Bookworm’s Nook: “When I look at book covers, I drink in the color schemes.” #interview

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Hello&Welcome back, Joey!

 

Bookworm’s Nook: Would you like to share a bit about yourself?

Joey Pinkney: Thank you so much for inviting me to be interviewed for Bookworm’s Nook, RH. I really appreciate it.

My name is Joey Pinkney. My love of books lead me to promote books, authors and publishing companies to a global readership using my growing digital footprint in social media. I do author interviews and book reviews for my main website JoeyPinkney.com. The “JoeyPinkney.com 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Author Interview Series” is over six years old and counting and features authors of various genres and levels of experience. They talk about the story behind the story.

I recently started a new book promo service at JoeyTweets.com which harnesses my huge following on Twitter to connect readers with books and with authors that they may have never heard of.

I’m also an author of short stories and essays. I have a few interesting works-in-progress that are under wraps. (What “author” doesn’t, right?)

Oh. I’m a nerd. And I love chocolate. A lot…

BN: Do you remember your favorite places to read throughout the years?

JP: The airplane is not my favorite place to read, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that as the “most productive” place to read in terms of reviews. What would normally take about 8 man hours to complete, I can do during a 5 hour flight, including layovers.

I’m trying to think of places that had the best ambiance for reading throughout the years. I can’t think of any. Do you know why? Because reading can be so engrossing. Once a story gets good, the world around you dissolves. I’ve burned food or just left it sitting in the microwave. I’ve overfilled bathtubs. I’ve unknowingly agreed to stuff from my kids because I wasn’t really listening. I’ve missed bus stops. I’ve came to and left from the last stop on the Metro in DC only to have to go up a stop and switch trains, come back and actually GET OFF.

I like to lie back and flop around like a single sock in a dryer while I read. So shout out to all of the couches, beds, closet floors, loveseats and futons I’ve lied on while reading. If I didn’t mention you by name, charge it to my mind and not my heart. (Whatever that means.)

BN: How much attention do you pay to book covers? What attracts you, what do you consider a turn-off?

JP: Some book covers are really “book art.” When I look at book covers, it’s not always to see if I want to read the story. I look at them to take in the art that the graphic designer put into the world. I try to reverse-engineer how the graphic designer achieved a certain effect. I mentally critique whether the font type, size, color and placement came together to easily get across a message consistent to the feel of the story.

When I look at book covers, I drink in the color schemes. Sometimes whether the colors match or not on a book cover attracts my attention before I actually realize the words and images on the cover. Hues, tints and shades can take an average-looking layout on a book cover over the top and make it resonate with you. I recently helped Burnita Bluitt promote her book “Quiver of the Pure Heart” through JoeyTweets.com That book cover is a perfect example of how imagery and color schemes can come together to make a book into a piece of visual art.

Sex sells. A “beautiful” woman on a cover can catch my attention, but not completely for the obvious reason. I also look to see if the woman fits the story or if she is just eye candy. It’s a turn-off to see scantily clad women on book covers (stay with me) that don’t match the women they are portraying in the story. I hate it when there’s a luxury car on the cover, but the main character drives something mundane and run down.

A true test of a book cover’s power is its ability to catch the eye of a reader who is scrolling through a sea of book covers. One book cover whose imagery and layout stood out to me while I was scrolling through Amazon is “When She Woke” by Hillary Jordan. A black background. A White woman with red-tinted skin. Simple, thin white letters. The visual made me ask, “What is this book about?”

BN: I read a great meme about “e-books versus paperback” … do you have a preference, or do you think it is silly that people can’t simply agree that both are great in their own way?

JP: As an avid reader and a professional book reviewer, I have come to prefer ebooks. They are more convenient to me because I can fit a library and a half into a Kindle app. And the Kindle app is much lighter than a ton of paperbacks. That Kindle app is on my phone, my tablet, my laptop and my computer. Being able to search for a specific word to find a particular passage to review is very handy when writing about a specific aspect of a story. So, for me, practicality can be found in ebooks.

Yes, I miss the smell of the books. I miss being able to thumb the outer edge of the pages and go to a specific place in the book. I miss the book cover being right there. But I don’t miss pages falling out. I don’t miss the awkwardness of trying to carry a bunch of books in a backpack. I don’t miss cringing when I unintentionally put a Dorito stain anywhere on or in a book.

I’ve come across quite a few people who are extremely passionate about paperbooks to the point where any love expressed towards ebooks is met with indignant comments. I’ve been sucked into a few debates after stating I preferred ebooks. I think that it is silly to get emotionally charged to the point where you have to argue or put somebody down, directly or indirectly. It’s not that serious. I’ve had people actually want to argue with me about the virtues of paperbacks over the evil ebook empire. I can’t. I like both.

The most important thing the printing press did for authors was make their literary expressions available for mass consumption. That’s all ebooks are doing: taking stories and making them digital as opposed to inked on paper. Readers read. They may have preferences, but a real reader will read a good story because it’s good first and foremost. A quality book in digital or paper format is still a quality story.

BN: How has writing changed the way you read?

JP: Writing has caused me to read more like a writer. I look at the way the author uses literary effects or flat-out good storytelling. I read to discern whether or not the dialogue and the narration supplement and complement each other. I look at misuse of words that can be mistaken for misspellings.

Writing has done something else to the way I read. I read with more respect. It takes a lot of time and effort to write, edit and publish a full-length novel. Even if an author’s story is low quality, I respect the fact that it’s published. There is a lot to be said about that. Yes, self-publishing has become fairly easy. No, everyone shouldn’t publish just because they can. But a published author is the one who stopped thinking and started doing.

However, I know so many highly-intelligent, unpublished authors who obsess over quality to the point where they are stagnant. They don’t want to publish because other authors are putting out “trash.” They are afraid to publish because they aren’t good sales people. All of these reasons lead to many great stories not being seen and read because of over-thinking.

BN: Do you have a favorite genre, or do you like to explore any and all books?

JP: I wouldn’t say “any and all,” but I’m definitely open to a wide range of genres and subject matters. Doing book reviews has exposed me to many books that I may have never taken the time to explore on my own. If I had to choose a genre, it would be Urban Fiction. A great Urban Fiction book has sex, violence and drugs, but it also has a compelling story.

With that said, I’m more open to a “compelling story” than partial to a particular genre.

BN: Have you ever found a book so disturbing, that you couldn’t finish it, or had to leave it and come back?

JP: Yes! I read and reviewed a book a few years ago that caught me totally off guard. It was about a young man figuring out that he was homosexual during a time when he was in a relationship with a woman. This characters experiences with the different gay cultures was unsettling at times. The author’s intent was to teach people about different gay lifestyles and activities while also teaching people what to look out for with men on the downlow or sexual predators that focus on boys.

I interviewed the author prior to reading the book. The interview didn’t give any impression that the book would be so graphic. Since I was paid to review it, I wanted to finish it to give a thorough and honest review of the whole book. I had to stop a few times to give myself room to deal with the images and situations that were presented. I wrote the review based on the quality of the book and not my personal preference.

BN: What question would you ask your favorite author, if you had the chance to ask only one question?

JP: There are so many great authors out there. From great personalities to great storytellers. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite.

If I could gain access to someone considered to be “one of the greats”, I would pose this situation and see how that author would answer:

If you had a choice, would you take a lot of money for writing books you didn’t like to write? Or would you take less money and huge readership who respect you for writing the books that are in you?

BN: Who are some of your favorite supporting characters? Antagonists?

JP: This is a great question! We get so wrapped up in the hero and/or the heroine that we tend to forget the little people who really make the stories pop: the supporting characters.

Off the top, Gabby from “Where Did We Go Wrong?” by Monica Mathis-Stowe. Oh man… If scheming was beauty, she’d at least be Miss America if not Miss Universe. It was a thoroughly guilty pleasure to watch her scheme and plot against her two best friends, of all the people in the world.

Along the same lines of scheming characters is India from “V.I.P.” by Azarel. She was the ultimate hustling groupie, but she wasn’t the smartest. Flawed and evil made for a great mix that made for a better book.

Simony Chiavary from “An Emotional Affair/Intimate Rivalz” by LaMont Wright is another powerful supporting character whose presence made a great story even greater. Sexy, exotic, intelligent and dangerous, Simony is that woman that would catch your eye whether you are a man or a woman. Amidst all that, she was just wanted to love and be loved…

Last, but not least, one supporting character that made a deep impression on me was Paula from “A Whisper to a Scream” by Elissa Gabrielle. Paula was Queen’s, the main character, best friend. Paula was Queen’s voice of reason during a time Queen simultaneously dealt with an abusive ex-boyfriend and her conflicts with dating a man outside of her race. I loved Paula’s no-holds-barred conversations with Queen. I had a crush on her while reading that book. Without her, the story wouldn’t have had nearly as much of an impact on the readers of “A Whisper to a Scream.”

BN: Have you ever absolutely adored an author, gotten to know too much about them or watched the writer in interviews, and been completely turned off? Even from reading their books?

JP: Yes.

BN: Whatcha’ workin’ on?

JP: I have a few writing projects in motion that I’m excited about. I’m going to keep them under wraps until they are almost ready to be published. I’ve been jinxed by announcing working titles and plots publicly, so I’m going to be quiet until I put the work in to finish these stories. Maybe I can come back and be interviewed about one of these upcoming publications.

BN: Do you have any excerpts you would like to share? (From books that are currently available, or works in progress.)

JP: From the short story “Like Father, Like Son”, featured in “Soul of a Man: A Triumph of My Soul Anthology”:

When I first met Mary, everything was cool between her and I. Andre made it obvious from the very beginning that he wanted his mother to have no parts of me. But what little man did? I wasn’t offended. In fact, I gave a silent ovation to his desire to protect the only person that had protected him. I never felt provoked to challenge his bond to his mother. Simply put, I was a stranger invading his space.

I went from courting Mary to actually marrying Mary. I proposed to Mary after church one hot Sunday afternoon in July. All of her family and friends present in the parking lot praising the King of Kings and appraising the engagement ring. Six months later, we married with those same family and friends in that same sanctified church. Hands down, it was one of the best days of my life even though Andre practically ignored me.

I remember hugging him and praying that God help him come to accept me as the man I was. In time, I wanted him to realize that I seriously loved his mother and had the same love for him. He showed no signs of appreciation. Instead, he pushed the buttons on his new Game Boy Pocket that he successfully begged Mary for.

I understood that position when he was a little boy. I gave him room to figure things out. He had to get used to having a father-figure after eight years of just having a mother. I took the lead and remained the adult. I didn’t embarrass him in front of his friends, I never laid a hand on him that wasn’t warranted and I never talked down to his mother during our disputes.

Over the years, the tension continued to build. At sixteen, Andre was where he was at day one: I was still a stranger invading his space. Despite all that resistance from Andre, I continued loving Mary like there was no turbulence, by the name of Andre, interrupting our relationship. I struggled against the strain of juggling life with an enamored wife and an egocentric son.

From “Swiggers”, featured in “Independent Author Index Short Story Compilation, Volume 1”:

Theodore Roosevelt Washington, known to everyone as Teddy, sat up from his sleep with a grunt. He squinted his elderly eyes at the analog clock perched on a shelf across the room, trying to see through its dusty face to the time.

He glided his thin, knotty fingers over his nightstand until his fingertips bumped into his glasses. He was pretty sure it was about three or four in the evening. That was about the time he usually got up from his noon nap.

“Dang, 3:47,” he exhaled. “Let me go see what these jokers are up to.”

Teddy sat up causing his bed to squeak and creak under his shifting weight. He rocked back and forth while rubbing his knees to warm up his old bones before standing.

Although he was physically sitting in his home, his mind was dead set on sitting in front of Pee Wee’s Market with other dirty old men, drinking liquor, cracking jokes and watching the “pretty young thangs” walk by.

***

“Theodore Roosevelt Washington!” Little Sammy smiled when he saw Teddy approaching their bench. Everyone called Samuel Jenkins, Sr., “Little Sammy” because of his short stature, his baby face and the handsome smile under his neatly manicured moustache. Although Little Sammy was the youngest member of their crew, he was well into his fifties and still worked at the paper mill as a second-shift supervisor.

“Man, get’cho tail in that store, get’cho drank and get on back out here,” Lomax growled. Lomax was as black as tar and as big as a house with a voice to match. Talking trash was the only way Teddy and Lomax communicated. From the outside looking in, they might have been mistaken for enemies.

“Forget you, you ol’…” The crew started chuckling in anticipation of whatever randomness was about to come out of Teddy’s mouth. “Old hairy… Son-of-Kong-looking joker! Y’all remember that movie?”

“I remember it,” Little Sammy said as he laughed.

Before stepping into the corner store, Teddy turned and asked the other men, “What time y’all got to take Funky Kong back to the zoo?”

He beat his chest with his fists as the door slowly closed behind him. Even Lomax laughed at Teddy’s unexpected monkey jokes.

Pete Johnson sat in silence among the crew. Confined to a wheelchair after being injured in the Vietnam War, Pete was the most reserved person in the group. He rarely spoke and started bringing his own pint of Crown Royal to the gathering. Pete Johnson stopped buying his Crown Royal from Pee Wee’s Market since Pee Wee passed away about a month ago. Before his death, Pee Wee sold his store to Abdul, an African Muslim whose father owned the other corner store in the neighborhood.

Awesome interview, beautiful excerpts. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Connect with Joey Pinkney online:

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