Intelligent Urban Fiction
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti
Moses Miller is not your typical street lit author. His voice comes from a higher calling. Think of him as A Tribe Called Quest as compared to 50 Cent. His idols in the book game are James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Walter Mosley and Richard Wright—literary giants. So you can say Moses Miller aspires to more than hood star status or ghetto fabulousness. This journalist/writer/activist/author, who hails from NYC, obtained his bachelors degree from Empire State College and his Masters of Science degree from Polytechnic University. He came into this game with an understanding of the historical and ethical principles of writing and journalism. Call it intelligent urban fiction because Moses Miller is the type of brother that has perfected his craft and it shows in his books. Check them out. Here's the UBS interview:
Seth: Who are you and where are you from?
Moses Miller: I’m Moses Miller—journalist, scientist, mentor, leader, literacy champion, and author. I’m from New York and I write books for those in the ghetto, suburbs, and everywhere in between.
Seth: How did you start writing and why?
Moses Miller: I started writing when I was about five or six years old. Back then, I used to draw stick figures with dialogue bubbles over their heads. When I was seven I stepped my game up and started writing in chapter book format. I’ve always had a love for the art of storytelling.
Seth: What books do you have out and when did they come out?
Moses Miller: Nan: The Trifling Times of Nathan Jones was released late 2006. We released a special edition of that novel in the summer of 2007, when my book with F.E.D.S. magazine, Once Upon a Time in Harlem came out.
Seth: Describe your books and your writing style?
Moses Miller: My style would best be described as very detailed, fast moving, and character driven. I’m well educated, inside, and outside of the classroom and I’ve been exposed to a lot of different things in my life. So, I draw on all those things, as well as my vivid imagination when I put my pen to the pad. With Nan: The Trifling Times of Nathan Jones, I painted a picture that detailed the impact of one tragic event on two teenagers. Their parents were both killed on the same night, by the same man. I walk you through each and every thing that transpires in their lives through adulthood. In Once Upon a Time in Harlem, desperation turns to irrational decision making for two brothers with their backs up against the wall. Both books deal with key events and the decisions that the characters make from that point forward. I draw my readers in because my plots and storylines are true to life and realistic. I believe that life is merely a series of events. Our choices, actions, decisions, and resolve is truly what defines us.
Seth: How have readers reacted to your books?
Moses Miller: Readers have shown me a lot of love. My focus has been on building a readership through quality books. So, I’m definitely more about substance than hype and I believe that people appreciate that about me.
Seth: What publishers have you worked with?
Moses Miller: I’m co-owner of Mind Candy, LLC. (MindCandyMedia.com), which released the first book in the Nan series and will also be publishing the sequel titled, Nan: The Game of Trife. Besides that, F.E.D.S. magazine is the only other publisher that I have published with.
Seth: What authors do you admire and what books have you read lately?
Moses Miller: I admire Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and a few others that preceded me because of the things they were writing about during their respective eras. Michael Crichton, John Grisham, James Patterson and Walter Mosley as well. There are also authors that I respect just for being positive individuals, which would include Therone Shellman, JM Benjamin, Renee Flagler, Renee Jones-Brown, Dwayne Murray, Kwan, Crystal Stell-Perkins, and a handful of others. As far as my reading list, right now I’m reading 40 Million Dollar Slaves, Black Boy and a story on Walmart. I want to keep little to no inventory in my warehouse like they do.
Seth: What do you think of the street lit genre?
Moses Miller: I don’t think people understand it, so their own ignorance is conveyed in many of the comments that they make. For instance, I’ve heard comments about the strong use of slang and the bad grammar that some of the books have. However, historically there are several era’s where the authors used words or phraseology that wasn’t traditional English. The “born again” Christians frown their noses upon it, but they watch Harry Potter with their kids, which is essentially witchcraft and satanic in nature. The well educated “elite” blame street fiction for the incarceration rate amongst minorities, but statistics show that the majority of those incarcerated are illiterate or reading at a fourth grade level or below. People fear what they don’t understand, and they bash it until they figure out how to control and make money off of it…then it’s all good. I take all of the comments in stride though because I refuse to be defined by a label. I can write in any genre.
Seth: What is your relationship with F.E.D.S magazine?
Moses Miller: The owner, Antoine Clark, read my first novel and asked me to write a story based on a concept he had about a crime family based in Harlem that remained relevant over several generations. From numbers to crack you’ll see how drugs impacted the family and the impact it had on the Harlem landscape. In essence, their story is one and the same. I ran with that concept and came up with Once Upon a Time in Harlem. Working on the project was a unique experience. Being that it had the F.E.D.S. brand on it, the research had to be done to make sure it was true to the era it was set in.
Seth: How have the book signings and author appearances been going?
Moses Miller: That’s always love. There’s nothing like connecting with readers. Besides speaking to the youth, that’s probably my favorite thing about this book game. I love talking about my books and hearing feedback after someone has read them.
Seth: Who have you hooked up with and done appearances with?
Moses Miller: I’ve been fortunate to do appearances with a lot of different authors. I met Bern Nadette Stanis at the Book Expo and that was cool. I had a crush on Thelma when I used to watch Good Times as a kid.
Seth: What's next for you?
Moses Miller: More compelling novels, screenplays, and eventually films. I’m going to change the world…they just haven’t figured it out yet.
Seth: Any advice to aspiring authors?
Moses Miller: As far as the business is concerned, research and read as many books as you can. There’s plenty of free information on the web or at the library, so there’s really no excuse to remain ignorant. With the writing, always challenge yourself and your readers. The beauty of being a fiction writer is that it allows you the flexibility to write about things you may have never experienced firsthand. Step outside of your comfort zone. Readers get sick of being fed the same stories rehashed with slightly different spins. Build upon the legacy and the foundation laid by those that came before you.
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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