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Friday, July 20, 2012

PROFILE: Authors Anthony Barrow and Tracey "Big Tray Deee" Davis

by Cyrus Webb

California natives Anthony Barrow and Tracey "Big Tray Deee" Davis could have just been two individuals sitting in prison feeling sorry for themselves, but that was not their way. Driven by unending passion and a determination to be heard, the two have partnered together to pen a gritty yet explosive urban thriller called STREETZ GON CRY.

Published by LeNoir Publications, the book not only shares the literary skills of these two men but a story that is definitely resonating with readers and getting people to take notice.

Through the publisher I was able to send an email interview to both Barrow and Big Tray Deee about the literary experience for them, what they hope you as readers get from the book and what being published authors mean for them and what they might do in the future.

Thank you Anthony and Tracey for allowing readers of Conversations Magazine to learn more about you and your new book STREETZ GON CRY. Let's go back. What originally led you to begin writing?
A. B.: What lead me to writing was a simple challenge I endured by creating a story that is West Coast based; which lead to a passion and a desire to fill a void in the urban genre by writing novels with a West Coast feel. After I read many novels that were based on the East Coast, I felt compelled to write as an outlet by expressing realistic issues that represents the West Coast in the form of fiction.

T. D.: I began penning my autobiography when I was about four years into my present incarceration. I soon realize that I had not yet accomplished enough of my long-term goals, so I backed up from that project. I’ve certainly read enough books and have a decent enough command of the English language to believe that I have the ability to write professionally. In my younger teenage years, I enjoyed Donald Goines, Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon, among other authors. Eventually, Robert Ludlum became my favorite author, as espionage was my preferred genre. Which is ironic because many of the foreign locations and landmarks written of in those stories, I wound up visiting on world tours that I attended with Snoop Dogg back in the mid 1990’s, such as London, Germany and Switzerland.

Most stories that I have read have an agenda right from the beginning, be it fiction or non-fiction. What did you want readers to take away from STREETZ GON CRY?
A. B.: True, most stories do have agendas right from the beginning and this is why I feel Streetz Gon’ Cry is unique, because my co-author and myself chose to express the characters agendas first; from Johnté’s wanting to play professional ball to S-Mack’s desire of power and wealth. We did this in order to show how one could get thrown off their path at any given moment. The storyline was created through a course of events that’s relevant today in real life, while sustaining a fictional plot that we used to entertain our readers. My aim for the reader to take from Streetz Gon’ Cry is that everything in life has a price that can’t always be brought with money; rather it be negative or positive.

T. D.: That life in Los Angeles, known widely as both The City of Angels as well as the Capital of Gang-Bangin’ has its own style, its own vibe and its own modus operandi. There are certain ways about us that outsiders consider to be crazy, or at the very least extreme. However, those of us who are products of the lifestyle and the adherents of the rules and regulations which govern us, in what is basically still the Wild West, view what we do as normal, routine and par for the course. The common American, African-American included, has no social comprehension of the chasm created amidst a people by mere colors and words (i.e. “cuz” and “Blood”). The wrong hue or wrong vocal address in the wrong environment could be the cause of someone, or several someone’s lying dead in the street. Regardless whether it makes any sense to you or anyone else or not, such activities and mind states do exist amongst our particular subculture. Yet, instead of perpetuating the stereotypical separation and enmity of Crips vs. Bloods, Mr. Barrow and I chose to expose the reality that two sets within the same fraction could also possess that same sense and degree of opposition. So, pardon the grandiloquent, yet actually just in fact roundabout manner in my answering your question, but I hoped that readers would enjoy “Streetz Gon’ Cry” as a jewel that reflect a few of the many prisms that makes Black life so interesting, attractive (Whether for reasons positive or negative) and marketable.

One of the things that struck me about the novel was that loyalty could sometimes be misplaced. Is that something you have experienced personally, and what do you hope especially young readers take away from that lesson?
T. D.: I pray that we are fortunate enough to attract a young readership. For the more experienced and mature reader “Streetz Gon’ Cry” will likely be found interesting, entertaining and hopefully well written. For the youth, it can enlighten them to the perils of engaging in the criminal lifestyle, allow them to consider the possible consequences of pledging allegiance to a gang or encourage them to pursue the opportunity that Johnté had in school, if they possess any particular athletic ability, and to not become sidetracked by the allure of the streets or from the influence of someone they look up to. Include a family member. That is also one of the pitfalls of loyalty; misplaced or otherwise. That being our proclivity to invest so much of ourselves, time and attention-wise, to supporting many individuals who don’t respect, but definitely appreciate as well as benefit from what we individually bring to the table. You know that term we use, “buster” or “busta” when we speak of those we perceive to be in violation of the unwritten G-code? Well, I think perfect example is someone, especially a man, who leeches off the strength of someone else and pretends that it’s their own. Have I experienced it personally? Umm, let me think about that one… (laughs)

A. B. : Yes I have experienced misplaced loyalty and what I hope young readers take away from that lesson is to let their loyalty be earned, not given. And let your loyalty be based on loyalty and let your bond be based on a bond and not to confuse the two; and to always be loyal to yourself first.

Your book proves that words can have an impact. What would you want others to think of when they hear your name mentioned in the literary world?
T. D.: Although it seems to be an innate reaction to resent an individual who transaction from one field into another and has equal success, if I could receive the same or even similar accolades from both my peers (other authors) and readers alike as I do within the music industry, that would be gigantic to and for me. Allahu Akbar, (God is the Greatest). Honestly, if when my name is mentioned the congratulators say “Big Tray Deee does his damn thang,” then I’m good.

A. B. : What I would want readers to think of when my name is mentioned in the literary world is that they are appreciated and that my gratitude is expressed by my giving them the best book I can write by putting time and thought in my novel and that after reading a book written by me you’ll finish it with something to take with you. My goal as an author is to contribute to the urban genre with literature that’s not only for entertainment but also thought provoking and to grasp substance, giving understanding in the world where I originate from.

Everyone has their own idea of what success is. Have you thought about what success would look like for you as an author? 
T. D.: Of course I have! A distinguished, curved tobacco pipe dangling from the left corner of my mouth and a snifter of brandy-flavored fruit juice. (I don’t drink) in front of me leaning in my favorite recliner, scratching my golden retriever, “Muffy”, behind her ears. Seriously though, if I could put out one good book every year that received a fair degree of critical acclaim, and one day have author become equal to rap artist when my name gets mentioned, I would regard that as being a success. Indeed.

A. B.: Success to me as an author is me being acknowledged as an author with mu consistency to continue to keep giving my readers new material.

I finished the book with the thought that it shows that all of our actions have consequences but not always futures that have hope. Would you agree with that, and if there is a bigger lesson to be learned, what would you say it is? 
T. D.: I agree. That is a very accurate assessment and break down. Like you stated, all of our actions have consequences attached to them. It is the same as saying every action causes a reaction. On the other interpretation you posed of futures not having hope, yes, on one hand one’s lifestyle choice can certainly lower their expectation of a trouble-free and extended age future but regardless of that even there is always hope in life. That right there might be the biggest lesson.

A.B.: I disagree, because I believe all futures have hope, but it’s up to the individual to determine is the future they desire worth manifesting. If not, to have the courage and strength to switch paths. I feel the biggest lesson to be learned is that you don’t have to settle nor expect what’s given. Circumstances and obstacles are only permanent if you accept them. Maintain your lesson and learn from them.

When it comes to writing, any advice you would like to share with aspiring writers based on your own experiences?
A. B.: Yes, get your story on paper out your mind, write and rewrite, until you story is told how you vision it.

T. D.: Please don’t undertake writing like everybody and they mama have all tried their hand at rapping! This is a craft that requires imagination, ingenuity and a demand on one’s time. Be committed to giving it your all if you decide to pursue it. If you are not a good speller, you may be able to get by if you have a good editor. If you’re a horrible speller, find help immediately because you’re too damned old to be spelling like the dumbest kid in school. Always write about something that you have a respectable degree of knowledge about. If the most you’ve sold is a five dollar bag of weed, your story about flying in kilos of cocaine from Columbia and partying on 65 ft. yachts in Floridian waters probably won’t be detailed enough to be convincing.

Thank you for your time guys. How can our readers stay in contact with you and keep up with what's coming up next? 
T.D.:  You’re welcome. And thank you for the shine. You might catch me sneaking on Twitter at  @BigTrayDeee or you can look up Ave Money Publishing on Twitter at @AveMoneyLLC or visit my website at www.AveMoney-Publishing.com. Stay watching for our next novel, “Los Angeles Tymez, coming very soon. That will be followed by a solo offering by both myself and Mr. Anthony Barrow. I wish you and all of your readers peach and prosperity. Also, be listening for the bangin’ rap single, “Streetz Gon’ Cry”, featuring artist (and fellow co-author of “Los Angeles Tymez”) J Dee, of Ice Cube’s legendary group, Da Lench Mob, which has already been recorded, mixed and mastered. 

A. B.: Readers can stay connected by following me on Twitter at @BarrowAnthony and @AveMoneyLLC. Also visit online @ www.AveMoney-Publishing.com. Also be on the look out for Los Angeles Tymez – Urban Tales, the new novel by me and my co-author Big Tray Deee.


Get your copy of STREETZ GON CRY at www.lenoirpublications.com and at Amazon.com.

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