Erick S. Gray: Author, Columnist, Creative
Describe in 3 words your current work in progress?
In three words, I would describe my current work as, “Outside the Box.” And when you read “Gun.” “Solomon Dark” “Addiction to Hip Hop” and “Brooklyn Niggas in 1855” you’ll see where I’m coming from. These stories are way outside the box.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Where do I see myself in five years? Well, I see myself becoming a showrunner and producing several movies. Writing is my passion, but I want to take things to the next level and keep challenging myself. I always wanted to make a movie and a hit TV show. Right now, I’m on that road. It’s been a grind, but I know in the end, it will be worth it. I also see myself helping other people fulfill their dreams via my production company CGD Productions. And being with family and loving them.
If you weren’t an author what career would you have chosen?
Wow, that’s a difficult question for me. If I weren’t an author, I think I would have either became a truck driver or rejoined the army. I have my CDL and have had it for nearly twenty years now. But there was a time when I thought about law enforcement. Real talk.
Tell us the story behind your current work. What inspired you to write it?
Right now, I’m working on several projects, but the two I’ll tell you about is “Addiction to Hip Hop” and “Gun.” With Addiction to Hip Hop, I teamed up with a friend named Eric Cook, who is also from Queens. He started the first street DVD called “All Access Street Credibility,” Our project is about two characters, Cory, and Selena, who come from two different worlds, but hip hop brought them together. The story takes place in the 90’s when the east coast, west coast war is happening—and it spans a decade. Also, the story talks about Cultural assimilation in hip hop, rap beef, and music. I was inspired to write it because I love hip hop, and I wanted to tell a love story about it that somewhat rivals Love Jones and Love and basketball.
Now with “Gun,” it’s my first supernatural, suspense, crime thriller. I’m a huge fan of horror, suspense, and so on. It’s a crazy story that talks about faith, possession, and revenge. The protagonist is Omar. He is a young and poor teen coming from humble beginnings with a Christianity upbringing. Residing in one of the poorest and dangerous neighborhoods in New York, Brownsville—Omar has been the constant target for abuse, bullying, and poverty. He finds a .357 Magnum, a gun designed by the devil to dominate the owners’ soul, and it becomes a spiritual roller coaster ride from there.
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character, let’s see. It’s like asking a parent who is their favorite child. But Soul from “Love and a Gangster,” and “America’s Soul. And Shana, from “Booty Call.” These two characters have grown so much in the series of books I’ve written. Soul went from being a thug/drug dealer to community activists, and Shana went from being a promiscuous young girl to a mother and a youth counselor for
trouble and At-risks teens.
What character and/or scene was hard to write and why?
Well, there are a few characters and scenes that were hard to write. One character that was somewhat hard to write was Selena in “Addiction to Hip Hop.” She’s Latino, 15; her family is from the Dominican Republic. I’m a black man in his 40’s, writing about a Spanish girl. I had to make her 3-dimensional, become her, and think like her—even learn some Spanish. I had to become this 15-year-old girl from the Bronx who falls in love with Cory and hip hop. So, she was a challenge.
And then there’s Omar in Gun. He was a complicated guy, different from a few of my other characters. I needed to make him likable but scary at the same time. He comes from humble beginnings, and soon, he’s possessed by a Succubus in the book when he finds the gun. I had to do my homework when it came to writing this book and the dynamics of this character. I’ve read about possessions, succubus, demons, parallel universes, and mythical creatures.
One of the most challenging scenes I had to write is a scene in Nasty Girls when Jade is killed. I wrote Nasty Girls right after my best friend was killed in 2004. The scene with Jade’s death mirrors the pain I felt when I witnessed my friend gunned down.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I like to write either in the early mornings or late nights. I might make myself a cup of coffee or tea, get some snacks, sit at my desk, and focus on that particular story. I try to find inspiration from everywhere, from home, TV, family, or within myself. I read a lot. But lately, I’ve been reading self-help books and inspirational material. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I’m still learning. You’re never too old to learn new things. And being a writer, I feel my style has changed over time—and I’ve changed over time.
Who is YOUR favorite author?
One of my favorite authors is James Patterson. I’ve read a lot of his books. His writing, characters, and stories are captivating and enthralling. The Alex Cross series is one of my favorites. And also, there’s Donald Goines. His writing and storytelling his shocking, mind-blowing, and superb. One of my favorites is “Dope fiend” that joint had me like WTF—in awe. It was graphic and shocking. He told the life of a junkie unambiguously. I felt the characters pain and struggle, and some scenes had me in utter shock. Wow.