Erick Gray
Urban Book Source
January 2006

Deanna SmithSince Booty Call Erick Gray has been a force to reckon with in street literature. With his gritty style and erotic sex scenes Erick treats his readers to multiple delights. Founder of Triple G publishing and signed to St. Martinís Press, this Jamaica Queens native is relentless. With countless projects in the works, expect to see his material swarming the streets.

UBS: Your novel Nasty Girls, tell us about it.
Nasty Girls is about three young ladies growing up in a notorious housing project called Jamaica housing a.k.a. the 40 projects. Shy, Camille, and Jade are best friends and have always had each others backs. Jade and Shyís boyfriends, Roscoe and James, are partners in a lucrative drug business. But one night James and Roscoe get caught up in a shoot-out that goes horribly wrong. Shyís man, Roscoe, ends up in prison while James walks away clean, and things begin to fall apart between the girls. All three girls have had a difficult past, and desperately want to break away from the projects, but jealousy, greed, revenge, and betrayal test the true bonds of their friendship. The book is hot, and it deals with domestic abuse, jealousy among females, dating a hustler, and so many things that young black women have to deal with growing up in the hood. It tells a story about how black women should stand strong for themselves and each other, and let no man put them under. Believe me when I tell you, thereís a lot of hardship in this book, and it tells the truth about the things that our sisters get caught up with today from drugs to trying to hold down and support your man in jail. I dedicated this book to my cousin who was killed last year by the hands of her abusive boyfriend.

UBS: You were with QBoro Books, now you're with St. Martinís Press. How did this come about?
It came about late 2004. St. Martins Press wanted to sign me since my first book Booty Call dropped in 2003, but the figures wasnít right, I only had one book on the streets, and I was still in a contract with my first publisher Black Print. I waited a year because my heart was telling me donít rush into an agreement with a bigger house, especially after my ordeal with Black Print publishing. I still wanted my name to be strong in the streets, so I dropped Streets of New York Volume 1 in August 2004, with Mark and Anthony, and Ghetto Heaven under Markís Publisher in December 2004, and Money Power Respect in August 2005. I wanted to have more books hit the streets before I signed with a major house, because when youíre dealing with a bigger publisher, it takes longer for your books to get published, and I didnít want the public to forget about me. QBoro can put books out faster and keep your name in the market. But I finally signed with St. Martinís Press in February 2005.

UBS: How would you describe your writing style? Do you write anything other than urban/street fiction?
My writing style can be blunt and raw sometimes, especially with my sex and murder scenes, but thatís how I tell it. I donít sugar coat anything or clean it up. I just tell it like it is. And sometimes that is how you get the readerís attention, like with Booty Call, and Booty Call *69. The beginning of both books is like whoa, it hits readers fast and hard. I opened that book up with raw and very funny sex scenes, and throughout both books it gets even crazier. And I try to create unforgettable and realistic characters like Kinko and Ricky from Money Power Respect Shana and Jakim from Booty Call *69 and coming soon, James, from Nasty Girls, now heís a grimy dude, that I know the ladies will love and hate. My stories are raw and hard, but at the end, I try to tell a very positive or uplifting message in all my books, without being Mr. Rogers. But I donít want to be stereotyped only as an urban/street fiction author; I want to be known as an established writer like James Patterson and John Grisham. I feel Iím too talented to just stick to one genre. Iím very diverse in my writing. Iíve not only written urban fiction, but also Iíve written a relationship/love book called, Where Do We Go From Here? based on my life somewhat, and an erotica type book called, Diary of a Young Gigolo. Both books are not published though. And right now, Iím working on a comedy thatís very unique, I canít get into details because I donít want yíall taking my ideas. And Iím going tp try my hand in sci-fi novels soon, because I love science fiction and was really into comic books when I was young. But one of my goals is to one day turn one of my books into a movie, I rather it be in movie theaters or straight to DVD. I also dabble in poetry and rhymes, and I recently wrote an article on Donald Goines for a debuting magazine titled SLR (Street Literature Review) which is supposed to drop in book stores in January. Iím just trying to take my gifts and talents that God blessed me with and run with it, trying to open up as many doors for myself as possible.

UBS: What is your inspiration to write your stories?
My inspiration comes from wanting better for myself, and going through trials and tribulation while growing up in South Jamaica, Queens. Since I was young, I always wanted to be heard and tell stories. I wanted to be my own boss. I hated working for other people. I started writing rhymes and poems first, and then escalated to writing full books by the time I was twenty-one. I saw a lot going on growing up in Queens, and dealt with everything from deaths, central booking, being stabbed, to police harassments on the block. A lot goes on in Queens and not just Queens but in other boroughs and neighborhoods throughout America. And rappers rhyme about the harsh conditions, police brutality, and drugs in ghettos and hoods in songs and videos, but a book will put you up close and in person, and tell you in full detail about some of the things that are really happening in these city streets, from child abuse and drugs to prostitution and murder.

UBS: How do you feel about the urban fiction trend and what is your input on it?
I feel that the urban fiction market is definitely a step up for our generation, and is helping many black men and women escape from the streets and poverty that many fall victim to. I feel that this genre is doing for us, what rap did for a generation in the early eightiesócreating jobs, finances, and helping many of us become entrepreneurs. I feel its like rap, we are being heard through another voice, though the literary voiceóand because of us, young people are starting to read again, and can relate to some of the stories being told in books. Now some may say that this genre is negative and glorifies drug-dealing, sex, and many other things. But my personal opinion; it tells the truth about a world that many Americans try to ignore and where so many of us live and come from, and are trying to escape from. And sometimes a book is one way of being heard, no matter how harsh and vulgar the language or content.

UBS: Generally, how long does it take for you to complete a novel?
It depends. It took me a month to write Nasty Girls, and thatís because I had the story already embedded into my mind, and it was just flowing for me everyday I was writing it. Some stories for me come faster than others. But on an average, I say it takes me two to three months to complete a story. I finished Money Power Respect in two months.

UBS: Is there anything different about being published with QBoro versus St. Martins Press?
Yes, there is. QBoro is a good company, but when youíre dealing with a major house like St. Martinís Press, they are very meticulous when it comes to your story and the editing. QBoro and other independent companies may edit your book once or twice, but at St. Martinís Press it gets passed from one editor to another, and you might edit your own book from them about four or five times before itís published. Another difference is that when dealing with a major company is that every author may get one book per year or nine months compared to QBoro which might be able to publish two or three books by one author in a year. St. Martins Press has more money to spread when it comes to promotion, touring, and marketing your book.

UBS: As a reader, do you have any authors you admire or enjoy reading?
I admire many authors and enjoy reading, James Patterson, Michael Baisden, Judy Blume, Kíwan, Mark Anthony, and Sister Souljah. I love James Patterson for his captivating crime novels with the suspense, and action filled stories, especially with the Alex Cross series. Judy Blume gives me a more lay back feel with the mid west, suburban housewife type of stories. Michael Baisden, I love his books all around, especially the Maintenance Man, I read that book in two days. Kíwan, I love his street savvy, and the way he depicts Harlem in his books. Mark Anthony, many may not know it, but his book was one of the first street books out, Urban Massacreónow called Paper Chasers, I remember reading that book back in December of 98, and I loved it, because one, he was telling a story about Queens, the neighborhood I was from, and two, for me it was raw. And last but not least, Sister Souljah, hands down for the Coldest Winter Ever. One of the best books I ever read.

UBS: Do you suffer from Writerís Block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Occasionally, I do, but not from creating a story, it may come when Iím writing a scene or creating another character for the bookósometimes in the middle or coming up with the right ending. I might not be too sure on how to play a certain scene out, or begin a new chapter. But I overcome it by not forcing myself. If I get writerís block while writing a book, I take a break, and chill for a minute. I donít even think about the book. I might go hang out, or go for a walk or drive. Sometimes itíll come to me suddenly, I might see something, or hear something, and be like, ďYeah, thatís it. I go it.Ē I never force myself to finish a book. If you do, then it wonít come out right.

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