"Diaries of Black Men" chronicles the observations, reflections, and life experiences of 10 Black Men. Shared are their most innermost thoughts and beliefs. “DBM" addresses the most overlooked member of any body; the heart of the Black man. Intricately written, the reader experiences - or re-experiences - that which has never been written before. Each page dynamically demystifies the myth that Black men have always balked at the opportunity to keep written accounts of their lives.
The collection of stories that author Tony Brooks has assembled is unprecedented. Apparent, is his ability to masterfully evoke the thought processes and emotions of his readers. In truth, there is much more to “Diaries of Black Men" than the reader could ever imagine. The soon-to-be-bestseller has received raving reviews from readers of both genders, and all backgrounds. Recently, eMediaCampaigns! sat down with author Tony Brooks. We discussed his childhood, his love for writing, his vision for an international alliance with positive people, and of course, his latest release, “Diaries of Black Men. "
eMediaCampaigns!: Good Afternoon, Tony. Thank you for meeting with us today.
Tony Brooks: Good Afternoon, Fran. It's an honor to be here.
EMC: Tell us about your background and how you became interested in writing.
TB: I am from the East Coast, Harrisburg, PA. I graduated from UP - Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My mother raised six of us by herself. The lyrics of the song by the Temptations, "Popper Was a Rollin Stone, " exemplified my fathers lifestyle. It is funny because, even though our father didn't live with us, we all loved him dearly. I believe the love I had for my father is something that is intrinsic to every child whether they come from a dysfunctional or functional family environment. The processing of that dysfunction in your life will determine who you become as a person.
My father was not a very good role model. Consequently, I consciously and unconsciously acquired and inherited his behaviors and incorporated some of his negative habits. Now that last thought sounded somewhat confusing, but those are the only words that I could come up with. They describe how I am feeling when I think about my background, and explain how I got interested in writing.
I believe it was all the confusion, heartache, struggles and adversities that my mother had to endure while raising six kids by herself, that became the seed which germinated within me for a lifetime. It finally blossomed - metaphorically speaking - into my writing about the suppressed emotions, feelings, and setbacks in my life.
EMC: Was there ever a time when you questioned your ability to write?
TB: I never really questioned my writing ability because I used writing as an outlet and it was always from my heart. Writing is therapeutic and cathartic for me. I write like I feel - or have felt - at some point in my life. Gods blessed me with a very creative imagination which really makes my imagination run wild when I write about some of the things that I write about. What does that mean? It means that I have not lived all the things that I write about. But, I have an imagination that allows me to speculate and extrapolate on things and from experiences of others and then assimilate those thoughts into my words and stories.
EMC: Diaries of Black Men has received exceptionally favorable reviews from its readers and critics. What have you personally heard from the published authors and producers in the industry who have read book?
TB: I've been very encouraged by others in the industry. The one comment that is indelibly etched in my psyche came from a friend of mine, author Mary B. Moron. She said - and I'm paraphrasing - “It is not a question of whether or not you become a prolific writer, the question is when!” She doesn't know it but that has stuck with me. I've also had people in the industry approach me about turning Diaries Of Black Men into a movie production. That too is very encouraging and positive.
EMC: Were there any responses that surprised you?
TB: Yes, the fact that so many people could personally relate to the stories. I was surprised and excited because I really get inspired knowing that I can evoke a collage of emotions from the stories. A good friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a while said, “Man, ‘Tone, ’ I really liked your book. It made me laugh and cry. ” I knew that this person was sincere. Thank you, brother T. Walker from San Jose University for your positive and encouraging words.
"Diaries of Black Men" is a raw and compelling internal look at the Black experience . . . it is rife with poignant humor and abundantly compassionate. Readers are in for a treat; not only for its authentic lens to people of color, but for illuminating the human condition. "
-Ranjan Patel, Psy. D. , Psychotherapist
EMC!: Was there a particular message or theme that you sought to convey before, or as you wrote Diaries of Black Men?
TB: Not really one particular message because, too often, “we, " as black men, get labeled and stereotyped. In reality, we are enigmatic and puzzling. That diversity is the beauty of life and it makes it so unpredictable. My book touches on many different facets of life from different perspectives and backdrops. In reality that collections of stories could easily be embodied in one person. Think about all the things that have happened to you in your life. I frequently have people say to me “I should write a book!” Then they go on to tell me about their life experiences which is real surprise because I've listened to some incredible stories.
". . . too often, ‘we, ’ as black men get labeled and stereotyped. In reality, we are enigmatic and puzzling. "
- Tony Brooks, Author
EMC!: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what books are you reading now?
TB: When I was young, I liked reading books by James Baldwin and Donald Goines. Now, talk about differences the aforementioned authors are like night and day (laugh). This buttresses my argument that we are complex individuals. We can appreciate some rap music, some types of jazz and R&B. We can go to a party and salsa or we can go to a nightclub pretend to be “Usher. ” We like BBQ ribs and we can also appreciate a good piece of prime rib…even though I stopped eating meat twenty-five years ago (laugh).
EMC: Most writers will acknowledge that they struggle with occasional “writer's block. " Does the same hold true for you? If so, how do you manage it?
TB: I've heard of “writer’s block” but I've never really had to deal with it. Perhaps if someone gave me a million dollar contract to write a series of books . . . then that phenomena could become a dilemma for me (laugh). I am being facetious; but really serious in a sense. With that million dollars, I could see me and my family in Jamaica “chilling” for a few days. That would automatically eliminate a writer’s block because I would just be enjoying the moment and not think about deadlines or commitments.
I think most people experience “life’s block” when there are pressures in their life. People have different thresholds which determine how they react to various pressures in their lives. (If you put enough pressure and heat on a coal, it becomes a diamond). This holds true for writers. Some writers - I would imagine - work well in certain environments which stimulate the mind and allows for the creative juices to flow. Like lava from an erupting volcano. I am not sure what inspires me at times but there are certain times when I feel truly inspired to write my thoughts and experiences down. When I do get those moments, I can write a complete chapter in a couple of hours because I've been mulling over the topic or issue in my mind for a while.
EMC: Tony, you're a loving husband and father of three, active member in your church, professional speaker, businessman, licensed real estate broker . . . how do you identify, and then balance so many priorities?
TB: The most important thing for me right now is making sure that I provide for my family. I am growing each and every day and my desire is to be a better person today than I was yesterday. I am not perfect; but I try to live the way Christ wants us to live. It is not easy all the time. I strongly feel that if I continue to move Christ more to the middle of my life, I can balance all the other things in my life. I also read a lot. I exercise regularly and make sure that I eat healthy foods. Being grounded physically, mentally and spiritually helps to order my steps appropriately.
EMC: In your opinion, what are the most important issues, or untruths facing the American Black, male today?
TB: We have way too many displaced, young Black men in our society. Look at the staggering number of young men of color in our prison system. We have more young Black men in prison than we do in colleges. I believe that they’re building more prisons than colleges as well. Racism is still very much pervasive in America and it has transmogrified.
AIDS is another problem that is plaguing our communities we need to deal with that as well. But, the one thing that we must realize as Black Men is that not all white people are evil. We need to look beyond color and understand life from a more global perspective. We must realize that other people in the world are struggling and that entire world is a “Ghetto. ” What needs to happen is that we align ourselves with other positive people: white, black, green and purple. Collectively, we can survive the evil empire and rid the world of hunger, disease, war, and hate.
EMC: What are some of the projects you are working on now?
TB: I've finished second book entitled, More Than a Divorce. It is most profound and will be out in the spring of 2006. I am going to start on a third book which is titled, The Incorporation of Poverty – A Poor Man’s Guide to Building Wealth. I am also thinking about writing a children’s book; but I need to give it more thought.
EMC: Tony, what is the most powerful advice that you can offer to the aspiring writer?
TB: If writing is really a dream for you, don’t give up on that dream. Once you stop dreaming then you are dead. Surround yourself with people who care and encourage you to move closer to your goal of success. Get all the negative elements out of your life and that might mean old friends.
The other key thing is to read as many books as possible - especially the types of books that you want to write about. The more knowledge and insight that you have about the subject matter that you wish to write on will make you a much more credible and successful writer.
EMC: Thank you, Mr. Tony Brooks. It was both an absolute honor and pleasure speaking with you today. I am believing nothing but the best for you in all of your endeavors.
TB: Thank you so much for allowing me to share with your audience some of my innermost thoughts and feelings. I’ll leave you with this pearl of wisdom that was given to me by my dear friend, Wil Cason, “Be a person of value and not a person of success. ”
eMediaCampaigns! Interviewed Tony Brooks in November, 2005. To purchase your copy of Diaries of Black Men, or contact Tony Brooks personally, please send an email or visit the author's websites.
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Fran Briggs is an author, peak performance coach and motivational speaker. She is also the Director of Operations of eMediaCampaigns! and the President of The Fran Briggs Companies, an organization dedicated to the personal and professional development of individuals and groups around the globe. The company's personal development website offers a free, exciting twice-monthly newsletter designed to help individuals live a happier, healthier and wealthier life. Please visit http://www.franbriggs.com for more information.