When Sam Hunter asked me to interview Robert Booker for a review he was doing, I was excited.  I’ve read Robert’s last four books, and I’m a fan.  How could I not be excited to interview an author I admire so much, who has been living and creating his stories from behind bars for decades?

My excitement was laced with apprehension, only because I thought I might not live up to the challenge.  Besides my admiration, interviewing someone in a federal prison has hurdles.  I couldn’t interview Robert Booker face to face or over the phone. Our only option was the prison’s email system.  The system itself has limitations because there is about an hour delay in messages coming and going, as all mail is inspected by staff.

Robert came through though and made it easy, answering every question openly and without hesitation, leaving me regretting only one thing – not asking more questions.  And, so my interview began…

Robert Booker Interview:

KIM CARTER:  Were you a big reader before you began writing, and if so, do you have any favorite books or authors?

Robert BookerROBERT BOOKER:  No, I was not a big reader of urban fiction.  I was serving a LIFE sentence and didn’t have the time to read that kind of literature.  And, one day my friend sent me Makes Me Want To Holler and asked me to read it because it reflected something like my life. Then in 2000, I was given True to The Game by Teri Woods and felt that the book wasn’t the game that I lived, so a older gentlemen told me I should write my own.

KIM:  You’ve been writing for quite a while now, but do you remember the first time you sat down and put pen to paper, and what made you decide to do it?

ROBERT:  After reading True to the Game, and talking about it, I started writing my own story, and it took over the compound.  I was the talk of the town.  The first book I ever wrote is called Street Life Of Detroit, which I will drop once I’m free. When you live the street life and you read something that don’t add up, it makes you want to tell your own story, and even though my story was deep in the game, I found a way to write it fictional.

KIM:  So, you still have it, and you plan to publish it?

ROBERT:  I’m going to have it done in 2019, once I’m released.  It’s the coldest book I’ve ever written. It’s the crack era in Detroit, Michigan, from 1982 through 1993 when I was indicted.  You think Menace to Society was good, wait until I show you the streets of Detroit – Gator Capitol, Hair Capitol of the World.

KIM:  After that first writing project, did you know that being an author was what you were meant to be?

ROBERT:  No, I didn’t know that I was or could be an author.  I went through hell getting my first book published.  I used a factory type writer, magazines and a photo of myself and made my own cover. My first book, I sent to Canada to a place called TRAFFORD because they were the only ones who worked with me from prison.

KIM:  Have you ever written any other genre, and if so, which ones?  Also, would you consider any others in the future?

ROBERT:  I, honestly, can write anything. I have love novels, suspense stories, and yes, I would consider others in the future.

I never liked that word writer’s ‘block’ and always said that it was an excuse

KIM:  As an author who is currently incarcerated, you face many technical obstacles that most writers wouldn’t appreciate.  What would you consider the most challenging part of your situation, for example, research, moving around text, privacy, etc.

ROBERT:  You ask some great questions.  Yes, being incarcerated is a challenge. I can only see the world through magazines and information that my friends send me. Having a place to write is a serious problem in prison because everything is always moving around you. The best time to write for me is between midnight and five in the morning. I always tell others, ‘Once I get my hands on a computer, where I could see things for myself, I’m going to be unstoppable.’

KIM:  If you could pick a book to read right this moment, what type would it be?

ROBERT:  I’m reading a book for the second time now, between my writing, and it’s called, ‘Outwitting The Devil’, by Napoleon Hill.

KIM:  In a typical day, how much time would you say you spend writing?

ROBERT:   Within a day, I would say I write anywhere from three to six hours, sometimes all day during the weekend.

KIM:  Do you have a favorite story you have authored, published or not, and if so, which one?

ROBERT:  My favorite published book right now is, ‘Who Is Karma?

KIM:  Do you ever get ‘writer’s block’, and if so, how do you get past it or deal with it?

ROBERT:  I never liked that word writer’s ‘block’ and always said that it was an excuse, until I learned what it really is – and yes, I have run across it.  To me, writers block is when I’m pissed off at someone and can’t gather my thoughts. Writers need peace of mind when they write, and when I’m mad, I can’t think.  So, to get over it, I shut myself off from the world.  The only way you can get to me is if I let you in, which I don’t.  I won’t answer emails, calls or letters. So that’s my way of dealing with it.

KIM:  Do you know where your story is going when you first sit down? Or do the characters and the events that take place lead the way as you go?

ROBERT:  When I start writing, I come up with an idea, and then my mind goes crazy. And when I tell you crazy, I mean, I can create some of the saddest, craziest, funniest scenes there is.  I love making people think about where I’m going and then drop them off with a twist. I create my characters as I live throughout my day. I make people out of commissary items.

KIM:  How many books have you written that have not yet been published?

ROBERT:  I have over 52 books that haven’t been published.  I just started publishing them this year again, since my first book PUSH.

KIM:  Will there be more Tales From the Yard books to come?

ROBERT:  I already have Tales from the Yard II done. I’m doing the edits here and there. I want to have 8 to 10 books finished by April.

KIM:  If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

ROBERT:  As far as writing? I would tell my younger self to take his time.  My younger self rushed with his writings.

After thoughts

After the interview with Robert, I was even more excited about his writing career and the stories he has yet to share.   Recently, I spoke to a man who read one of Robert’s books, and he told me that he believed Robert’s writing was geared for a male audience, partially because of the down and dirty places his tales take you.  I didn’t want to break it to the man – that’s exactly why it’s going to appeal to a female audience also.   I think Robert Booker, Sr., is going to go very far for that very reason.  He has a range that I think will appeal to both men and women, and I see bright things in his future.   Check out the recent review of his book Tales From The Yard and subscribe to www.urbanfiction.org to stay up to speed on his next book release.

Books from Robert Booker Sr.

Tony JonesWho Is KarmaThe JanitorTales From The Yard

Places to find Robert

Robert Booker Sr. on AmazonRobert Booker Sr. on Facebook

 

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Contributor

Blogger, Editor and Mentor, helping incarcerated authors realize their potential. An advocate who Prison Legal News described as ‘even handed’ in her sharing of stories from behind bars in the United States. Established Walk In Those Shoes in an effort to help people view life from behind prison bars in the United States, and what it might be costing us as a society. Encouraging others to realize their writing abilities, through collaboration and friendship.