What do you believe initially comes to mind when a fan hears your name, Justin Amen Floyd?
A:When people hear my name I want them to first and foremost thinkabout a strong black man that overcame a life full of adversity, trials andtribulations to make something out of himself and his life. Secondly I wantthem to think of books that pushed the envelope and described the life that somany people of my generation lived through!
The name Amen helps definewho you are, explain to us how you obtained the name?
A: I did a lot of reading while I was incarcerated and still do. Oneof the subjects that always intrigued me was religion, so I studied it. The nameAMEN is an ancient Egyptian name that I discovered along my studies,(amen-hotep and amen-ra were the most prominent). Anyway one of my closefriends began to call me Amen, jokingly, but after he was viciously murderedthe name stuck. So now it’s a way to remember my friend, and pay homage to myancestors at the same time!
As an adolescent your lifewas unfortunately filled with poverty, domestic violence, as well as you wereincarcerated at a young age; reflecting back now how does this effect who youare today?
A: I think this goes without saying… As human beings theenvironments we are exposed to as children directly influence who we become asadults. But no, I don’t use my past as a crutch or excuse for all the badthings that have happened to me in my life. Instead I let my past motivate meand propel me onto a greater future!
After a lengthy termincarcerated you received an associate’s degree from ASA Institute and wouldeventually go on to write your debut novel, Anything For Profit, what was yourmotivation to achieve such success?
A: Well I actually wrote “ANYTHING 4 PROFIT” while I was stillincarcerated in solitary confinement. Then once I was released I enrolled inschool to obtain my associates degree in Bus./Acct. While in school I submittedmy book to different publishing companies. Caroline McGill, the owner ofSynergy Publications gave me a shot and published my novel. It has gone on tobecome a fan favorite and a 5* debut novel that vividly depicts the life that Iand so many others like myself led and in many circumstances still continue tolive.
You have found a way toexpress yourself through music often times creating lyric’s and rhymes. Howdoes this help your writing and do you plan to do more with music?
A: I just have a love for words and actually I wanted to be arapper before I ever even thought about writing a novel. In my opinion it’s allexpression and art and I love to express myself through both mediums. With thatbeing said, I hope to release a mixtape soon in order to reach a broader basewith my story.
What has helped you becomesuccessful as an author and what do you see yourself doing as far as writing inthe future?
A: The most important thing that has helped me become successfulauthor is the fact that I believe that God has truly given me a gift. I believein myself and in that gift and I know I haven’t lived through the things I’velived through to achieve anything but greatness! As for the future, I plan onbecoming an author that writes great books in many different genres! I don’t seeany limits nor any ceilings when I look up towards the future!
Today’s book world has anoverflow of fiction writers. Now that you are preparing to release your secondnovel what are you doing to make sure you stay relevant?
A: I refuse to conform to what everybody else is writing about sotherefore I keep my ideas fresh and on the cutting edge. I never want readersto be able to predict where my story is going. Id rather them sit back and justenjoy the ride I create.
After witnessing andexperiences many negatives situations and abuse what would you express to youthtoday to help them avoid the mistakes and issues you have experienced?
A: Well I definitely wouldn’t preach to them or try to come at themlike I have all the answers. What I would do is tell them about the real lifesituations that I survived that so many others didn’t. I’d let them know thatthere are other things to aspire to be besides an athlete or entertainer. And Iwant to eventually be a mentor to these youth so they can see somebody who camefrom their environment who actually made it; Despite the adversity.
How did you overcomediversity, imprisonment, and near death experiences to being a publishedauthor? Faith… in God, and in myself.
My life is a book. A book that if I actually took the time to write, you wouldn’t beable to put down, until after you had absorbed and digested every sentence,every single word. Page after page; chapter after chapter of tears, laughter,poverty, incarceration, anger, oppression, pain and change. Most importantly though is the change.
Any animal that doesn’t change and adapt to theirenvironment eventually becomes a casualty of that environment! That’s exactlywhat I was… an animal from Greenville S.C. (G-ville, what’s up!!) that preyedupon anything and anybody that would get me paid.
Eventually this mind state led me to a lifetime ofbeing incarcerated in one institution after another. First juvenile and then asI became more brazen and my crimes bolder and more reckless, the penitentiary.Sentenced to 10 years in one of the nastiest, most oppressive correctionalsystems in America for bank robbery I continued to unconsciously rebel againstthe system. Then I discovered the power of words and how when writing them Iwas allowed a brief reprieve from the stifling, oppressive, violent environmentin which I lived.
So I started writing. It became my escape, mysalvation. Learning that I had the ability to make people feel my words, mystories, let me know that I could be something else besides a career criminal.The talent to write allowed me the ability to change and also gave me anotheravenue to express my anger at a system that had stacked the deck against me andso many others like me from the very first day we came into existence.
My life is a book. Keep reading…and enjoy.
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