I was raised in Harlem. I never found a book that took place in Harlem. I never had a church like mine in a book. I never had people like the people I knew. People who could not find their lives in books and celebrated felt bad about themselves. I needed to write to include the lives of these young people.
When I was 19 years old, both of my parents died in the same year; my mom of cancer and my dad in a car accident. Through the next two or three years and a series of bad decisions - all my own, I might add - I ended up literally homeless, before that was even a word. I even slept occasionally under a pier on the Gulf Coast.