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with Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander resides in San Antonio, Texas with his family. He is a senior writer for Rich And Famous Magazine, and S A Urban Newspaper. He also teaches creative writing for Gemini Ink and is a participant in Writers In Communities, a program that teaches creative writing to middle school kids.

Caleb is also a very successful ghostwriter, with several Essence Best Selling novels to his credit.

His Strebor On The Streetz debut Eastside was released in June 2007.  His second novel for Strebor is titled Two Thin Dimes and is slated for release in Jan 2008.  His third Strebor title is The Reading Tree and is due out in August 2008.

Read An Excerpt of Eastside: Click Here
Read An Excerpt of Two Thin Dimes: Click Here
Read An Excerpt of The Reading Tree: Click Here

Author's Myspace Page: 
http://www.myspace.com/_caleb_alexander
 
Publisher's Website:  http://www.simonsays.com/streborbooks
Order Your Copy Today: 
Click Here


Urban Reviews:  Tell our readers about Eastside.
Caleb Alexander:
 Eastside is a coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of inner-city violence during the early nineties. It's a story about a young man named Travon, who is sent to live with his aunt, after getting jumped by some of his friends after school. His mother, Elmira, has already lost one son to inner-city violence, so she sends him to live with her sister. Unbeknownst to her, the neighborhood that he is sent to live in, is even worst than the one he left. Travon finds himself caught in a inescapable whirlwind of violence and drug dealing, desperately trying to survive.

Urban Reviews:  What inspired you to create this particular storyline?
Caleb Alexander:
I am from the inner-city. I lost numerous friends to senseless gang violence during that time period. I think that my writing Eastside was part therapy, and maybe even a little bit of the historian in me wanting to chronicle an important part of that generation's life.

They say, the victor gets to write the history. But in this particular war, there were no victors. We, as a people, lost. We donned red bandannas and blue ones, and we actually fought a civil war with one another for absolutely nothing. I was compelled to chronicle what happened. I was compelled to tell the story for those who lost their lives in that mess. If I could change the life of one kid involved in this type of activity, then maybe those senseless deaths (while still unacceptable) have at least come to serve a purpose. They have helped to warn kids away from the same destructive path.

Urban Reviews:  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Caleb Alexander:
Definitely! There are many messages in the book. I believe the most prevalent message is the senselessness of violence, the fruitlessness of gang involvement. I have talked to young African American males from that generation, who have read the book. More than just a few have professed to not knowing how destructive their activities were to our people, to our communities. I've talked to mothers, who have told me that they passed the book on to their sons and daughters, who were engaged in the early stages of gang activity. I've talked to principals and school administrators, who are desperate to get me into their schools to talk to their students about gang violence. I guess in the end, I want the readers to walk away with a better understanding of that time period and with the understanding that the danger has not passed. In most instances, inner city violence is cyclical. Gangs are on a resurgence now. A better understanding of how young men fall into gangs, the inner workings of these gangs, and their collective psyche are all things that the reader can take away from Eastside. A commitment to make a difference and the knowledge that each individual can make a difference is another message that one could take from the novel. The idea that we can, and must, do better is another message.

Urban Reviews:  Can you give us a sneak peek at your next novel Two Thin Dimes and when we can expect this to be released?
Caleb Alexander:
Definitely! The first chapter is in the back of Eastside, and I'll give you another sneak peak here. Two Thin Dimes is a totally different animal from Eastside. I felt that I went so violent in Eastside that I wanted to just have fun and tell a lighthearted story in Two Thin Dimes. Two Thin Dimes is a hip hop love story that will have the readers laughing all the way through. It is a warm, funny, urban love story that the readers will absolutely love. Our heroine, Jamaica, is an R&B superstar, while our hero, Tameer, is a young college student from the projects. Tameer only listens to rap, and he doesn't know who Jamaica really is. The two of them are thrust together by Jamaica's best friend, and must endure Jamaica's wealthy, socialite mother, Tameer's drunken father, and Tameer's ex-girlfriend and her band of plotting, gossiping, friends. Two Thin Dimes is going to take the readers on a hilarious rollercoaster ride of love, friendship, and sisterhood.

Urban Reviews:  You're presently signed with Strebor Books.  Please tell us about your literary journey and what led to your current book deal.
Caleb Alexander:
First, I have to let the readers know that I absolutely love Strebor Books, Atria, and Simon & Schuster. There is absolutely no place else to be. Zane and Charmaine are wonderful! They are my sistas, and I love them dearly. I love all of my Strebor family. Dwayne, Lee, Tina, Che, Stacy, Rodney, Allison, ReShonda, JL, Naleighna, Sonya, Marsha, Suzetta, David, D.V., J. Marie, William, Rique, Jonathan, Nane, Harold, Laurinda...I don't know why I started naming people, because you always forget someone on accident! Family, if I forgot you, it was definitely not on purpose! You all know how my mind works!

About my literary journey, well, let me just say that the road has been rough. It has been long and winding. I did a LOT of ghost writing before I sought my own deal...again. I say again, because I initially sought a deal with a publisher, who ended up publishing my book under another author's name. Things happened, they are water under the bridge now. But I did learn some valuable lessons about the publishing industry. I eventually went on to ghost write four Essence Best Selling novels, a couple of screen plays, and even two television pilots. I also write for a local urban newspaper and a really hot urban business magazine. It was with these credentials that I approached Zane. We talked, I sent her a package, and she contacted me. I remember her telling me that I reminded her of her, in that I could write in different genres and different voices. I had sent her a really diverse sampling of material. I remember asking her which manuscript she was interested in, and her reply was that she wanted all of them! LOL

That was when I joined the Strebor family. I didn't know it then, but Zane had even bigger plans for Eastside than I had anticipated. She intended to use it to launch her new imprint, Strebor On The Streetz. Well, it's been a match made in Heaven. My long literary journey has made me appreciate Strebor Books and my Strebor family very much.

Urban Reviews:  Is there anything that you know now that you wish you would have known before the release of your debut novel?
Caleb Alexander: Difficult question to approach. As far as the first novel that I had published, yes, I wish I would have stayed away from that publisher! ~LOL~ I wish I would have went straight to Strebor Books with it! As far as Eastside goes, I wish I would have did more ground work before the novel was released. I should have advertised more before the book dropped.

Urban Reviews:  What books or authors would you say have most influenced your life?
Caleb Alexander:
Superman To Man by J. A. Rogers. The Destruction of Black Civilization by Chancellor Williams. Nile Valley Civilizations by Anthony T. Browder. Of course, Chiekh Anta Diop. John Allegro, Michael Biagent, John Henry Clarke. I think J. A. Rogers and Chancellor Williams influenced me the most in the beginning. They opened up my mind and gave me a foundation to move forward and do good things. Through their works, and that of Dr. Diop's, I learned that I was a part of something infinitely greater then myself. And of course Dr. Williams' book helped to answer the question: what happened to us as a people? How could an Eastside become possible? The Destruction of Black Civilization answered many of those questions. I guess, by extension, Eastside reveals a continuation of that destruction. John Allegro and Michael Biagent opened up my mind spiritually. They helped me to understand that there is so much more to commonly held doctrine. Hazrat Kahn helped me to develop a deeper sense of spirituality and tolerance for all beliefs. There are so many books and authors out there that I could go on and on.

Urban Reviews:  What advice would you give to the aspiring authors out there?
Caleb Alexander: Tell your story in your own unique voice. Be true to yourself and to your work. Don't just jump into the first deal that comes your way. Don't enter into a deal with a person who has a bad reputation, thinking that your relationship with that person is going to be different. Get an agent! Get a reputable agent! Get a good agent! A good agent is invaluable. Understand that there is writing, and then there is the BUSINESS of writing. Be passionate about your craft. Practice it as often as possible. Don't overlook the business side of things. After you've poured your heart and soul into your writing, put your business hat on, and get yourself the best deal possible, for you. (Somebody else's deal isn't necessarily the best deal for you!) And after the deal making, put your marketing cap on. Get with a good, reputable publishing house. Keep your day job after you've signed your deal. For most of us, success doesn't happen over night. Like any other profession, you will have to pay your dues.

Urban Reviews:  What do you want people to know most about you?
I want them to know that I love writing, and I have some beautiful and diverse works in the pipeline. Come and laugh with me in Two Thin Dimes, and then enjoy the scandalous ladies and gents in The Reading Tree. And after that, I have a novel titled Big Black Boots that is very important. It speaks of humanity, it speaks to race relations, and it speaks to our relationship with one another, with ourselves, and with God. Look out for Big Black Boots. And then look out for the HUGE novel When Lions Dance. I have been working on When Lions Dance for years. It's the story of an African-American woman's life, beginning in her youth in pre-civil rights Birmingham. The story spans six decades and eloquently covers her tumultuous life. This novel is my lullaby, my thank you, and my love note to my sistas. It is for my mother, my grandmother, for their friends, and for women of color all over this country. It is a salute to their strength, determination, and perseverance. I look forward to doing novels that tell our stories, expand the genre, and add to the richness of African-American literature. Beginning with those two novels, you have my commitment to do novels that matter in content. I will still do an occasional street lit novel for fun. But for the most part, novels like Eastside, Big Black Boots, and When Lions Dance that speak to the important issues within our community will be my literary staple. James Baldwin said, "The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experiences of the people who produced him." I will endeavor to bring those experiences to the forefront, wrapped in exciting, thought-provoking storylines.


Read our review of Eastside in the
AA Fiction section.