Donald Goines Dopefiend
"Goines' books inspired me when I was younger, because I used to sneak and read them on my father's bookshelf. His stories were urban, and he wrote from the heart. I didn't realize that you could just write, like, whatever you felt. It was amazing: This guy just opened up his heart and let everything flow out of it. It was as if someone was just talking. And they were stories that I would see in my life every day. I knew when I read those books: I can do this."
Iceberg Slim Pimp
"It's like the story of my life, because it was like this guy was telling what he went through, starting from the time he was born, just telling like how his mother was. I never read anything where a guy bad-mouthed his own parents, but he's telling how he developed this hatred for women from his relationship with his mother. All he saw was struggle. His mother ripped his stepfather off, stole his money, broke the guy's heart. And that's what put him on the trail of becoming a pimp. But it was the writing, not the street content — just the flair that the guy had."
Charles Avery Harris Con Man
"This is another one I read early. You can't even get it anymore. It's not even in print. And Con Man was another powerful one. These novels let me know that I could do urban writing. It was so close to me, you know what I mean? I mean, if you know you can slam-dunk, I can do this."
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
"That book really tells what he went through. He would give you some points about writing, you know, about the mechanics of it, things you should do, things you shouldn't. Then he'd go on to what he went through as far as getting his book out there, some of the brick walls he encountered. He'd let you know there were obstacles, but you're only going to get out of it what you put into it. By the time I got hold of that book, I was on my way to prison. I was caught with a lot of pounds of weed and guns and I knew there was no way out of this. I gotta do some time. And I just started to make some sense of it. If I could write, it wouldn't be dead time. It was time to bust it out, and instead of writing little short stories, to try to work on novels. Everything started falling into place."
Stephen Geez What Sarah Saw
"In prison, I ran into a guy who was like a warden's secretary, another inmate, but also an author. And this guy he was behind the wall, and he's got a master's degree in the arts, and he was jamming, got, like, 13, 14 books published. That was Stephen Geez. I'd give him chapters of my book and he'd mark them up with a red pen. It'd come back looking like a crime scene! So I'd rewrite it and he was very encouraging. His book What Sarah Saw isn't even an urban novel. It's a completely different style of writing, but you can tell it's from the heart, a juicy story that showed me how to add suspense. It was also like a trip to the suburbs. I thought I was only interested in gritty stories, but this was nothing of the sort."