Travis Vp Fox a.k.a. The Black Poe
The Black Poe, born Travis Fox, is Urban Fiction’s self proclaimed “savior” and “king”. While growing up in Philadelphia Travis was regarded as one of the top eight writers in his city. That was until he hit a creative boulder in Philadelphia’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts and forced to transfer to Central High School. For years to come Travis would wallow in his uncreative realm.
It wasn’t until 2005, when the struggling Cheyney University Student resurrected himself as The Black Poe. With his new moniker, Travis Fox’s creative drought came to an abrupt end with his much awaited debut novel Poison Ivy, a drama filled suspenseful urban tale, which will be released by QBoro Books in July of 2006. Take a walk with the man known as The Black Poe, and read Urban Book Source Author Spotlight Interview:
My literary idol is the Master of the Short Story, and the father of the Modern Detective novel, Edgar Allan Poe. Our lives parallel each other. He was often misunderstood, and this led to bouts with alcoholism and depression. I was there. His family and friends scoffed at him and his attempts to become a writer. I have suffered the same criticisms.
Edgar Allan Poe developed a style that was unable to be duplicated. He was a master linguist. I have worked countless hours to develop a style like his that would be distinguishable from all others. So as a tribute to him and his influence on my beginning career, I go by his name. The Black symbolizes darkness. I have certain darkness about my personality, and with my style. It also symbolizes very dark days ahead for all of those that do not appreciate this industry and art form that many have died for. The Poe is what it is.
UBS: Tell us a bit about Poison Ivy?
The story is about a young woman named Ivy Davidson that has had to endure hardships none the likes most of us will ever see. Deaths, losses, drug abuse, and misery cause her to question the one thing that most see as being unquestionable. This events trigger something deep inside that forces her to make the choices in life that we all at one time have contemplated making.
This book focuses on many themes: molestation, drug abuse, love, faith, philosophy, revenge, redemption, and peace just to name a few. I intend for the readers to gain a further understanding of not only the character and the issues that she faces in her life, but I want all of my readers both male and female to look deep within them and also gain a further understanding.
It is for mature readers only. I strongly urge readers that allow their children to read works of this nature, to read it with them and discuss the topics and themes so that they may learn about what is happening in the world, and how it can be prevented.
UBS: How long have you been seriously writing? And do you ever stumble across writer’s block?
I came across this writer’s forum called Coast 2 Coast Readers, and the Black Poe was welcomed. The support system was amazing, and the ladies really helped me. I entered a writing contest that they sponsored and I won. From there as they say, the rest is history.
I stumble, trip, fall, and scrape the hell out of my knee across writer’s block. I almost pulled my dreads out a few times writing my novel. Writer’s block hits me hard at the beginning of each chapter. I put pressure on myself to make every chapter greater than my last. Keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. So when it comes to writing the next chapter, I get stuck. Sometimes I get stuck for hours. Most of the time, it is for weeks.
I get over my block by watching the movie Saw or I don’t know if I can say this, but by watching a porno, and drinking a few beers. The movie Saw is a deeply philosophical and psychological movie that forces my mind to travel to that deep dark place that I need to be. Pornography on the other hand (pardon the pun), opens my mind in almost the same way. My senses need to be heightened in order for me to create the way that I create. Ghetto, yes I know.
UBS: What advice would you give to an upcoming writer?
Write for the love of writing. Many prospective authors are always asking me how much money I make, or how much do I plan on making. I tell them that I don’t make any money. I write for free. When you get into this business for the purpose of making money, it shows in your writing. Yes, some authors in this genre and others may be successful with “six” figure deals, but the books are often times badly written.
Take your time. I tell writers to take their time with their projects. It is your baby. Nurse it. Bathe it. Feed it, and show it all of the love that you would every thing else in your life that you care about. Take the time to do the necessary research that it will take to make your story creditable and believable. If a person has never shot a gun before, don’t have them taking out twelve members in a gang with a gun that only holds six bullets. Be accurate and be correct.
EDET!!! EDUT!!! EDIT!!! No, not all of us are linguistically at upper echelon, but that is most certainly not an excuse for submitting work with grammatical and typographical errors throughout. No one is perfect, but you can strive to be as close to it as you can. Editors are not qualified to edit every story that falls on their desk. It is our manuscript, so the editing is our ultimate responsibility. We owe it to our readers.
Have fun. Last but not least, just have some damn fun.
UBS: What do you think the major roadblocks are, in breaking into this industry?
UBS: How do you feel about the urban fiction genre as of right now?
I feel that the urban fiction genre as of right now is not a genre that is respected, and it is not a genre that is garnering respect. We have a chance in this genre with our skills, and our voice to spark a literary revolutionary movement the likes of which have not been seen since the Harlem Renaissance. Great things should be seen coming over the horizon. But it hurts me to my heart when I realize that this is not a universal view that is being shared. Those writers bled for this. They gave their lives for this. Their art was all that they had. What do we bleed for? What will we die for?
You walk into a book store and our books are placed in some of the saddest African American sections that I have ever seen. Books like The Color Purple are buried on the bottom shelves while books, that years ago wouldn’t have made it out of the publisher’s trash can, sit boldly up front. Is this what our brand of literature has been reduced to. Books that promote education, value and meaning are stacked at the bottom, while books that portray a fictional look at our community are marketed with full force.
Where is the respect? It is not there, and we are not fighting for it. Urban Lit, street lit, hip hop lit, no it is literature. It is fiction, fiction that deserves to sit with the other fiction based books. I started to place our brand of lit into a category. I thought about it and realized that I was making a mistake. I want my novels to sit proudly with books by white authors, brown authors, red authors, etc… I demand that respect for my work, and for the work of my colleagues.
Most of the novels that are being mass produced are stories that have been manufactured, recycled, and reprinted only changing the faces and the places. There is a serious lack of originality in this genre. Many readers that I have spoken to fell that if you have read one “ghetto” book, then you have read them all. You can only have the good girl that dates the drug kingpin who goes to jail, and trust his partner to look after his girl, but they fall in love and the kingpin seeks revenge, or the black hearted drug kingpin falls in love with this one girl but he is away, so she takes over his empire books so many times. It is phony and unbelievable. Appreciators of African American authors and literature scoff at works like this. There is nothing wrong with writing about and exploring this subject, but it needs to be done in a way that is true to the author and true to the subject. If not, then we will be forced to suffer through the harsh criticisms and lack of respect that this industry and our work are getting.
I challenge writers and prospective writers to raise their writing and their awareness levels as high as they could possibly go. Challenge these publishing companies that offer the big money contracts to put your black face on the front page like they place the white writers that are also under their management, and not just use you and your face to get the African American dollars. Challenge the small press companies to edit your work, and not just mass produce rough draft material to make money and keep their heads above bankruptcy’s water. These are my thoughts, and this is my challenge.
UBS: How did you get signed with Q-Boro Books? And what made you choose them as your publisher?
I was talking to a fellow author who goes by the pen name Liquid Styles and he told me that he spoke to an author that was on Q-Boro’s label and my name came up. The author said that I would be more than a welcome addition to the Q-Boro family and that Mark (Mark Anthony) was looking to sign some writers. I sent in my submission chapters and about three weeks later, I received the email and phone call welcoming me to the family.
Q-Boro is an intriguing place for me because they were brand new at the time and they have aspirations of growing. I want to be the cornerstone of that growth. I was also told that I would have the chance to be who I am as a writer. I am a writer that can write in any genre, and as long as I remain with Q-Boro, I will have the opportunity to do just that.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Urban Book Source for this tremendous opportunity. I am extremely appreciative of this interview and this feature. I want to promise you and promise the readers of fiction that I will continue to pour my heart and soul into everything that I write because it is out of love, and it is in your honor. And I want to tell my mother thank you and I love you.
For more information on Travis Fox, visit: http://www.black-poe.tripod.com
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