Alicia Coston is the author of two thrillers with a third waiting to be born. Always intrigued by psychological thrillers and having studied psychology at Old Dominion University, Alicia loved books with a cat and mouse twist. Thus, Alicia began her own journey as a thriller author who desired to make women of color more prevalent writers in the genre. Alicia Coston is married and lives in Washington D.C. where she strives to promote literacy among urban youth.
BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?
I was a precocious child who came from a family of musicians and artists; I dibble and dabble in singing and the fine arts, but my inherent creativity and wild imagination has always leaned towards writing. I think that’s because I was socially awkward (though no one would believe me now) and my peers looked at me as sort of a nerd. Reading was my escape and it introduced me to a whole new world where sometimes, the underdog does win; I grew up hungry for books, and the more I read, the more I honed those skills and wanted to write. I wrote and illustrated my first book at eight years old. It gave me a sense of control that most kids don’t have when they’re trying to find their path and appeal to their peers.
Not long after and wanting a different reading experience, I moved on to adult fiction. The first “real” novel I ever read was Daddy Was A Number Runner by Louise Merriweather (and my, was that an experience I highly recommend); I must admit, my father didn’t know I had his book, but it certainly taught me about character development and that the world doesn’t always smell of roses. In the sixth grade, one of my teachers read a poem of mine and said, “This is not the class you’re supposed to be in.” Ever since, I was in advanced English classes. I remember how great it felt then to have someone admire my work, and the feeling has never changed.
BPM: Introduce us to your book and the main characters. What makes each one special? Do you have any favorites?
Most people don’t know what to expect when I tell them about my second novel, The Men Who Sleep With My Husband. First and foremost, the book is NOT about my husband; you’d be surprised how many people ask me that! It is a thriller in which the First Lady of a renowned black church discovers that her husband is involved in numerous affairs with male lovers (the story begins with her happening upon a questionable act in the pulpit between her husband and a deacon); she takes matters into her own hands by hiring a hitwoman to kill her husband’s lovers in an effort to frame him for the murders.
Pastor Quincy Wallace has known for some time that he is attracted to men; he was raised in the church and his father, who was a deacon, had high expectations he wished to live up to. Now, as an adult, he has hundreds of members who have raised that proverbial bar in addition to a son who wants to follow in his footsteps.
Detective Tai Exavier falls for Lavender while looking into the case of the missing men; he’s an example of someone who will focus on the problems of others while finding it difficult to focus on his own. Maybe this is the twisted side of me, but my favorite character is The Magician; while I don’t condone contract killing as a profession, she is not only attractive but intelligent and strong…just like I think women should be.
BPM: What drew you to tackle the questions or topics in The Men Who Sleep With My Husband?
It’s clear that homosexuality is still a huge taboo in the black community which is why I think “closeted” or “down-low” men are so prevalent in the black community; I believe that strong Christian values and society viewing black men as uber-masculine play a huge part in why most gay black men lead this secret life. I think homosexuality is especially prevalent in the church in general(no particular culture attached) because it’s easy for any person—gay, straight or otherwise—to hide under a cloak of faith or religion and hope to be redeemed in the process.
BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
This book is about duality; the roles we play when we have to, who we really are and why. As a boss, you try to set a good example for your employees even when it’s difficult. As a parent, you try to do the same thing for your child. The problem comes in when you have played a role for so long that you forget who you really are and ultimately make decisions that destroy the lives of people who were only given the choice to meet your substitute. In terms of HIV, it is still very real, but I don’t think black women should only expect it from closeted black men; I think bisexual black men have gotten a bad rap for carrying HIV. Let’s be real; there are still some women out there, young and old, who don’t protect themselves or think they have less to worry about with straight men. I don’t recall HIV being discriminatory.
BPM: What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate? Entertain? Illuminate? Inspire?
I love writing thrillers, as these are the books I also enjoy reading, so of course I want to entertain my readers; to me, there’s nothing better than not knowing what’s going to happen next. I work diligently at making sure I keep readers guessing. I want to inspire other young writers to put their best and most honest work out there, even if they write about a topic such as mine that might get some controversial attention. In regards to The Men Who Sleep With My Husband, I had an older relative ask, “Is that really going on in the church?” I was actually in disbelief because I assumed this was no secret. I suppose controversy can be very illuminating…to both the reader and the author.
BPM: What do you think the effect has been of the media attention focus on African-American literature and the arts?
Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s enough positive media attention; too often, African-American literature is placed into a very small box and I think readers, including some African-Americans, expect black characters from black authors. I think urban fiction, granted it is well-written like anything else, shouldn’t be mocked any more than books that may be seen as a sappy romance to some or weird sci-fi to others; there will always be very specific genres for very specific audiences, but there is nothing wrong with presenting AA literature to people of all races and genders just as mainstream books not written by black authors are presented to and purchased by black people. I have older white female readers as well as older black male readers so again, sometimes people just want to be illuminated.
BPM: Share with us your latest news. How may our readers follow you online?
I was working on a new thriller, entitled Etiquette, but I put it on hold when my readers requested a sequel to The Men Who Sleep With My Husband. So, the sequel, The Men Who Sleep With My Husband II: The Non-Prophet, will be released on 3/29/2013. I have other projects coming up as well including my new thriller blog, A Lady In The Streets, which will begin in April 2013; basically, I’ll be releasing “episodes” on a weekly basis to give readers a little entertainment in between my future book releases.
SNEAK PEEK: The Men Who Sleep With My Husband II: The Non-Prophet
The twenty-one-year-old college senior dragged himself through the brush and insects leaving behind pencil-thin lines of his blood. Just hours before, he’d been handsome—he was toffee-colored, just shy of six foot three with a dimpled smile and a head full of close cut wavy hair. He had been ready to go out and more importantly, to mingle. It was his birthday, he was finally legal and he’d hoped to drag himself into bed instead after hours of mindless drinking. This was his first time at a gay club, the gay club his friends said, and his moment to finally be true to himself. So when the older and inexplicably flawless man approached him outside the club, the attention was something he couldn’t resist. Especially since the man was well-known and no stranger to spending money in a way that was foreign to Lamar. If not for his scholarship, college wouldn’t have been an option.
Didn’t matter now though. They were going to kill him.
Each one of them had revealed their faces, including the dark-skinned man who first showed interest in him. He could identify them all if he ever made it out alive and that’s when he knew that he wouldn’t. This was just another part of their “game” and he was their pawn. He could tell by the way they quietly walked side by side down the tree-lined path in the bluish black of night. Like they were watching their tan mutt sniffing along the bushes. They were only a few yards behind and each time their heavy boots delivered a louder crescendo of dirt, he knew they were coming for him.
The young man stunk of his sweat and their own. He left his last mark of defiance by stopping and turning over onto his back. It was no easy feat. Any movement felt like they were kicking and punching him all over again though it was really just the bruises and cuts splattered across his muscular body. He was a star athlete. He could’ve and would’ve given each of them a fight one on one. But they were smarter than that, of course. They’d chained his legs and arms together figuring he wouldn’t give it up that easily. When they were done, they unchained just his arms to allow him to try to escape for their own entertainment.
Because they’re cowards, he thought and wanted to scream it into the hovering tree branches that reached for him each time the night wind danced through them. But he couldn’t scream. He fumbled with the muzzle-like contraption chained to his head—it held a numbered pool ball in his mouth which only allowed him to breathe through his nose. The men snickered and one called out to him.
“Don’t worry, Lamar. We’re going to be fast this time.”
It was him. His voice stroked his eardrums like velvet when he first heard it in the parking lot between the shadows.
Now it was nauseating.
Angry tears flooded his eyes and he was mad at himself more than anything. He glared down at his bare feet, caked in mud from the afternoon showers. The shirt his mother bought him for his birthday was grass-stained and torn to shreds and he was naked from the waist down. He thought he looked so good in it earlier that night. So sexy. He hadn’t pictured his first time being with a man turning out the way it had. They smiled while torturing, beating and raping him for hours in that iron box. Now they were laughing at him. He stopped struggling to remove the mask from his head and allowed his head to fall back against the soil. He was tired. He was broken. Even if they let him go, he wouldn’t forget what they’d done and what they’d made him do. He didn’t want to think about how many other young men they’d done this to. He didn’t want to think about the shame he would have to wear that not even his football helmet could hide. So he closed his eyes, outstretched his arms and inhaled deeply. He dreamt of the crowd cheering as he darted towards the in-zone. The men—the very important men—who had sodomized him came to a halt as they surrounded him.
Just think of them as the huddle, Lamar, he told himself.
He didn’t know which one raised the gun, only that his silhouette meshed with the weapon. The crowd in his head grew louder and urged him to score the points that would win the game.
Touchdown, he thought…right before the gun went off.
( Story Continues… )
© 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Alicia Coston. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher’s written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author’s website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
Meet the Author
Alicia Coston is indeed a lady in the streets but a literary tramp because she writes unabashedly and candidly; Alicia says, “Don’t think outside of the box; be the box!” She is the author of thrillers “The Men Who Sleep With My Husband” and “She’s Killin’ Me” (Indigo Press).
Alicia is the founder of publishing company Indigo Press in addition to being an accomplished songwriter and songstress; her future endeavors include starting up a performing arts center for young women and at-risk youth. She also founded the poetry group, Fempire Speaks, which enables young women to speak to their peers about female empowerment, education and wellness.
Alicia studied psychology at Old Dominion University before pursuing her true passion of writing. She currently resides in the D.C. metro area with her husband; she is a freelance writer for various publications in the DC metro area and her contributing work revolves around cultural events, dating and relationships and the urban community. Her next book release is “The Men Who Sleep With My Husband II: The Non-Prophet”.