Intimate Conversation with Norwood Holland

Norwood Holland is a freelance writer, lawyer, and author of the Drew Smith legal thriller series based on the capers of an urban trial attorney.  He is a graduate of Howard University School of Law with a bachelor’s degree in English from Fisk University where he studied under the renowned Harlem Renaissance author Arna Bontemps.  Holland favors D.C.’s local color in his fiction and currently writes the blog devoted to promoting independent authors among other things.

He has served in several government agencies including the National Labor Relations Board and a number of Washington’s top national law firms.  In the mid 90s Holland began freelancing for the local media.  Recent credits include The Writer Magazine, the Examiner, and Black Literature Magazine.

Following up on the success of Sleepless Nights, the prequel to the Drew Smith Series, Minus One is his latest and Snakehead will issue in the Spring 2014.

BPM:  Introduce us to your book and the main characters. What makes each one special? Do you have any favorites?
Drew Smith made his debut in Sleepless Nights at the midway point in his professional career.  He was in his late thirties and such an intriguing character people wanted to know more.  I wanted to capture his professional growth and emotional maturity with all its complexity.  He succeeds in his profession but fails in romance.  I wanted to probe his motivations, his ambitions, his needs and his dreams.  Minus One provides that backstory.  Drew Smith is my favorite character because like me he’s a lawyer and I know how he thinks.

Surprisingly he is most often not the readers favorite.  That would be Julio, the dashing Latino who unabashedly displays his machismo and compassion.  This is why the two have such a dynamic friendship.  What Drew lacks in bravery Julio compensates with machismo and reasoned motivation.  But it is the third man Medhat who is the most special.  The high born Arab and heir to a fortune is the envy of Drew and Julio.  He foolishly abandons birthright to the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures.  He has all the trappings of a happy satisfying life but can’t see it.  Therein lies the tragedy.

BPM:  What drew you to tackle the questions or topics in male bonding?
Male friendships are most often explored superficially as men to suppress their emotions for fear of appearing weak.  Unlike women men seldom express their feeling.  Men speak through facts while women speak with emotions.  I want to explore how men relate to one and how they confide their emotions in one another.

BPM:  Does your faith or education inspire your writing?
Both I see history as a moral story where right ultimately triumphs over evil.  So every struggle is a battle in a larger war.  I want to tell stories that deal with fighting the evils of everyday life without being preachy or overly pious tales.  I let the law speak, and man’s law is after all grounded in biblical law.  I like to think my stories have biblical proportions.

BPM:  Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want to provide my readers with the satisfaction of a good yarn.  I want them to feel entertained as well as enlightened.  So I read the classics looking for techniques and formulas.  There is nothing new under the sun and so

BPM:  What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate? Entertain? Inspire?
Primarily I write to entertain, and secondarily to illuminate while subliminally educating.  There are people who say they don’t read fiction only nonfiction.  That strikes me as myopic and snobbish, the attitude that fiction is a waste of their time.  To me they are doing themselves a disservice because fiction can take the reader to places they never dreamed of and open the mind to brand new experiences.  Blogger Eric Simpson says “American popular culture, including the Christian subculture, is not interested in truth, beauty or the arts, but in entertainment and self-gratification.”  And that’s the way I see it.

BPM:  What do you think the effect has been of the media attention focus on African-American literature and the arts?
By the media if you mean mainstream media I believe it’s had very little effect.  I haven’t seen much coverage in the mainstream media and that’s unfortunate because our stories are universal and reflect the human experience, but many new and independent writers are not generally given exposure therefore African Americans have been resourceful and self reliant in creating their own media.  I see the growth in magazines, blogs, festival and conference dedicated to works of African American writers and that’s a good thing.  Just like Essence and BET were co-opted by mainstream media so will many of our writers and their supporters.

BPM:  A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another. Finish this sentence – “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers… ”
“My writing offers a legacy to future readers by drawing on and capturing the Black Experience.  I was weaned on the words of African American writers.

Langston Hughes was my first literary hero, and I had the good fortune of being a student of his friend Arna Bontemps.  They both wrote for posterity chronicling the African American experience for future generation.

I have one hope for the afterlife to join that celestial body of African-American literary stars: Bontemps, Hughes, J.W. Johnson, and Charles Chesnutt.”

Norwood Holland
Author of the Drew Smith Series

Minus One (The Drew Smith Series) by Norwood Holland 
Available on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords

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