At a time when the influcene of Hip Hop is painted with a largely negative brush, author D. D. Turner is hoping to not only change that image but use his love of the culture and music to encourage reading. Born Derrick Turner, the 32 year old is originally from Brooklyn, NY but now calls Houston, TX home. His first book CHRONICLES OF A HIP HOP LEGEND creates a marriage of his two loves, writing and Hip Hop, and creates a literary series that he hopes will be talked about for some time.
In this interview he discusses his beginnings with music and words, what you can expect from Chronicles and his advice for aspiring writers.
Derrick, thank you for taking out the time to talk with Crunk. First of all, when did you realize that writing was something you were interested in?
Prior to the release of Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend, I had been writing for quite some time but it was never creative in terms of the output. I had the opportunity to do artist reviews/bios and editorial contributions for small, start-up publications in the New York City area. Even back then, I found gratification in being able to offer perspective using the written word as a medium...I quickly became hooked.
For many music is the soundtrack of their lives. What about for you? What role does music play in your life?
I am largely inspired by music. In fact, LL Cool J's 'Hip Hop' song off of the 'Mr. Smith' album provided inspiration for The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend, as did The Roots' song 'Act Too' off of the 'Things Fall Apart' album. I often find that my writing is at its best after I listen to some impactful rap music. In fact, I'm in the process of closing a chapter (second installment of The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend) that was largely influenced by some great music.The second installment of Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend is going to be crazy!
Your debut novel is called CHRONICLES OF A HIP HOP LEGEND. The title could lead a reader in different directions. What is the book about and what led you to write it?
What led me to write the book was simply a desire to combine both Hip Hop and the literary genre of fantasy-fiction into an entertaining and worthwhile reading experience. Beyond that and even more important, I realized that this was an opportunity for me to be socially responsible and create a literary series that could provide inspiration to young adults and also, address the literacy problems that are plaguing many communities across our nation.
Who would you say your book is written for, and what do u hope they get from it?
The series is primarily for the young adult audience. However, adults have also been responding well to the series. I credit this to the story being a classic good vs. evil tale. Also, although the main characters are Wizards and Sorcerers, they have very real characteristics that people can identify with. Ultimately, I want people to allow themselves to exist behind the words on the page; invision themselves being apart of the story as it continues to unfold.
For many the writing of the book is the easy part. It is the marketing and promotion of the book that is more difficult for some. What about for you? How do you balance the creative side versus the business side?
It is tough but it can be managed. I found out early on that it is important to strike a balance between that which is necessary to maintain progression and the obligation to grant sufficient time to that which got you to this point. I generally try to handle business matters during the day and commit to writing at night.
Social networking is an avenue that many readers and writers are using to network and promote themselves. How have Twitter and Facebook along with others helped you?
Social networking is extremely helpful. I primarily use facebook and twitter and found they have been great in communicating the release/arrival of the series. I receive new friends and followers often.
If I had visited your home 10 years ago and told you that you would have a book available in stores, would you have believed me?
No way. At the age of 22, I enjoyed writing but not extensively. Therefore, at that time, the thought of writing a novel would have been extremely far-fetched.
What about reading? What books did you grow up reading and how has your interest in books evolved over the years?
Early on, I wasn't much of a casual reader. The exception to this however was works that covered topics that I was interested in; mostly historical references and science. As I 've gotten older, I have come to enjoy those works that offer a biographical glance into the author's life with the overall theme of the work being triumphant in nature...This type of story inspires me.
Can you tell us what's next for you?
Including COHH, I have several literary projects in development. The first of those to be released will be the second installment of COHH which is set to be released in November. Beyond that, I am looking to continue to communicate the arrival of this unique literary series and push it to markets beyond our nation.
What advice would you have for aspiring writers that hear or read about your experience?
Please feel free to use my experiences as inspiration; know that you too are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to...Passion feeds the flames of success. Lastly, never allow yourself to be inhibited while writing. The paper/computer monitor knows not of the tool of restriction. Therefore, give into the absence of constraint and allow your creativity to ravage the page.
Find out more about D. D. Turner and the series by visiting www.chroniclesofahiphoplegend.com.