Our featured author for the month is none other than S. A. Cosby, whose short story “999 Points of Light” appeared in THE FAKING OF THE PRESIDENT. He is also the award-winning author of the novels BLACKTOP WASTELAND and RAZORBLADE TEARS. He recently sat down with 3RP Co-Director Peter Carlaftes to talk about the pursuit of a writing career, and what comes next for him. Read the full interview below.
PC: Such an honor to have you as our October Spotlight Author, S.A.—and to share the high you are riding right now with the monumental success of both BLACKTOP WASTELAND and RAZORBLADE TEARS. If the 20-year-old Shawn could see what the 48-year-old Shawn has accomplished, what would you tell him? What is the blueprint for what’s happened?
SA: I think the blueprint is perseverance. The publishing game is a marathon not a sprint and you have to look at the long game. Talent is a huge part of it but talent without determination is just wishful thinking. You have to get out there, take the hits and keep coming back.
PC: Well it’s obvious to me when I read your work that you enjoy the creative space you are in and you have such an inherent gift at crafting such fully believable multidimensional characters. When you are writing, are you in charge of your characters or are they in charge of you?
SA: I’d like to say I’m running the show but honestly the characters speak to me and tell me their stories. It almost feels like I’m visiting their world and reporting back what I see.
PC: In your mind, Who is your audience? Do you have a specific reader in mind?
SA: For me my most important audience is myself. I have to be happy with what I’ve written, what themes I’m trying to convey. If I do that then I think the book will find readers .
PC: Many successful writers of the past have advised up-and-comers, “Write what you know.” Now you are from Southern, rural, coastal Virginia and this same environment plays such a key component in your writing. Can you explain how your experience has lent itself to your unapologetically Black Anti-heroes Bug (from BLACKTOP WASTELAND) and Ike (from RAZORBLADE TEARS)?
SA: I’m definitely channeling my life experiences as a person of color growing up in the former Capitol of the Confederacy. Race, religion sex and class are the foundations of Southern literature and those are all important aspects of my own life. What I do when I sit down to write is find a character who can speak to those issues and then I use my own experiences to add nuance and perspective
PC: Oh yeah, congrats on your Anthony Award for BLACKTOP WASTELAND. Way to go!
SA: Thank you so much!
PC: How many other awards have you won with BLACKTOP?
SA: I’m honored to say I have been awarded the ITW, The Barry, The Macavity, and the LA Times awards for best crime or mystery novel of the year.
PC: Maybe I should’ve asked which ones you didn’t win if we ever want to wrap this thing up. Haha.
SA: At times it feels surreal. I’m more than grateful to all the readers who have embraced my work.
PC: Both BLACKTOP WASTELAND and RAZORBLADE TEARS are defining works of Southern Black Noir and will remain so for years to come. How much do you see this genre expanding?
SA: My friend Kellye Garrett says this all the time, We are not a trend. We are the new normal. I’m proud to be one of the many Writers of color bringing new energy to the crime fiction genre.
PC: S.A. Cosby has a seat at the table with the Crime Writing Community and deservedly so. And since every one of your readers and peers want to know what’s on the burner, can you give us a little teaser from your next book?
SA: Sure. I’m working on a Southern Gothic murder mystery tentatively titled ALL THE SINNERS BLEED about the first black sheriff in a small Southern town.
PC: Sounds very tense and timely, S. A. Thank you so much. I know we’ll be working on another project before long! And whatever else you do, make sure you stay in this groove that you’re on!
We are so grateful that S.A. Cosby was able to share his thoughts this month with Three Rooms Press. And what an honor it was for me to have S.A. contribute to my FAKING OF THE PRESIDENT anthology in 2020.
You can read his thrilling story “999 Points of Light” in the Three Rooms Press anthology
THE FAKING OF THE PRESIDENT: Nineteen Stories of White House Noir here:
And definitely check out S.A.’s Anthony Award winning novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND here:
And Mr. Cosby’s latest crime thriller RAZORBLADE TEARS here:
Both come highly recommended!
Plus, read this in-depth piece about S.A. from The New York Times: