Frank Fiore Speaks Feb13

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Frank Fiore Speaks

Author Frank Fiore writes in a unique format of grit and realism. Honest and unafraid, Murran is a tale of a young African-American teen coming of age amidst the pitfalls, gangs and threats of 1980s Brooklyn. What he learns along the way could possibly lead his community towards a cultural revival.

Tell us where you are from and a little about yourself?

murran authorI was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and wrote my first short story in grammar school. It was about a boy whose toy tin truck  was given to the government in a metal drive during WWII that eventually became part of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atom bomb. A ten-year-old thinking about nuclear holocaust? I was a weird kid. I didn’t write another story until I was in college. A Sci-Fi work written in the style of the Golden Age of Scientific Fiction writers. Then, about twenty years ago, I started writing fiction. I should have kept writing at ten.

What was hardest part of creating this work?

In a way, MURRAN as a story has been blessed. Once I finished my research and started writing, the story told itself.

What was your inspiration for writing this work?

Many years ago, back in the 80s, and based on some of my experiences growing up in Brooklyn where I was aware of gang members. On the streets you had no choice. Those young teens saw themselves as ‘warriors’ – bad asses, having to prove themselves. As a writer, I thought what if one of the teens in the gang really wanted to prove his courage. Really show he was a ‘warrior’. Like hunting a bear with nothing but a knife. But, then I thought, that wouldn’t work. No bears in Brooklyn unless you break into the Bronx Zoo. I didn’t know where to go with that at the time so the idea just sat in the back of my head. A decade or so later, I went on African Safari and learned about the Maasai tribe and of their ‘rite of passage’ to manhood by killing a lion.  Hey! I thought. What if the gang member tried to hunt and kill a lion? But there where no lions in Brooklyn and that’s when I realized that if the gang member was a African-American, I could figure a way for him to get to Africa and kill his lion to become a warrior.  The story of MURRAN just fell into place after that.

Of all the ethnic cultures you could have used, why did you select the black culture for MURRAN?

The story of MURRAN led me there. To make my main character an African-American. But it also gave me a vehicle to pursue an alienation theme. If any ethnic group in our country has been alienated the most, it’s the Africa-Americans because of the manner that they arrived to America When asked what tribe are you from of an African-American – there is no answer. But almost every other ethnic and European culture in our society can point to a ‘tribe’ they came from. MURRAN gives me the opportunity to provide a way for the threatened culture of the Maasai tribe – a proud and brave culture with a strong rite of passage for their youth – to be introduced and hopefully embraced by today’s African-Americans who seem to want to live a true African culture.

It seems that you didn’t let much hold you back when adding descriptive backdrop to the story – could you share some of the personal history you have and added while writing?

I wanted the book to real. Gritty. Raw. The characters and their experiences, and the locals are composites from real biographies or autobiographies of gang and Maasai life.  The backdrop of the story comes from my personal experiences of growing up in Brooklyn combined with a large amount of research.

Murran_V15We understand that you wrote this work with a purpose – in your own words – what did you want to convey to the readers?

I wanted to show that Black America once had a true unique culture that was abandoned in the mid 20th century for what they claim is an African-American culture today.  African Americans had a unique Black culture. It was called the Black Renaissance and it took place in the early part of the 20th century. A Renaissance steeped in values and a culture unique to Blacks. The music, literature, way of life and culture were a big draw to the ‘swells’ in Manhattan. Drawing them to Harlem at night to enjoy it. I learned about this era of Black culture from a book by Tony Brown – part of my research for MURRAN – and how the core fabric of the black community was torn apart. I myself experienced some of it as a youth while going to night school at CCNY in Harlem.

How do you feel about your work of fiction addressing such strong moral issues?

Currently we are living in a time of deep political and cultural divides. I feel we need creative works that hold up a mirror to those divides and propose solutions. I also believe that we need to understand and engage on this African quote with our youth of any color or race: “If we don’t initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat.” Gang membership is NOT a rite of passage nor is being able to score high in ‘Grand Theft Auto’.  As the grandmother and old Maasai shaman in MURRAN say, “what is needed as a cultural model for today’s black communities is a revival – not a rebellion.”

The Seven Questions

  1. What’s your favorite sound?

The sound of the pitter patter of rain on a roof.

  1. What makes you happy?

Helping people. It gives me meaning.

  1. What makes you angry?

 Blatant ignorance of educated people

  1. What is the secret of success?

Don’t look back.

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, living or dead, who would it be?

Winston Churchill – and Lord we need him now!

  1. What is the epitaph that is written on your tombstone?

A good husband, a great father, and a fulfilling lover

  1. When you get to heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear God say to you?

What took you so long?