Today we speak to Tres Bien Tracey
Q) Tell us something about yourself.
My novels are the tunnel that shows the overlooked beauty in struggle and the gritty melancholia of success. I’m interested in showing both sides of the coin. I’m interested in showing the complexity of humanity as I have learned that black and white are non-existent and everything exists on a wide spectrum of shades of gray.
Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?
‘3.5 grams’ is the story of a young African-American man coming into adulthood in the millennial generation. He reflects on his tumultuous journey to maturation in the Southeast region of the United States. His odyssey is rife with bouts of uncertainty, clumsy adventures in the world of vice, and contemporary struggles with race relations in the modern world.
As the young man manoeuvres through life, he encounters drugs, cut-throat capitalism, aimless youth, and a seemingly miniscule margin for error for which to travel through life in the increasingly complex world he inhabits. He struggles to find his place in America without tumbling into the pitfalls of the clichéd existence for black youths of the revolving door of the criminal justice system or self-destruction but also remaining true to his core as he continues to move further away (physically and mentally) from his community and the lifestyle that bore him.
I think readers will find poignant but entertaining stories in ‘3.5 grams’ that show a young man searching for purpose.
Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?
Weed. The title, 3.5 grams is most commonly known as an “eighth” or ⅛ of an oz. and the novella itself contains chapters 1-8 of a larger project, Razor’s Edge, which will be out in the first quarter of 2014. There’s a sizeable amount of drug use in the novella and I really wanted to make a statement against the failed drug war in America and how it’s really like sawing off your leg because you have a rash on your calf. It really creates more problems than it solves, in my opinion.
Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?
The novella utilizes pieces of my own life story as well as elements of stories of people I have encountered in life. I also added allusions and entendres to help artistically emphasize points that I wanted to get across in the novella. I used these raw materials to add the flesh to the skeleton blueprint that is my own personal narrative.
Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?
Absolutely Jamaican Joe. I feel Jamaican Joe is such an allegory for so many first generation American Youth who are looking for that mythical “American Dream” and pursue it all costs, even to the point of self-ruin.
Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?
Yes. This character is loosely based on someone that I know and I knew that his story and really our stories, needed to be told or else they risked being lost in the revolving door of history.
Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?
I would have to describe my writing style as fitting into a genre I created called sophisticated trap literature. In 3.5 grams, I use entendre-laden metaphors in the narrative to describe the complexities of being a young black American in the millennial generation and the pitfalls and traps that are all too readily available. I think my style came from the struggle to display myself as a multi-dimensional human. Chinua Achebe had this great quote in an interview where he was talking about the perception of the African continent and people living there and about how they are not devils nor are they angels. They are just people. I think the simplicity of that statement held so much beauty and truth because that’s essentially what I personally feel I have to fight to convey daily and especially in my writing.
Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?
I began working on the book shortly after the start of 2013 and finished it in the summer of 2013. I was moved to write the book because I was reflecting on my two and a half decades of life and was really at an existential crisis. I was completely disillusioned with corporate life and felt that I was participating in some balancing act between maintaining my authentic identity and progressing in the corporate environment as a young African-American man. I began to wonder how I had arrived at such a point and how I would grow beyond it. I realized that the only way to find out was to start at the beginning and I began to write a narrative that was loosely based on my life but allowed for artistic symbolism and creativity to be added to the skeleton story that was my life story.
Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?
I’ve always been a storyteller and entertained by creative projects, as i think most authors or creative individuals are. I think my love of the medium of literature eventually led me to add my own voice to the world of published stories.
Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?
I love the work of Hermann Hesse and his articulation of the many internal conflicts that exist within the human experience were very gripping to me as I grew up searching for understanding in this chaotic world. I also love the work of Iceberg Slim and Charles Bukowski whom I feel both had an endearing honesty and adeptness with communicating the beauty and intricacies of the human condition.
Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?
The most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel is steering people to your work after you’ve completed the actual written work. You hope that others will see the beauty of the written work you’ve created but in actuality the literal process of writing is the most rewarding. Its cathartic and I have personally found it to lead to many revelations within myself and about the world that I don’t believe I would have arrived at otherwise.
Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?
Advice I would give to someone trying to write or get their stories published would be to simply believe in the uniqueness of their vision and that their written work is something that the world would benefit from.
Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.
I’m working on the second part of a full novel titled, Razor’s Edge. It will be available in the first quarter of 2014 and it will be be the continuation of the 3.5 grams novella (which is a fully formed narrative on its own).
Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?
I think the most obvious and cliche answer to that would be 3.5 grams, but the work outside of my own that I admire the most and feel most influenced by is Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. I think the journey of the protagonist was really a timeless one that every human being is always on and thats a journey to find a meaning to life or at least their own individual life.
Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?
One youth’s quest for understanding through love, drugs, and mayhem.
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