Wordsmith: Blaine Martin
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti
Blaine Martin is the author of the hard hitting, street lit banger, Hustle Hard, published by Augustus Publishing, home to Erick Gray and Anthony Whyte, among others. Blaine's debut novel shows a level of craftsmanship and talent as he weaves his tale of life in the streets where hustlers get money and suckers get exposed. Martin was born and raised in Harlem, so he knows a little something, something about the streets, but he decided to tread a higher path, staying in school and earning his Bachelors Degree from William Paterson University.
After that he got a gig at Smooth magazine where he has been an associate editor for three years. That is just how the kid does it. And now with his debut novel, the man of West Indian descent, whose mother would post dozens of words all over their apartment walls to help her young son learn the importance of language, is an author of acute wordsmith and it shows in his novel, Hustle Hard. But don't take our word for it, take his.
Seth: What made you write Hustle Hard?
Blaine: When I write, I try to cover a certain time period in my life. This covers the last few years of high school, which includes my dreams of fast cars, faster women, and living the high life. I felt it was necessary to put together a book that shows both the highs and lows of the drug game. Basically, I wanted young people to know that for the most part, in the long run, pushing drugs doesn't pay. Sure you'll have material things and superficial love form the opposite sex, but once the Feds come, they take everything, and then you're back to square one. Even worse, the relationship between you and your family is often devastated, and for what? Your selfish goals?
Seth: How did you hook up with Augustus?
Blaine: I did book reviews for Smooth magazine, when Augustus sent us books on a regular basis. Anthony Whyte liked my reviews on Ghetto Girls so much, he came down to the office and blessed me with five or six books, three or four copies each. I did them all, and a year later he suggested that I do what I felt was necessary to improve SLR (Street Literature Review). SLR was intended as a marketing tool to push Augustus books, but once we figured out there was a lane for this type of material, we put extra effort in its content.
Seth: What other types of writing have you done?
Blaine: I've done freelance work for the Clifton Journal. Before that, I was a staff writer for the Pioneer Times, one of two school papers at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ.
Seth: What do you think of the book game?
Blaine: It's a good time, but it's in a slight dip. People have figured out exactly how much time, effort, and money it takes to put a book out and some have let the content suffer for the sake of flooding the market with more options for consumers (i.e. more money-making potential). Some think, why bust my tail on one book when I can do a half-ass job on three and sell three different novels to one person instead of one great one?
Still, the book game seems stronger than the magazine world in the long-term sense. Books, when they're good, are vitamins for the brain. Outside of great specialty mags, magazines are usually junk food, chock-full of quick fixes and throwaway information. Furthermore, with the Internet, more and more people would rather pay less than $10 monthly for the convenience of getting their mag fix online than having to walk to pick it up and/or have it end up making a mess in their living space, among 200 or more dusty and torn magazines they'll never read again. Plus, fewer trees get bodied when you go online, for all you nature heads out there.
Seth: What is Hustle Hard about?
Blaine: Hustle Hard is centered on Jaden, the best running back in the Northeast. His buddy Devlin is his backup and was his fiercest competitor, but Devlin chose to make dollars instead of improve athletically, so jealously slowly eats at him. Things boil up when, after a victory D does something to pull the E-brake on J's rise to stardom. J's scholarships are pulled back, and now he has no future. Jaden's mother is sick and needs money to survive, J's sister is getting tempted by easy money from his newfound enemy, so J is forced to clique up with his two partners who are familiar with criminal life, Eric and Nick, to get the money he needs and exact revenge on Devlin.
Seth: Is the book based on life experiences? Explain.
Blaine: I drew the inspiration for my current novel from a mix of my various life experiences, the experiences of others and my dreams. I drew the fight between J, Eric, and Nick and a young hustler from an actual physical encounter. I can't deny that a few memorable movies played a part in it as well, like the car chase through Riverside Drive; I tried to visualize a Harlem version of the car chase in Bullitt with Steve McQueen. And since it's a character-driven story, I drew much inspiration from those I felt would fill roles nicely; Sid the Great could be played by Willem Dafoe. Once I had him in mind, I geared situations toward what he'd do if he was a millionaire through gambling profits. Likewise, how he'd react if his expensive home were under invasion by masked men with automatic weapons.
Seth: Have you done any book signings, author appearances? What were they
Blaine: I've had a number of outdoor book signings on 125th Street, Third Avenue, in Westchester and also in Newark, to name just a few locations. I did the best as far as sales on Third Ave in the Bronx, and I've enjoyed helpful feedback and have had a few networking opportunities as well. I met a few promising authors and received helpful advice on screenwriting/directing as well. Surprisingly, the days I didn't sell many or any books were days I got a lot of helpful advice, which helps in the long run.
Seth: What's next for you?
Blaine: I'm working on a sequel to Hustle Hard and I'm finishing a script centered on an African-American female in a take-charge role that movie-goers haven't seen since Pam Grier. The script will be done by the end of August and I'll either shop the idea around or start filming in September.
Seth: What else are you doing with your writing talents?
Blaine: My third endeavor will be a book centered on life in the islands—particularly Antigua and Barbuda, my parents' birthplace and, I believe, the prettiest little place on the planet.
Seth Ferranti is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and accomplished journalist having written articles for Don Diva, Slam, King, Feds and many more. View more of his articles at: www.gorillaconvict.com
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