#WEARETHELIONS
library-869061_1920.jpg

Blog

Blog

Posts tagged aa redd
Authors Interviewing Authors | Garvey & A.A.

BY: A.A. REDD

 

All art is about identity in some way, because no art can be shaped without contact with the self.  No pocket of the creative world can be utterly without ego— but that isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Self-awareness can be a double-edged sword, but it’s one that’s necessary to wield if an artist is interested in growth and change. No one knows that better than Garvey Hemisphere, who works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever met to actualize his goals and dreams.

Reading his work gives you a vivid glimpse of the prolific writer and CEO himself. From the pages of his telescopic, genre-defying Misconceptions about Sunrises to the evocative, incandescent wordplay of his Dirty Dozen poetry series, Hemisphere has proven himself to be a literary force to be reckoned with. Outside of his own writing, he encourages his team at Vital Narrative to realize the full potential of our ideas with relentless spirit and enthusiasm.  One thing becomes clear when speaking to him: this is a person who not only knows who they are, but knows the trick of self-guided evolution. Hemisphere talks inspiration, self-expression, and the women in his life whose input matters most to him in this enlightening and uplifting interview.

 

AA:  What's the most surprising thing you've learned as you put out more work?

GH: There's so much work involved in promotion! There's always a never-ending task list of things that you want your readers to know about so they can get excited.  Also, you're only as good as your last project. If you don't engage your readers consistently, it's very easy for them to forget and move on to the next thing. And, the more you write, the more chances you're willing to take with your writing.

AA: Has your growth as a writer changed any of your plans for publishing (are you leaning toward another genre, looking to put more out, etc.)?

GH: I've been writing in multiple genres ever since I was a kid; poems, spoken word for the stage, short stories, novels, screenplays for short films, and features. The only difference are the technical aspects, but the creativity remains consistent from genre to genre—if you allow it. I've never wanted a certain genre to pigeonhole my goals. That's what stagnates your growth as a writer, in my opinion.


I’ve never wanted a certain genre to pigeonhole my goals.
— Garvey Hemisphere
 

AA: What drives your thirst for growth as an artist?

GH: It's uncontrollable. It's completely out of my hands. My brain is constantly running with ideas and little things here and there to improve. I'm obsessed with putting out things that I feel will express how I feel about a certain topic without literally coming out and saying it. Knowing that there are people out there who will relate and enjoy what I bring to the table also drives the need for growth. Some people feel it's necessary to keep giving the same thing over and over so that the fans will always remain happy, but I think giving them something new much more appreciated—and a lot more interesting.

AA: Stephen King recommends designating a certain reader as your audience and writing to them. How do you approach thinking about your readers as you write? Do you think it's better to not think of them at all?

GH: It's impossible not to think of the reader at all. I mean, we write literally for readers. That's not to say that I worry how readers will feel about everything. At the end of the day, I just want them to get lost in my work and feel a connection to it. I think that's the most you can really expect from a reader. I certainly don't designate a certain reader as my audience because it feels too much like I'm letting someone else dictate what I should write. I always hope my girl likes it because I want her to feel like all the late nights I spend obsessing over my projects were worth it. But that's about it. I've never tried to identify a reader profile or anything. I guess if Stephen King says it works, I should probably consider it though because he's sold like a trillion books at this point.

AA: Whose work has shaped you most as an artist?

GH: Every artist I've been exposed to has shaped me in some form or fashion, but because I dabble in so many different genres and on so many different platforms, I don't think anyone is doing it better than Donald Glover right now. Atlanta was a smash-hit; Awaken My Love was such an interesting take on music when he's known for doing rap; and his stuff on Community and in other media has always been on point. It's like you always know to expect something fresh from him and even if you don't know all the details going in, you know it's going to be a dope experience from him.

Another artist is Phonte Coleman from Little Brother. We're both North Carolina natives and he also dabbles in a few different areas— comedy, rapping, singing, etc. It's so dope to see how people can just do what feels right to them and make it happen, even if it's not what they're mainly known for.

Writing-wise, Toni Morrison's quote "if there is a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it" is a mantra I've held tight to for years. It gets all the excuses out the way and makes way for something groundbreaking and the last thing I want to do is do what everyone else is doing.

AA: What are you proudest of in terms of your writing?

GH: Completing Misconceptions About Sunrises is honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever accomplished. Just knowing where I was as I was writing and all that I had gone through - getting that book done and out to the public is still amazing to me. Having my mom tell people that I'm an author and have several books for sale is definitely a proud moment for me as well. I've always wanted her to be proud of me and I finally feel like she is. And also, just having people ask for my thoughts and opinions when it comes to THEIR writing. That means a lot because it means they respect what I've accomplished thus far.


Having my mom tell people that I’m an author and have several books for sale is definitely a proud moment for me as well. I’ve always wanted her to be proud of me and I finally feel like she is.
— Garvey Hemisphere
 

AA: How do you know when you're done with a piece of writing?

GH: It's hard to put into words, but basically when I feel like adding or subtracting a single word would take away from everything that's written. I have a tendency to over-edit and, sometimes, things are just better left alone.

AA: Do you think some ideas are too weird to execute?

GH: Not at all. Too many people have this need for their art to be understood. Sometimes an idea just needs to be presented and whoever gets it, gets it. If you don't get it, it just means you aren't the audience for it.

AA: What gets you most excited about your future projects? Anticipated reactions, the process itself, something else?

GH: Seeing the final product is honestly the most exciting part. Just seeing an idea go from something I wrote on a piece of paper to becoming a working manuscript, going through edits and all that is great. But the most exciting part is when the book is all finished and your name is on the cover and people are clamoring for it. Nothing beats that. Also seeing how people respond once it's out. Good or bad, I love it all as long as you read it and felt something.


A.A.'s first book of poetry, A Body Held Still By Fear & Loathing, can be purchased here. You can purchase Garvey Hemisphere's entire backlog (Misconceptions About Sunrises, The Year That Answered and A Collection Of Echoes) by clicking here.

 
Official Soundtrack For "A Body Held Still By Fear And Loathing"

BY: A.A. REDD

So last week, we asked D.A. Alston to curate a Spotify playlist for her novel The Unlikely Tale of The Royal Elite Squad and she dropped off an incredible list of tracks. This week, A.A. Redd does the same for her book of poetry, A Body Held Still By Fear And Loathing. The playlist features songs from Sia, Frank Ocean, Tame Impala and Frederic Chopin.

Brand New - "Sowing Season (Yeah)"

This has been one of my favorite songs for nearly a decade. Brand New merged their own lyrics with some lines from Rudyard Kipling’s “If” to paint a sorrowful soundscape, resulting in an ode to watching your life destruct before you and being forced to reassemble it under the worst circumstances. Both “Learning Curve” and “Underground” share the themes of failure and struggling to recover from it, and the same somber tone.

Frederic Chopin - "Nocturne no. 2 Opus 9"

I fell in love with Chopin in middle school because his music embodies the era of classical music he lived through. It is utterly romantic in every sense of the word and it manages to do that with only a passionate piano to carry the listener from gentle start to sweeping finish. Some of the poems in this book are about toxic love, but quite a few are just love poems, like “Honeyed” and “Overboard.” When reading those, the lilting keys of Chopin would be the best accompaniment in my opinion.

Chaos Chaos - "Do You Feel It"

“Dependency Dance” was what drove me to choose this song. Toxic love is something I can’t seem to stop writing about. This is one of those songs that broke my heart as soon as I heard it, because the relationship it portrays is blisteringly desperate and incredibly fragile, something that feels very familiar to me.

Motion City Soundtrack - "Everything Is Alright"

Last year, a lot of things started to make sense after I was diagnosed with OCD. One of those things was why I loved and identified with this song so much. Justin Pierre, the lead singer, penned the song about his own struggle with severe OCD. I’m starting to feel more comfortable writing about my disorders and other neurodivergencies (“Split” and “Dissociation Dreams” are two poems that deal solely with those topics) and that’s partly thanks to music like this.

You can listen to the entire soundtrack below or on Spotify.


A Body Held Still By Fear And Loathing is available now on Amazon, Kindle, B&N and Vital Narrative.

A.A. Redd Answers One of Life's Toughest Questions... Kinda

BY: A.A. REDD

Recently, I was asked a question I couldn’t answer. Not for lack of trying; I did everything I could to try and push myself toward resolution, but every step I took felt rushed and wrong. An hours-long Google search eventually brought me to a website that sold these little bundles of herbs and gemstones that promised to realign my energies and “clarify my mind.” It was cheap, so I was suspicious—but I was also desperate.

When the package got to my house, it was too heavy to bring inside. I opened it on my porch and found out why: instead of a mixture of stones, there was a chunk of white quartz nearly as big as the box itself and a pound of uncut sage. The only other thing in the box was a note: To find the answer to your questions, you must take raw material and raw energy and combine them until they create something new.

I was at a loss—I can barely cut cake, let alone a gemstone. Going at it with a hacksaw didn’t work. Whacking it with sledgehammer didn’t dent it. I even dropped it off the roof of a four-story building a few times. It was also hit by a car (and I learned the hard way that insurance doesn’t cover quartz damage).

Still, even though I hadn’t an epiphany or an answer—and I now had two problems instead of one—I couldn’t give up. The sage and stone stayed on my doorstep while the question remained unanswered, no matter how many methods I revisited.

One night, I got so frustrated that I set the sage in a pile on top of the stone, lit it on fire...

And watched the whole thing melt into my porch.

It wasn’t quartz at all. In fact, I have no idea what it was, but it left a wide, translucent puddle over the red brick of my front porch. When the sun strikes it, it looks like a shimmering sheet of ice; in the moonlight, it looks more like a patch of algae. It’s slick to the touch, almost like marble, and it will not move. Except when it gets bigger. I feel a tremor when I’m near it, and I don’t step on it unless I have to. It seems to be vibrating gently and constantly in its place on the porch. (Or maybe it’s speaking.)

Whatever it’s doing—whatever it is—it still hasn’t helped me answer the question. And after all this, I wasn’t sure I could give a good answer.

So I came back to the question and wrote a story instead.

A.A. Redd Once Lied About Knowing Stephen King

Q: What made you sign with Vital Narrative Press?
A: Three words: "Our stories matter." It’s important to me that I work with people who feel the same way about certain key things—like visibility and representation—and the Vital Narrative team is passionate about many of the same things I am.

 

Q: What made you want to write A Body Held Still By Fear And Loathing?
A: When I write poetry, it’s like I’m painting my internal landscape with words. It feels like I’ve been at war with myself and everyone else during the last few years, emotionally and creatively. And I guess I just wanted to put together all these textual pictures, so I could make sense of what happened and figure out where I need to go next.


I hope people get whatever they need out of this book.
— A.A. Redd

Q: Describe your writing process.
A: Aside from lots of procrastinating, I don’t really have one. I’m still experimenting with different methods and habits while I have a little free time.

 

Q: What is your most unusual writing habit?
A: Writing poetry in the body of an email, saving it as a draft and then forgetting it forever.

 

Q: What literary/movie/TV character is most like you?
A: I’m a combination of Hermione Granger, Ilana Wexler and Michael Scott.

 

Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
A: Writing. Making TV and movies.

 

Q: What writing advice do you have for other authors (especially those looking to release their first book)?
A: The only person you should be working to please is yourself. Do right by yourself first.

 

Q: Do you plan on reading your reviews?
A: I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself!

 

Q: What's your least favorite thing about the writing process?
A: Editing. I didn't write second drafts for years.

 

Q: What is your next project?
A: A short story collection and a web series.


I once told someone I met Stephen King way back in elementary school before I realized that lying was bad even when there was no obvious victim. I even thought my mom was going to buy it.
— A.A. Redd

Q: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be able to stop time. I’d have endless time to do everything.

 

Q: If you were a superhero, what costume would you wear?
A: Something very low-key. All black with a dash of color, like a jumpsuit with a royal purple hood and purple shoes. I want to be stylish, but still practical. No capes.

 

Q: What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
A: I really want to shoot a feature-length film.

 

Q: What were you like as a child? What was your favorite toy or activity?
A: I was curious, intense and trusting. My favorite thing to do was read—normally, things I wasn’t supposed to be reading! A close second was constructing sordid, soap-opera style dramas with my dolls and action figures. They usually ended in a graphic death.


My biggest fear is failure.
— A.A. Redd

Q: What has been your biggest failure?
A: Giving in to fear.

 

Q: What has been your greatest triumph?
A: Choosing to keep living when almost every fiber of my being was telling me not to.

 

Q: What books do you wish you could have written?
A: Cloud Atlas, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

 

Q: Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
A: Stephen King, Zora Neale Hurston, J.K. Rowling, Patrick Ness, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Margaret Atwood are all authors whose work stirred something in me that has—so far—never stopped moving.


A.A. Redd will release her first book, A Body Held Still By Fear And Loathing on October 21.