Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interview with Felicia Pride- Author of The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip Hop's Greatest Songs

1. How long have you been writing? When and why did it all begin?
I've been writing since 2000, so for ten years. It began really because I was bored at my day job. I was working in marketing at Panasonic, fresh out of college. And I was bored. I thought it would be my dream job, but it was far from it. So I started writing as a way to fight boredom and get things off my chest. But in high school and college I had teachers who urged me to study writing, but I didn't think it could be a viable career.

2. What inspired your first project?
My first major project, THE MESSAGE, was inspired by my relationship with hip-hop music. I wanted to show the power in the music and how we could learn from it. As a writer, I also wanted to show the literary brilliance of hip-hop's greatest MCs.

3. What genre of books do you write? Are there any other genre's you may consider?
I write fiction and nonfiction. I'm pretty open within those two areas. I am actually pursuing other types of writing such as screenwriting.

4. Do you have a particular writing style?
A lot of my writing is personal in that I insert myself into the conversation of my piece.

5. Who or what has influenced your writing?
MCs, James Baldwin, my mother, Maryse Condé, musicians; the list is pretty long.

6. What has been the most rewarding part of being an author?
I'd say being able to lift my voice and insert myself into a national and even global conversation.

7. What is the most important lesson you've learned in your writing career?
Pursuing one's passion can make the difference between happiness and misery

8. Sharing life lessons with others is a great way to inspire and motivate others, why did you choose 100 of Hip Hop's Greatest Songs as your tool?
Music is a universal language. We use music to help us in so many ways—articulate our feelings, describe our worlds and times, motivate us, entertain us—so I thought that it would be a great connector to look at life lessons. And it's proven to be a great connector. Through my company, BackList, we've developed an enrichment program that uses hip-hop as a tool of engagement to promote literacy. We've had the pleasure to facilitate this program around the country and in many locations around Baltimore.

9. As not only an author but also a speaker and facilitator, what is the most rewarding thing you get from your speaking engagements?
Connecting with young audiences. It's always a pleasure to meet brilliant, energetic young people. They remind me of my younger self. They give me hope. They push me to be better.

10. What characteristics do you feel are most important for speakers and facilitators to develop?
It's important to be comfortable in front of all types of audiences. It's important to be engaging and to be able to interact with your audience, to have them participate and feel like they are part of your program.

11. In 2004, you developed an organization called Backlist. Tell us a little about it.
BackList began as a literary advocacy organization, now we're a media, entertainment, and education firm that produces and engages in a range of initiatives to enrichment programming development to independent films. We've worked with book publishers, nonprofits, creatives, big corporations. We consult; we write; we create; we speak. We're online at

12. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author? Speaker/facilitator?
You have to write. Every day. I still struggle with this, but now I'm at my best when I follow this rule of thumb. As a speaker, you have to practice. Get in front of audiences, even if you're not being paid early on. Perfect your speaking style and content.

13. If you could have one author as a mentor, who would it be? Why?
Greg Tate

14. What is normal day like for you? What do you do daily to stay motivated and keep your creativity flowing in your craft?
A normal, productive day begins with me writing for two hours. Then I send the rest of day working on various projects, business development, and marketing.

15. What book is currently on your night stand?
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

16. If you had to suggest one book that you have read in your life that was a vital tool, what would it be?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

17. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring author? Speaker/facilitator?
Don't underestimate the power of faith + action

Interesting/fun things about Felicia…

18. What is currently heavy in rotation in your ipod/mp3 player/cd player?
The Roots' new album How I Got Over.

19. If your life had a theme song what would it be?
Oh, that's too hard to answer. My theme song is constantly changing.

20. Studies have shown that color evokes emotion as well as tells you a lot about a person. If you were a crayon in the box of 120 crayola crayons, what color would you be?
Brown. Always.

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