Intimate Conversation with Laurence “Lonz” Cook
Laurence Cook, a Marine Corps veteran, educator, and technology professional has written professionally for years. He’s a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and holds a Masters of Science Degree. His creativity helped fellow service members passionately communicate with their loved ones during deployments. Along his career, friends and relatives pushed him to write creatively; there came his novel debut "Good Guys Finish Last."
BPM: What makes you powerful as a person, parent and a writer?
As a writer, the ability to influence and develop through multiple messages makes one extremely powerful. Especially when provoking thought certain social behavior through readers, it’s amazingly powerful. When readers finish the novel, they tend to contemplate their behavior on social events. In A Choice to Yield, either they admit to a misbelief or stereo type, based on someone’s look, ethnicity, or gender, or assess members of their social circle.
Parenting is challenging within itself. You never knew you could love so greatly until you embrace the little person and realize he/she is of you and your responsibility. Power then becomes relevant to how we envision our children for the future and focus on outcome of the child. We do what’s necessary to teach, nurture, and lead so children are capable of enduring life’s challenges. In my case, they lead me to power as realization took hold on their dependency for leadership and guidance. Yet, the greatest power given is their pure love and trust. There lies what makes me a powerful parent, giving love, guidance, and nurturing to their success. (And closing the door so they don’t return...the real parental power.)
A powerful person is challenging in defining, and yet quite simple. Power for me comes in continued social contributions, equally sharing in reflecting a positive image, and uplifting through spiritual means. Not only is there influence in my acts, but there is sincerity in association with others. My interactions with many allows an immediate impact, either they view me as someone to communicate with, or someone to emulate. The power for me lies in the ability to communicate, and communicate sensibly to those with a thirst for motivation. Especially when influencing behavior change through an emotional impact. Usually in my conversation there is a parable, a message, something to spark positive thought, and therefore hopefully ignite a following act. The result is often someone traveling a new direction. Especially in social change.
BPM: How much of what you write reflects on your outlook on life?
Much of my life’s outlook is reflected or written in the few authored novels. My stories connect a number of romantic events where acts and ideas are actually past experiences. Yet, those actions are embellished for sensational reading. Every author shares a piece of them in their novels. In romance, either its common dating failures, where man deciphers a woman’s message differently than she expects or it’s being the recipient of a woman advice when challenging women’s behavior. These events structured the story of my novel. For example, my experience meeting women for the first time left common questions such as:
“What type of man did I present? What type of impression did I leave? Will you I get a follow up call or was I charming enough to get passed her checklist? Did I say something wrong or did I get it right meeting her expectations? Will she enjoy my idea of romance? Is one rose enough for the impression, or is she a dozen roses or floral bunch type? Will she enjoy simple acts of kindness or will my actions be considered a nice gesture instead of a spark of romance?”
These questions are commonly encountered and surely ignites controversy in a “She said-He heard” conversational spectrum. Therefore, the experience in dating, love, and marriage, is surely reflective in my writing. Also my outlook on life varies with the way men and women interact. My observations are of our rituals of dating and exploring personalities and character, and forming belief from social practices. My belief sits with worldly events, or shared in conversations held with many people who discuss relationships. My outlook sits with a transition of historical events, where people once saw each other in a horrifying light, and later travel the same path realizing life has one major road to travel.
BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
My first mentor is my best friend, my father. The late Reverend Doctor F. Francis Cooke, a minister who served the community for years. He graduated from Princeton during a time when African Americans were extremely few in attendance. He was a great organizer, a grant obtainer, and created the Joint Partnership Training Consortium in Augusta GA. He worked closely with Dr. King on Civil Rights in the Central Savannah River Area (GA) and also a great contributor to the Medical College of Georgia Mental Health Training. He was my mentor, a guy who spoke five languages, including Hebrew fluently.
My second mentor is a Sergeant Major of Marines, Leonard Roland, a guy who communicated well with everyone, was firm and fair, and yet shared a compassion for life. He was a true leader.
The greatest inspiration for writing is my love to tell a great story. It’s a natural capability and sparked from an event in my life or something observed where it’s worth sharing. Love and relationships are evolving entities, where we as a people are taught how to interact, create, and endure via mainstream media. The finesse in having or living a relationship is leaving us per each generation. When I observe a situation worth conveying, it inspires me to create a story with a message solely based on behavior. For instance, as a gentleman, I’m told chivalry is dead or no longer seen. My thought is different as it’s seen but not as common. In this case, it sparks the idea of creating a “Gentleman’s Guide” where chivalry is a theme.
BPM: What do you think of the increasingly gratuitous sex in African American literature?
“Sex sales,” is often what most readers and authors hear as a response from marketing, publishers, and editors. However, when sex is sensationalized to the extent of losing the story’s finesse, it becomes another institution of stereo typical illusion of our behavior. Just like the myth of sexuality hit our race in the 1860s after freedom, it’s a way other people expand on our customs and behavior. In essence the sexual sensationalism feeds into the expected public behavior other races/ethnicities has of African American people.
My view, is the African American literature plays heavily into the main stream of expectation, where it forms the reflection of what people think our social realm resembles. However, when sex is tasteful, respectful, and directs romantic notions, there is a difference. Because books influence, as an author, I take responsibility of encouraging change. There are methods of writing erotic scenes without being blatantly graphic. So when a youthful mind explores a rated R novel, it isn’t quite an instruction manual and it leaves room for the imagination.
BPM: What three elements complete a formula for Happiness, Success or Freedom?
Following your passion alone is a huge element of success. The challenge is finding the passion and creating a lifestyle around it. Step out on faith from corporate jobs, find a way to endure a comfortable standard of living, and live with work vice work to live. My elements in a nut shell are: Faith, Passion, and Financial freedom.
BPM: Finish this sentence- "My writing offers the following legacy to future readers..."
By giving a reflection of respectful behavior when it comes to heterosexual relationships. It also leaves a definition how people of current times deal with love and romance combining the dating rituals for common core qualities based on social behavior. This becomes a road map of attitude and actions where it may transition.
BPM: Introduce us to your book, A Choice to Yield, and the main characters.A Choice to Yield is a dynamic story of love, friendship, race/ethnicity, and transition. It's a true-to-life fiction where the plot grabs you from beginning to end and a fictionalized account of situations existing in many lives. The plot shares hardships, challenges our learned behavior, and reminds you of social situations faced in modern life.
This contemporary romance is set in Atlanta, GA during 2005 when a Midwestern Caucasian woman Angela and her married best friend Paula relocate to the city. Angela finds interest in Mark, an African-American who intrigues her. Mark shares Atlanta’s diverse culture, and when Angela bellows her excitement with Paula, she is battered endlessly for her enthusiasm. Paula encourages Angela to date three acceptable candidates: Bill whose likeness and belief holds ethnicity and race separate and not equal by any means; Christopher, a self-centered gentleman who surely holds Paula's approval, but isn’t capable of grabbing Angela’s heart; and Eric, a gentle soul, who soothes Angela’s troubled moments, but unfortunately is doubtful as a companion.
Angela eventually emerges from strongholds of misperceptions and social ideologies. Her intrigue allows Mark to merge into her life while she journeys to self-discovery. Along her epiphany, she becomes acquainted with Margo, a charismatic artsy socialite; Karen, the interior decorator entrepreneur, and Amy, an indecisive romantic. Each new friend interjects their perception of love and happiness while influencing Angela’s final decision. The genre is Contemporary Romance and sets in the year 2005.
Major events: A conversation between Margo and Angela, where Margo sets the perception straight on race and dating consideration. And second, the event where Karen exposes her Angela to a world of elegance placing her misconception to myths to rest.
BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
Nothing specific, per se, but it’s a long time conversation piece whenever I hear how race, gender, ethnicity refers to dating. My thoughts were not to sugar coat the event but really stress social issues from a different view. People often jump to conclusion if they ponder why anyone would love someone so different. However, it isn’t a point of view where we exploit or condemn, but a view where it’s a transition of thought and where culture is surely unique. The way I wrote this novel’s message applies to all nationalities and race of people.
BPM: Who are your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?
Of course Angela is a favorite character, but I really liked developing Amy, Margo, and Karen. These ladies really added spice to the novel. Nothing like true friendships and these characters displayed how women truly support each other during tough times. These characters are modeled from people in my life. Fortunately there were strong entrepreneurial influences from my mother and other women who fought in the business world to make it. My observations included how women nurtured and ridiculed each other to get one or the other in line with reality. The women in the story are portrayal of real people, based on specific behaviors.
BPM: What role do you give the "mean-spirited" characters? Do you have such characters?
Paula and Bill, are two characters who identifies with or practice racist views. They held onto myths and historical beliefs of African Americans, or just out right feared losing their White privilege. Though, the story shows effort for one character making an attempt to adjust and adapt, but strong beliefs deterred his/her re-structure. These characters help the story by showing the other side of racial and social beliefs. Though, many don’t exactly speak in a negative manner, however they live and believe quite separate or external to diversity. The characters help reflect another common behavior in our society.
BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message within?
Median age is 40, mostly women, however, I’d like to reach readers of all races and ethnicities of people who contributes to our social and emotional society.
BPM: What are some of the specific issues, needs or problems addressed in this book?
Love and ethnicity is one issue alone. How people address interracial couples, or encourage their children, friends, and relatives to love based on social beliefs. “Don’t come home with a black, white, or one of those Asian women,” was heard by many men, told by their mothers (especially mothers). Why? Because most mothers want their children mated with someone similar to themselves to fulfill their dream, otherwise its an adjustment.
Also, the book exposes the thought processes most women/men go through when dating someone unlike their family. I highlight the combination and threats most families address, especially when ,” it’s what people do these days, but don’t bring one of those people here.” The common remark even today, especially in families with strong rituals and beliefs. The book addresses friendships, a good vs. bad friend where their influence perpetuates good over evil. Or how influential some people are in dating, their advice on partner selections. What is a great friend? My novel gives examples of both great and horrible.
Black wealth is another social nome, and how most African Americans become successful, with business. The novel reflects how black entrepreneurial efforts are beyond the commonly known abilities. Most people believe black wealth is from entertainment or street hustle. One other social issues is the black family or couple. Since behavior is stressed throughout the book, the sub story shows how a black couple does work, in spite of the continued challenges most perpetuate. There are great black men who love and love well; black men who support and contribute, as well as uphold standards of quality.
BPM: What was the most powerful chapter in the book for you to write?
Chapter 10 – where Angela finally has the heart to heart conversation with Margo. What happens when she teeters the line of decision or making that decision to say yes? Margo explains the other view and surely goes the extra mile of realization. What happens in a woman’s thought process was surely a challenge based on a male’s perspective. This took in depth research and surely an assessment of common core behavior amongst the study group. As well, the chapter took me on a historical ride, where people explored stereo-typed responses on all races of people.
BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
This book resonates with our current social state of interracial dating. Emphasis is not focused on hatred or deterrence as during the civil rights movement, but it exposes reluctant behavior. The reader encompasses the intricacies of heart and mind while processing a conscious decision to date across invisible lines of social expectation.
Bottom line, a message to follow your heart after realizing the road you wish to travel. Many reflect on what could have or should have been in earlier dating experiences. Here, my message to the reader is to reflect from internal and yet pay attention to the important factors when selecting a mate. Forget about race, ethnicity, religion, and other social idioms, and fact facts to what makes you extremely happen to create an everlasting relationship.
BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
Love is blind! The common message in most books of interracial dating, marriages, and or situations. This novel differs because of the focus on current social behaviors, explaining the challenge both genders make, or sharing from a mature woman’s view on the actual thought process.
My reflection of actual behavior is not superficial at the least, nor gives insight to multiple negative behaviors of African American people. It is reflective of a common core challenge seen from multiple people. You actually see a reflection of your actions, behavior of friends and relatives, or reminders of situations you’ve experienced.
As well, this novel differs via sub stories of friendships, business, dating expectations, and reflective of regional intricacies The added difference is every venue or location mentioned in the novel is actual in Atlanta. The reader is able to relive scenes in actual locations with the imagination sparked from the novel. This is truly a “true to life” fiction.
BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases.
A new novel is in works for a release. When Love Evolves, releases April 2011. This novel is a sequel to Good Guys Finish Last, by debut book. When Love Evolves is a national release by a traditional publisher, which is an accomplishment from my independent effort.
Other efforts are in work for the final sequel in Good Guys Finish Last. With blessings form above, you’ll find me at your nearest bookstore holding book signings, exposure with additional media outlets, and even on the big screen.
BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
Email me at: LonzCook@RLOenterprises.com. Visit the author's website: http://www.lonzcook.com/. You’ll be glad you did.
A Choice to Yield by Laurence “Lonz” Cook