Author’s Bio: Leon Thornton Jr.’s exposure to poetry began at the age of 12, when a teacher recommended his mother enroll him in a reading club to improve his comprehension. His subsequent love of poetry became his outlet to cope with pain in his life, including witnessing his father’s alcoholism, his uncle’s drug addiction and resulting death, and his near death experience after his body almost succumbed to diabetes. Thornton’s writings about these dark times in his life as well as the darkness in world events, friends’ lives, and his general observations of everyday circumstances are shared in his first book, The Shadows of My Soul. He credits his sports and writing poetry as the catharses that helped him release and move past his emotional pain. Thornton lives with his wife, two sons, and mother-in-law in Maryland.
What inspired you to write your book?
LT: My son, Jabari. Before he went off to college, I told him to never give up on the pursuit of his goals and dreams. I started thinking about myself and how I cast aside my poems for so many years. I really felt like a hypocrite. At that moment, I said “Son, there is something I haven’t told anyone but you, but I was thinking about publishing my poems…and now I will.”
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LT: Great question! Aside from poetry by Langston Hughes, it would probably be Native Son by Richard Wright. In my opinion, Native Son is one of the greatest novels I ever read. Similar to Bigger Thomas, at times I felt like I was looking through a knothole in a fence at others who fully embraced, enjoyed and were proudly apart of the fabric of American Society.
Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
LT: Yes, this is my first book. It only took a few weeks to arrange the poetry in the book, because I had written many of the poems years ago. What took a while was contracting with a non-traditional publisher, designing a cover, editing, and getting the book into production. Overall it took about 6 to 7 months (August 2015 to February 2016) to release the book.
Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LT: No, I do not write with an outline. Thoughts and ideas come to me anytime and anywhere. Normally, I write based on what or how I feel and try to put my finger on the impulse of the moment. If my poems are left unfinished, I’ll go back and attempt to correct the structure, rhyming pattern, line breaks, etc.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LT: No, not usually. But, sometimes I listen to music and sing along while in the shower. Uhh, for better acoustics, of course! Sometimes I’ll sing the song, forget the words, and then substitute my own words. I use the melody or mood of the song as background noise to help motivate me to create my own lyrics/poems.
What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
LT: First, having something meaningful and profound to share. Second, connecting with the right people who have the experience and knowledge about the literary industry. Third, getting exposure on radio and promoting my poetry book and talent in various literary and artistic events.
What advice would you give to new authors?
LT: If you decide to use a non-traditional book publisher, please make sure you do your own “background” check on the publishing company. If however, you decide to self-publish, there are resources and self-help books like Cherrie Woods’s book, Where Do I Start? 10 PR Questions and Answers to Guide Self-Published Authors. And my last advice would be to trust your instincts, stay positive, and always remain your biggest supporter!
How about sharing an excerpt from The Shadows of My Soul.
I was born not out of love
Purple pain and pure pleasure
Tossed into an obscure
Pot of hot Cajun despair.
Lonely nights hunger
Company of any kind.
Meek eyes are destined
To stare into bloodstained eyes
And intermingle for
One night, for one kiss of bliss
Beneath the naked stars…
(Poem by Leon Thornton, Jr., July 12, 1998)
What’s next for you?
LT: Well, on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 7:00pm I will be a featured performer at the RL Hotel Inner Harbor for C3: Create, Connect & Conquer presented by Liberated Muse and the Artists Compound, LLC.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book?
· Website: www.Thorntonspoetry.com
· Email: Thorntonpoetry@gmail.com
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheShadowsofMySoul
Book buy Links: visit www.Thorntonspoetry.com