Rahiem Brooks Interview – research to be done
After reading and reviewing A Butler Christmas, I was anxious to interview the author, Rahiem Brooks. His portrayal of the complicated justice system as it related to his main character, Naim Butler, was so accurate, I knew he had to have a legal background or some personal experience that he brought to his book. I was also anxious to hear his personal story, as I am fascinated by writers and what they have learned and experienced along the way.
So, it was with excitement that the interview began, and I was pleasantly surprised by Rahiem’s open and honest answers.
Rahiem Brooks Interview
Kim Carter: Naim only touched on his upbringing, but it was apparent his childhood was challenging. Is that something you share with your main character?
Rahiem Brooks: Absolutely. That’s a wonderful question. I grew up in a hopeless, poverty-stricken community, as did Naim Butler. I only touched on his upbringing, because I didn’t want to take the book out of the present. I did want to show how he overcame that reality by giving a clear blueprint of how he left Chicago for college in New Orleans. Maybe someone will follow in Naim’s fictional footsteps. But that’s my goal, showing people that you do not have to accept poverty.
Kim: Writers often have a routine or a location they need in order to create. What do you find gets your creative juices flowing?
Rahiem: I like action (laughing). I am often at a cafe with my laptop, letting the atmosphere get my juices flowing. Me, my laptop, a coffee and slice of cake drives me.
Kim: When did you ‘know’ that writing was going to be your career path?
Rahiem: After I published my first book, and people liked it, demanding a part two, I knew. That became a trilogy when it started as a standalone novel.
Kim: How did you go about getting your first book published – was it through a company or did you self publish?
Rahiem: I did self-publish my first book. Made some mistakes and learned from them along the way to start my own publishing company.
Kim: Do you ever second guess yourself and your decision to write?
Rahiem: Nope, I work hard to write and run my publishing company like high-level writers and mainstream publishing companies.
Kim: If you could give an unpublished writer one word of advice, what would it be?
Rahiem: I have been in this business since 2009 and one thing has been consistent: research. I am still learning how to master this. I want to operate like Random House and Hachette. I am always looking for new ways to tell and sell a story. You never know it all, and if you plan to run this as a business and not a hobby there is daily research to be done. And daily connection making with librarians, bloggers, and bookstore owners.
Kim: While reading A Butler Christmas, I was impressed with your knowledge of the criminal justice system and the issues of incarceration. Do you have a personal connection to the system, or was this knowledge gained through research?
Rahiem: I have served a federal sentence for access device fraud. It happened during my career and was on full display, as I was arrested at the airport at the start of a new book tour. I let myself, family, and fans down. But while serving just over two years, I was confused by the waste and the way men were treated within the system. The sentences, lack of effective representation, the abuse of allowing men to receive reduced sentences for ratting out their friends (most times lying or exaggerating to save themselves), and idiotic precedents set were all shocking to me. I often said that if the public knew a lot of the intricate details associated with mass incarceration, they’d be appalled. I sought to bring some of those issues to life fictionally because people relate to books and movies more than a lecture from a politician. A lot of situations that made it into this novel came from stories of other incarcerated men.
Kim: Have you ever considered collaborating with another author, possibly even an incarcerated one?
Rahiem: I have thought of that, and I would. In fact, I have two incarcerated authors signed to my company. But a lot of people don’t understand the business end of book making. That would be my resistance.
Kim: Are you currently working on any new projects, writing or other, and what can we expect from you in the future?
Rahiem: I am working on some things. Of course, I am finished with and the release of the second book in this series is available for pre-order, A Butler Summer. That releases in June. I also have a book, Mr. CONfidence coming out in March. That’s all I have in 2018. But my company, Prodigy Gold Books, has six other authors with books releasing in 2018. I am excited about Gray Hawk of Terrapin by Moss Whelan, a YA fantasy and romance book that I am publishing the US edition for a small press in Ireland. I am in talks with an author in Australia to do the same. This is the place that I am taking my company, and I am excited about that.
When I first did the interview, I was so pleasantly surprised by Rahiem’s heartfelt responses, it made me enjoy the book even more. A Butler Christmas was a pleasure to read, and getting to know the person behind those pages was a bonus. I hope I get to read more by him, and I see bright things in his future.