Oftentimes, when tragedy hits so close to home, we want to bury our heads in the sand and not face the harsh realities of what everyday living can produce. As a result, the safest thing to do is curl up in a ball and hide. Entrepreneur and Author Arlene Brathwaite did the exact opposite. Not only did she pen the two masterpieces ‘Youngin‘ and ‘Ol’ Timer‘ to speak out against the glorification of ‘street dreams’ and how crime can not only emotionally scar the person involved individually, but damage an entire family, but she allowed her pain to serve as a vehicle for her newfound gift of writing. Now, further developing into a seasoned writer, Arlene fuses her passion of the written word with her mission to promote literacy across the country and enjoys taking you along her journey.
Parlé Magazine: Let me ask about the publishing company. When did you actually decide to establish it?
Arlene Brathwaite: The publishing company was established at the very beginning in ’06. I found that no one else was gonna pick me up and I designed it to specifically assist aspiring writers to get their works published nationwide.
Parlé: Did you go to school for journalism or take any type of writing/creative writing courses and if so, did you graduate?
Arlene: No, I started writing for self expression. My field of study when I did go to college was computer science and I got an Associates, then did some training as well. I worked in a computer installations unit with the state for 23 years. That was my background then.
Parlé: Where are you from originally?
Arlene: My parents are from Birmingham, but I was born and raised in Albany, NY.
Parlé: It’s remarkable that you utilize your own pain as a stepping stone to shed light on the real deal and what goes on in the streets.
Arlene: Right, because if we are talking about ‘Youngin’ and ‘Ol’ Timer’, those are 90 percent true. I usually wait until people read it and they come up to me and ask me about it. These are true to life situations and ultimately, I am promoting literacy. That is what I do.
Parlé: What is ‘Cold Blooded’ about?
Arlene: That is about a character, a female, who changes her life around and she was a foster child, and eventually she got involved with a clique and she still had people around her involved with gang activity. I was asked to bring that piece. Strictly for entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. It is a part of my first anthology.
Parlé: How are you promoting literacy?
Arlene: I’m actually going into beauty salons and other venues and settings and encouraging them to read. You have readers in those areas, the traditional venues like the bookstores, people go in there to read, but they may not be interested in what you have.
Parlé: Are you selling the book or speaking on your platform?
Arlene: We are selling the book definitely, selling the brand and building the brand.
Parlé: Music Meets Literature-how does that entity work and what type of music do you use?
Arlene: We had an artist out of Ohio with ‘Youngin’…the first one was Hip-Hop music. But he was so far away, and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. But I didn’t give up. With ‘In The Cut’ it was strictly R & B. Also, when I go to readings, I don’t do a typical reading. I do a theatrical reading. We are promoting literacy now that opens doors for artists who bring life to my work. It’s a big thing. We did Annapolis Mall for two days. Visually if you hear the excerpt of the book, you are there. It’s not about money with Brathwaite Publishing. We are doing a lot of different things that are coming up for this company.
Parlé: Do you plan on furthering your experience by doing plays, live theatrical pieces?
Arlene: Right now, I haven’t given it any thought, but we do that anyway right now. But my husband and I are working on the ICON series-a collaboration of works with him and I.
Parlé: Is the company with just you and your husband or are other people involved as well as well?
Arlene: It is just my husband and I who runs the company, our joint venture together. He is the editor and does all of the editorial work.
Parlé: What would you like to see happen in the near future and beyond with your company and its mission?
Arlene: We would like to introduce more authors, publish them and get more people involved as far as promoting our brand in general. We’re doing all different types of things with the artists. There are so many ideas we have going on. We’re working on a piece called ‘Casualties of War’ that we are writing together, my husband and I and it’s coming together. It’s about a female soldier who comes back from the Iraq war with post traumatic stress syndrome. I don’t like to be bored, you know? (laughs) We love showing our versatility.
Parlé: How would aspiring writers get in contact with you?
Arlene: As far as Brathwaite Publishing publishing you, what we do is we ask people to submit their manuscript. As far as bios and autobiographies, we don’t do that. We do fiction and try to further develop ourselves by helping you as well. Normally people come up to me and want us to do all the work, and we don’t do that. We wanna publish works that are similar to what we do. We have been a company now for four years, but we don’t wanna take anyone on that we can’t take care of the way we would like to be taken care of ourselves. We would be doing them a disservice. I wouldn’t know how to market that right now, I know how to market fiction. We take pride in what we do.