Author Q.B. Wells was able to sit down with host Mz. Optimizm and discuss books, life and experiences in publishing.
What motivated you to write and finish a full-length novel?
I was surrounded by friends who’d thought about writing biographies about their life or fictional accounts of their criminal backgrounds, and there were some who actually attempted to write a book but never finished. I wanted to be one who actually finished.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process?
When I first started writing, the most challenging part was trying to describe character appearances and giving details on locations. I overdid it. But as I got further into my novel (and began comparing my work to others), I went back and toned it down.
What’s the craziest question a reader asked you after reading your book?
“Can you put me in part 2?” After reading Tre Pound, a couple readers asked me that question. They wanted to be put in the storyline somehow, alongside Tre Pound, or be a part of his life in some way.
How do you feel about readers judging books by their covers?
The front cover is your first impression to a reader, and the back cover is your second impression. The story inside should match or exceed the interest the reader gained from the covers. Besides reviews and word-of-mouth, an eye-catching cover is a great way to attract readers to an unknown author.
What’s the title of another author’s book that you wished you wrote?
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. It took place in one room, and still was filled with suspense and held my attention to the end. To be able to write that good using one location is greatness to me.
Do you plan to continue writing street fiction throughout your writing career?
Yes. If writing about urban characters in criminal situations continues to be considered street fiction, then yes, I’m gonna write about it. I might throw in a little romance, or even a little sci-fi, but I’ll always have urban characters at my writing core. Names of genres can change, but my commitment to urban storylines won’t.
Has any of your characters shocked you?
Camille in Tre Pound and Tremaine in my upcoming novel Blacktop Hustlaz both had my jaw hanging slack when their characters started to gain personalities in my mind. They were supposed to be normal when I first thought them up.
What would your ideal career be, if you couldn’t be an author?
I’d pursue film directing. I love stories—written and visual. Hopefully I can juggle two careers.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
I grew up around a lot of different people with a lot of different personalities. I’ve seen how criminal thinking comes in all shapes and sizes. I wanted my writing to reflect that.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?
In my crime days, the only gun I ever used was a .357 Magnum. And the nickname for that gun is called Tre Pound. I got the title Blacktop Hustlaz from Kansas City natives referring to the streets as the “blacktop.”
Are there any scenes in your books that actually happened in your life?
There’s a bunch. But one particular scene that’s safe to reveal is the scene in Blacktop Hustlaz where Skee dropped his friend off in an upscale neighborhood to steal a car.
If you could pick one celebrity to play a character in a movie adaptation of one of your books, who would it be?
Souljah Boy would be perfect to play Tre Pound!
TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET
Her kidnappers told her not to move, but how else was she supposed to keep the blood circulating through her legs?
Sometimes she’d be sitting with her knees bent close to her chest, and when that starts to feel uncomfortable, she’d stretch her legs flat out, ankles touching. It wasn’t like she could spread her legs into the splits… the closet she was held captive in was too small for that.
The fact that her hands were cuffed behind her back was uncomfortable, too. And they were furry cuffs, like somebody’s sex toy or something. But this wasn’t some sex game taking place. Her kidnappers were serious business. They proved it after she insanely kicked on the door screaming for them to let her out, and a gut in a ski mask yanked it open and told her to shut the fuck up after he punched her in the face. Blood was still dried up under her nose.
So she hadn’t kicked or screamed again. She thought about it, but then the pain in her nose made her think otherwise. The last time she had her nose made her think otherwise. The last time she had her nose busted was when her then best friend Janet Finley caught her in the act with long-tongue Brandon, Janet’s dusty boyfriend at the time. That was two years ago, prom night, Hickman Mills High School.
Maybe this was karma. Not for fucking Janet’s man—she already got her karma for that—but a new karma for fucking her current best friend Tracee’s husband, a money-getting drug dealer named Blue Rock. Yeah, this could definitely be considered some kind of bad divine intervention. Because she had been abducted at Blue Rock and Tracee’s home. Right after she got done riding Blue Rock’s hard dick, right when she was getting dressed and had only to put on her socks, a team of three masked thugs barged in the room pointing guns at them. The big kind of guns, too.
They took her. She didn’t know what they did with Blue Rock, but they took her and threw her in the trunk of a red box-style Chevy. Kansas license plates, she remembered, with the first three letters XTY. Then after a bumpy road trip, the next thing she knew she was being pulled out of the trunk into a messy garage, furry cuffs were slapped on her wrists and she was led through a door into somebody’s humble kitchen. It wasn’t until she was ushered into the empty living room and up the rickety stairs into an empty bedroom that she realized she was in a vacant house. They stuffed her in this closet, where she’s been for at least forty-five minutes.
It was pitch black in here, not even a ray of light shining under the door. Of course, the room beyond this closet was dark as well, and she had seen a little moonlight coming through those curtainless windows before they shut the door on her. She lived in darkness now. Just her and the cobwebs. Cobwebs came with creepy spiders, so it was just her, the cobwebs and probably some hungry brown recluses.
She wasn’t supposed to be in here. This was a case of mistaken identity, she surmised. The kidnappers had apparently thought she was Blur Rock’s wifey, Tracee, and took her for ransom. But she was prettier than Tracee, taller and thinner and didn’t have to wear a girdle like Tracee; she was Kiera Franklin, queen of opulence.
Kidnappers were dumb, though. Too inattentive. But when they found out she wasn’t the wife, that she was just Blue Rock’s secret side piece, they would surely let her go.
So the question was: How long would it take them to find out?
Tracee was probably at her grandmother’s nursing home right now, where she routinely visited every Saturday around 9:30 p.m. Sometimes the girl spent the night there. And that posed a problem. If Tracee didn’t go home tonight, then she wouldn’t discover kidnappers kicking her husband’s ass and she wouldn’t be rightfully captured; thus, they wouldn’t come let Kiera go with an apology. If Tracee didn’t go home tonight, Blue Rock’s scandalous butt would let the kidnappers believe that Kiera was in fact Tracee, and he would refuse to give up his drug money. That would leave Tracee safe at the nursing home; leave Blue Rock with his money—and leave Kiera dead.
It wasn’t going down like that. Kiera had to tell kidnappers who she was.
Swinging her legs up, she beat on the door with her bare feet. The raggedy wood rumbled loudly. “Hey, you dummies!” she yelled, kicking fast like she was in a grape-smashing contest. “Come get me outta here! I’m not Tracee!”
It took a moment, but then the door was snatched open. A kidnapper in a black ski mask and gloves hunched in grabbed her by the chest of her T-shirt and—
“Don’t hit me!” she said immediately.
Lowered his fist first, but still had a hold of her shirt with his other hand. “I told you to quit fuckin’ makin’ noise,” he growled. “Now I’ma hit you one more good time, but if you kick this door another—“
“I won’t kick it again, just don’t hit me and listen to me. I’m not who you think I am.”
“I’m not. I’m serious. My name is Kiera Franklin. Yall lookin’ for Tracee Cooke; that’s Blue Rock’s wife. She’s at the nursing home off Holmes Road. I’m not her .”
The kidnapper cocked his head as if considering her story. Then he stood up straight, placed a hand on the edge of the door and stared down at her through the mask. She couldn’t see his eyes—it was too dark, even with the moonlight behind him—but she could tell he was staring, likely trying to assess her facial features.
And then he did something odd: he started to chuckle.
Just as oddly, Kiera chuckled back. “Grabbed the wrong girl,” she said understandingly. “It happens. Once, I thought I picked up my niece from day care and it turned out to be—“
He slammed the door. She could hear footsteps leaving.
The bastard didn’t believe her, she thought. But she could prove that she was Kiera Franklin. One phone call to her mom would verify her name, her address, and even her social security number if they wanted it.
She kicked on the door again. “Come back! I was tellin’ the truth! All yall gotta do is—she battered harder—“ call my damn momma!”
The wood shook with increasing looseness, and she got the idea that if she kept kicking, the old door might come unhinged. She felt a prickle in the sole of her left foot and knew it was a splinter, but that didn’t stop her from trying to get free.
“My name is Kiera! Let me go!”
The door swung out fast. And not because she broke it off the hinges. There was a different kidnapper holding it open, a shorter one who looked down at her without a ski mask.
“Last warning, bitch. And I’m not playin’. I’ll tell them to come up here and shoot you dead right now and get it over with. Because I don’t care about the money, or you.”
Kiera was horrified. “Tracee?”
“Don’t act surprised. You made yo bed, now it’s time to lie in it. And I hope you had fun suckin’ and fuckin’ my husband. Because now it’s time for you to pay.” Tracee slammed the door.
Kiera was plunged back into total darkness.
Jordan Belcher is the author of Tre Pound. For more information visit Jordan’s page or follow on Twitter.
Blackface: A Novel by Q.B. Wells
Art Official Media LLC
$14.95 US / $17.95 CA
To protect his mother, sixteen year-old Clinton Ray a.k.a Black must run away from home. Forced to mingle with the worst elements and circumstances in urban life, Black bumps into Face, Penny and Zero, who together chase the American Dream.
Inevitably, their experiences provoke Black to reassess his friendships, his lifestyle and his own aspirations. In his journey of self-discovery, Black must learn to survive on the streets of Chicago, reevaluate his life decisions, or perish in the chaos of life.