Norwood Holland is a freelance writer and lawyer. He received his law degree from Howard University School of Law and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Fisk University where he studied under the renowned Harlem Renaissance author Arna Bontemps.
A Washingtonian he favors D.C.'s local color in his fiction and currently writes the blog EditorialIndependence.com devoted to diversity issues and labor law.
B2M presents our exclusive interview with Norwood Holland.
Welcome to Books2Mention Magazine.
B2M: Please tell us about your new book, Sleepless Nights.
NORWOOD: Sleepless Nights is a legal thriller laced with romantic intrigue. The protagonist solo trial attorney, Drew Smith is approaching mid life and burdened with a scarred past. While frolicking with an exotic dancer he's haunted by foreshadowing nightmares and turns to therapist Zöe Settles for help. A heinous robbery outrages the city and the police chief enlist the reluctant attorney.
An old flame resurfaces revealing the young man wrongfully accused is their son. Pressed into service with greater resolve Drew Smith and sidekick Julio Mejia work to free his young client on the trail of a crazed gunman responsible for a growing body count. In the end, Smith faces the fight of his life when the gunman and the dancer combine forces to bring Smith down.
B2M: Your book is geared towards what genre of readers?
NORWOOD: Sleepless Nights is primarily geared to those who appreciate mystery thrillers. While playboy Drew Smith also appeals to romance readers since his relationships play heavily into the plot.
B2M: Did you face any challenges developing your characters when writing this book?
NORWOOD: My biggest challenge was developing the right psychosis plaguing Drew Smith. I had to immerse myself in the subject of psychology relying on research and consulting professional psychiatrists/therapists for advice and guidance.
B2M: Was Sleepless Nights created based on any real life experiences or merely various thoughts that have been flipped into an interesting story line?
NORWOOD: It was inspired by an actual crime, the 2003 Colonel Brooks Tavern murders that grabbed the headlines in Washington, DC. A former employee recruited fellow gunmen and carried out armed robbery resulting in a triple homicide. I'm always looking for interesting crime stories to present in my fiction because the fidelity to detail makes the story more believable. Drew Smith is a criminal attorney with an established relationship with the Police Chief who relies on Smith's crime world connections will help develop leads in solving the case.
B2M: What do you think is the most important message readers can take away from reading Sleepless Nights?
NORWOOD: My message is about Black Men and mental health. Both the protagonist and the villain have mental health issues. I believe that if more black men would embrace their mental health they would have a better overall healthful lifestyle. I believe black men in America are plague by depression and other mental health issues. It's the secret epidemic. I believe we have to get rid of the stigma and get brothers help. Particularly in young black men, where diagnosable mental health and related mental problems have risen significantly in recent years.
B2M: When did you first discover your interest in writing?
NORWOOD: I discovered early on I had a gift for the written word. I enjoyed reading and in 6th grade I got the Library Award. As a child my mother kept a lot of dime store novels laying about, mostly heady pulp fiction with sexually suggestive covers. I cut my literary teeth on best sellers like Peyton Place, Never Love A Stranger, and The Carpetbaggers. I became an avid reader enjoying the experience of getting lost in fictional worlds often seeking out the titillating passages.
I went on to college hoping for a career in Mass Media. Unfortunately my college had no such program so I majored in English. After which the plan was to pursue a graduate degree in journalism, but no journalism school would have me. I opted for law school instead and found myself better prepared than others for the rigors of a legal education. Law was never my passion. I realize later on I was never going to make a big splash practicing law and returned to my first love, fiction, deciding to make the law a means to an end. I set a goal to write a book in two years and met that goal. For the next ten years I searched for a publisher while writing three more manuscripts. During that period I attended writing conferences and read trade magazines and books on writing. I studied the craft.
B2M: What has becoming a writer meant and done for you?
NORWOOD: I believe it's my raison d'etre. It's what I always wanted to do, but I have found the route to being a successful writer full of detours. Time, resources and opportunities have often eluded me, and it took awhile to realize that only I can find the time and resources and with the help providence creates the opportunities. I think being a successful writer is about 50 percent talent and 50 percent perspiration. Seeing the enthusiastic support Sleepless Nights has so far received has provided me with the motivation to keep up the good work.
B2M: Who are some of your favorite writers in the industry?
NORWOOD: Pamela Samuel Young is probably my favorite contemporary African American writer of legal thrillers. She has pioneered the field demonstrating that African American writers of commercial fiction are just as good if not better than many mainstream legal thriller authors occupying the best seller lists today.
Whoever I'm reading at the time is my favorite and right now I'm reading Perfect Peace by Daniel Black. It reminds me of Tony Morrison's early works like The Bluest Eye. It has a folklore quality yet rings with contemporary reality.
I appreciate too many writers to be forced to choose a few because there are so many I have yet to read.
B2M: What three key pieces of advice would you like to offer to upcoming writers?
NORWOOD: Writers write and learning to write is a life long apprenticeship. And beginning writers should start by learning how to build their platforms. Looking back I'm astonished how the small things added up. At first I resisted the idea of blogging but it turned out to be a tremendous opportunity to showcase my writing.
B2M: Are you currently working on your next project?
NORWOOD: I am finalizing Minus One the prequel to Sleepless Nights. It goes back 20 years to when Drew Smith graduated from law school and took on his first case. It has a projected publication date of June 1, 2012.
B2M: Norwood we encourage you to continue writing books that offer great stories with interesting characters. We look forward to hearing more from you.
Thanks for interviewing with Books2Mention Magazine. Please be sure to come back again and keep readers informed about all of your future endeavors.
Much Success To You!
The Staff @ Books2Mention Magazine
You are welcome to visit the website of Norwood Holland at: www.SleeplessNightsNovel.com.
Books by Norwood Holland include: