Here’s the situation… Your uncle is Parliament Funkadelic’s own George Clinton and the entertainment bug is in your blood. Whereas he expressed himself through his music, you’re calling is in relating your stories through your writing. As a poet, philanthropist, author, teacher and family member, your goal is to keep the Clinton name alive.
The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino had a chance to sit down with Andrea Clinton to find out why Love Knows No Bounds and what all we can expect from this creative writer.
Michelle: Philanthropy is an important part of your life, as you are the CEO and Founder of the non-profit organization, “People Helping People, Inc”. Tell us about the organization and its mission.
Andrea: People Helping People advocates on behalf of citizens regarding grass roots issues and needs, by offering support with referrals to programs and agencies such as social services; hosting workshops and seminars to address issues and educate people in the inner community; instilling job readiness skills; providing career counseling and job placement services; hosting a Big Brother/Big Sister program; and, by providing awareness. Ultimately, our aim is to help citizens become independent and productive members of society.
Andrea: Absolutely. George has dedicated himself to his music and over the decades, has established himself as one of the greats in terms of revolutionizing the Funk genre of music. He not only brought about a sound, but inducted stories and memorable characters who have their own stories, such as Sir Nose Devoid of Funk and Star Child, Dr. Funkenstein, who although are their own people, are also part of a Multiple Personality disorder/invention (see Flashlight album where George Metamorphoses’ into Star Child, etc).
I grew up following these stories like comic books—they were our comic books in the ghettoes. All the while, as a little girl, I was telling and writing plays and stories of my own. I continued into adulthood, ‘til now. Coming after the stories George told, as subliminal as they may be, I really have no choice but to be on top of my game. I must, MUST be sure that my stories not only tell a story but have a goal, an intent, lead the readers somewhere, aid as anecdotes or answers, move the readers, aid the readers in experiencing the read and the character’s plight or emotions. I must, I Must, I MUST be on point, even if it’s not a particular reader’s cup of tea, for those of whom it is, I must do this author thing right. I must amuse—I must ENTERTAIN the readers. That, I do for me and my self-fulfillment; George’s legacy of storytelling in music and his perseverance through his trials and tribulations are my inspiration to continue onward through the struggle. Hugz & shout out to the Godfather of Funk.
Michelle: Why did you decide to pen the “Love Knows No Bounds” series? Is it because you’re a helpless romantic, or for an entirely different reason?
Andrea: I decided on the title, “Life Knows No Bounds”, for the series because I want to continuously write books about Life. I want to address or shed light on the issues we all face in life. In the past I use to say, “Life Sucks on ice!” and, “Life sucks and then you die!” among other terms; I even wrote a poem about how life sucks. I said these things because life was dealing me sucky hands and shooting me harsh blows to the gut. Blow after blow I suffered mentally and believe it or not, having lupus, physically as well. People I knew or met, friends and family also suffered issues and circumstances and as we know, circumstances can change everything, including your way of life and the people in it. After seeing everyone around me go through something or another, I realized it wasn’t just me going through issues. I began giving advice such as, “Life isn’t out to get you, it just doesn’t know boundaries.” Initially, I said it facetiously, as a roll of the eyes at life. However, in time, I began to really, really think about it and, Life really doesn’t know boundaries—it just does what it does. It’s like the weather; it just does what Mother Nature sets it out to do. It’s not thinking about you getting wet, caught in the snow or storm. In the words of Ray Charles, “It just makes it do what it do, Baby.”
I wanted to write a series of books that reflect this ideal. I needed people to understand what I myself also try to digest, which is, we should not take it personal when things befall us in life (i.e., saying bad luck, woe is me, Murphy’s law, etc.) Instead, turn to prayer, lace your boots marching onward and continue ahead ‘til the storm blows over. When I do workshops or seminars, I have the audience read this with me:
“Life is a roller coaster of events and if this is true, the ride we sit on in life is always due for some turn or another,”
It’s never personal. I really pray my books convey this message via the issues the character’s face, whether they end happily, or devastatingly.
Michelle: The first book of the series is titled, “One Who Loves You More.” Tell us a little about the book.
Andrea: Alisa is a money grubbing, gold digger who uses men to get what she wants in life. She’s following the footsteps of her mentors who came before her. This is actually a new trend and form of gold digging that a lot of young girls have started, where they use men for up to a few months, and then dump them before having to put out and have sex with them. But that’s after having used them for money, jewelry, credit cards, etc.
In the novel, I used my experiences around the way, things I saw in my prime, things I know or heard of, etc., to generate stories and issues the characters went through; in other words, how it really goes down for gold diggers when they do the things they do. Alisa and her friends Shakirah and Tracy love the glitz and glamour. But Alisa, tired of hearing her mother’s mouth, decides to get one man for a while. She gets Omar, a drug dealer so he can keep up her life style.
However, Omar isn’t like the other men and has his own demons. To top it off, he knows her and her ways. Together they are like “Clash of the Titans”. In this novel, hell erupts like geysers and skeletons fly out of closets making for a pretty good read. On Amazon, it receives an Avg. 4 out of 5 stars.
Michelle: The main character, Alisa, is an untrusting and manipulative mess. What inspired you to write about a character with so much emotional baggage?
Andrea: Initially, the book was going to be about a girl who loved playing mind-games with men, which is something I do see going on. But, when I saw the growing number of girls around the country, using men for money and tossing them like yesterdays newspaper, I decided to make the book about gold digging. Especially since the girls were not only gold digging, but making rules to this thing, such as only keeping the men for short times, no sleeping with them, and even setting the men up to date or go out with another woman to use as an excuse to break up and keep all the money and merchandise. Ironically though, gold diggers and women who like playing with men’s minds have a few things in common: they can be witches with their mess, they are selfish, get a kick out of pissing their men off and watching him go through various emotions over his feelings for the young women and more. So, I only had to add the gold digging elements, because the witch element was already there in the writing. And fellas, “No, this book IS NOT about me.” OMG, the amount of times men ask me that, lol.
Michelle: The second book in the series is, A Blessing and a Curse. Is this a spin-off of the first or is it a stand-alone title?
Andrea: It is a stand-alone title. It isn’t a spin off of the first book at all. The “Life Knows No Bounds” series will have five books to each series that I write over the years, God willing. Each book will be stand-alone. Some of them will be related to previous books, meaning, the book will be about other characters from previous books, such as Tracy, who is an off the chain-gang character from One Who Loves You More, which is going into publication in 2014 (you all are in for a serious surprise).
Michelle: What message do you hope readers walk away with once they’ve read the series?
Andrea: That things happen in life—they happened to those who came before us and they will happen to us, and those after us. We just have to be strong and keep the faith to persevere. Survival of the Fittest.
Michelle: You are the Editor in Chief of Amistad, a NJ newspaper. How did you land that position and what type of news/stories does the newspaper focus on?
Andrea: I came on board when the paper was The Amistad newspaper and I began as a Layout Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and Journalist. I’d already written freelance articles for The Scroll and other literary magazines. After a few editions, I partnered with one of the owners and became the Editor in Chief. When the economy began to slow down, the paper was put on hold. I felt a lost and decided it must go forth. So, I began AMISTAD eNewspaper and am working behind the scenes with a few original staff members of The Amistad, to make AMISTAD, an official magazine as well as eNewspaper, in an effort to enlighten and bring the people news from around the world.
Michelle: What is your writing process? Do you free-write or do you outline? Why did you choose this writing method?
Andrea: My writing process depends on the story. For Red Dollar, a man pulling out a dollar with red on it and handing it to a cashier in the supermarket inspired me. I was grossed out by it, stating I would’ve never touched it, only to become so inspired by the ‘What if” thought that I began keying in a blueprint of the storyline on my android cell phone. I finished the blueprint of the story in the supermarket parking lot and filled in more details when I got home. The cover, although not desired by some because it looks like a horror short story, is just a reminiscence of the evil red dollar or money in general. I made the book into a soft boiled Thriller when an author stated that Black authors don’t write Thrillers and questioned if it was due to fear of the genre.
In One Who Loves You More, I had an idea and ran with it. Then, I made some changes and before I knew it, the story began writing itself. I really think how I write depends on how the story comes to me. If I’m inspired to write a story based upon a theme, I outline and plan the book based upon the theme. If a plot comes to mind, I really have to plan it out by writing the plot out, and then I often write backwards, then forward, and with chapters here and there. That is just in developmentally trying to edit while I write, placing things where they seem to fit into the plot. When starting from the plot, I also, at some point began attaching some other items via questions we go over in film, such as: Who is the main character? What does he/she want? Do they achieve it? Why or why not? What are the barriers? Who’s the antagonist, etc. Why do they want to stop the protagonist, etc.? However, if the story is character driven, then, I just write and the character’s life flows on paper; this is so easy for me because for one, it’s how my grandmother started me out writing, telling about the character, their history/backstory, etc. Also, I write realism and naturalism, which is about real life events so it makes a story that is character driven home for me. I believe the easiest form of fiction writing is via the Point of View element of fiction. It’s either first, second or third person point of view. We all know, well in my opinion, lol, first person is easiest to write because the story is all about what that character sees or says it’s about, even when it’s just their view point; we may doubt that character, but to some degree, we take their word as gospel. Although, there’s something to be said about third person, narration, which is easy because it can be as make believe as ever, and you can still add real elements and have a great story. I don’t know, I’m a writing junky, whether fiction or non-fiction, even creative non-fiction. I just love to write and I have a few rhymes and reasons for each occasion.
Michelle: What are three of the most important lessons you’ve learned since entering the book industry?
I learned to write from the heart because finding your true voice can actually take a lifetime. My professors use to tell me that, but I thought I already knew my voice. I may never know it though because I’m always wanting to write to address issues and life experiences. Someone said issues and life experiences may be my voice but that’s not how it works—this voice thing I speak of. It’s deeper than scraping off the top. It’s something that exudes from within and whistles out in your writing. I can’t explain it. Writing to help people is off the top, nothing deep about that fact, but your writing voice is deep.
I also learned although many things about the book/publishing industry are antiquated, so many things have changed and like jumping double-dutch rope, you have to catch that rhythm and keep trying to jump in, knowing that only at the right time will you be able to jump in the middle of that rope, continuously jumping and ride that pony and hopefully to the end or at least until your writing heart desires something new.
Michelle: Have you found social media outlets to be beneficial to your success thus far?
Andrea: Social Media has been lovely regarding selling eBooks. However, paperback, not so much. I mean, I do a li’l something-something, but, I sell more books in bookstores and just selling on my own. However, many people do know me from social media and I’m always surprised at that. I go to book events with book clubs, authors, etc. and people will walk up to me and say, “Hello Andrea Clinton,” and I get so surprised and happy about social media in that aspect that I’m ready to get back to writing. There are also those times when people will say, “Are you with a book club or are you an avid reader,” and when I say I’m an author, Andrea Clinton, they reply, “I know you,” or some other greeting that fills my heart. I see social media as a positive because, from my example, it appears either the people learn about you, your name or learn your name and face. Either way, I’m gamed. I’m a Twitter-Head, gotta get back into Facebook.
Michelle: What can we expect from Andrea Clinton in the future?
Andrea: I’m working on adapting my first two books into plays. God willing, the first to go into production will be done by November and we will be casting and then doing our first reading in December for Producers, so we can take that baby on the road. I’ve decided to launch AMISTAD magazine, which I have been debating over for some time now. It is a newspaper that we’ve put into ePublication while we figured out when and what we’ll do next. I have several books coming in the next year: Where Do We Go From Here; Silent as a Lamb, which is part 2 to my first novel and will be a stand-alone book; Tracy, which is a spin off from the first book also, those who remember her know she was a pistol in the book and her story needed to be told—I HAD TO write it; Living With Lupus is a non-fiction book I’m working on about my life living with Lupus; and Notes and Messages, which is an out of this world novel I was almost finished in 2006, just one last dramatic/adventurous/crazy and outlandish chapter to go—this book is going to blow minds and the main character, Kye, will have female readers falling in love.
Also, I’m part of a non-profit organization, People Helping People, Inc. and we’ve been helping people in the grass roots sector since 1998. We’ve helped people from our own pockets ‘til the economy flipped on us and so now, we’ll be fundraising to help citizens become independent and self-sufficient.
Michelle: How can readers and fans follow and/or get in touch with you?
Andrea: Readers and book clubs can find me and my books at the following: Twitter: @Teaclinton13, https://www.facebook.com/AndreaClinton13,
http://around-the-way.blogspot.com, www.AndreaClinton.me, http://paper.li/f-1326915658# and http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Clinton/e/B004HEM1IO.
About the Author
Andrea Clinton is an English Teacher, Author, Playwright, aspiring filmmaker and Editor in Chief of AMISTAD who resides in New Jersey.
Born in East Orange, New Jersey, on May 6, 1967, in the midst of the Civil Rights movements, and during the Vietnam era, Andrea Renee’ Clinton was the eldest of two daughters born to Gwen Delores Clinton and Tommy Lee Clinton and is the niece of Rock n Roll Hall of famer, George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic.
Andrea can remember telling stories as far back as eight years old when she and her younger sister would lay in bed at night waiting to fall asleep. She remembers this gift maturing as she went to summer camp where telling stories around the camp fire and in the cabin with cabin mates was a ritual. In grammar school Andrea’s grandmother, Dorothy Louise Carter, introduced her to playwriting. She says it was hard to concentrate in school because she would always be writing plays, on paper and in her mind.
In 1984, Andrea began writing stories and poems about young girls and their trials and tribulations. Since her teens, Andrea has been writing and storing her stories. In 1990 however, there was a fire at her home and some of her work was ruined. But that didn’t stop Andrea; instead, it encouraged her to write more.
In 1994, Andrea continued this by writing her first novel, Mary Mary, which is still under construction. The novel is an ode to all of her grandparents and others who migrated up north from the south. After her first novel, Andrea dabbled in poetry, learning styles she was unfamiliar with.
As a Journalism major, in 1998, Andrea began writing for Union Counties’ The Scroll newspaper. She’s held the positions of journalist, news editor, layout editor, roving reporter and editor in chief. It was here that Andrea began thinking of starting her own newspaper to continue speaking to the public. She also began a non-profit organization, which strives to help citizens become independent and self sufficient through big sister/big brother programs, drug intervention, counseling, and other services.
In 2002, Andrea was struck with Lupus. Feeling she was on her deathbed, with no gumption, she had no feel to write; but with a 103 fever, a story plagued her mind. Once given appropriate medication, Andrea began to feel better and one of the first things she did was to write. The story the fever drudged up was When It All Went Down, which is a story about a terrible thing that happened to the earth, and set man back centuries.
Andrea achieved her degrees in Journalism, English and Film. Since then she’s been working diligently with her nonprofit organization, writing poetry and short stories.
Having left, The Scroll, newspaper, in 2005, Andrea was about to start her own newspaper when she met the owners of AMISTAD newspaper, New Jersey. Soon after, Andrea became the Editor in Chief and assumed the responsibilities of generating the newspaper for public review. She contributed articles as a journalist, short stories and poetry as a creative writer. Her fictional short stories will soon be combined into two short story books she’s started, with a focus on men and women’s points of view, issues and their plights.