Written by: Godfather Wesley Hunter
Your debut novel, Tropical Illusions, talk about it, what’s it about?
I appreciate this opportunity! ‘Tropical illusions’ is to me, what ‘Reasonable Doubt’ was to Jay-Z, and what ‘True to the game’ was to Teri Woods, it’s my first love! I wrote Tropical illusions as a tribute to a woman who was like a mother to me, she passed away in 1997 as a result of HIV/AIDS. I wanted to do something to eliminate the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, while simultaneously preserving this woman’s memory. So, in essence, ‘Tropical illusions’ is about HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, and the moral of the story is that we should strive to practice abstinence outside of marriage. We should be responsible in our sexual activities, when we are too weak to practice abstinence. We should know that HIV/AIDS is not exclusive to the gay community, or to intravenous drug users who share needles, and last but not least, everyone should get tested.
Did you always plan to self-publish? What’s the story behind the launch of Step Ya Game Up Publishing?
I didn’t always plan to self-publish. Initially my focus was on finding a publishing company that could satisfy all of my publishing needs, i.e. making my books available as e-books as well as in paperback, marketing to my target audience, being effective in branding my name as an author, etc. After encountering several publishers offering sub-par deals, I decided to study the business on my own, and my goal was to create a company that I would want to do business with, a company that aspires to reach for the next level, a company that aspires to ‘Step Ya Game Up’! Pun intended!!!
What’s next for Step Ya Game Up? New books? New authors? Other plans?
Right now, the focus is on publishing this Gangsta Paradise series. Which, as of now, consists of 3 books with an underlying moral/message that you shouldn’t do unto others, what you don’t want done to you. We’ll be releasing book one; ‘Anybody Could Be Touched’, within the next 45 days. Also, we’ve been in talks with a number of film producers with the goal of bringing ‘Tropical illusions’ to the big screen sometime in the near future.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about the publishing business, so far?
One of the most important lessons that I learned in this business, is that you shouldn’t take things personally, it’s business!!! As an author, I want readers to purchase books written by, John Bowens, all day everyday, but, as a publisher, I can’t be self-centered and concern myself with only one brand. I have to cater to the appetite of my readers, and consistently give them a variety of books to choose from, so that I can meet their individual, as well as collective, needs.
NowUCme NowUdont. Of course, we all want to know, what’s the meaning and reason behind your unique Facebook handle?
Lol! Nowucme Nowudont! This moniker has many meanings for me. Anyone who knows me well knows, that I do a lot of traveling, so, I’m here one minute and gone the next, hence, Nowucme Nowudont! But a better description is that ‘Nowucme Nowudont’ is tantamount to saying, “Miss me with that bullshit!”! Real talk, I give everyone a fair chance, but when you bring negativity and foolishness to my table, you already know what it is when you don’t see me anymore, and I refuse to take your calls; Nowucme Nowudont!!!
Some of us call you The Globe Trotter, and I’ve even said that, you probably live on a plane. But, truly, where is John Bowens from? And where is home?
New York City, born and raised! I’m from South side Jamaica, Queens … Baisley projects stand up!!! I recently relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had a house built from the ground … So that’s the place I call home, although New York will always be in my heart.
You served 16 years in prison. That’s a long time. What was that for? Where did you do your time?
Wow! The struggle truly defines who we are. On November 8th, 1996, a federal Judge sentenced me to 19 years in prison for conspiracy to manufacture, possess, and distribute schedule 1 narcotics; crack cocaine and heroin. I served 16 years and 4 months which was what the Bureau of Prisons calculated to be 85% of my time. I served my time in USP Canaan and FCI Schuylkill, (which are both located in Pennsylvania), I served time in FCI Bennettsville, in South Carolina, and I was also in, FCI Yazoo city, which is down in Mississippi. At various points of my sentence I passed through the transit centers of USP Lewisburg, USP Atlanta, and the Federal transit center in Oklahoma.
What made you first start writing? What/who were your inspirations?
I was an avid reader since I was a small child. To this day, I boast that I will read anything, from westerns to sci-fi to horror, and I especially love to read for information. I was always a writer! It started off as rap songs and poetry, then later, developed into what I am doing now. I was inspired to write books by Luisa Henry, the woman who was like a mother to me; the one who passed away due to complications stemming from HIV/AIDS. My writing is a tribute to her, and it was through her that God showed me the path which He intended for me to walk.
Marketing. Give us a take away. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
The most important lesson that I learned when it comes to marketing is, that it’s a full time job, 24 hours a day! You have to promote and sell your products shamelessly. You have to do it, at the super market, you have to do it at the post office, you have to do it on the bus, the train or airplane, you have to do it at church. No one will know about your product unless you tell them about it, period!
Distribution. What take away can you give? What lessons have you learned, so far?
When it comes to distribution the most important lesson that I learned is, that team work makes the dream work!!!!! For independent authors, publishers, and book stores, I have a solution to all of your distribution problems … It’s called UNITED DISTRIBUTION!!!
Is there anyone in the business you’d like to work with? Any collab efforts in the works?
I would love to work with my Muslim brother Al- Saadiq Banks, I’m a huge fan of ‘Block Party’, and ‘No Exit’. As far as collaborations, I have something in the works with United Distribution members, we have an Erotic Anthology that should be set for release in 2015. Also, readers can look forward to a collaboration with myself and authors Itchie Mu and Karl Heyliger, we call ourselves the “Ruff Writerz”!!!
You’re very approachable, and you seem to have an honest heart and a joyful spirit. Were you always this way? Always able to openly connect with others?
As a kid, many of my childhood friends gave me the nickname ‘Smiley’, because I always had a smile on my face. Later in life, I earned the name, Yahya Ruhani, which is translated to mean ‘One with spiritual life’. So, to answer the question, yes, I think I’ve always had a natural ability to deal with others. Even when it comes to people of different nationalities. My partner, Ivan, always points out the energy I bring into a room once I walk in, and I think this plays a huge role in the small amount of success we’ve been able to accomplish thus far.
Tell us about your blogtalk radio show. What does the future hold?
Step Ya Game Up Publishing presents: Let’s Talk Sports with Ivan Keith! I love this show, and not just because, Ivan Keith, is my brother and business partner, but because, even for people who aren’t particularly fanatical about sports, Ivan Keith has a high volume of energy, he’s outspoken, funny, and very entertaining to listen to! This guy is like a walking sports almanac, and he makes it easy to understand what’s going on in the sports world! Don’t take it from me, just tune in every Saturday at 3pm eastern time to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/urbanliteraryreview, or you can LISTEN directly from your phone when you call (347)215-8932 … Via Internet you can even go into the archives and listen to old shows.
Anything else you want to share?
Be on the lookout for my new novel, ‘Anybody Could Be Touched’, and other titles from Step Ya Game Up Publishing as well as from United Distribution. Also, tune in, on Saturdays, at 3pm eastern time, to Let’s Talk sports with Ivan Keith, and Sundays, at 9pm eastern time for Luv4TheLockdown radio show with Cali Kim DaBoss and AuthorGodfather Wesley Hunter.
How can you be reached?
My book, Tropical illusions, is available at Amazon.com in both e-book and paperback form, and I can be reached directly at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Nowucme Nowudont, or StepYaGameUpPublishing