12 October 2010

Finding Shannon Holmes

Shannon Holmes
Shannon Holmes is one of the pioneers of Street Lit, and undoubtedly one of the best literary writers in the genre. I put Holmes and K'wan on the same top tier for male Street Lit authors.

Having met Shannon personally, I can attest that he is a quiet warrior, who stealthily, yet very effectively keeps working and doing really interesting things in the Street Lit game. He is an author who is very collaborative, working with other authors on anthologies such as: Streets of New York, volume 1 (2009), Flirt (2009), Menace (2009), and Hood2Hood (2008). Holmes has written with established Street Lit authors such as Erick S. Gray, Anthony Whyte, and one of my absolute favorite authors, Tracy Brown (Black, White Lines, Criminal Minded, etc.). 

Mr. Holmes boasts a serious list of solo efforts; indeed, his first novel, B-More Careful (2001), punctuated Street Lit as a genre to be taken seriously and respected. His repertoire includes more heavy-hitting titles such as Bad Girlz (2003), Never Go Home Again (2005), and Dirty Game (2007), to name a few. His last novel was Bad Girlz 4 Life (2008), the sequel to Bad Girlz.

Hard White book cover
This past weekend I was in a Borders Bookstore in Washington, D.C. While there, I had the pleasure of purchasing three (3) recently published novels in the Street Lit genre, all of them published by  Augustus Publishing. One novel is a collaboration between Mr. Holmes and Anthony Whyte, entitled, Hard White: On the Streets of New York Only One Color Matters (2010). The other two titles are: When Love Turns to Hate, by Sharron Doyle (2010), and a collection of short stories called, Dead and Stinkin: A Collection of Deadly Short Stories (2010), by Stephen Hewett.

If you have been focused on Triple Crown as the brand for Street Lit, or you've just never heard of Augustus Publishing, you must check them out. They bring Street Lit to a whole other level with their creative approach to book publishing and promotion. For example, Hard White is a novel by Anthony Whyte, that is based on a screenplay by Shannon Holmes. This is a really cool approach because Holmes' screenplay has been made into a movie. If you want to check out the movie trailer, see Shannon's MySpace blog entry that features the 3:25 trailer. Watching the movie trailer also gives you insight into the novel. The movie and novel are interwoven as basically, one package.

What is most interesting about Augustus Publishing is that book trailers - video clips that depict a scene in the book's story - a relatively new concept - is featured on Augustus Publishing's website for various other titles as well. Author K'wan promotes his books with book trailers on his YouTube channel. Author Earl Sewell, contributor to the Kimani Tru series, also promotes his books with book trailers.

Another thing that Augustus Publishing is doing with its novels is interweaving graphics and images within the text. So when you open up an Augustus novel, you get a visual experience along with the textual experience. To put credit where credit is due, Sister Souljah was the first to offer this approach in her latest novel, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story (2008). It's nice to see a publishing house take up this technique, as it is a beautiful way in which to package Street Lit. Hard White, When Love Turns to Hate, and Dead and Stinkin are all rendered this way. Such unique and interesting packaging and presentation can definitely heighten the interest and engagement of even the most reluctant reader.

So I found Shannon Holmes, who was, in truth, never lost! He is apparently as busy as ever, working with others to continue to evolve this game we call Street Lit (or Hip Hop Lit) as a viable, perpetual artistic literary genre. Holmes is one of those authors you should never move your eye away from - you just might miss something. I've learned my lesson and will never do that again.


  1. Great Intro to an important author, Vanessa. Thank You!

  2. Thanks Jeff for the birthday wish - so you hacked my blog too?? You are too much! lol

  3. Vanessa,
    There are several articles discussing this issues of royalties and advances not being paid with street lit authors:

    On the AALBC Board: http://www.thumperscorner.com/discus/messages/36042/32943.html

    Deja Joy King discusses her issues with her former publisher:

    Tobias King tells his side of the story in his conflict with Wahida Clark:


  4. Thank you Shawn; much appreciated. We know that this is common across genres in the publishing world. Writers do have to learn the ropes as they go. I'm learning myself!

  5. the world of street lit is HUGE. aaahhh - my head is spinning!

  6. (can't wait for the book.)

  7. Thanks so much Patrice!


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