Please introduce yourself and tell me about where you grew up.
I am S.P. Brown, and I was born and raised in New York, a childhood spanning the boroughs of Queens and Manhattan, and ultimately, Harlem, New York. I attended public school through High School and grew up an avid reader, developing a love of books and the stately buildings that contained them at an early age. It was an awe-inspiring experience to be able to walk to the library within walking distance of my apartment and return a short time later with books that were usually too heavy for me to carry. My incentive to sustain the heavy weight for my walk home was the excitement and expectation of the many places I would be transported to through the pages of the books.
Have you always enjoyed writing since your childhood?
I began developing a skill set at an early age that was underpinned first by my penchant for reading and learning new words. I enjoyed creating fantasy stories in my head as a child, mostly about the people I observed in my environment, because I wanted to be someplace other than where I was. I also loved music and dreamed of becoming a recording artist. At an early age, I began writing songs and singing a lot. Then, while in college, I explored my creative writing through English classes, continuing to explore books while curating my passion for words.
What inspired you to start your writing career?
Although a college English professor encouraged me to pursue an MFA, I decided to pursue my post-graduate work in the legal field. I attended law school, which also interested me. Given I grew up without much, and my mom had always struggled to make a living as a creative, I opted for a career that appeared to be more financially sustainable than the ones that I thought were viable for someone with “a degree to write.” After practicing law for nearly a decade, in 2009, I reignited the creative writing I had started as a child writing songs, attempting to assuage an undeniable creative itch to write something other than corporate policy and emails chock full of legal advice.
What are things that you like to write about?
Initially, I began writing fantasy fiction at night, inspired by the genre I enjoyed the most throughout my adolescence. Unlike the stories I devoured as a child, my stories nurtured black and brown characters and neighborhoods in that I could see myself and children that looked like me. After spending years mentoring young law students and young women within my professional pursuits, I often heard that my sharing of my inner-city beginnings was motivational. I realized I had a coming-of-age story that would speak to the human growth and character development that derives from a human being’s interaction with “hard knock” life challenges and strife…and Gifts in Brown Paper Packages (Gifts/GBPP) was born! I wrote GBPP at night from 2016 to 2017 while working as a lawyer during the day.
In general, do you believe that people's appetite for reading has remained unchanged since the emergence of the digital age?
I believe that people who are avid readers are always going to be readers – although the medium by which they read may differ. The digital age has enabled readers to transition to receiving their literary content differently, i.e., via digital readers and audiobooks.
Are you a full-time writer?
In March 2021, I left my job of 13 years, where I worked as an attorney, to pursue the publishing of GBPP. I published the book in December 2021 and have been working earnestly to market the book and meet with educators to talk about the book’s value for educational environments. I hope to be able to create a living impacting others through my writing.
Have you ever written a screenplay?
No, I have not. However, many folks have commented that Gifts reads like a screenplay.
If you didn't write, what else would you be doing?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m an attorney – but if I wasn’t writing or lawyering, I’d be singing!
As an author, what would you say is the most effective way of marketing your book in today's world?
I have received the most traction thus far from grassroots marketing, my targeted outreach is facilitated through personal connections, and privately held book club reads.
Are you living your dream today, or is there still more you want to do?
There is plenty I want to do! My vision is to impact millions of people who need the inspiration to find their strength in strife and change their condition. I am just getting started!
What is your favorite book that you've written, and tell me why?
Several years before I wrote Gifts, I began writing a fantasy fiction book that I envision being Book 1 of a trilogy. This book is about 90% complete. It is a book about a young black girl who has had a difficult life, doesn’t know her parents or where she came from, and doesn’t love herself. However, she is special; she has powers the world is waiting for…and they only get stronger as she believes in herself. It’s such a beautiful, fun, and inspirational story! I can’t wait to finish writing it!
Do you have a newly released book, and if so, tell me about it?
Gifts in Brown Paper Packages is a coming-of-age story commencing the night New York City teenager Kyrie Graves impulsively flees the verbal and physical abuse prevalent in her childhood home to tackle life and adulthood with no plan except survival. The gift is a story of a young girl’s survival driven by strength, personal growth, a journey to self-awareness, and ultimately acknowledging her truth. Through Kyrie’s lens, the reader is led through vivid episodic flashbacks from her adolescence through young adulthood in a journey ripe with experiences that are sometimes funny, often shocking and painful, and always genuine. Acceptance of her story and how it shapes her enables Kyrie to embrace the lessons, i.e., gifts, that strife and challenges offer despite their unpalatable aspects. Through this tale, Kyrie reveals her struggles, fears, and growth while displaying the perseverance that births her power and voice.
Where can people purchase this book?
Author-signed hardcovers and paperbacks (unsigned) can be purchased on my website, Amazon & Barnes and Noble.
What advice would you give to a new author who has never published a book?
Write, write, write! When you have a finished work product…copy-write your manuscript, find someone who knows what they are doing, and pay that person to edit it. That is a very important step. And then publish it. I hired a literary consultant/coach who handheld me through self-publishing; it was the best money ever spent.
Photos are courtesy of S.P Brown