Prodigious and profound author Frank C. Matthews’ triumphant transformation from inmate to novelist has established him as a leading force in the world of urban literature. Armed with his mastery of the written word, Matthews has achieved feats that are only reserved for the most seasoned of writers, selling an unprecedented amount of books as a first-time author and self-publisher. When it comes to putting the urban voice – the human voice – on the page, Matthews has no peer. His unprecedented journey demonstrates that even when confronted with a web of trials and tribulations, creativity has the ability to flourish. As a New York City native, Matthews grew up with aspirations of one day becoming a household name as an NBA Superstar. His dream took a detour, but his resilience and determination allowed him to persevere.
The lure of the streets and its fast money took Matthews away from hoops and into another game – the drug trade – where he found instant success. But a deal gone bad eventually landed him behind bars. Once incarcerated, Matthews had few options of how to spend his seemingly unending time in what felt like a black hole drawing at all happiness. Taking advantage of the still and silent nights, Matthews spent hours plunged into two of the world’s most renowned, contemporary African-American storytellers, Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.
The books empowered the now bright-eyed and enthusiastic Matthews and awakened a creative bug to tell the stories locked inside him. “Incarceration transformed me,” said Matthews. “I went from a young, frustrated, and confused boy to a mature, humble, and pensive man.” Much the way Malcolm X used the power of words to transform himself in prison, Matthews used the power of the pen to write his way to freedom, real freedom. While the calamities of his past may have blackened his vision they did not still his pen. He found his purpose. He would write his stories in notebooks, on torn-open envelopes, and anything he could get his hands on and would pass them around through the system. While some traded cigarettes, Matthews traded his highly demanded stories, which inmates clung to like emotional life rafts.
Matthews delved into the business of publishing, an industry he now planned to one day master. He found his style of writing to be unique, labeling it as “true fiction,” an alternate take on real events he had witnessed firsthand. He honed his craft and further developed a distinctive writing style that was uninhibited, dramatic yet cinematic as his readers traveled to adventurous sonic territory. He had a burning desire to share his rare experiences in the underworld of crime with anyone who would listen. Matthews’ drive and passion was reinvigorated. He would be relentless in his pursuit to share with the masses his tales of underworld crime, drama, brotherhood and love.
Upon his rebirth in 2005, Matthews discovered that he could put his past behind him and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and unwavering determination. The resilient author took his astounding gift of writing “true fiction,” coupled with his compulsion for words and decided to pursue his passion. Even after numerous failed attempts at landing a publishing deal, Matthews did what he learned to do best – create opportunities for himself. He knew that there was an untapped niche audience eager to hear his voice, and he was steadfast in his desire to supplant the current favorites in the urban lit arena.
Matthews self-published one of his first novels, Respect the Jux, and it caught fire, selling over 20,000 thousand copies. The book catapulted Matthews into the sphere typically reserved for seasoned literary greats while capturing the attention of everyone from rappers Jay-Z, Ghostface Killer, and 50 Cent (who rapped on Lloyd Banks’s single, “Hands up, if you want to party with crooks you have to learn to Respect the Jux!”) to literary powerhouses like bestselling author and publisher Karen Hunter.
The gripping tale borrows from Matthews’ recollection of urban legends through the saga of Cat, who journeyed from Jamaica to the United States as a teenager. After a stint in the military, Cat returned with newfound skills and a desire for his own version of the American Dream—by any means necessary.
Using his extensive military background in weapons and intelligence, Cat formed “The Order,” a band of thieves that specialized in pulling off juxes, which Matthews defines as emulating and acquiring another’s style, intellect, or swagger for personal advancement.
Captivating, intriguing, mesmerizing – all words that describe Frank Matthews’ uncanny ability to bring readers into the worlds that he creates. His first auspicious debut Respect the Jux, a dynamic tale of brotherhood, greed, and power, hits the shelves nationwide in September, the style made famous by Slim and Goines will be revived…with a 21st century twist!
Visit his website at www.frankmatthews.com.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Frank. Can we start out by having you tell us briefly what your new book is about?
The book is about a foreigner coming to America and chasing the American dream as he depicts it to be. He fails in acquiring it in the manner that we consider to be the right way and forms a fraternity of thieves to achieve it.
Q: More and more authors are realizing the potential for sales that derives from virtual book tours. Can you tell us your personal reasons why you chose a virtual book tour to help get the word out about your new book?
The Internet is a powerful marketing tool and it enables me to touch everyone around the world all at once
Q: Is this the first time you have heard of them? If not, where did you hear of them?
Yes it’s the first time I’ve heard of them. I was looking for other means of promoting my book and ran across it on the Internet.
Q: As you know, a virtual book tour involves – among other things – interviews and guest posts. Do you prefer one over the other?
No I don’t prefer one to the other. They’re both effective in promotion.
Q: Some authors prefer an all review tour. Can you tell us if you are one of them and why or why not?
I am not an author that prefers reviews tour only. The reason is because a review only tells readers about the book and nothing about the author. I want readers to also know about the author.
Q: What do you hope to achieve through promoting your book through a virtual book tour?
I want to help expand my fan base and raise the awareness of my projects and also increase sales of my book.
Q: Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?
Yes. Website, blogs, video blogs, anything that works.
Q: Who maintains your website/blog?
The website is maintained by an in-house team of people.
Q: What are your experiences with offline book signings? Do you have much luck selling your book through that method?
I love offline book signings it allows me to connect on a personal level with my readers and I have sold thousands of books via offline.
Q: Here’s a fun question. If money were no object, how would you promote your book?
Online, offline, radio, television, magazine, and street teams.