Prodigious and profound author Frank C. Matthews’ triumphant transformation from inmate to novelist has established him as a leading force in the world of urban literature. Armed with his mastery of the written word, Matthews has achieved feats that are only reserved for the most seasoned of writers, selling an unprecedented amount of books as a first-time author and self-publisher. When it comes to putting the urban voice – the human voice – on the page, Matthews has no peer. His unprecedented journey demonstrates that even when confronted with a web of trials and tribulations, creativity has the ability to flourish. As a New York City native, Matthews grew up with aspirations of one day becoming a household name as an NBA Superstar. His dream took a detour, but his resilience and determination allowed him to persevere.
The lure of the streets and its fast money took Matthews away from hoops and into another game – the drug trade – where he found instant success. But a deal gone bad eventually landed him behind bars. Once incarcerated, Matthews had few options of how to spend his seemingly unending time in what felt like a black hole drawing at all happiness. Taking advantage of the still and silent nights, Matthews spent hours plunged into two of the world’s most renowned, contemporary African-American storytellers, Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.
The books empowered the now bright-eyed and enthusiastic Matthews and awakened a creative bug to tell the stories locked inside him. “Incarceration transformed me,” said Matthews. “I went from a young, frustrated, and confused boy to a mature, humble, and pensive man.” Much the way Malcolm X used the power of words to transform himself in prison, Matthews used the power of the pen to write his way to freedom, real freedom. While the calamities of his past may have blackened his vision they did not still his pen. He found his purpose. He would write his stories in notebooks, on torn-open envelopes, and anything he could get his hands on and would pass them around through the system. While some traded cigarettes, Matthews traded his highly demanded stories, which inmates clung to like emotional life rafts.
Matthews delved into the business of publishing, an industry he now planned to one day master. He found his style of writing to be unique, labeling it as “true fiction,” an alternate take on real events he had witnessed firsthand. He honed his craft and further developed a distinctive writing style that was uninhibited, dramatic yet cinematic as his readers traveled to adventurous sonic territory. He had a burning desire to share his rare experiences in the underworld of crime with anyone who would listen. Matthews’ drive and passion was reinvigorated. He would be relentless in his pursuit to share with the masses his tales of underworld crime, drama, brotherhood and love.
Upon his rebirth in 2005, Matthews discovered that he could put his past behind him and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and unwavering determination. The resilient author took his astounding gift of writing “true fiction,” coupled with his compulsion for words and decided to pursue his passion. Even after numerous failed attempts at landing a publishing deal, Matthews did what he learned to do best – create opportunities for himself. He knew that there was an untapped niche audience eager to hear his voice, and he was steadfast in his desire to supplant the current favorites in the urban lit arena.
Matthews self-published one of his first novels, Respect the Jux, and it caught fire, selling over 20,000 thousand copies. The book catapulted Matthews into the sphere typically reserved for seasoned literary greats while capturing the attention of everyone from rappers Jay-Z, Ghostface Killer, and 50 Cent (who rapped on Lloyd Banks’s single, “Hands up, if you want to party with crooks you have to learn to Respect the Jux!”) to literary powerhouses like bestselling author and publisher Karen Hunter.
The gripping tale borrows from Matthews’ recollection of urban legends through the saga of Cat, who journeyed from Jamaica to the United States as a teenager. After a stint in the military, Cat returned with newfound skills and a desire for his own version of the American Dream—by any means necessary.
Using his extensive military background in weapons and intelligence, Cat formed “The Order,” a band of thieves that specialized in pulling off juxes, which Matthews defines as emulating and acquiring another’s style, intellect, or swagger for personal advancement.
Captivating, intriguing, mesmerizing – all words that describe Frank Matthews’ uncanny ability to bring readers into the worlds that he creates. His first auspicious debut Respect the Jux, a dynamic tale of brotherhood, greed, and power, hits the shelves nationwide in September, the style made famous by Slim and Goines will be revived…with a 21st century twist!
Visit his website at www.frankmatthews.com.
The book is about a foreigner coming to America chasing the American dream as he depicts it to be. He fails in acquiring it in the manner that we consider to be the right way and forms a fraternity of thieves to achieve it.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
In Jamaica . . . he learned the art of the “jux”: robbing people by studying their everyday movements. By the age of eight, Cat was shoplifting and purse-snatching. By ten, he had his first gun. At fifteen, he committed his first murder.
In New York City . . . he created The Order: a secret society of thieves who played by Cat’s rules. He taught his crew how to pull off the perfect jux. Made them swear on a bible and a bullet. Robbed dealers, pushers, thugs. And raked in millions. Then Cat was betrayed—by one of his own men.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are almost always based on real people I write from two degrees of separation.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I have 14 books already written and I’m constantly writing every day in my head from real life experiences so I’m away of my plots.
Q: Your book is set in New York City. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
My book is set in New York City because that’s where I’m familiar with being born and raised here.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Yes because you need to be aware of your characters’ surroundings to paint a vivid picture.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A major Jux is taking place, but I can’t give it away. You have to get the book and read it. LOL
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
That night, Cat drove Banit to a large farm-style house in Bayside, Queens. The house was bought by Cat in his sister’s name. It was a quiet and dark neighborhood by the lake, which made it easy to slip in and out without being seen. They pulled into the driveway, exited the car, walked up to the front door and Cat took out a set of keys. The house had three entrances—front, side door, and back. Cat looked at Banit once more in approval before opening the front door. They entered a long hallway at least fifteen feet before reaching an altar. Cat asked Banit to read the inscription on the front side aloud.
“Beside Christ, there were two thieves, the repentant and the impenitent thief,” Banit recited.
“Don’t ever forget that,” Cat told him.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Frank. We wish you much success!
Thank you so much.