Suffice to say that in the midst of total chaos and madness, even a gangster dreams of better days and better ways.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darius Slaughter the author of “Hostile: An Urban Tragedy”, book one in the Hostile Series. Hostile is the true account of overcoming life’s adversities in relationships, loss, and tragedy. Slaughter’s talents, brains, and will to survive eventually led him to success and opportunity via “the path less traveled,” after gambling with his life and freedom in his quest for money, power, and respect.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
Having survived the unspeakable and chased the American dream on both sides of the law, I found myself incarcerated and ultimately shocked that I was still alive and semi-unscathed. Having been indicted multiple times and circumnavigated every possible whammy and disaster the streets could throw at me, I sat in my cell reflecting on the perils and losses, gains and triumphs that I had endured. Had I not lived every moment myself, I would never have believed half of what I had been through and ultimately Hostile began as a compilation of memories. As the chapters poured forth, it evolved into a raw, uncut testimony that told the truth of the streets, good and bad, that many urban tales neglect to effectively communicate.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
An underworld figure of some renown — bodyguards in tow — approached me at a car show and said he recognized me from my book. He told me that he had read it twice and fresh out of lockdown — again- had given it to both of his daughters to read as it was the only way he could find to shed light on “our way of life”. He asked me why I wrote it and in the middle of me explaining that I wanted to keep the youth from making the mistakes we made, he literally broke down in tears. He said that he felt parts of the book so graphically that he had to lock himself down for a day or two in order to settle down. This is from a man who had seen it all, done it all, had it all, lost it all, and gained it back. I was both stunned and honored to have been able to have him attest to the reality of Hostile.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
My biggest challenge with Hostile remains a challenge to this day as mainstream society, media, and sadly even the urban arena have thus far seemed to shy away from Hostile — labeling it too raw, too real ,and too graphic. I self-published in order to maintain the authenticity of Hostile — in order to keep the powers that be from watering down my experiences and thus watering down the powerful message held within. Slowly wearing down the barriers set against Hostile and myself one reader at a time, one interview at a time, I am finally gaining traction after over two years fighting for an opening to the mainstream markets.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Initially, my biggest mistake was releasing Hostile while I was still on parole. I was basically with one foot still incarcerated and the other slipping and sliding on the thin ice of freedom. Several peers — still incarcerated — ordered the book and it was promptly put on the banned book list and my parole officer’s supervisor spent the next 6 months doing everything in his power to violate my parole, which effectively killed my initial release of Hostile. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I was wholly ignorant as to the ins and outs of the book game and would have surely been caught spinning my wheels and wasting my money.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have just been confirmed for the SAVE THE YOUTH tour for several major cities later this summer. I am extremely excited to relate my testimony and hopefully keep teens and young adults from throwing their lives away. The HOSTILE audio book is in it’s final stages of editing and will be dropping within the next month as well. HOSTILE 2: HOMECOMING is in the final stages of editing and should drop in the early fall just before the holidays. There are a few other HOSTILE related projects in the works but I don’t want to speak on them prematurely and jinx them so you will just have to stay tuned!
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
Hmm. It is hard to pick the “most interesting’ chapter out of a lifetime of madness and chaos. Honestly, to try to relate the loss, pain and tragedy of the chapter called “the last supper” in anything less than the heart breaking, tear jerking detail related in the book would be disrespectful and lacking. Suffice to say that in the midst of total chaos and madness, even a gangster dreams of better days and better ways. The idea, theory, of bringing new life into the world and in essence re-inventing one’s self can be intoxicating and ultimately defining, but to lose said child can be the most horrendous and heartbreaking event of your life. In my case it was twins, graphically mis-carried for only God knows why, which stole away my dreams of fatherhood and my escape from what seemed to be a never ending cycle of death and loss.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
Life is full of choices whether good or bad, and ultimately we are responsible for the consequences and repercussions of our choices. Everyone pays the price for their choices sooner or later so make sure that you are well-aware of the opportunity cost — what you have to give to gain when making your life decisions. I was a gangster by choice and as such, I was well-aware of the risks and rewards of my lifestyle and decisions. Sadly, many enter into the street life blind to the rules and consequences, and end up losing huge sections of their life, if not their lives and health due to lack of knowledge and understanding.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
First, I would study your genre whether it be fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, or biographies. Second, I would define what you, personally, believe makes a ‘great’ writer of that genre. Third, I would delve into my subject matter in great depth and make sure that I was encompassing every aspect of what I believed would make my work amazing. Fourth, I would gather a conglomerate of people to evaluate my work honestly and give me tips and pointers as to where my work was weak and strong. Fifth, I would make sure my work was unique and genuine to me.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
Perseverance and discipline. Hostile was actually smuggled out of the county jail and subsequently prison one chapter at a time hidden in letters as they screen all mail for indictable information. It is memories painstakingly related to preserve the unbelievable events that transpired at an insane time in my life. My brother Bane actually kept and catalogued the letters and once I was home and settled, he presented the letters to me in two binders and asked simply, “what are you going to do with it?”.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I read voraciously throughout multiple genres, including history, biographies, science fiction, murder mysteries, and more. I am an extreme fan of great writing throughout the various genre’s and find the speed and easy reading of James Patterson, the extreme plot twists of Isaac Asimov, the raw, uncut journey described in the autobiography of Malcom X, the complexity of James Baldwin and the utter grace and beauty of Maya Angelou all equally inspiring. There are too many to list, but I find inspiration throughout hundreds of literary works.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would challenge/task the various strata of society with becoming actively involved in the world and making a difference. There are too many sideline coaches and critics and not enough people willing to step out of their comfort zones, and lend a helping hand to fix societies’ woes and misdeeds. I’m not speaking on blind donations — much of which never even makes it to the designated charity- but more so personal time spent in various ways be it Boy’s and Girl’s clubs, visiting nursing homes, children’s hospitals, feeding the homeless, etc.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can find me on IG @hostilebook, on Facebook at HOSTILE BOOK and catch up with my latest movements and merchandise on my website at www.hostilebook.com.
Thank you for all of these great insights!