Name: Richard Charlton-Pharris Jones
Classification: Graduating senior
Hometown: born in Dayton, Ohio, but most recently coming from Los Angeles two years ago
1. What is "Two of Hearts" about?
2. How do you feel about being published? And how did it all happen?
3. When is your novel scheduled to be published? and by who?
4. Who are some authors that inspire you?
5. What is your opinion of contemporary black literature?
6. What are your plans after graduating from Morehouse College?
1) Two of Hearts is about an emotional and physical fallout of one of the characters who is in a monogamous, triangular relationship with two people. It is as much a psychodrama as it is a tale of unrequited love. Undying passion turns into deadly obsession for someone who emerges from the painful pasts of a successful best-selling author and avant-garde choreographer. Each chapter is an alternating voice that brings the reader closer to learning the identity of this enigmatic stalker (Or does it? I love cliffhangers)! I've peppered clues throughout the novel as lives, and loves, collide. In this age of celebrity, with some all-too-real grief, these characters become isolated, and the people they turn to just may be the stalker they are running away from. I also tackle self-image, sexual addiction, and suicide.
2) I'm grateful, excited, and extremely nervous because people will automatically think I've got firsthand knowledge on this particular premise. One can pray and hope that the reading public will 'get it', but there's always going to be those detractors who will find some fault with your work. I'm at that point in my life where I can say that at least I've fulfilled one of my dreams. I'm grateful that God has seen fit to bless me with a marketable talent. I'm excited that other people are excited about my efforts, and I'm extremely nervous because I feel like a parent sending off his child to college. You hope you've done the right thing, but I believe the work will speak for itself.
The process has been an off and on effort for several years. I initially came up with the concept back in '99 when I interned with a publisher after the death of someone very close to me. I ended up relocating for four months from San Diego to Tampa and the drive alone borne the idea of these three people coming together out of an emotional need not to be alone. The concept was that we all have friends for different aspects of our lives, but then it became much more personal because some people need much more than friends. We never look at friends as lovers, whether they are male or female, so I toyed with that dynamic, this taboo, that one can't be exclusive of the other.
As a manic depressive, I drew upon those mood swings to drive my creativity, which I totally do not suggest anyone do. I learned to funnel my 'moments' into my writing because it was therapeutic.
3) Two of Hearts is in the capable hands of the production department. One of the things I'm excited about is the marketing materials for the book. The cover we're discussing is that of a two of hearts playing with the faces of the characters in the center; think The Young and the Restless opening sequence.
4) I'm not really inspired by any writers as I am enjoying the work they produce. I'm constantly amazed by Walter Mosely who doesn't allow himself to be pigeoned-holed in any one genre; I enjoy Edwidge Danticat whose writing is lyrical and emotional; Mumia Abu-Jamal's writing is poetic and revolutionary; Jamaica Kincaid is so personalized; Stephen L. Carter weaves tight, intricate stories with multidimensional characters and quick dialogue; and, I thoroughly enjoy Samuel L. Delaney, Brandon L. Massey, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Ralph Ellison and Alain Mabanckou.
5) My opinion of contemporary black literature really depends on the genre. I'm not a big fan of the 'street lit' or 'ghetto fiction' because I don't believe it challenges readers beyond the superficial. Look at the videos that appears on BET. It used to be that Hype Williams set the standard for music videos. but it seems that true originality has been dispensed with. There are certainly the exceptions, such as K'wan, but the others seem to be biting off one another. I'm just glad folk are reading and supporting writers. I was a fan of Terry McMillan back in the 90s, and Kevin Powell is dynamic, but this other stuff doesn't challenge me as a reader. I want to be able to be mad, not look for the happy ending, or feel as if I need to be vaccinated against a venereal disease because the book was just one sex scene after another.
Black literature seems to have undergone yet another 'renaissance', and for those Terry McMillans, those Eric Jerome Dickeys, they'll certainly have their fan bases, but I think a lot of what black writers from South Africa and Haiti have to say will get lost in the mix.
6) My plans after graduating Morehouse next summer is to return to South Africa, pursue my master's at the University of Cape Town, enjoying a proposed book tour, which will take me back to Dallas and Los Angeles and revisit some very dear friends; possibly go into teaching. I was inspired by Dr. Uriah Turner and Professor David Stewart, as well as Dr. Eileen Meredith and Dr. Michael Janis. I see that they indeed enjoy what they they're doing.
I want to complete a sequel and prequel to Two of Hearts. I think my readers will want to know how and why these characters came to be with one another and how some loose ends will be tied up. There are questions to be answered and some will be unresolved.
I will also be working on a project tentatively titled FRAT. The only thing I can really say about the premise is that there are four men, seemingly strangers, each with a past just as mysterious as the other. These four men are drawn together, bound by a secret. But, that secret is about to be exposed during Homecoming weekend when a murder occurs and it reopens old wounds, old rivalries, and an even older murder...