T. Styles, an author who is not afraid to tell the stories of the pushed aside and forgotten members of the urban community. She has used her own personal life experiences and discovered her voice as a talented and well rounded urban writer. T. Styles words are powerful, moving and enlightening. Her stories paint a vivid picture of those who main America tends to sweep under the rug. T. Styles, a best selling author on Essence Magazine Best Seller List; President and CEO of Cartel Publishing’s and soon to be a best selling author on New York Times Best Seller List. T. Styles, a woman who is living life to its fullest.
SayWhatNews: Good morning Ms. Styles. Thanks for sitting down and speaking with SayWhatNews. Tell us who is T. Styles?
T. Styles: **Sits down on the sofa and crosses legs** Who am I? Well, I’m someone who at thirty-something’ years old, has finally discovered her purpose is in life. I’m doing something I never believed was possible, and I owe it all to God.
SayWhatNews: Where did you grow up?
T. Styles: I grew up in Southeast D.C. in a beautiful red brick building that stood out from the projects around it. After my mother realized she couldn’t provide the living she wanted for me and my sister, she moved us to Houston Texas. There we stayed for a few years moving from place to place. Eventually home came to be a shelter called “Star of Hope”. What was odd was that despite the conditions, we were the closest we’d ever been. After awhile she married and moved us back to Maryland.
SayWhatNews: What type of books did you love to read as a child?
T. Styles: I enjoyed reading fantasy stories that took me to another place. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was my favorite.
SayWhatNews: When did you realize your love for writing?
T. Styles: I realized my love of writing by accident. I wanted to write a story to help me understand some of things I was feeling inside. In fact before I wrote my first novel, “Rainbow Heart”, I had recently attempted suicide. I’m very candid about my experiences to reach out to those who may be going through something similar. So writing to me was a way to relieve some tension and get over a depression.
SayWhatNews: Who is your favorite author and why?
T. Styles: This question changes as I read more but I enjoy street literature. And because of it, I fancy Quentin Carter, Tushonda Whitaker, Wahida Clark Karen Quinones Miller, and Leo Sullivan.
SayWhatNews: If you wrote your autobiography what would you name it?
T. Styles: It would be titled, “Bound by Nothing” because I no longer believe I have to live up to the standards set by others. I’m my own woman and a beautiful and powerful one at that. Coming to this realization has changed my total outlook on life and because of it, I’m living my dreams.
SayWhatNews: You speak very passionately about urban literature. Why is it important for you to tell the stories of the ignored (pimps, abused wives, drug addicts, single moms and etc.)?
T. Styles: It is important to me because I feel ALL stories have a right to be told. I also remember growing up and reading stories I couldn’t identify with. Perhaps if I had, my life would’ve changed for the better earlier. Shining a light on things America would prefer to hide will bring about discussion. And through discussion, change will come.
My exact quote in the article pertaining to the pimps, etc, was the following: “I represent the hustlers, the pimps, the prostitutes, the abused wives, the crack heads, the unappreciated, the broke, the busted, the liars, the cheats, the single moms, the single dads, the homeless, and every other unimaginable thing you hate or choose to hide from. And until I see a change in a positive direction, my novels will continue to reflect a light on the American's Secrets. I am STREET LIT”.
SayWhatNews: Why do you feel society is so scared to face and help “America’s secrets”; those in need?
T. Styles: I think part of the reason is that we don’t know where to start. We’re so busy pointing fingers at one another that we’re missing our chance at change. If we focused more on the cause and not the symptoms, we’d see things move in a positive direction.
SayWhatNews: What inspired you to write the book “A Hustler’s Son”?
T. Styles: I wanted to write for Triple Crown so I looked at their selection to offer them something they didn’t have. I considered Triple Crown to be the “Bad Boy Records” of urban books. So once I peeped their selection, I immediately dove into my personal life experiences to see what I could offer. The first thing that came to mind was my past relationship and how my Ex’s mother always seemed to get involved in our marriage, almost as if she was obsessed with her own son. So out of that scenario this 15 year-old boy name Kelsi, and his mother Janet was born. The rest was A Hustler’s Son history.
SayWhatNews: Your book “Black and Ugly” is about four friends who grew up in the same neighborhood but are totally different in many ways and have issues with skin color, being in ones shadow, jealousy and etc. What would be your advice for women out there who are experiencing the same issues?
T. Styles: I would first say that I understand how they feel. My sister is much lighter than me and I was made to feel by certain family members that I was inadequate when I was younger. Anyone experiencing this issue must FIRST realize that they’re beautiful and it is only through feeling that way, that they can begin to appreciate their darker skin. It’s not a flaw, it’s a quality.
SayWhatNews: Tell us how the book “Street Love” came about.
T. Styles: After A Hustler’s Son and Black and Ugly, Triple Crown contacted me to participate in an anthology. So I started writing the story not knowing where it would go. While free-styling a short story called Cold As Ice was formed. It’s about a girl named Pepper Thomas. She’s a straight A student living in a rough part of Southeast Washington DC., who manages to stay away from drugs, violence and crime. That is, until next door neighbor and drug dealer Ice's home is robbed. With newfound evidence that can be held for ransom, she has to make a decision. And she chooses the worse.
SayWhatNews: Is there anything in your career that you would change?
T. Styles: Nope! I’m enjoying my career and believe I’m moving at a good pace. Two years ago I was a customer service representative for a phone company. Now I’m a best-selling author with over five books under my belt and more on the way.
SayWhatNews: When you became a best selling author on Essence magazine book list how did that feel?
T. Styles: I cried. Up until I actually made the list, it was all I had to look up to. And now that I’ve made it, I realize it’s only a small portion of the success I will attain. So now I’ve set my sights on the New York Times list!!
SayWhatNews: What would be your advice to all aspiring writers out there who want to have their books published?
T. Styles: You have to believe in yourself! This is proven in the way you market yourself and your book. If you don’t believe in your novel, no one else will. And whatever you do, don’t be discouraged if someone tells you your novel is no good. There have been plenty of novels turned down by small and large publishing houses which have turned out to be very successful! Believe!
SayWhatNews: Ok, T. Styles lets get a little personal. You’re all dressed up for a night out – where do you go?
T. Styles: I’ll go get my Caddy clean and cruise out to DC to pick up the Goon Squad. These are my friends who no matter when you call they’re always ready to party. We’d probably head somewhere like the Pearl nightclub or if I’m really bored, club Love. Usually the hike from B-more to D.C. is a little rugged, so after the club I’d chill over one of their houses and head back home the next day.
SayWhatNews: You’ve got front row tickets. What singer/band is on stage?
T. Styles: I’m checking out Janet Jackson (First and foremost) Raheem Davaugh, R. Kelly, Keyshia Cole, Tank, T.I., T-Pain, Christina Aguilera, and Mary J. Blige.
SayWhatNews: If you could raid anyone’s closet, it would be…..
T. Styles: I’d go through Beyonce’s and Mary J. Blige’s closets in a hard beat.
SayWhatNews: Where do you love to shop?
T. Styles: I love Bebe, Victoria Secrets online, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth, and anywhere they sell Coogi, True Religion, Seven and a nice Gucci bag.
SayWhatNews: What’s in the future for T. Styles?
T. Styles: I believe ’08 is going to be my year. I’ve invested my time, energy and money into my own label called, “The Cartel Publications”. I already have two awesome authors after my own heart! Their books are titled, “Shyt List”, by Reign and “Pitbulls In A Skirt”, by Mikal Malone. These are two powerhouse books I’m sure people will really enjoy.
T. Styles Myspace