Thursday, July 2, 2009

Interview with Urban Reviews

Urban Reviews: Tell our readers about Patches of Grey.
Roy L. Pickering, Jr.: Patches of Grey tells the story of a struggling African-American family. It is set in the Bronx, NY in a time not too long ago, but pre-dating the “rise of Obama”. Its narrative focus alternates among members of the Johnson family with primary focus on the eldest child Tony, a high school senior embarking on the first great love affair of his life. Tony has a contentious relationship with his father in part because the girl he has fallen for is white, in part due to collegiate ambitions and a color blind mindset that do not mesh with his father’s prejudiced outlook, and largely because their many differences in perspective are accompanied by similarly willful temperaments. Over the course of a tumultuous year Tony's brother is entangled in gang culture; the chastity of their sister is tested; and their mother shoulders the load of marriage to a man drowning his disappointment one drink at a time. When things fall apart, their last hope is that the blood they share will be strong enough to hold them together.

Urban Reviews: How did you come up with the story for this novel?
Roy L. Pickering, Jr.: Inspiration by definition is basically a mystery. My goal writing a first novel was to write what I knew, and as a young man who was not especially well traveled, I can’t say I knew all that much. But I knew about family. I knew about love. I knew about struggling to define yourself in a manner that contradicted what many others expected of you. I knew about being judged at a glance rather than by the content of my character. I knew how people spoke to each other and what they communicated through silences. These were my experiences, so I concocted a story that allowed me to utilize my awareness of the ways of the world along with my self-awareness rather than attempting to re-invent the wheel. The remainder of the process was manufacturing inventions and lies to reveal my tale. What is fiction after all if not the telling of lies to uncover truths?

Urban Reviews: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Roy L. Pickering, Jr.: I’ve been a voracious reader since first learning as a grade school boy how to decipher the patterns of letters that make up words. The first full blown novels I read were “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne. I was amazed by the affect words on page could have, the places they could take me, and decided that I would attempt to one day dazzle and delight readers with my own words. Somewhat surprisingly the Verne books did not make me a genre specific fan. I did not proceed to strictly devour fantastical sci-fi stories. Instead I became a devotee to the power of books in general, and over the following years my preference for literary fiction developed.

1 comment:

  1. Good interview!

    Tony Peters