Omar Tyree is one of the pioneers of Contemporary African American Literature. In the early nineties when Black writers were pretty much ignored Omar exploded on to the scene with Flyy Girl, which has gone on to sell millions and land him a NAACP Image Award in 2000. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Omar had a late start on his writing career. It wasnít until his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was studying Pharmacy, that he realized he had a talent for writing. Before then Omar was more interested in math and science, until being assigned a special project in his Writing and Comprehension class, where he was instructed to write about whatever he wanted. It was then he realized that he could write about things that were dear to him such as his friends and neighborhood. Always a movie person, storytelling came natural to Omar, and his peers soon started to follow his lead.
After receiving an A in his freshman English class, Tyree transferred to Howard University where he began to pursue his writing career. As a senior Tyree became the first student to have a feature column in the schools newspaper, The Hilltop. When his schooling was complete Omar was hired as an editorial assistant and reporter at The Capital Spotlight newspaper in Washington D.C. He later moved on to the position of Chief Reporter at News Dimensions weekly newspaper while working freelance for the Washington View Newspaper.
In late 1992 Omar published his first novel Colored, On a White Campus, through MARS productions, an independent company he organized. The sales from Colored, On a White Campus were enough for him to produce his second novel Flyy Girl. By July of 1993 Omar was working for himself.
In August of 1995 Simon and Schuster signed Omar to a two book deal, which allowed for the republication of Flyy Girl in hardcover. Tyree has since signed three consecutive deals with Simon to publish a total of ten books.
Presently Tyree has a total of twelve published novels, including Diary of a Groupie, Leslie, Just Say No!, For the Love of Money which was on the New York Times Bestsellers List after one week of publication, Single Mom, Sweet St. Louis, Boss Lady and Flyy Girl, which were all published by Simon and Schuster, and The Underground, Cold Blooded, College Boy, and One Crazy-Ass Night under his new line of novels as The Urban Griot.
Omar is currently working on his new novel entitled What They Want, which is targeted towards Black women, posing to them the question that many Black men ask themselves daily. What They Want will be published in mid 2006 after the launch of his Flyy Girl Magazine.
In a time when the industry is overflowing with authors, many fail to realize that when Omar was first published, he was one of a few Black authors among Teri McMillan and Walter Mosley who paved the way for authors today.
In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for the launch of his new magazine, Omar still took the time out to chat with one of UBSís contributors.
UBS: When did you know that you were born to be a writer?
It really struck me that I needed to be a writer freshman year when my peers in college started saying I was pretty good at what I was doing and started to copy the things I was doing. I figured I was either going to use it or lose it, and I didnít want to waste it.
UBS: Who influenced you as a writer?
UBS: How do you feel about the hip-hop/street fiction genre?
Right now I am looking for us to break out of that stage, to start writing about our community from other aspects than whatís already out there.
UBS: What kind of writer do you consider yourself?
UBS: Are you currently working on any new projects?
There is nothing wrong with stories that are about those things but what about a girl that gets involved in something else, a guy with a different kind of lifestyle. What They Want is asking the community what we want out of our community, our art, our relationships and our literature. Iíll be putting out a ten question survey asking women what they want from a man sexually, spiritually, economically, and educationally to keep it real. Thatís the next book for the summer and then I am going to start working on some new books, Iím not going to stop writing unless Iím dead. As long as I am here I got some things I want to do
UBS: How do you feel about being nominated in our 2006 Author Eye Candy poll?
Omar Tyree is the author of over 15 novels. For more information, visit: www.omartyree.com
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