The Education of Lucianna - Discovering Urban Fiction
I’m most at peace with the world when I am tapping away at a keyboard, ear buds plugged into my head and my imagination in overdrive. Outside of spending time with my kids, it’s what I want to spend my life doing. As many writers learn though – it doesn’t pay the bills. For that – I work in a café by day.
That café is located on the ground floor of a business complex. All kinds of people work there. I don’t know what half of them do, but I make a game of trying to remember their names. And, there is one name that struck me from the very first time I heard it – Lucianna.
I think she is a lawyer, although I have never asked. She has a gorgeous head of curly locks, unlike my stick straight strands. She’s quick to smile, has a great laugh, and I believe she told me she knits in her spare time. Some people you just know are easy to like, and Lucianna is one of them. So, when I was wiping down tables after the lunch rush and noticed her reading her kindle, I had to ask what she was reading.
She just glanced up and smiled before saying, “A trashy romance.”
That’s when I said, “Have you ever read urban fiction?”
She looked confused and asked me what that was. I do believe that is exactly what I said the first time I heard those words a couple years ago. To be honest, I still don’t know exactly what urban fiction is, but I told her it was a bit of her trashy romance, but more, with a view from the streets. She looked intrigued, and I told her I would bring her in a book to read. And, so has begun the education of Lucianna on what ‘urban fiction’ is.
I discovered the genre by accident really. I began working with inmates on writing projects a couple years ago, but my first collaboration was a memoir. It was a masterpiece, I think, but the author and I ended up not seeing eye to eye on a few things, and I moved on. That’s when I heard from Robert Booker. I had written about his overly harsh prison sentence on my blog and sent him a copy of my post. He wrote me afterwards, and the rest is history.
He was working on an ‘urban fiction’ novel when we began corresponding. I had no idea what that was – but I told him to send me some of his work to see if we could work together.
Life hasn’t been the same since. As we edited together and passed pages back and forth, I read about worlds I have never, nor will ever, experience in my lifetime. It was like going to Paris or Rome or a safari in Africa. It was all foreign to me, but he showed me the city through his eyes and his experiences, like nobody else could. He used words I had never heard of, and I would find myself asking him if I misread things. But – he taught me, and he continues to teach me. And, I hang on to every syllable.
I will never be able to write urban fiction, I simply don’t have the life experience to draw from. But, Robert does, and he takes me away to vibrant, sexy, violent, passionate places that I never knew existed. And each place I travel to leaves me planning for the next trip.
That is what I learned about urban fiction. Reading it leaves me with a down and dirty kinda feeling that keeps me dreading the last page, immediately followed by the next first page calling my name. That is what I hope for my new lunchtime acquaintance. And, so begins the education of the pretty lawyer (I think she’s a lawyer) from the third floor with the fabulous name – ‘Lucianna’.
If I were capable of actually writing urban fiction, I would use that name, Lucianna. She would be the main character and would own a used book store on a city street corner that sold used trashy romance novels. By night, though, she would be a money laundering diva, using that same store front as a cover. She would let her curls down after sunset, and grown men would shake in their shoes in her presence. There would be one man, though, who wouldn’t shake… She would call him Daddy…
Yeah, if only I could write urban fiction. I’ll just hand her the first book I worked on with Robert Booker – Tony Jones. The next time I am wiping down tables, she probably won’t even know I am there, because she will be walking the streets of Detroit on a dark night with Tony. She may be a tad out of her element at the beginning, but by the last page, she might just be another convert.
Encouraging others to realize their writing abilities, through collaboration and friendship. Walk In Those Shoes