Interview with a great: Aliya S. King

6 Apr


If you’ve picked up Billboard, VIBE, The Source, GIANT, Uptown, Essence, Teen People, Vibe Vixen, Upscale or Black Enterprise then you’ve heard of, or heard from Ms. Aliya S. King. This amazing writer originally hailing from good ole’ Jersey co-authored Faith Evan’s memoir Keep the Faith (released in 2008) which was a New York Times bestseller. Recently Aliya partnered with Frank Lucas (see: American Gangster and I don’t mean Jay-Z) to write and release his memoir appropriately titled, Original Gangster. She’s currently working on her first novel entitled, PLATINUM which is set to release this July.

I was able to steal a few moments of Aliya’s time to get her thoughts on writing well, the game in general and overall advice for young and on-the-come-up writers out there. Enjoy.

How has this journey been for writing PLATINUM and Original Gangster?

“It’s been really good. I have to really get inside my subjects heads. Fiction and non-fiction are very different processes and with fiction you either have it or you don’t. With Faith (Evans) she was the easiest. We’re both from the same neighborhood, she lives one block away from my grandmother, and she knows my brother and we both grew up in the Bad Boy era so there was already a connection there.”


“Frank Lucas was hard. I didn’t know how to sound like him, I didn’t even know how to say “Yo lemme cop that heroin.” I had to call Frank up and say “Frank, what do you call this?” and he said “baby girl it’s heron” “Well how do you spell heron?” Now I feel so much better I can talk like a seventy-seven year old gangster.”

In Hip Hop culture do you feel writers have a place? Are our voices still valuable?

“Absolutely, as long as there’s people making music their going to need people to write about them. For example take Drake. He became famous over night,

you tell me that Drake doesn’t wanna hold a copy of VIBE with him on the cover and show it to his mother.”

What have been some of the helps and challenges in the writing game for you?

“Certain editors have helped me out a lot. Sheena Lester; I wrote a review of Brandy’s album when I first started out and it was horrible, and she trashed it and told me to start over. I cried when I got the email, but she told me “the best writing (and the best writer’s know) has more substance less style.” I put that on a post-it note and looked at it every day and that’s stuck with me. Also Carlito Rodriguez. Smokey Fontaine at GIANT; he didn’t want, me working at (at that time) The Source, he didn’t think I deserved the job. But now he’s become one of my biggest and best cheerleaders and remains that today.

As far as challenges, sometimes I have to write things because I have to eat plain and simple, and that’s tough.”

When did you know this was your calling? Was there a moment?

“It came from a very tactile place. I was four years old and a teacher had a stack of paper and pen and I just was drawn to it, I’ve been in love with it since before I could write. I wrote my first book in 8th grade, it had three chapters and it was about a girl named Brandy with a little sister she didn’t like just like me (laughs).  But I was in my twenties and still starting and stopping novels, some inner voice just kept saying “you can’t do that.”

I had to stop listening to that, stop thinking in terms of writing to sell and rather writing to finish. You can’t write to be published, just write.”

I’m the worst diva writer in the world when it comes to editing. I throw temper tantrums; shout out to Jermaine Hall at VIBE.

Any brief advice for writers out there?

“I would definitely say write every day. That’s most important. I don’t care if you write in the morning when you wake up, keep a notebook next to your bed. Those are the best words. You just gotta do it, don’t wait for inspiration. And make it a habit. Also, get a blog and update it frequently. Apply for internships; follow your favorite writers on Twitter. But most of all write every day.”

For more on Aliya and to keep up with her writing game and tips visit:


One Response to “Interview with a great: Aliya S. King”

  1. Avi April 6, 2010 at 8:20 PM #

    Very solid article. Learned a lot of new tips & tricks even though its not my destiny to become a writer lol. Although I do have a blog on my website where I will need to share my company’s adventures and definitely would like to keep it interesting with creative writing behind it. As far as Ms. Aliya King she seems very amazing and inspirational just from her words alone. She just proved that it doesn’t matter what your profession is that great people come from different careers because she certainly gave me a push to never stop reaching for my goals. :) A+ from me lol.


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