Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview with Norwood Holland, and Excerpt Minus One: The Drew Smith Series

1.       Where did the idea come from for the book?
Minus One’s inception and inspiration was biographical.  Right out of law school I worked as a Concierge at the Washington Marriott.  I befriended two Bellman, a Latino and an Egyptian.  That summer we hung out.  DC is an international is both a small southern town and international.  Most think of it as just a political seat of government, but it’s so much more.  It’s also the city of my birth and I love the diversity.  I thought the setting and eclectic friendships would make great elements in a story.  I wrote the first draft in the 90s and it has gone through many changes.  While the story has a biographical inspiration it is entirely fictional. 
2.       What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a mystery, a who dunit.  I use the classic murder mystery format opening with a body.  I tried to make it a thriller as well and in the process discovered why they are two completely different genres.  One involves discovering the villain while the other involves chasing a villain and in a thriller it’s difficult to write about pursing an unknown villain.
      3.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
As it turns out the cover model is an actor.  His name is Donnell Turner and I discovered him on line in independent film on Kickstarter.com.  I contacted him and he agreed to pose.  It turns out he had posed for a few other book covers.  For the character I originally saw him as a Lou Diamond Phillips image but he’s too old now. I would cast a new young Mexican American Jeremy Ray Valdez.  I would also cast the Egyptian actor Ahmad Izz to play Medhat. 
      4.       What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Minus One is a modern day tale of the three Musketeers--all for one and one for all--without the happy ending.
5.       Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My books are independently published.  I started my own publishing imprint, Windmill Books.  I steer away from the term self-published because a lot of urban writers continue to give the self published books a bad name with poorly edited products.
After years of rejection by publishers and agency I decided to publish myself.  On my second book with the 3rd one in production I haven’t looked back.  I have come to believe that gatekeepers don’t really know what the reading public likes and they are more often guided by their own subjective taste. Very few agents and editors are interested in characters of color believing they are not marketable based on certain ignorance. It being shown they are making a huge mistake ignoring this market.
6.       How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
One year.  I set a daily goal of one page a day.  So theoretically I would have a book in 365 days.  That method generally works.  Some days I would only write a paragraph and other days I would write 20 to 30 pages—I call those gifts.
7.       What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I generally followed the Mystery formula where the book opens with a body.  I also used a flashback narrative retrospective to open.  It’s the method by which I tell the story that distinguishes it.  I got the idea from the movie Mildred Pierce to make a first person narrative that starts the story in media res, that is, in the midst of things.  It’s a pretty effective method and so sublime very few realize there on a journey back to the beginning. 
8.       Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What inspired the story was a fierce argument I witnessed between the real life Medhat and Julio.  Even back then I knew their relationship had the makings of good story.  Julio and Medhat were inspired by actual real life buddies Medhat and Julio.  But that’s as far as the comparison goes.  I can’t emphasize enough that this is a work of fiction.  The novel has some unrestrained and indulgent sexual scenes all of which are a figment of my imagination.  I don’t want readers to get the wrong idea.
9.       What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
 All the relationships are mixed, racially and culturally, but the only one, Drew and Nina, is affected by racism.  Drew is in love with a Latina whose father objects to her dating a black man.  Multiculturalism is a given throughout the book yet at the dawn of 21th Century race remains a major obstacle for the Black man.  In addition to the suspense of solving the murder I think the reader will find interest in how Drew reacts and copes with the situation.

About the Book
Minus One:  The Drew Smith Series

Minus One the Drew Smith Series prequel takes us back when the attorney launches his legal career.  Before the ink is dry on his license to practice law Drew Smith finds himself at the center of a murder mystery.  The recent law school graduate works as a hotel concierge and befriends two bellmen an Arab and a Latino, Medhat and Julio.  Like the three musketeers they bond in a fraternal friendship put to the test when Medhat is kidnapped after running up a drug tab he can't pay.  Rescued by Drew and Julio, Medhat then becomes the prime suspect in a string of murders.  Driven by their romantic entanglements the attorney is captivated with a pretty Latina whose father objects to her dating a Black man. Julio and his Filipina love find themselves expecting, and Medhat’s passion for blondes gets him snared in a femme fatale's net. Minus One captures Drew Smith's evolution from youthful indiscretion to a professional burdened with seriousness of purpose.

About The Author

Norwood Holland is a freelance writer, lawyer, and author of the Drew Smith legal thriller series based on the capers of an urban trial attorney.  He is a graduate of Howard University School of Law with a bachelor’s degree in English from Fisk University where he studied under the renowned Harlem Renaissance author Arna Bontemps.  Holland favors D.C.'s local color in his fiction and currently writes the blog editorialindependence.com devoted to promoting independent authors among other things. 

He has served in several government agencies including the National Labor Relations Board and a number of Washington’s top national law firms.  In the mid 90's Holland began freelancing for the local media.  Some of his credits include The Writer Magazine, the Examiner, and Black Literature Magazine.  Minus One follows up on the success of Sleepless Nights, the first in the Drew Smith Series.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
Caught Red-Handed

HE OFFICERS WERE dispatched on a possible domestic dispute. They didn’t know what to expect when Mrs. Oliphant met the two at the elevator, one Latino the other African- American, both towering over the blue haired dowager. Nervous and animated, she spoke as rapidly as she stepped, guiding them to the apartment door.
“Are you related?” asked the stocky dark haired Latino. “No. I'm Carol's next door neighbor. There was a fight and I heard the disturbance,” Mrs. Oliphant sighed and shook her head as though shaking off a secret annoyance. “Mind you, I don't eavesdrop but I couldn't help hearing—you know thin walls and vents carry conversations. This is her apartment.”
They stopped in front of the corner apartment at the end of the hall. “I have the key,” she said. Mrs. Oliphant's tiny trembling liver spotted hand offered it up between the thumb and forefinger. With a nod the Latino urged her to open the door. “Hard to make sense of it all,” she continued her prattle fumbling to get the key in the keyhole, “I
could only piece things together. She's so distraught almost hysterical—it had to be something traumatic. I gave her a sedative.” She relaxed with the key finally in.
“Did you go in?” the Latino asked. He reached over her shoulder, turned the knob and pushed the door open. “No, she told me to call the police.” Mrs. Oliphant followed
the two in.

Connect with the Author

To purchase book: Amazon


  1. Great interview for Norwood. Thanks for hosting him on his tour.

    Appreciate you Lynelle

  2. Lynelle, I also want to thank you for showcasing Minus One. The public reception so far has has been encouraging. It was a fun book and I enjoyed writing. I hope your followers will enjoy it.

    1. It was a pleasure Norwood, I wish you all the best.