Thursday, May 14, 2015

Interview with R.L. Byrd, author of Black Coffee

Title: Black Coffee
Author: R.L. Byrd
Publisher: R.L. Byrd Publishing
Pages: 304 

There are ALWAYS two sides to every story. In R.L. Byrd's debut novel, Looking for Sweet Love, the Love Forum Divas told their side. 

Now it's the Brothers' turn. . . .

 The Love Forum is back and the relationship dilemmas continue within the infamous Dallas, Texas, urban radio station, K103.5. DK "Love" Niles, the popular Disc Jockey from the DK and Melissa Morning Show, takes over the reins of hosting the new Love Forum called The Brothers Speak, and man, are the Brothas talking. DK, in his pursuit to finding good love himself, discusses relationships from a black man's point of view and enlist the help of the husbands, boyfriends and lovers of the Love Forum Divas. Known as the Brotherhood; DK, Quentin, Miguel, Michael, Donnell, Pastor Levine, Dr. Houston and Brass aim to set the record straight and talk about dating black women, marriage, infidelity, personal struggles, what distinguishes a throw-back from a keeper, and answers the question the radio listeners really want to know: What really went down in their relationships? 

Along the way, the Brothers break the silence on some of the most pressing social issues challenging today's black males: Disproportionate homicide rates, unintentional injuries, suicide, HIV/AIDS, and disparities in employment and graduation rates.If you thought the Love Forum Divas were dealing with issues, you may be surprised at what the brothers have to say about those relationship woes. In the end--when all is said and done--one Diva will be asking, "Am I drinking the right cup of Black Coffee?"

For More Information

Black Coffee  is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
It would be my social media campaign Project HUSH; an acronym for Homicide, Unemployment, Suicide and HIV/AIDS. A campaign which promotes discussion about the many social inequalities faced by black males.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I was born in the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, in a time (early 70’s) where America (especially the south) was growing and evolving. That early upbringing (seeing and experiencing the world as it was—the good and the bad) shaped my world not only as a person, but as a writer.
When and why did you begin writing? Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been writing ever since I can remember (poems and whatnot since grade school), however, my authorship journey really didn’t start until late 2008. The backstory to that is that when I was working on my MBA (doing my field residency in Vietnam), the whole overseas experience opened up a new world for me; one where I dropped my conventional beliefs and ways of thinking to a much broader and accepting belief system and way(s) of thinking. Upon my return to Atlanta, I just so happened to hear a voice on the radio (doing psychic readings for the station’s callers) and said, “hey, why not.” When I scheduled my appointment with the clairvoyant, she immediately asked me, “Have you been working on something? Something for the last ten years. Writing?” I hesitantly answered and she told me, “Boy, you’re a writer and you need to write.” That was my confirmation, and that’s exactly when (and how) my authorship journey began.
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
Well, that would be when I got confirmation that I should embark on my journey as a writer.
What inspires you to write and why?
Life. Simple as that. I guess that’s why my branding point is: “Writing enlightening stories about the trials and tribulations faced during one’s journey through life.”
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I don’t think there is a comfort level in writing within any genre. I say this because I want to explore many styles of writing, or telling a story, and doing so in the medium (genre) that would best deliver the storyline is my ultimate goal.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My debut novel, Looking for Sweet Love, was the segue into the current novel, Black Coffee. In Looking for Sweet Love, six women (the Love Forum Divas) blow up the Dallas radio airwaves with their sassy discussion about life, love, and relationships; a story told from the female point of view. The inspiration behind Black coffee was to provide the male voice (as there are always to sides to every story) lacking in Looking for Sweet Love, as well as, bring light to some of the plaguing social issues impacting men of color. This could not have been done without first having the females tell their side of the story (from their point of view) in Looking for Sweet Love.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
Usually when asked this question, normally you’re looking for author influences; but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t influenced by the James Baldwins, Zora Neale Hurstons or Toni Morrisons of the world. My influencers were the old folks from back in the day; especially my grandmother, who was a great story-teller. I can remember her throwing card parties (Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin, Betty Wright playing in the back ground) and her and her girlfriends dishing out the dirt and talking about what’s happened in and around town. As a kid, you quietly listened (in the other room, of course) and wondered how all of that could be. But as you grow older, and experience life yourself, you eventually figure it out. And although times have changed, people are dealing with the same issues as they were back in the day—the names, stories and backdrops are just different. 
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
For me, narration has always been my Achilles heel. Writing dialogue comes so easy for me; however, I have to continually work at, and fine tune, the narration parts of my books. So, if you read a descriptive piece in my works, then know it was probably modified at least ten to twenty times, over several months, before it reached the point to where you are actually reading it. For example; if I would initially have written it in January, then I probably would have revisited it over several months (now March or April) until it flowed, in my opinion, just right.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Black Coffee, as I’ve said in many interviews, deals with so many issues that it’s hard to narrow one teachable moment, or thing, down. However, I would say that the one “learned” thing, that’s the basis of the book itself, follows Dr. Robert J. Ackerman’s premise of “Silent Sons” and how to overcome not being one. I too am a silent son; and although writing is my voice, I’ve learned not to hold things in that could possibly lead to negative outcomes.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
A chosen pursuit; yes. A profession or occupation; I’m not sure that many authors (or writers) could sustain themselves on just writing alone (I know I can’t); although I know there are a few that can.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
Good question. A reader wrote me and said that my debut novel, Looking for Sweet Love, was like “Waiting to Exhale on crack, in a good way.” (You know I cringed when I read that, right?) But, after some thought, I could relate to what they were saying. I write in a real and raw kind of way—unrestrained—the way you would talk to your best male friend, or best female friend in those private conversations. To tell you the truth, I guess I’m so engrossed in being politically correct on my day job that correctness just escapes me in my writing.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
Mmmm, another good question. Well, I just love being creative and putting a storyline together (I’m an outline writer, by the way); as well as writing dialogue—the latter comes to me with such ease. It’s amazing to me how I can zip through writing dialogue, without much effort or afterthought, but writing narration is a “happy” chore; a whole other story (believe me).
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I’m a perfectionist.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
Being a perfectionist.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
My favorite all time quote (and there are many) is Maya Angelou’s, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” It speaks volumes for a writer, I think. Can you imagine having a story inside of you and not being able to get it out, write about it, or tell it to the world; what greater agony (for a writer) could there be?

For more information about R.L. Byrd, Black Coffee, and Project H.U.S.H., please connect with him at:
Twitter:  @author_rlbyrd

 R.L. Byrd was born in the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, in a time where America and the South was growing and evolving. His early upbringing there, would shape his world not only as a person, but as a writer. His passion for writing was delayed by a similar passion for Architecture which he pursued by obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1992. After many years of carrying stories, characters and images in his mind, R. L. found them revisiting him on a more frequent basis as the years rolled by; and beginning in 2007, it wasn’t a day that went by that the pull to write didn’t lure him back to the pen and paper. Looking for Sweet Love (2010) was his debut novel, followed by the sequelBlack Coffee (2012, reissued in 2014).

He is currently working on his third novel, The Art of Scandal (a story inspired by true events), scheduled to be released soon.

  For More Information
  Connect with R.L. on Twitter and Facebook
  Find out more about R.L. at his website  

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