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KINGS AND QUEEN OF URBAN LIT: GHETTOHEAT

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KINGS AND QUEEN OF URBAN LIT By Reeshemah Brightley

Harlem World Magazine, June 2006

 

Three writers, three conversations, one mission—just how tough is it to get your literary treasure from your head to the page to a publisher to the street to an audience. It might have been a crazy day when I talked to Queen Pen, author of “Blossom” over the phone, but the chaotic day didn’t cool her passion. She wasn’t the only one in passionate mode, author K’wan, whose latest book is called “Eve”, had much to contribute as did HICKSON whose company GHETTOHEAT® is fast making its own mark.

 

All three capture the newest literary genre to grace our streets and one that causes fierce debate. Even its name is cause for controversy. Urban literature, street lit, ghetto fiction, K’wan, Queen Pen and HICKSON all have strong opinions about it. I sat, broke bread and listened attentively.

 

Queen Pen had strong words of advice for those seeking to follow in her footsteps, and become literary leaders in a genre. “Self-Publish. When we write the story we put our blood & sweat into it. We put our heart and soul into developing the book. After doing all of that, why would you want to put your destiny in the hands of someone else? When you self-publish, it’s difficult. It’s important to stick with it, the key is YOU CONTROL it. You also get to know the publishing business. When it’s time to go to a major publishing house, no one can pull wool over your eyes. You will know what needs to get done. For me, the situations I came across before signing a 2-book deal with Simon & Schuster, enabled me to learn the publishing business.”

 

At the same time she was able to build relationships will all the black-owned and independent booksellers across the state when she wrote “Situations.” For her, the focus is recycling the dollar within our community, not breaking into what major publishing companies call mainstream community. In order to keep the black-owned and independent, street vendors on 125th Street and in Brooklyn, we MUST support them.

 

K’wan adds his thoughts, he feels you have to know where your strength lies and have a strong self-belief. “Some people are good writers, some are good storytellers, some are both. If you have a story to tell and you feel in your heart of hearts it is a story that needs to be told then go ahead and pursue it.” He also muses about the advice he wished he had been given. “I wish I was given the advice to pursue my dreams and be the best at what you do. To be perfectly honest negativity was my motivation.”

 

HICKSON maintains keeping it real, remaining humble and learning as much as you can about the business of publishing is part of the key to success. His company GHETTOHEAT® came to life after a false arrest, life in the fashion industry and the legacy of 911 prompted his entrepreneurial streak to emerge. He says, “Authors come in blinded by not knowing the industry, not knowing their worth, not knowing the business, not knowing how much their product is worth. They think that all they have to do is get with a big company and the machine is going to work for them. But you still have to work. The company will set them up with a certain budget. Once the budget is over, you’re own your own.”

 

The other major sticking point for all three is the fierce debate that surrounds the literary genre they feature in. K’wan is especially passionate about not classing what he writes as “ghetto literature”. “When they call me an urban writer, I’m not an urban writer, I’m a WRITER! I can write urban, fantasy and contemporary fiction. I feel like I have a passion for writing. You can’t put a classification on me.”

 

Word from these three for all those whose passion is to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and produce a literary treasure then is, master your craft, pursue your dreams, learn the industry and defy categorization. It’s also important to circulate the dollars within our community. That sounds like pretty sound advice.   

 

HICKSON: CEO of GHETTOHEAT® & GHETTOHEAT® TV!

 

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HARLEM WORLD MAGAZINE.JPG

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I remember this article. It was a good look for all of you. Just around the time I became active with the magazine. I still have my copy. A lot has changed since then...

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