Relentless Aaron (Relentless) ‘Father of Urban Fiction’May 23, 2007 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment
Relentless books fall into a growing genre known as street lit. He also produces videos and soon to be movies. Relentless went from serving seven years in prison for check cashing fraud to publishing over 14 books. The books he penned behind prison walls are now breakout hits. When he was released in 2003, he walked out with thirty completed manuscripts and one of them already published. He printed 50 copies and sold all of them in one day on125th Street
Harlem. Then he ordered 300 more copies, which he sold in less than a week. Currently he has sold well over 200,000 books.
Relentless has also created numerous opportunities for himself, from a six-figure, 14 book deal with
St. Martin’s Press to a book deal with 50 Cent in July to future movie deals. In September 2006,
St. Martin’s Press released the first of fourteen Relentless titles, “Extra Marital Affairs”, which can be found in Wal-Mart, Walden’s, Border’s, Barnes & Noble, and many bookstores nationwide. Relentless is truly relentless when it comes to business. He is a one-man marketing machine. He sells his books any and everywhere; from street corners, hair salons, diners, prison visitors’ buses, concerts and plays. His pedigree has given him a street credibility that is almost as vital as his written word. Relentless has been featured on ABC World News and Fox 5 Good Day New York as well as in The New York Times, The Journal News, The Daily News and TIME Magazine to name a few.
RELENTLESS: It was definitely becoming of me. It more defines me than my birth date. In terms of finding a definition or pin-pointing a definition of whom and what I am about, relentless is that word, is that definition. And it kinds of tells all, the whole story. Every time I turn around someone is saying to me, “oh you really are relentless”, so it definitely becoming of me.
THESOURCE.COM: How did you break into the publishing business?
RELENTLESS: Years ago, I published a magazine called the “Super Star” magazine and it was a break off from a TV show I produced called “Super Star USA”. And, what I wanted was a physical tangible product that I could share with everybody that was familiar with who I was and what I was doing. So, I was dealing with businesses in the inner cities and they needed a medium, by which to promote their businesses that were economical. And right at that point and still today, there aren’t affordable outlets, such like the Ebony and Essence of the world that charge tens of thousands of dollars to be seen in their publications. I needed to create a publication that was just as smart or just as slick as the main stream publications so to speak and that was called the “Super Star” magazine. That lends itself into my knowledge and know how of publishing. I learned by myself, crashing my computer ever so often, because of all the memory that was being used and learning how to replace the hard drive when the memory wasn’t enough. Eventually I learned how to take apart and put together computers and that is how I became computer literate on my own and that’s really publishing. Publishing and Desktop publishing has a lot to do with computers and that’s how I started. I taken that know how and taken the time that I have been away in writing the books and before I went away, the know how in the publishing arena, so you put two and two together and that’s how I became the publisher I am today.
THESOURCE.COM: Who/What were your inspirations growing up?
RELENTLESS: My dad was a big inspiration. He was an entrepreneur in our community,
Mount Vernon and he did much with little and I had no choice but to watch him everyday and to work with him. I worked beside him and so by habit I guess, being a creator of habit, I kind of molded into what my dad could have been so of speak. So, I picked up a lot of entrepreneurial characteristics from him, but also not to forget our falling soldiers, who I studied as well, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Those are pretty much the leaders I came up knowing. In my teen years, I was exposed to what they call positive mental attitude (PMA). PMA has played a big part in my survival: prison survival, street survival or just everyday negotiations. There are the forefathers so to speak of PMA that I have studied for years and they are also leaders in my life, Dr. Denis Whitley, Dr. Dennis Kimbro, Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins and Les Brown, who I actually got to meet and he taught me to speak for a living. It was good to know him and be trained by him. So, those are the people that kind of stick out in my mind in terms of leadership or people that I look up to.
THESOURCE.COM: How is your relationship with St. Martin Press?
RELENTLESS: It works. They certainly know how to position my books, which basically is the biggest problem today with people that are talented. People that are talented strive and struggle to be heard and to be admired and to be respected and acknowledged. I find myself in a peculiar position, that I’m actually I guess at the head of the class so to speak, only because I have studied that PMA and I’ve studied things that have taught me to master my craft. Basically, I walked that walk and now that I’m here so to speak on the planet and people have acknowledge my work, now my work is able to be picked up in the Wal-Mart’s and the Barnes & Nobles and the Borders. I am surprise about it, but then I also take it with a grind of salt, because I know that it like the big bang, all of that can disappear in no time, because I’m not in charge of that. I am not the powers that be, that say put his books on that Kiosk; put his books on the front table in
Baltimore. I am not in charge there, so all I can do is to thank God that I did spend quality time doing the best that I possibly could at what I do, and I continue to do that. So, all I’m saying is I’m going to keep doing what I doing and I hope to keep getting what I’m getting. It’s a great relationship and positioning; they work with me and we communicate really good.
THESOURCE.COM: Are their any other deals in place? RELENTLESS: Yeah, with 50 Cent and Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books/MTV, which is a whole combined effort to bring urban lit to the MTV world and I’m apart of that now. So, I have one book coming out in July with 50 Cent and that’s called “Derelict” and I have two movie deals that are signed, sealed and delivered that are in the works now, in term of the screenplay production and those are happening for “Push”. Bill Duke is directing and producing that and Marion Van Peebles and a group called Key, Triumphant Pictures and Key Films are putting together a “KINGPIN” project, which Mario Van Peebles is now apart of. This is a huge, huge project that covers organizations that stretches from the Bronx and focused on
Columbia. I anticipate that it will take some time to be done right, to be done thorough, because when it comes down to it, that’s definitely going to be the next Jurassic Park. No other deals right now, there are a lot of stuff pending, but right now, there’s nothing else solid.
THESOURCE.COM: So, you are this one-man marking machine. Are their any other people in your camp?
RELENTLESS: Yeah, I have a team of saleswomen, who know my books and sales my books with me. We go to events, then we do the street and at a drop of a dime, we are all ready and loaded up and we go you know. In terms of my camp, I publish other authors, so there are other books that I publish that are out on the market right now. There are other books from other authors that I published that don’t even have my name on them, which have turned into one dozen books actually. You know, I’m just going to keep giving. I want to bring a few hundred other authors into the fold, but I don’t want to see the same old, same old. I get letters and manuscripts everyday and I’m impress that my marketing is very, very clear so that people understand who I am, what I’m here for, good for, and I’m going to bring out as many authors as I can and give them the larger percentages too, that the publishers aren’t giving. So I’m profit sharing with the authors and I am positioning their work, so that my rubber stamp is going to go on there, my tweaking and my suggestions. I have to read everything, so that’s basically what it is.
THESOURCE.COM: Tell us a little bit about your books and how they came about.
RELENTLESS: Well, I spent a substantial amount of time in prison and decided that I was going to work hard in making a difference in my life. So, I wrote my first book and it took a year and from there on I went on to write book after book after book non stop and it became a lifestyle. Once you do that for seven years, it’s like once you do anything for seven years you can’t rid yourself from that, it become like a friend or a habit. For me it was to be a writer, and at that point, hopefully one of the best writers on the planet. So, that‘s were my head was at and books happened to be it, were I was. I only had a pen and paper; that how my writing came about. The books are a dig into my past, into my present; they are definitely experience and rich in terms of the characters that I have dealt with or who have worked for me or who I have worked with. The experiences that I have gone through in the streets and in the entertainment industry, in real estate, politics, in the Marine Corps, college and in relationships of course; all of these experiences are a wealth of treasures really, that I couldn’t ignore, so I included them into many books. “Push” is the first book that I released, I felt it was the most gripping, the most captivating of all my books. I basically brought to life a character that who I like to call every man’s role model and every woman’s warrior. To this day, people, women and men praise the book and the sequel to the book. And of course you know we have the movie thing happening, so it’s been an amazing gift, to have been able to pen something so captivating, so important to the book industry and to this generation. “Push” is definitely an urban tale about a man who grow out of being a riff raff into a real estate developer, so my experience is in real estate, my experience is in politics, because I used to campaign for local politicians in Harlem and Mount Vernon, so my experience is in entertainment, so it all comes together, wherever I worked, I can pull from when I write a book. So, “Push” happens to be a lot of bang for the buck and it really hit the industry with an impact and I’m really proud of it; that’s like my best seller. Then I have a psycho drama called “Triple Threat” that everyone talks about, about a woman who is a serial killer, she got men issue. And I got “KINPIN” of course, that is about 730 pages, really deep, really deep, really riveting, and really subtle about an organization that stretches from New York to Bogotá,
Columbia. And everyday, people are telling me about that book, so I am just really bless that I was able to turn my endeavors into these books, marketable stories that ultimately are changing people’s life.
THESOURCE.COM: Other then your own book, what kinds of books do you like to read?
RELENTLESS: I like to read success motivational books. I like to read books that encourage personal growth, those types of books. Fiction books, I kind of breeze through them.
THESOURCE.COM: Who is your favorite author?
RELENTLESS: My favorite author is Dye Johnson, Maya Angelou’s son. He got a few books out and those are a pretty awesome read.
THESOURCE.COM: Are you currently working on a new book? If yes, what is the title and when is the release date?
RELENTLESS: I am working on a few books; one is “Single with Benefits”. I am working on my third book from St. Martins called “Best Seller Ever”. And, I have some independent books that I am about to put out. In terms of release dates, that always changes with the wind, so I don’t have anything solid, but we’re working them.
THESOURCE.COM: Do you have any other projects in the works? If yes, what?
RELENTLESS: I pitching a sequel for the book I am doing with 50 Cent, so the “Derelict” book I am interested in pitching the sequel for, whether it goes with him or myself.
THESOURCE.COM: Are there any plans for a book tour?
RELENTLESS: That’s kind of standard in the business, touring, visiting books stores around the country. We have the Essence Festival again this year and we will be doing the Harlem Book Fair again and Book Expo
America this year, they’re giving me an award. So, those are the ones I am really focused on, but I want to a unity day and there are some important events that I’m going to be apart of this year to whatever degree. Also, the Barners Brothers Hair Show, I going to be apart of that.
THESOURCE.COM: Who would you like to work with in the future?
RELENTLESS: Antoine Fuqua, Denzel Washington, I have a movie for Denzel. I have a movie for
Halle Berry and F. Gary Gray; I definitely want to do something with him and John Singleton.
THESOURCE.COM: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
RELENTLESS: Movies, graphic novels, novels, Latino translations of the books, video productions, documentaries: audio and video and a stable of other authors and all of that under Relentless content.
THESOURCE.COM: Do you have any last words for your fans and readers?
RELENTLESS: Thank you!