TheBlackManCan is back with a new feature. It is our mission to provide positive narratives of Black Men. We would like to introduce you to Vensin Gray author of The ProChrist. Vensin sits down with TheBlackManCan to disucss his style of writing, getting self-published and advice for youth who want to become writers.
TheBlackManCan: Vensin, When did you realize that you had a passion for writing?
VG: I’ve been writing since I knew how to read. I remember when I was 5 years old, I was down in Cincinnati, Ohio visiting my Uncle David in college, and I wrote and illustrated my first book, it was called “A Boy and his Dog” I have no clue what it was about, I just remember writing it, drawing, coloring, and stapling it. In middle school, I often tried to write books and poetry and that’s when I thought that I had a talent, a vivid imagination, and the ability to put it on paper.
TheBlackManCan: How would you characterize your style of writing?
VG: My editor will tell you that I’m a headache. I often write in a way that’s hard to follow if you’re an English major. I tend to mix tenses a lot, but at the end it all makes sense. If you meant, in terms of what I write about, I can really write about anything, but love and religion are my passions. Because I have direct experience with them, it’s easy to write about something you know about personally.
TheBlackManCan: How did you come to write your first book The ProChrist?
VG: I first started writing The ProChrist in 2005 shortly before I graduated high school. I was dating a young lady who had overzealous parents who were pastors of their own church, and they really made me feel uncomfortable, I felt like they judged me, and put me in a category I didn’t belong in. I felt like that’s not how a pastor of a church is supposed to be portrayed, so from there I developed a pastor in The ProChrist, and told his story.
TheBlackManCan: Why did you name your book The ProChrist? What is the meaning behind its title?
VG: I was always fascinated with the Anti-Christ, and I never knew why no one previously ever came up with a ProChrist, someone whose supposed to save the world rather than damn it. Of course for Christians, Jesus Saved the World, but Jesus is God, I wanted a simple moral, a human, just like the Anti-Christ, except, good instead of evil. The meaning behind the ProChrist is that anyone can be a ProChrist, just do good in your faith, no matter what it is, no matter the denomination, as long as you believe in something, believe in it and live honest, and you don’t know what you can accomplish.
TheBlackManCan: Tell us about the characters in the book. Which one do you relate to the most? What themes are explored in your book?
VG: Some of the important Characters in the book are of course Victor Thomas, he’s the pastor, he’s protagonist, and he’s having trouble balancing his responsibilities as a pastor, his responsibilities as a father and a husband, and his responsibilities as the leader of his ministry. He meets two unique individuals who help him come to understand his flaws and direct him towards the path of The ProChrist.
Sin- Sin is a very unique character, I don’t want to tell too much about him because of potential readers, but he’s not from this world. He’s dark, different and pretty much Old Testament. He saves Victor many times throughout the book, not in just a way to save Victor’s life, but save Victors life in regards to his relationships, viewpoints and judgments.
Marcel La Blanc- French man, added on the last edit of my novel, he wasn’t in the first edit, I used a lot of information I learned my first year of college for Marcel. He’s just a man to help Victor see a light other than just Christianity, but to apply knowledge from around the world. And Marcel is very important for the future ProChrist novels.
Christina- A very odd woman with an unusual past. Lost her memory as a child, has no birth parents, and she was born the Anti-Christ but was saved, and now her children are supposed to be the Anti-Christ, and she finds Victor in hopes he can save her.
The character I most relate to? I would say Marcel, just because I like to talk a lot, and express my knowledge of things to people who may or may not already know.
TheBlackManCan: If you had to pick three words that define who you are, what would they be and why?
VG: Dreamer- I’m always planning and dreaming about the future. I dwell on the past a lot, sometimes I think so much about the future I forget about the present. My mind is always going, always thinking, always moving, even as I sleep. I haven’t had a good night’s rest in years. It’s a gift and a curse. Sometimes I wish I could just think about nothing, and be ok with it.
Gray- Like my last name. Because I’m neither black nor white, in the sense of, you can’t describe me as all the way this, or all the way that. I’m the child of two teenage parents who had me in a poverish city, went to a school district that didn’t test well, and normally more children from there are known for what they did to get in jail rather then something commendable. I went to college, and here I am 24, no children, a decent job, and a published author. Who would’ve thought it?
Conflicting- I’m very confused a lot about my place in the world. Some days I’m overly happy and satisfied and grateful for my life, others, I’m miserable, knowing that I can do and achieve more. Sometimes I’m really nice to my friends, other times I can be mean for no reason. There’s a struggle going on inside of me, and hopefully one day I’ll write it all out.
TheBlackManCan: Many people would like to write and publish a book. Can you share with us your story of getting your book self-published?
VG: Well, I finished writing the book a few weeks before my 19th birthday and had a friend of mine edit it. After she edited it, at the age of 20 I submitted it to iUniverse, a self publishing company. They sent it back saying that I have a great story, and a strong voice, but the book needed major editing. Then I met up with my second editor Marly, who helped tremendously, tied up loose ends, and made the book a bit more believable. She worked with me as far as pricing, and overall just helped me with the editing portion of my book. When I was 22 I saved enough money to publish it, and I went with Outskirts Press Inc. instead of iUniverse, and I’ve loved every second of it. Since I’ve had it published, I’ve had it re-edited by a close friend whose not afraid to tell me when something is terrible, and when I get the money, I’ll be getting those edits published in the 2nd Edition of The ProChrist.
TheBlackManCan: You are working on a book of poems. Can you tell us more about that?
VG: I’ve been writing poems since I was 11. I’ve written many poems that I’ve lost. I’ve always been nervous about publishing my poetry in a book because I don’t want people to know me so Intimately. I once ran a website that I recently took down, and I featured other poets on it, and I came across my now good friend YP aka Young Poet and his poetry is amazing. He asked me one day about the publishing process, and I asked him if we could do a joint poetry book together and he said yes. We haven’t figured a name out yet, nor a cover, or a release date, right now we’re just picking out poetry we’ll use and reading each other’s poetry. But it will hopefully be out this year or next year, Poetry by YP and Vensin Gray. He’s a great writer and paints pictures that are beautiful in poetry.
TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years and what do you want your legacy to be?
VG: 5 Years? I’m hoping to be a New York Times Best Selling author. I hope to financially be able to give my family a better life. Buy my Grandma Liz a new house; get my Dad out of some of the struggles he go through. Tell my Mother she doesn’t have to work again, pay back my Uncle Dave for all that he and my Aunt Kim has helped me with through life. Without them, I wouldn’t be Vensin Gray. I can go on but basically I want to hook my family up. No selfish motives here. Hopefully I’ll be married or getting married with one or two little ones. Traveling, helping people write, or get out of some of the struggles life puts them through. My legacy? I want to die as a good man, who encouraged people to be the best they can at what they can. And most of all, just be honest with yourself, and your family, and be a good person in your community and if throughout your entire life, you help one person and one person alone, then you did good for yourself. I just want a legacy to stand that I don’t want to become rich so I can have fancy cars, clothes, be an entertainer, but that I want to help the world that I came from, in a sense of moral being. Not about Christianity or a religious sense, but more in just being happy with who you are, what you got, and what you can do for the next person.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for youth aspiring to become writers?
VG: Practice good writing habits, none of that texting short word stuff. Write correctly, speak correctly and don’t be afraid to be smart. Let your imagination run wild. Read, read, read, read and read some more. All sorts of authors, history, current, fiction, non-fiction, and study while you write. When I wrote The ProChrist I was in the Bible more than an Apostle. And beyond anything, just believe in yourself, believe in your talents, and believe in your words, and you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish. Thank you for reading my interview, I hope if anything you take from here, you just take that being a good person is better than being a bad one. God bless.
Contact Vensin directly at VensinGray@gmail.com
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