Influenced by Iceberg Slim, Gloria Naylor, and Shirley Jackson, author Casey Hamilton is a writer with roots in raw, unapologetic storytelling. The Baton Rouge native currently resides in Atlanta, GA. After working as a freelance copywriter, Hamilton explored his passion for creative writing as the creator and star of the YouTube gay web series JUDYs.
MENAFTER10 is his debut novel. It follows a group of young, Black gay men looking for meaning, identity, and connection in the digital age of hook-up apps and toxic social media.
MENAFTER10 is a hook-up app for gay urban men looking for urban men. Chauncey Lee is always online looking for something, even if he doesn’t know what that something is. Brontae Williams is lonely and wants to settle down into a relationship. His biggest problem is it seems like everyone else is seeking casual sex.
“This is an extremely personal book, even if it is fiction. I live in Atlanta, and that’s kind of like headquarters for being Black and gay. A lot of Black gay men, a lot of experiences,” said Hamilton. Here’s what else he shared with us.
PrideIndex (PI): Tell us about you and your journey to becoming a writer.
Casey Hamilton (CH): Writing has always been my passion. It’s the one thing that makes me feel most like myself. I’ve done some journalism/copywriting, screenwriting, even songwriting along my journey. It’s been tough because writing is often underpaid, under-appreciated, and full of uncertainty. If these things don’t scare you off, then chances are, you’re a writer. My name is Casey Hamilton, and I’m a writer. (Smiles)
PI: Often time’s writers use factual events as the inspiration for their books. Was the inspiration for this book based on your experiences or that of someone you know?
CH: Well, they say your first book is your most personal. This is an extremely personal book, even if it is fiction. I live in Atlanta, and that’s kind of like headquarters for being Black and gay. A lot of Black gay men, a lot of experiences… but I struggled to find a genuine connection when I really needed it. My oldest friend had passed very suddenly, very tragically, and that kind of changed me. As a reaction, I moved to Los Angeles, the other side of the country, which didn’t fix any of my problems. I was still lonely. I was depressed. In a sense, I was out of options, so I just put everything into this book, MENAFTER10.
PI: What were some of the challenges you encountered while writing this book? What did you do to overcome those challenges?
CH: It took me a year to find a publisher. I got over a dozen rejections from literary agents, most of whom were white and/or women. It wasn’t until the Black Lives Matter protests and other BIPOC-seeking initiatives that I received offers, two at the same time and both from LGBT+ publishers.
PI: Who does this book speak to? What do you want your audience to retain?
CH: MENAFTER10 is a black gay novel written by a black gay author. It’s for us, gay men and Black gay men, and it really delves into our culture, our hardships, in a raw, unfiltered way. It’s so much easier to be gay today, but it feels harder to connect with other gay men. Why is that the case? That’s the central question of MENAFTER10.
As for the audience, I hope the book makes them have a conversation with themselves and makes gay men ask themselves are they using the app or if the app is using them? Because sometimes I think we get so hot and bothered we forget that we’re human, and there’s more to these guys we’re dealing with than just their body parts.
PI: Name three people that have had the most influence on your style as a writer.
CH: Iceberg Slim, in terms of raw language and street sense. In my opinion, Gloria Naylor, because MENAFTER10 is a series of interconnected stories and The Women of Brewster Place is the blueprint of interconnected stories. And Shirley Jackson because she made being attracted to dark material seem cool to me.
PI: Where do you plan to promote this book?
CH: Well, due to COVID, promotion looks a lot different than it otherwise would. Mostly everything has been virtual, but I will be participating in LitQuake in San Francisco next month. That’ll be my first in-person author event. Please follow my Twitter at @recreatldrama to stay updated on my promotional materials and events.
PI: What are you working on next?
CH: Creative inspiration is a blessing, and I’m blessed to be able to say I have a concept for my next novel. It’s outside of my comfort zone. It scares me. And if someone else were to write it first, I’d be pissed. So that’s how I know I must write it!