Al-Saadiq Banks

*The following interview was originally published in 2003 by Ocean View Press and was conducted by Rob Watts.

Spotlight Interview
December 2003
Al-Saadiq Banks/ Author
By Robert Watts

Al-Saadiq Banks is the author of “No Exit” and the upcoming book “Block Party”. This was an odd situation. Back in September, I was in Bermuda and I accidentally stumbled onto a book in a hole in the wall gift shop on the island. It was a book called “No Exit”. I had read the entire book in 3 days and was completely blown away by the storyline and the intensity that it possessed. When I returned home, I emailed the author to tell him how much I enjoyed the book and after a few conversations back and forth I invited him to do an interview with us. Al-Saadiq has a new book coming out in December titled ” Block Party ” and I’m looking forward to reading my advanced copy soon. We’ll have to have him back to talk about that book soon, but for now, here’s is the interview on ” No Exit ” and Al-Saadiq’s background. Enjoy.

Ocean View Press- Is No Exit the first book that you have written?

Al- Saadiq Banks- Yes

What inspired you to write it ( No exit )?

Several things inspired me to write No Exit. My main purpose was to show the younger generation the reality of this lifestyle. I have a 3 year old daughter, a 1 year old nephew, an 11 year old sister and a bunch of little cousins, if I can keep them along with others from making some of the mistakes I made, then it’s all good. Also I wanted to show society what’s really going on in the hood. I want them to see what makes these kids weak for the game. I want them to know that everyone that’s in the game doesn’t necessarily want to be in it. For example, Tony, the last thing he wanted to be was a drug dealer, but look what happened. Situations made him do things he really didn’t want to do. All he wanted to do was go to school, but the more money he made, the further away from school he was. It’s an addiction, the more money you make, the more you want to make.

You give the main characters such dept and personality…..are the characters Du, E and Tony completely fictional or are they based on real people that you knew growing up?

There is an E, a Tony, and a Du in every hood.

What character in the story would you say comes closest to describing your personality while growing up?

All three characters were derived from my personality. I was all of them in one. Each one of them had a little of me in them.

Now the story is based in Newark, New Jersey….is that where you are from?

Born and raised. Shout out to the Brix!!!!!

How long did it take you to complete work on the book?

It took my entire life. For a lot of years I lived this book, but it took me about a year to put it in story form. Remember this; a lot of writers write from the outside looking in, I was writing from the inside trying to get out.

Did you self publish it or shop it around to publishers?

This book was published through True 2 Life Productions, a newly founded co.

I actually came accross the book in Bermuda. That must feel good to know that your work is available outside of the U.S……where is the wierdest place that you know of that your book is available?

Bermuda is actually the weirdest place that I’ve heard. Like I told you previously, when you emailed me and stated that you got the book in Bermuda, that messed me up. I’ve never been to Bermuda!

This book is definitly a page turner….there is such great intensity in the tone of the story. There is a line where the character Andrea says “Kill him; Ya’ll gotta kill him……..if you don’t kill him, he’ll kill me” . What was going through your mind while writing those parts of the story….were there any real life intances that you were drawing upon?

Coming up in the hood I’ve been in a lot of scary situations, I’ve seen a lot and I have done a lot, so when writing parts like that I just put my self back in some of my worst situations and relive them; the fear, the pain, the suspense. There is nothing like looking up in a man’s eyes while he’s standing over you aiming at your head. You try to look in his eyes trying to figure him out. You wish you knew what’s going on in his mind. Is he going to kill me? Is he going to let me slide? Why is he taking so long to pull the trigger? The suspense alone will kill you.

Did you get a positive response from people when it was released?

Not at first. At first No Exit was a joke. A lot of my associates laughed…..what the f…. is wrong with this n….? Ain’t nobody gone buy that sh..! But guess what? People are buying it.

I think that No Exit would make a great movie. Hypothetically speaking, what famous actors could you see playing the lead characters?

Yeah I really do. First we gotta have Bookeem Woodbine play Reemie, that’s my dude. Probably, Taye Diggs to play Tony, Lawrence Tate for E, and maybe Mekhi Phifer for Du.

So tell us about your upcoming book.

My next book is titled Block Party. It will be released in December, 2003. It’s not based on Newark. This one is based on any ghetto in the world. From hood to hood, state to state it’s the same game.
Block Party is actually my favorite. It has more of everything, more money, more murder, more drama, and most importantly it has more positive messages. My goal is not to glamourize this lifestyle, but to open people’s minds. A lot of cats don’t want to hear what you have to say right now, but when they get behind that wall, bored to death and my book is staring them in the face, they’ll pick it up and read it. Then they’ll get the message.

Aside from writing, what else do you do for a living?

Right now this is my full time job. I just recently closed down a Car Wash/detail shop. That gave me a lot of extra time to put this project together.

What type of music do you enjoy?

I love hardcore hip hop, no party music. However, I am versatile. I also listen to Jazz. I’ve been listening to that ever since I was a teenager.

We are located in Boston. Ever been to our city?

Yes, I was there on business about 13 years ago. I was working for a demolition company as a Laborer. Our job was to tear down all the Consumers nationwide.
Yeah, a Laborer, Car Detailing, a Skycap, A Dunkin Donut Porter, A Kentucky Fried Chicken Porter, an Electronic Engineer, a Boxer, and now a writer. I told you I was versatile. Seen it all, been through it all.

What words of encouragement would you give to first time writers looking to publish a book?

Do it and don’t let anyone discourage you. Just because one person doesn’t like your book, doesn’t mean the whole world won’t. Everyone caught in the struggle has a story to tell, tell it. Most importantly stick to subjects you know, so you will be able to write in full detail. If you don’t know the streets, don’t write street stories. You have to make the readers feel you, how are you going to describe something to me, that you don’t have a clue about?

Who are your favorite authors?

Actually I don’t have a favorite Author. Believe it or not, I don’t even read. As a child I skimmed through my mother’s Donald Goines collection, but that was only to read the sex passages. Ha Ha Ha.

Well, I certainly enjoyed no exit and look forward to reading your new book “Block Party” when it comes out…..are there any parting words you’d like to leave the readers with before we wrap up?

Thanks for the exposure! I’m really flattered that you found me to be interesting enough to interview me.
If there are any writers out there looking for publishing holler! The company email address is True2lifeproductions@verizon.net If you have manuscripts for us to check out forward them to
True 2 Life Productions
P.O.Box 8722
Newark N.J. 07108

After Block Party I have a few more books ready, but we are looking for other Authors to fall in between. In the next year and a half we plan to have 10 titles on the shelves.
True 2 Life, roll wit us, or get rolled over!
Peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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