Meet the Couple Building a Literary Empire

Meet the Couple Building a Literary Empire


(pen scratching)
(classical violin music) – [Woman] People try to place you in a box when you’re a black writer as if other audiences
can’t enjoy your material. – It’s like we just put our head down and written 44 books over
the span of 11 years. We looked up and we’re the youngest African-American novelists, as a couple, to make the New York Times. It changed our life. (energetic classical violin music) (energetic piano music) We from Flint, in particular
I’m from the 5th Ward of Flint. It’s one of the roughest neighborhoods. It’s dog eat dog. But I love it because it taught me how to come from the bottom. Our city is dark but once you figure out how to utilize that darkness, that’s when you become great. – We’re writing about the things that America covers up. The neighborhoods that you don’t see and that you never hear about. – [Jaquavis] Our books are us. It’s black America in a nutshell. (fast piano music)
(sirens wailing) Well when we met each other
our mutual passion was writing. – [Ashley] I was 15 years old. – Fell in love and, you know,
she ended up becoming my wife. – We just wrote.
(gentle clacking) We barely slept, we barely ate, we definitely didn’t leave the house. There was no formula for it.
(sharp cha-chinging) Now we use systems. We have a system where we
write every single thought on Post-its and we stick them
anywhere around the house. We feel like our words are worth dollars. So anytime you forget
(sharp cha-chinging) something it’s like flushing
money down the toilet, so we don’t ever want to ever
let a thought pass us by. (somber piano music) I love when I walk into a
bookstore, and I see The Cartel sitting next to a James Patterson book because that’s where it belongs. I remember in the beginning
I would go in a bookstore and move the books to the front. It’s important to erase
that street fiction moniker. When you label something street fiction you immediately put it in a small section in the bookstore, and only certain people will go to that section. We’re very fortunate to
have broken out of that box, and we hope that now we’ve opened the door that now other black writers can come through that door behind us.
(crowd cheering) – [Jaquavis] We don’t wanna
be great for this lifetime, we wanna be great for
five generations down. Back then we was chasing checks, now we’re chasing history. (soft piano music)
(soft clicking)

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