on to the story! Sex before commitment. Since it was mentioned a few times throughout the story, I want to know why you felt this detail was important? Sorry, loved lil sis who got Mac, but really felt for Navil :-(
MDK: Again, that wasn't something that I subconsciously intended to do. I guess that goes to show you how common pre-marital sex is today. It's rare that you will be able to find men or women who are willing to save themselves for marriage. Now, I'm just speaking in terms of the small bubble that I live in. I know you're familiar with the term testing the cow before buying the milk. A lot of couples now…have sex, kids, and live with one another before marriage. From a religious standpoint it's considered to be wrong, but it's real. However, I did want to make some of the characters experience strong relationships before having a sexual encounter. In regards to the gal who ends up with the guy…again it was a tough, tough, tough decision.
OEB: What do you feel is an appropriate amount of time for a woman, and/or a man, to wait before engaging in intimate sexual activity? Does this apply to same sex? Or are there extenuating circumstances when rules don't apply?
MDK: That's a tough question. The religious part of me would of course say wait until you get married. However, I know that's not always the case and I would be a hypocrite if I told you otherwise. From a personal perspective, I always feel as if the time is the time. What I mean by that is both individuals who are considering engaging in the intimate sexual activity should be 100% mentally ready for the act. Let's base this conversation for the 25 and up crowd. If I absolutely had to put a number on it, I would say at least 3 months. However, I know there are times when the timing will be shorter than that. As long as both parties are in compliance…In the words of R. Kelly, "I don't see nothing wrong with a little bump-n-grind.”
In regards to the same sex question, I can't really answer that as I don't know the answer. But, I would imagine, the same would apply.
OEB: I had to read twice that part that dealt with the letter Mac ultimately gave to Navil. Can you drop a hint? Just read me one line in the letter;-)
MDK: Malcolm (Mac) actually didn't send the letter to Navil. She assumed it was him based on the content that was in the letter. I didn't state this in the novel, but Chris (Malcolm's friend) actually sent the letter to Navil. The letter basically was Chris advising Navil of her fiancé's wrongdoing. If you can remember, Chris's x-girl was dating the friend of Navil's fiancé. Malcolm wanted to let Navil know that her fiancé was unfaithful, but he didn't want to seem as if he was "breaking the guy code". Chris figured he would attempt to bring Malcolm and Navil back together by sending the anonymous letter. All of this was after the major break-up of Malcolm and Kameesha.
OEB: (Well, I'll be dern, in response to the above. Tell me why I tried so hard to believe Chris would NOT do something like that! LOL!) Many writers, after publishing the first novel, see techniques they plan to handle differently in writing future novels. Is there anything you plan to do differently… in as far as writing style?
MDK: For my next novel, I want to try my hand at writing in 1st person narrative. I consider that style tough to write, because in some ways you have to become that character. However, I'm looking forward to the challenge.
OEB: Which speaking of, when's your next novel coming out?
MDK: My next novel will be the 1st installment of my Christian E-Book series titled, When Prayer Alone Is Not Enough. I plan on completing that by the fall of this year. That will be a different style than this novel we're speaking about today. I believe readers will be able to see as a writer… I'm diverse. The Crisis Before Midlife, was the 1st installment of a series I call, The Urban Life Series. I plan on having the 2nd installment of that series completed by next summer. That's the one that will be in 1st person narrative.
OEB: What are some of your favorite novels, or books?
MDK: For those who don't know me I'm an avid reader of autobiographies /biographies. Just to name a couple, my favorites are: Malcolm X, Marvin Gaye, Muhammad Ali, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Gandhi, and Assata Shakur. To me there is no better way to understand the mechanics of a person. I've even read the autobiography on David Duke.
In regards to novels, I have a funny little back story about that. Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought novels were feminine and not something I could see myself getting into reading. Well, I was dating a young lady in college at the time. I was a broke college student and our cable was out in my dorm room. It was the summer time and most of the other students went to their home towns until school started back. One day, she accidently left Sister Souljah's novel, The Coldest Winter Ever, sitting on my night stand. Needless to say, I picked that book up just to see why she kept her head in that book all the time. When I tell you, I was hooked…I was hooked. It got to the point where I couldn't wait to wake up in the morning to read that book. I'd always been a writer of poetry, but that book sparked my interest in novel writing. That one by far is my favorite.
I also enjoy books as it relates to the civil rights era, social issues, and the African American experience. Books such as Soul on Ice, Soledad Brother, The Covenant With Black America, and The Miseducation of the Negro are amongst my favorites as well.
You can get a glimpse of that in my short stories, poetry, and novels. If you pay close attention, the main characters names are synonymous to great leaders within our community.
OEB: And getting just a little personal, how do you set aside time for writing? Daily? Weekly? Only when the mood is right? Or?
MDK: Writing to me is like sex…it's all about the mood. Like I said, I consider my work as my babies, so there is only one way procreate. Seriously though, when I'm writing a short story or novel I have to be in some type of zone. In my head I have soundtracks for my stories. I will listen to a particular song that I think will fit a particular scene, close my eyes and let my imagination flow. In my debut novel, you can get a sense of my love of music. When I'm writing poetry, the same philosophy applies. I’m a huge fan of Gil Scott Heron. I get inspired every time I listen to his work. Some of the other musical artists that inspire me artistically are: Marvin Gaye, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Nas, and Lauryn Hill. I try to write any and every chance I get.
OEB: And just for a little teaser, fill in the blanks in the sentence. MDK's responses are bolded and highlighted in blue. I love GREAT books that are Honest, and Relatable, and Socially Conscious.
OEB: Also, let us know if you're planning on hosting/participating in any booksignings? Conferences? Poetry slams?
MDK: I do plan on having a book tour in the near future. I also plan on attending several conferences. In regards to poetry slams, I've considered it. That's a unique art. I believe there is a difference between poets and spoken word artist. I love the craft. I have a lot of respect for my spoken word artist. Therefore don't be surprised if you find me at a poetry slam event in the near future. To stay informed on my plans, you can visit my website at www.mariodking.com.
This has been fun. Lord willing, you all may hear more from me soon. Stay Blessed. One Love!!!
OEB: Okay, now everyone heard that. Spoken like a true poet. Stay tuned! What a marvelous interview. Thank you Mario!