Author J. Cerrone is a native of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with roots in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois and Harlem, NYC. He penned his first literary work, “The Prodigal Son: Book One,” at age nineteen, but rewrote the book ten years later because of its true-to-life content.
At one point in his life, though gainfully employed in corporate America, J. Cerrone felt pressured to turn to the streets to help make ends meet for his family. After serving both jail time and time on house arrest, he paved a fresh path for himself and founded Paper-Cha$e Publications. He then went on to complete his second book, “Illegal Life: A North Philly Story.”
In addition to being a father, an author, entrepreneur, music lover and former deejay, J. Cerrone is an avid reader and lists Donald Goines and Mario Puzo among his favorite authors.
What are some of the biggest obstacles that you encounter as an author?
My biggest challenges are prioritizing writing projects and balancing my writing while running the daily operations of my publishing company, Paper-Cha$e Publications, for myself and my clients.
One of your hashtags is #readingisgangster. How did that come about and can you explain it?
I’m on a mission to change the narrative around literacy, especially with the younger generation. We can learn so much, both positive and negative, through reading. While the mainstream media constantly encourages us to engage in activities that dull the senses and mental capabilities; reading will sharpen them and help us to do better at whatever life path we choose to pursue.
It is especially important for Melanated people to take advantage of our opportunities to gain knowledge on various subjects through reading. There was a time in America, not too long ago, when reading was a capital offense for Black Americans. Defiance of that rule has always been gangster! Obtaining knowledge has always been a militant thing to do, especially when we go against the status quo to do so.
What are three of your favorite books and why?
It is difficult for me to pick favorites, but since you’re asking me to choose, I narrowed it down to three.
“Seven Years to Seven Figures” by Michael Masterson because it taught me valuable principals about finances and business.
“Omerta” by Mario Puzo because it was entertaining, action-packed and had several different elements; including crime and political intrigue. It was also controversial due to rumors of a ghostwriter completing the book after Mario Puzo’s death.
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcom X, because brother Malcolm was a legend and a role model of mine. This is a book I own and find the need to revisit over the years. The book is motivational and inspirational as it discusses his personal journey and his growth and I recommend the memoir, especially to people who look like me.
How do you feel about books that are turned into movies?
I like it when books are turned into movies, if it’s done properly. Also, if the author is still living, it is important that they be properly compensated for their work. I’ve heard too many stories of authors being swindled by movie production companies for the film rights to their books. Too often, authors are not properly compensated and the movie veers too far of course from the original storyline.
What advice can you give to aspiring authors, (writing, publishing, etc…)?
Write every day if possible. Outline your ideas to make them cohesive. Retain the rights to your work. Continue to have fun, but treat writing like a job. Do your research and start your own publishing company, even if it is strictly to publish your own work. Ownership is key to success and longevity.
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As always we like to close with a saying, quote or adage and today’s is about becoming a writer: THE SECRET TO BECOMING A WRITER IS TO WRITE. WRITE AND KEEP ON WRITING.
Now, go forth and change the game!