Authors of Note: James Earl Hardy

Name: James Earl Hardy

Current Residence: ATL

Birth Place: NYC

Age: 43

Martial Status: Single

PRIDEINDEX: Provide a listing of all of your books and the year published.
HARDY:  B-Boy Blues – 1994
Spike Lee: A Biography – 1995
Boyz II Men: A Portrait – 1996
2nd Time Around – 1996
If Only For One Nite – 1997
The Day Eazy-E Died – 2001
Love The One You’re With – 2002
A House Is Not a Home – 2005
“Is It Still Jood To Ya?” , a novella featured in Visible Lives: Three Stories In Tribute to E. Lynn Harris – 2010

PRIDEINDEX: Where did you find the inspiration for each book?

PRIDEINDEX: When were you first published? And under what circumstances?
I was first published as a professional writer in the New York Amsterdam News. I was 15. I submitted an essay about the controversy surrounding The Color Purple.

PRIDEINDEX: What is your earliest memory of being a writer?
When I was ten, I gave my grandmother a poem for Mother’s Day that made her cry. It was then that I realized how powerful words could be.

PRIDEINDEX: Please describe your current or most recent project. Include a brief overview, your motivation for the project, and any notable challenges you encountered.

HARDY:  On Visible Lives: A couple of weeks after E. passed, Terrance [Dean] and Stanley [Bennett Clay] called me up and asked if I’d be interested in being a part of the collection; of course, I said yes. It’s a fitting way to honor a man who did so much for the publishing industry and our society. E. just wasn’t one of the most successful authors of our time; he was also one of the most influential, helping Black America break that “don’t ask, don’t tell” silence surrounding homosexuality, and giving many SGL people the courage to stop living invisible lives. The unique thing about the collection is that he [E.] appears as a character in each of our novellas. Given how much he loved Pooquie & Little Bit’s story — and his prediction in 2005 that A House Is Not A Home would not be the end of the series — I know he’d be tickled to see himself pop up in their world.

On his first theatrical production, the one-man show Confessions of a Homo Thug Porn Star: Tiger Tyson approached me about writing his memoir and I jumped at the chance. As I was interviewing him I realized just how ripe his story was for the stage. I asked if he would mind if I developed the material it as a play, and he gave me his blessing. It made its debut in April during the Dowtown Urban Theater Festival in New York City and won their Best Short Prize. Some have questioned why tell Tiger’s story; I always respond, “Why not?” After all, porn stars are people, too. I wanted to get behind the image and allow you to get to know the man. Also, hit’s a classic boy from the hood, rags-to-riches tale: grew up poor, dealt drugs, did stints in jail, was homeless for a spell, fell into the adult entertainment world as a stripper, escort and then XXX actor, and now runs his own multi-million dollar business. If that ain’t the American Dream, then what is?

PRIDEINDEX: When and where did you first meet Mr. E. Lynn Harris?
In 1994, at a book signing for Just As I Am and Invisible Life. I approached him about giving me a jacket blurb for B-Boy Blues.

PRIDEINDEX: How do you identify and nurture ideas for new projects?
Writing to me is like breathing; it’s not what I do, it’s what I am. So, my projects just reveal themselves to me, I get out of the way and let them do their thing, and just go along for the ride.

PRIDEINDEX: Please describe 1-3 authors/writers/performers that have influenced your artistic style?
1 – James Baldwin – I discovered Just Above My Head in high school and couldn’t believe that (1) a Black SGL man wrote it and (2) that it acknowledged and celebrated Black on Black male love. Arthur and Crunch served as the inspirations for Mitchell and Raheim.
2 – Luther Vandross – He’s in my top 3 favorite singers of all time. Four of the seven installments in the series are named after songs he’s performed. I’ve always wanted to write the way he sings.
3 – Larry Duplechan – Many are surprised to learn that I am a fan of Larry’s, since the worlds we create in our work are so different, culturally and politically. But his writing style — very breezy, with cultural references from movies and songs helping to tell the story — is what captured my attention and made me a fan.

PRIDEINDEX: What 2 books and 2 CDs should everyone own?
The books: Just Above My Head by James Baldwin and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. The CDs: Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace and Abbey Lincoln’s You Gotta Pay The Band.

PRIDEINDEX: Do you believe African American authors have an obligation to the African American community? Why or why not?
I believe Black authors — like any other authors — have an obligation to the work they are creating, to the characters that are speaking through them.

PRIDEINDEX: What is the biggest misconception about you and/or your work?
That B-Boy Blues is my story of falling in love with a b-boy one summer. The rumor back in the day was that Raheim was Tyson Beckford. I know that rumor helped sell a lot of books!

PRIDEINDEX:  What advice would you give aspiring writers?
HARDY:  Write. You can’t call yourself a writer if you haven’t [written], and aspiring to be one won’t make it happen.