MAN IN THE MIRROR
Isaiah David Paul
Solomon Waterwine – August 2013
Originally published as A WALK IN MY SHOES/NEVER TOO MUCH by Jaeyel Imes
RBANWRTR – 1998, 2000
Previously published as ROLLIN’ WIT’ THE PUNCHES
by Jarold Imes
Abednego’s Free – 2008
This book, along with Never Too Muchand U Can’t Break Memake up my debut novel, originally titled A Walk in My Shoes.
The original publication of this book was in a three-ring binder, printed from an ink jet printer. I printed twelve copies, of which I only got back three. I sold seven of the three-ring binder copies for $10 each. My first readers were my classmates at my high school and a couple of people from other high schools in Winston Salem.
My book got passed around so many times that some of the people who bought copies didn’t get theirs back either.
I was proud, I had done what no other black sixteen year old at that time in America had done. I had published a books, and it was selling a few copies and people were talking about it.
The original version featured four young men and the problems they went through. One was a teenage father, another dealt with sexuality issues, a third was incarcerated and the fourth tried to commit suicide.
My peers loved this book because they finally felt like their was a novel about teens written for teens that addressed their issues. Adults hated this books because they wanted this to be a teen book and I had too much language and the sex scenes rivaled what could be found in a Zane novel (their words, not mine–love you big sis).
I mainly wanted this book to be a conversational piece that would encourage parents and teens to talk. Fifteen years later, I feel we are still missing the mark. Parents are just allowing their teens to do whatever. Well, that’s not fair. Both parents have to work two to three jobs just to keep a roof over the heads. I get that now.
First reviews when the book hit trade paperback were horrible. I was 19 then and a little sensitive. The reviewers were not kind hearted people and I couldn’t take that they didn’t like the book. A few of them went as far as to say they didn’t like me. One said in a private email that my mother should’ve aborted me.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Since then, and for most of the last fifteen years, I have outright refused to send review copies of any book I write to reviewers. Especially when I saw these reviewers selling copies they were giving for free. I have made some exceptions but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
I’m not scared of reviewers–but to be bold enough to say some insensitive and unprofessional comment like that has struck a nerve.
I grew bitter. Most of the other African American authors were not helpful either. I remember Omar Tyree and James Earl Hardy and a few years later, E. Lynn Harris being the only authors that would try to give me direction when I was young. That is why I vowed to help all young black authors whom came after me and for the next fifteen years, I cheered, celebrated the accomplishments of several young authors who’d come after me.
In 2006, I was about to sign my very first publishing deal for a new teen series. I was familiar with the publisher and they thought I’d be really great addition. KaShamba Williams was helping me review my material and after going over Never Too Much, she suggested that I’d make the suicide book its own title.
I trusted her. She was one of the leaders of the new teen authors and being old TCP alumni, the family of authors who’d eventually adopt me and give me some guidance, I knew she knew what she was talking about.
Creating ROLLIN’ WIT THE PUNCHES as the last book of the original “Hold On Be Strong” series was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. I not only got to go in details about suicide and have a book in which I addressed a quiet epidemic, I got to talk about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I got to talk about my personal situation with suicide. In the six months I took taking Tyson’s character out of Never Too Much, I also got to talk more about family involvement, which is very important in the recovery for teens who fail suicide attempts.
While I don’t talk directly about my attempts, I do catch a feeling or two when suicide is talked about. Lee Thompson Young’s suicide around a scheduled release of Man In The Mirror was too much for me to handle. So I pushed the book back until I was ready to sell it. Had nothing to do with my closeness to the actor. Suicide will continue to be a sensitive subject for me.
I’m happy Man In The Mirror is out. I love it’s cover, as the man slightly resembles how I picture Tyson. Also, it’s a faith fiction tale that has its humorous moments and features favorite characters from Holdin’, thus making this book, it’s prequel.