We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Philip Clark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaron, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Writing a novel that you intend to publish is always a risk. You can never be sure if your work will connect with audiences or if you’ll find an agent to represent you or a publisher who will publish your book. It took me some time, but I learned to embrace the risk. I walk through any door that presents itself that will potentially help my career. If I determine it’s not a good fit or something I no longer want to do, I move on. The biggest and most rewarding risk is putting yourself first as an artist. It’s always necessary to protect your gift and nourish your creative spirit. No amount of money is worth losing sight of that.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a novelist and screenwriter who has been writing professionally since 2011. At twenty-seven, I published my first novel, THE SCIENCE OF PAUL, and I’m blessed to have found my passion early in life. However, I didn’t get an agent until my late 30s. One of the most difficult aspects of being a creative person is weathering the ups and downs associated with your creative pursuits. You’ll hear more people say “I’m not interested” than those who will greet you with open arms and passion for your work. It’s important to identify your voice and not stray from it. As a writer whose work explores the intersection of crime and culture, it was important for me to remain true to my brand, even when those in the publishing industry suggested my work would sell more if I didn’t explore race and social issues.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I guess I’ll start with food. I’d suggest trips to Grand Central Market to grab an assortment of foods from across the globe. The San Gabriel Valley has some of the most amazing Asian cuisines in the country. If they’re looking for comfort foods, I’d suggest Bludsoes in West Hollywood for barbecue and the soul food restaurant Alta in the historic Adams District. Of course, there are plenty of touristy things to do, but LA also has amazing museums like the California African American Museum, LACMA, The Getty, and The Broad. To get a sense of old LA and the city’s history, I suggest a tour of the last Victorian homes near downtown and a cruise around San Pedro. I’d conclude with a trip to the Last Bookstore, simply because it’s a wonderful place to get lost in a book.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family has always been consummate support in my creative journey. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without my parents and extended family members, which helped me. If I had to pinpoint a particular book that inspired me to become a writer, it would be Walter Mosley’s DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS. Not only did it expose me to what Black existence was like in 1950s Los Angeles, but it served to illustrate a crime or mystery novel could not only be entertaining but could also showcase aspects of life, especially Black life, that are often overlooked in fiction.
B&W – Stanley Wu Color – Thad Reid