From prison and selling books on street corners to signing a six-figure deal with St. Martins Press and writing books for 50 cent, Relentless Aaron has run the spectrum. From the feature articles on him in King and Black Men Magazines to the profiles on him in Time Magazine and the New York Times, Relentless Aaron has been busy and in the public eye. He self-published 11 books on his Relentless Content label before being signed by the majors and now that he’s in the big leagues Relentless is doing his thing and becoming an industry leader. He’s come a long way from doing time in the feds and is an inspiration to other prospective authors and writers doing time and hoping to make it big. His most recent release is the G-Unit/50 Cent published Derelict. But let him tell it.
Seth: How is Derelict doing? Relentless: Seth, I learned long ago not to judge the success of a book by the numbers, because, based on the whims of the wind, or whatever seems to be “floating a particular reader’s boat,” a book can be called good, bad, or incredible. Part one of Derelict has been accepted (overall) as a damn good book, especially by my readership. However, I don’t think the public knows that this is just part one of a two-part story. Part one took you through Dix, and to the door at the time of Jamel’s release. Part two gets into the revenge he’s launching on the streets.
Seth: How did you get hooked up with 50? Relentless: I have been managed by AB, Chris Lighty and Mona Scott (of Violator Management) for almost two years now. I am the first author to be managed by a major Hip-Hop management company. Violator manages 50, as well as Busta, Missy, DMX and LL. It is convenient to be in this circle one, because (ironically) I am a true “violator” and two, because I
can pitch any of the three dozen books I’ve written to various artists in the company, or in extension thereof. If you don’t know, Violator is also partnered with Warner Publishing and Jive Records for branding and licensing of intangible and intellectual properties. And when it comes to properties, I am a king.
50 Cent and I have seen each other, in and out of his office, more than I see my mother, father, cousins and best friends. It’s crazy how life works. My agent had already been pitching to G-Unit books, even while I was establishing my involvement with Violator. So, it’s all part of this “strategic alliance” I conducted.
Seth: What else do you have coming out? Relentless: I’m done with Single with Benefits, a new book written after my time in prison. I’m about to shoot a movie for Extra Marital Affairs, and there are a series of other books I’m working on, including Toe Tag, a series I have going in partnership with a former Medical Examiner, Garnell Brown, from Queens. He bagged, tagged, cut open and stitched up more dead bodies that even I could imagine. So, with his internal knowledge and experience and my craft for writing, we are the next dream team.
Seth: What do you think of the Urban Fiction genre? Relentless: Believe it or not, I coined this phrase almost 15 years ago, before it was ever printed, talked about or used in book stores. I started using the term “Urban Fiction,” and I fully intended to live up to it’s standards of developing plots and characters which portray life as we see it in and around the hood. Today, there are many variations of Urban Fiction, also called Hip-Hop Lit, Urban Lit and Street Lit. It’s all good, as long as it encourages others to read. There’s so much ignorance in our culture, and we have to beat it down in every way possible, because, ultimately, the more you know, the more resourceful you are in life to deal with life’s issues. Urban Fiction is my first love; it saved my life, and it supports my family and the world I’ve created.
Seth: What authors do you like? Relentless: It’s no mystery that I am a huge Guy Johnson fan, author of Standing at the Scratchline and Echoes of a Distant Summer and Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook Who Sat by the Door, who also has a cameo in my book PUSH. Otherwise, outside of their writing, I like Crystal Lacey Winslow, Kashamba Williams and Kwame Teague, because they’re beautiful people. I think we sometimes forget that the book is merely the vehicle to convey a message of personality, character and experience. Having not read these authors, I have still purchased (and sold) their books because (as you asked) I like them!
Seth: What is up with the movie deal? Relentless: The writer’s Strike! F**k! The screenwriter that’s doing Push with Bill Duke is part of the union, and Duke’s office called me weeks ago to inform me that production was at a stand-still. I pray that this ends. In the meantime, as I mentioned we’re about to go into production on Extra Marital Affairs. We shoot a teaser in a few weeks up at the house, in the Pocono’s, where I wrote the book.
Seth: What going with your blog? Relentless: I try to keep it poppin’ with tips and advice for aspiring authors and aspiring publishers. I keep it real and try to convey relevant data at all times. With the advent of video-streaming, there will soon be a window at the top of my blog where a viewer can visit the page and watch what I’m doing. Score one for the stalkers and the haters!
Seth: How has your success taken you? Relentless: I’m always on the grind. People who know me will tell you that. One day, when a real documentary is done about me, the comments from others are those that will detail the truth behind my being “Relentless.” Yesterday I spoke at Jesse Jackson’s “Wall Street Project.” Last year I spoke to the employees of Time Warner about the emergence of publishing and multimedia and how I personally make it click for my brand. And of course, I was floored and flattered to have been voted Author of The Year in 2007 at the world’s biggest book publishing event. It is growing fast, and I am more focused than ever at remaining the G. O. A. T. of this industry.
Seth: How did you get your first deal? Relentless: They called me. I turned them down, cocky and confident as ever. They called me back to talk about something different, outside of what I had already written. And so, we contracted for four new releases, Extra Marital Affairs, Lady First, Single with Benefits, and a currently untitled project scheduled to be released in 2009. I piggybacked that deal with a mass-market contract for ten of my pre-published works. Hence, I signed a 14 book deal, the biggest publishing deal ever for a debut author.
Seth: Any advice for upcoming or aspiring writers? Relentless: Master your craft and the world will come beating down your door!
Seth: Who is hot right now, beside yourself? Relentless: I think Richard Jeanty is someone to look out for. I think he “gets it.” And that he helps to revolutionize the art and the genre. I also think Treasure Blue and Kwan are hot. Crystal Lacey is holding it down for the females of the genre.
Re-posted by Relentless/Story & Interview by Seth Farranti