Alvin Grimes

Alvin GrimesAlvin Grimes is author of Black Pearl. Learn more Mr. Grimes and his writing at his website.

Tell me a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

I’m an old hippie from Detroit, I used to play bass and sing lead vocals in a heavy metal band. If you want I’ll download you a tune or two. I spent a lot of time in the streets, playin, fightin, gettin high, chasin skirts etc but when I wasn’t doing that I was reading stacks of comics, sword and sorcery, sci-fi, horror, nature stories, and heroic myth …writing short stories… and daydreaming about far off places where the villains came at you one at a time and there were plenty of big leg damsels in distress.

I started playing music around 13 and have never been the same since I saw Hendrix in 1969. I played professionally for about 13 yrs and after that I began writing with a vengeance.

What was it like publishing Black Pearl? What was the best and worst moment of publishing your first book?

Publishing Black Pearl was a real heart breaker. I wrote this story in 1993 mainly as a project in a creative writing class that I was taking at the time. I’d been trying and failing to write a screenplay that could make it pass the third read for years and this was just something to keep the juices flowing. When it was finished, my instructor convinced me that I should pursue becoming a novelist and I’ve been writing novels ever since. A chance meeting with an HBO exec opened a few doors for me such as helping me to get an agent. But she couldn’t move the book. Then a few years later Hoodlum, starring Lawrence Fishburne came out. And no one would pick me up. I guess they thought Id stolen the idea or something. Suffice to say, I was crushed. As a result I went back to writing screenplays. But the problem was that Jackson wouldn’t die. New plots in far off climes with, with foreign intrigue kept coming to me until after 13 yrs, I decided to self publish. Jackson was inspired by the movie Cotton Club. I fell in love with Bumpy Johnson and began to think of an alternative character. The greatest joy came when I saw my book (with the cover that my wife designed…she’ll kill me if I don’t give her props? and held it in my hand. If I die tomorrow, at least I did something to make my mark on the world, touch a few hearts and use the talent that God so generously gave to me.

Do you have a special routine when you write?

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of things. But I’ve found that I write best when I allow my ideas to go through a gestation period. It’s all very sexual. I brainstorm, research, daydream, write character bios, sketch outlines, come up with my theme, talk about it with my inner circle and them when I can’t hold it anymore, the water break and I begin to write. I believe that you should know your characters so well that they begin to tell you what happened. This liberates me from having to tell their story; instead, I become more like a reporter. And finally, I never write to the point of being spent. Sort of like Tantric Sex. If you don’t come, you always have a hard on.

What are you working on now?

I’m presently working on the sequel to Black Pearl. I’m on Chapter 26 and God is constantly amazing me with all of the people who are coming forth to help me with research, linguistic skills and the like. It’s a huge story and at times a little intimidating, especially when the demons of doubt and despair begin to lay siege to the walls of my faith and the towers of my dreams.

Who are a few street fiction authors that you enjoy?

To be honest Daniel, other than Donald Goines (another Detroit native), Iceberg Slim, Walter Moseley, Chester Himes and James Baldwin, I haven’t read much Street Fiction. Coming up I spent a lot of time in dope houses “Dope Fiend” was more than just a book for me. It broke my heart to see what The Mack and Superfly did to our black revolution. I shined shoes for pimps and sold ice cream to whores. I saw so much death, treachery and betrayal in the streets of Detroit that at an early age, I had my fill of it and find it hard to believe that this killing ground has been elevated to the level that it has been and that people “Claim love for the streets”. From what I’ve seen there is very little love in the streets. Part of the reason I became a hippie was my personal protest against what was happening all around me. Please allow me to say that I’m not knocking the validity of the stories or the need for them to be told, I’m only saying that I prefer to project my consciousness to Alpha Centauri or someplace like that. Did I blow my review?

Outside out street fiction, who are a few authors that you enjoy?

Other authors I enjoy are Steven Barnes a brother who writes superb fantasy and action adventure novels, I like Steven King, Robert B. Parker, James Patterson (how this white man can come up with Alex Cross is amazing to me), Robert E. Howard (Conan), Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Octavia Butler, Fritz Leiber, HP Lovecraft, Marc Oldman and love what brothers Mc Duffie and Hudlin are doing in the comic book world.

Who is your favorite character from your books?

Tamara. I fell in love with that bad big booty sistah!

What do you say to critics of street fiction? And why should librarians purchase street fiction for their collections?

To critics of Street Fiction (including myself) I say get over it and get over yourself. Each culture has their own myths and places where these myths occur. For us, since the streets have been the most consistent of realities for the last 60 years, this is the time continuum that many of us have learned to express ourselves in and will continue to do so for many years to come. I’m just glad to see Mr. Obama come along.

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