He gave the world, A Harlem Girl Lost, which sparked a series and a catalog with endless quality, all to rave reviews. Meet Cash Money Content’s Treasure Blue, the man, the author behind some of Urban Literature most celebrated and purchased novels. With his latest release, Fly Betty he has added to the legacy. See where it begun, and what his brand is founded on. His thoughts, his insight and more shared with you, through us. Our Treasure Blue interview…
Parlé Magazine: I want to start off with your pseudonym, which is very interesting to say the least; how did it come about?
Treasure Blue: My name actually derives from the 3 most important women in my life. My three favorite as I like to call them. Its a collection of my grandmother, mother, and daughter’s name. Blue is our family name, So I just put it all together.
Parlé: Do you find it unsettling that with a certain level of success comes this anomaly termed, “brand?” It’s like what you do takes on a life of its own in a sense, with that in mind can you define the Treasure Blue brand? Is it deeper than literature?
Treasure Blue: That is one great question. I’ve been in sales basically all my life. My father had me and my siblings out doing retail, working hard. I mean really grassroots hand to hand selling of merchandise, from panty hose to leg warmers and anything else essential. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, you name the season we were out there. This is the type of man that my father was, and he instilled in us the importance of customer service. “Yes Ma’am, Thank you sir,” was second nature. I was so lovable, and I couldn’t understand at the time why people were so smitten over me. They tipped very well. I learned from that experience and grew up wanting more. Being congenial and well versed as possible was important. I was learning about people and buying power. Satisfying the clientele. That’s the greatest attribute you can have in this world especially in sales, to know your market and cater to it. I’ve always been very personable, and a great speaker. When I got into books I already knew branding and no matter what authors can be signed, I myself have been signed twice; those situations come and go. However I have always made it a purpose to let the treasure stand out. (pun intended). Ever since I jumped head first into the books business, there was no recourse, its been all I wanted. I went hard, sale after sale, and got my accolades. I’ve sold 65K independently. Even now I see the importance of branding. It used to be about being King of the streets, now its digital, I adapt to the hustle.
Parlé: I understand that before your career in literature you were a fire inspector.Ultimately you left, what would you say was the turning point which served as a mark for your shift in occupation if you will; how does one transition from city job and what many would call security to a pursuit of the arts?
Treasure Blue: I will admit it was tumultuous. Life leading up to writing was very hectic. I was in major debt, which led to battling with drug usage, which lead to homelessness. I was making $65K a year and living in the firestation. It was a very dark period. I remember 9/11 coming along and I was personally at Ground Zero; I saw unfathomable events. Buildings on fire, people losing their lives. It was horrible; something I could not process. I ran like everyone else as the first tower fell. Colleagues of mine died. I felt “less than.” At that point I realized how short life is. I was already a screen-writer at the time. With that trauma and all the issues I was having, life was getting even smaller, than it was short and I said to myself that there is nothing else. I was broke, had issues with custody of my child, parenting. It was too much. I was in tears and I said I’m either gonna clock out or purge my soul on paper. If you read my first novel Harlem Girl Lost, in it, it reads Cybil you’re going crazy. It was autobiographical in that sense, it became a lifeline. I put my blood, soul, and tears into that novel.
Parlé: Were you met with criticism?
Treasure Blue: When I first decided to leave, of course; who do you know gives up a city job making $65K yearly with stability for something like this. Few and far between, to pursue the unknown. I must have been stupid. So once I jumped in, I put my all, and I had to educate myself. I began to know the business like the back of my hand. I read a quote from the great Alvin Eng and it changed my life. He said, “Never tell your readers about the sunrise, make them feel the sunrise.” It’s all about making them feel the story. I write from the heart, not my head. A good writer has secrets, A great writer gives them up. I epitomize that. I am the only author according to Amazon.com to have everyone of 5 books receive a rating of 5 stars. Hence the reason I have only written 5 books in 9 years. I am not in it for the money, I am not a slave to it. I am about my craft.
Parlé: How did your allegiance with Cash Money Content come about?
Treasure Blue: Hustle and hard work. I paid my dues and I wrote great books. I was very vocal and I understood my lane. I stayed in it. No one knows me. I used my knowledge of the business and I waited my turn. Teri Woods, Quan, Vicki Stringer all of those authors were winning. I was up there with them but when it came to Op-Ed’s and commercials I was overlooked. I didn’t hate, I stayed relevant. Its rare that an author can remain relevant after 9-10 years in the game. It’s an accomplishment. Many people fell off, I didn’t… Some of those that I mentioned are still around but its very few, I always knew that timing is of the essence. I was with Random House, signed to a huge contract; I can admit I lost a little energy, and the hustle stopped. I became the quintesssential author; staying home. That’s not me. I walked away after the deal. Not many can. I missed the hustle of it all, I missed interacting with the people. I went independent again and self published Harlem Girl Lost 2, and I killed the game. At that point everything has switched from hands on to the E-Books. First month I did 1K in downloads. Mark Gerard, who is Head of Cash Money Content contacted me and the rest is history.
Parlé: You are originally from NYC correct? Harlem? How much of real life experiences were the source for your Harlem Girl Lost series?
Treasure Blue: Yes Indeed, A product of Harlem, the mentality and all. The hustle. I am a child of Harlem, New York City, and a child of Hip-Hop. I am Hip-Hop.
Parlé: February 5th was the official release of your novel Fly Betty, congratulations on that; to your core following, what would you like to assure them that they will find in this novel that they have come to expect from Treasure Blue
Treasure Blue: They undoubtedly can expect Treasure Blue to always be precisely who he is. I do not put on a show, I’ve been doing this since a teen. Customer Service and sales are my specialty. The money does not impress, the craft drives me. I am in this business to tell stories to help the next person. When you live by that, you will always be in the right. I have an obligation to my readers to do just that. February 5th was a huge day for me. Like I said, “authors do not last.” I doubted a lot of things, and understandably so, there are excellent authors out there on the come up but I still have that boxer mentality that I can do it. I was swooned by what happened overall, when I woke up; I gauged the social media world, and my inbox had blown up. Everybody loved Fly Betty, they were saying that it was my best book. I was overwhelmed to say the least. My goal was to give 110% with Fly Betty. As I sit back and read the comments and absorb the feedback, its wonderful, truly a gift from God.
Parlé: Beyond the release of Fly Betty, which certainly sets a tremendous stage for the rest of 2013 for you personally as well as presents a hard act to follow for others, what are some of the other things on tap for you forthcoming?
Treasure Blue: 2013 happens to be the year of Treasure Blue. My life is writing and promoting. My highlight is putting in work writing. All my issues are behind. I am a duty bound vessel of God. My stories are incredible and I am in it for the passion. I have more stories of substance to come. I can put out a book a month if I want to. For me its about the quality; I always ask this question:
“Would your granddaughter be comfortable in reading your body of work?” That’s how I chose what I write next.