With the critically acclaimed street novels Anything 4 Profit and Anything 4 Profit 2 under his belt, Justin Floyd aka “Amen” has established himself as a top tier urban novelist. Citing experience, and maturation as his greatest influences, the Greenville S.C. native has definitely accomplished his goal, putting on for his city. Since entering the publishing industry with Synergy Publications, Amen has continued to show that he is one of the go-to-guys for urban novel lovers. Check out our interview with the charismatic and seasoned brother, as he chops it up about the name choice “Amen” as well as his past, which has lead to a great present and promising future.
Parlé Magazine: Where prompted you to use “Amen” in your name?
Justin Floyd: The use of the name Amen stems from my incarceration. During that time I did a lot of research on my history, the history of my people. In Egypt, Amen was a prominent name, it stood for GOD or priestly. Amen-Ra was a God. I became consumed and intrigued by the history of my people that wasn’t being taught. I began to spread the knowledge and got mixed reviews, but I kept pushing. A real close friend of mine one day joked that he was gonna call me AMEN since I was talking about it so much. A few days later he was murdered, and I kept the name as both homage to my ancestry as well as my fallen comrade.
Parlé: You described your life story as encompassing many different elements: laughter, pain, imprisonment, poverty, but the most important being change. Can you speak on why that is the prevailing theme?
Justin Floyd: In order to survive you must change, essentially adapting to life, etc. I believe Charles Darwin coined the notion of natural selection. If you do not change you will be come extinct. Growing up I was a product of a certain environment consisting of drugs, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and crime. I spent a lot of years in the penitentiary, and it was like graduating; from juvenile to the pen, the crimes became more heinous. Without change, I learned, you are only running in circles; that is unless you open up your third eye and understand that you are being used by society. I had to develop into a better person, there is no pension plan for scheming and committing crimes. Majority of the people that I know that are living that life are dead, in jail, or miserable.
Parlé: You proclaimed to have been a rebel of shorts in your younger years; looking back would you say, without a cause?
Justin Floyd: Yes and No. Well (pauses) more so yes because I was rebelling but I did not know what I was rebelling against. I did not know who the real enemy was. I knew something was wrong but it wasn’t until I began to read and enhance myself that I reached a point where I could rebel with a focus. I’m still hot tempered in a sense but now its more focused with a means to an end.
Parlé: You speak very candidly about your time incarcerated, would you say that was the most pivotal point in your life?
Justin Floyd: Definitely. Without a shadow of a doubt. You have to think about it, I spent a lot of years in and out of prison. To be honest I can look back and say that I only spent about 2 years or so between the ages of 12 and 27, free. I went in at 12 came out at 13 went back in at 15 to return at 16, only to spend pretty much the next 10 years incarcerated, until the age of 27. At 27 I was released and I have never returned. I would definitely say those moments were pivotal, they shaped my views and outlook.
Parlé: When did you have the revelation that writing could indeed be your salvation?
Justin Floyd: It never occurred to me that it could be salvation until I actually started writing. I read thousands of books from nonfiction to fiction, even the dictionary; anything I could get my hands on. I read a lot of street literature which was out at the time. I became very intrigued by it, and a fan. After a while these novels morphed into stories of success, where you saw everyone living large with the yellow-bone, long haired girlfriend and 26 inch rims riding off into the sunset. They were glamourizing that and I felt like that was not reality. The books became watered down in a sense. For me it was hard because I’ve experienced those things, I’ve seen people lose their life for it and I became disgusted with some, not all of the books that were out. Writing happened as the result of a challenge. A friend of mine would joke that if I didnt like the stories as there were, then I should write one. At that point, a light bulb went off in my head, and I actually did. I lived it, so I could write it.
Parlé: What was your initial reaction to the feedback and affect that your literature had on its readers?
Justin Floyd: The reaction period has always been positive. I think the books have gotten like over 70 something reviews written, and 60 of them have been 5 star. 10 have been 4 star, and so on, so forth. Greenville, S.C. where I am from, to my knowledge, has never had its story told, OUR STORY. There are mentions here and there as a place where out of towners may come and set up shop at but never has it been the focal point. I can remember reading novels like Monster Cody’s that made me feel like I was actually in the location that the book focused on. I wanted to make that happen for my city. I get letters all the time from the homies that are still locked down, and by far they just tell me that they are proud of me. Not everyone is gonna pick the path of being a writer, but I just want them to know that you dont have to go back. A good number of those are at a place where they realize that the streets dont last. My novels have become inspirational, my story too. I stepped out of the box and they support me on that.
Parlé: What do you consider to be your genre?
Justin Floyd: My genre of course when spoken on by others gets boxed in as “urban” I have no problem with that but for me I classify it as REAL LIFE literature. Everyone may not live it, but they can relate. Everyone has experienced pain and struggle. My books will make you laugh, they will also make you feel the characters. The emotions and energy that I put in is evident. It’s everything I saw and felt in my life. Instead of an autobiography, I paint my story through the lives that I let the characters live.
Parlé: What is there to be learned from your story?
Justin Floyd: My story teaches others perseverance and is a story about belief in GOD. There were times when I thought about suicide. It got that bad. Picture being a 17 year old kid with a 10 year bid; that’s like a life sentence. Then to endure the oppression from the guards, time in solitary, being mistreated, not fed, etc. Add to that always having to be on watch for the other inmates, and the drama, the fighting. Its a lot. You begin to question your own sanity. If nothing else, my story is about a belief in GOD and perseverance.
Recently I had a friend who overdosed and the speculation is that he did it intentionally because of how hard things were, couldn’t get a job etc. When I face the world I know that it doesn’t compare to what goes on in there. I may be deterred at times, but when its said and done I remember that, and persevere
Parlé: Is there anything you want to remind the readers of?
Justin Floyd: My novels Anything 4 A Profit Vol 1 & 2; Gunz & Roses [the anthology] also. I appreciate the love from everyone. I’m a Sagittarius, so that means I am a perfectionist. Anything I put my hands on I give 110% Now-a-days people arent putting out whole books, with the 3-readers and all that. I’m not the type to put out 65,000 words of BS. I put 110% into it. So when you see something with my name on, expect that.
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