Interview With Romola Hodas, Author of “The Princess of 42nd Street”!

RomolaHodasHeadshotRomola Hodas is a reminder that we should stop putting time and age limits on our aspirations. At 61-years-old, the author is working on a new business and career in public speaking, a journey she describes as “a lot,” but fun. One of her tricks is telling herself she is 21 and will live past her nineties. As you will note from our interview with Hodas, she champions having a positive outlook on life, especially as someone who’s lived a hard one, as revealed in her new memoir, The Princess of 42nd Street: Surviving My Childhood as the Daughter of Times Square’s King of Porn. Hodas’ father Marty, who passed away four years ago, had an integral part in the formation of 42nd Street, Times Square, which pioneered the American sex industry. This time period of the early 70’s is depicted on the HBO series The Deuce.

The Princess of 42nd Street - Surviving My Childh-largeHodas says the experience of watching the debut season of The Deuce was “surreal.” She’s gone on to become friends with Saul Stein, who portrays her father on the show. Writing about her life and what it was like to be the daughter of a man like Marty Hodas (and her mother) was anything but cathartic for her. She had to relive the abuse from her childhood. “I was just living in hell and it was really hard, and I certainly was drinking a little bit more than I had wanted to, knowing I’d get a handle on it, but it was really hard. I don’t really mind people knowing my story; I really wanted to show people that lots of what we go through, we have a choice,” she told So Booking Cool.

There is an appreciation many seem to have for candidness in general. Hodas is also proud that her book captures her voice, in which she credits writer, producer, and publishing consultant, Elizabeth Ridley. As for what’s next? The New Yorker is working on getting a television deal for The Princess of 42nd Street. Listen to the interview to learn more about Hodas, her upbringing, her publishing experience, her thoughts on The Deuce, child abuse, manifestation, her company Creating Harmony MM, problem drinkers vs. alcoholics, her advice for anyone who desires to start a business, and more! For more information, visit her official website.

Interview With Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, Courtney Young!

courtney youngCourtney Young carefully considers our question: whether it is enough for people to write a manuscript if the thought of doing so crosses their mind. Understandably so, the executive editor at Riverhead Books believes it is different for everyone; in other words (no pun intended), like many things in life, it depends.

“I will say writing a book is a lot of work, and you have to be, especially on the nonfiction side, prepared to go really deep on your subject and on working on the book,” she told So Booking Cool. “Be prepared for it to take years to get to the outcome. It’s not easy and the hardest thing is to commit to a book that your heart isn’t in.”

Young can relate to doing something that her heart wasn’t in. Prior to embarking on her 12-year career in book publishing, she pursued engineering. She was expected to follow in the footsteps of her father and brother. However, Young realized her true passion was in English, prompting her to take it on as her new major. She worried about disappointing her family (and to an extent she did), however, leave it up to a book to become the solution. Her father would later gift her The First Time I Got Paid for It: Writers’ Tales from The Hollywood Trenches by Peter Lefcourt (Editor), Laura J. Shapiro (Editor).

“ ’Well, I guess people can make a living if they’re not engineers, and I assume you’ll be okay,’ “she recalled her father saying. The Detroit native also had a stint working at NASA in California as a technical writer, where she edited proposals and journal articles. She was grateful for the opportunity, but, again, this wasn’t her ideal career. Her vision clear, she relocated to New York City and officially began her publishing career at Penguin Random House’s Portfolio Books, a business imprint. She has not looked back since.

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Some of Young’s favorite titles she’s edited include the New York Times bestsellers What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North; Spineless by Juli Berwald, just to name a few. Young also discussed some of the forthcoming projects that she is excited about, such as Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (May 2019), who wrote the bestseller, The Sports Gene (she also worked with him previously).

the sports generange bookThe Sports Gene is a really fascinating, wide-ranging book that a lot of people came to, and he found the thing that most people were interested in is this idea of early specialization,” Young said. “The idea that if you want to truly be great at something, especially sports, you have to start early and focus; be kind of like Tiger Woods, and just sort of get ahead of everybody else. And David was turning over all this research that said the opposite, that the people who are actually most successful aside from those few stories like Tiger, are generalists.” In his new book, Epstein presents information on why thinking broadly and having diverse experience and various interest will enable an individual to thrive.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Young, her insight on what makes a strong editorial team, some of the proudest moments of her career, her insight on book reviews, and the other upcoming projects she looks forward to sharing with the world. Don’t be a stranger, visit Young on her official Twitter.

Interview With Marc Shapiro, Author of “John McCain: A View from the Hill”!

One of the reasons New York Times bestselling author Marc Shapiro penned John McCain: A View from the Hill was because he wanted to uncover the unknown details of the late senator’s life. However, if you are expecting a scandalous, sensationalized account, you won’t find it in this biography. The book, published by Riverdale Avenue Books, was written prior to McCain’s passing and focuses on the revered figure’s professional life, in which readers have gained compelling information. McCain was as kind as he was tenacious and was willing to work with everyone, a point Shapiro emphasizes.

“We need more people like John McCain,” Shapiro told So Booking Cool. “I mean, that sounds cliché as hell, but we really do. I talked to one person who made the point of saying that John McCain was a throwback to the founding fathers of this country. If there had not been people like him when this country first came into being, we would probably have thirteen United States of Americas as opposed to the one we ended up having in the beginning.”

In our second interview with Shapiro (check out our first one, in which we discussed his Lin Manuel Miranda biography and more), we uncover additional topics, such as the book he wrote on Donald Trump prior to his presidency, as well as his forthcoming biography on the popular boy band from South Korea, BTS. Shapiro, who is just as much as a journalist as he is an author has a catalog that includes more than 80 high profile biographies, as well as fiction, short stories, and poetry.

“The key to doing what I do is basically, number one: it has to interest me. I’m not averse to the idea of having a book that’s going to sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money for people, that’s how I pay my bills. But at the end of the day, whoever or whatever I write about, it has to have some interest to me because if not, it’s going to be a real drag to write and then you become your own worst enemy.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shapiro’s approach to writing A View from the Hill, who he is as a writer, his thoughts on whether there are qualifications for writing a biography, additional tidbits about the BTS book, and more!

Interview With Writer, “Wild N’ Out” Star, & Author of “Please Don’t Grab My P#$$Y,” Julia Young!

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Comedian, Producer, Actress, Improviser and Wild N’ Out star Julia Young has expanded her skills of television writing and rapping into co-writing her newly-released book, Please Don’t Grab My P#$$Y: A Rhyming Presidential Guide. The adult picture book, published by Animal House Media Group, was co-written with comedian and entrepreneur Matt Harkins, and illustrated by Laura Collins. The impetus for the book came after this past presidential election, in which Young felt upset, but inspired.

When asked what she hopes readers will takeaway from her debut, Young replied, “I hope that they get a laugh first of all. I think people who are buying this book don’t like Trump, it’s a very divisive book. But I hope people realize things need to change, and obviously it’s never okay to grab women by their genitalia, and maybe just come away with a little bit of a laugh in these very, very difficult times,” she told So Booking Cool.

Young, who has produced for Desus and Mero, has written for many hit shows including Brain Games, Girl Code, Hack My Life,  Impractical Jokers, TRL, Safe Word, and Celebrity Death Match, among many others. Before joining Wild N’ Out as a cast member, she was a consultant for the show. She has also taught creative workshops for improvisation. Her road to success has not been a linear one, as she describes, which can actually help people get closer to their dreams.

“I think you just have to say yes to every opportunity. I got on Wild N’ Out because I was consulting for them. I was there and people thought I was funny and after one season, they were like, ‘hey, do you want to be on camera?’ I also think I’ve succeeded in comedy and in this world because that was never not an option…I can’t do anything else, therefore this will happen.”

Listen to the interview to learn more about Young, including her approach to comedy, her book publishing experience, how she overcame bullying, her favorite authors, and more! For more information, visit Young’s official website.

Interview With “Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story” Author, Marc Shapiro!

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While New York Times bestselling author Marc Shapiro likens the life of a writer to that of a roller coaster, he also believes that as a creative, the psychological benefits of the craft are high. He would know. Shapiro has written everything from articles, horoscopes, short stories, poems, to approximately 80 celebrity biographies, including the bestseller, J. K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter. Lin Manuel Miranda (check out our review here on Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story, An Unauthorized Biography)Mary Tyler Moore, George Harrison, Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan, Adele, and Fifty Shades of Grey author, E.L. James are among the high-profile lives he’s penned. He even wrote one about the hit rock song “Hey Joe.” Recently, he revealed that he finished writing the late Senator John McCain‘s life story (this interview was done prior to the senator’s death).  Shapiro, who says he’s always been attracted to creative people, is also interested in finding out what makes them tick.

“Some days it’s a pain in the butt to make a living doing this, but more often than not, it’s fun. You’re doing what you love to do and making a living, and getting paid for it,” he said.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shapiro’s projects, both past and present, including the recent release of his debut short story collection, Short Story Collection: Stories of High Strangeness, the execution of Renaissance Man, his insights on being an author, and journalist, and the time he had three weeks to write the LA Times bestseller, Total Titanic: The Most Up-to-Date Guide to the Disaster of the Century, and more!

Review: The Art & Science of Respect: A Memoir by James Prince

JPRINCETHE ART & SCIENCE OF RESPECT: A MEMOIR BY JAMES PRINCE, James Prince. N-The-Water Publishing, $29.99 (296p) ISBN-13: 978-0999837009
Publication date: July 6, 2018

Memoirs can be vain, exhausting, narcissistic treatises that tell you next to nothing about the subject (person); however, that is not the case for the James Prince Memoir, The Art & Science of Respect. If you read between the lines, Prince probably gives up too much information—almost to the point of incriminating himself. Written in a conversational style, it’s as if you’re having a conversation with the former street hustler turned music mogul, boxing manager, and entrepreneur.

And he doesn’t hesitate to name drop. So, you’ll hear him provide intimate anecdotes involving Drake, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Baby & Lil Wayne (Cash Money), The Geto Boys, Sir Mixalot, Suge Knight, Master P, Biggie, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Andre Ward, Don King, Lou DiBella, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, Irv Gotti, et al.

Prince doesn’t make it a point to bash or embarrass, but he has had some “uncomfortable” moments with some of the aforementioned. Sometimes, the “disagreements” were handled amicably—and sometimes not.

Prince has more than his fair share of personal baggage as a child of Houston’s notorious Fifth Ward, and he dishes dirt on himself. By no means does he portray himself as some saint. Prince was in the streets, and he earned every bit of his reputation. His riches came with a price: death or the penitentiary. He knew it, and he got out of one game and into another. Prince used his street hustle smarts to make it big in the music industry, and then spun off into other industries.

Here is an example of his transition: “All of my life, I thought the only way to make money off grass was by selling weed—until I started selling hay.” The former illegal “grass” seller became a legal “grass seller”—and I don’t mean medical marijuana. He purchased several acres of land and made money selling hay. Exhibit A of his brilliance.

At the root of Prince’s success is—believe it or not—his spirituality. He has always incorporated it in his thinking, even during his “street” life days. Prince also has an insatiable appetite for success, a maniacal work ethic, and a keen ability to see people for who they truly are (a.k.a., a B.S. Detector). Arguably, his best attribute is his generosity, whether he is providing the “homies” with opportunities to make legal money, buying homes for family members and friends, or building a community center.

The Art & Science of Respect is a quick read that is touching, educational, and inspirational.

Rating: Booking Cool

Rating Scale

Cool: Decent

So Cool: Good

Booking Cool: Excellent

So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

A Review: “Perfect is Boring” by Tyra Banks and Carolyn London

TYRAAPERFECT IS BORING: 10 THINGS MY CRAZY, FIERCE MAMA TAUGHT ME ABOUT BEAUTY, BOOTY, AND BEING A BOSS, Tyra Banks and Carolyn London. TarcherPerigee, $27.00 (320p) ISBN-13: 978-014313230
Publication date: April 3, 2018

Tyra Banks and her mother, Carolyn London, have created a resonant Girl’s girl (and guys, too, they don’t discriminate) self-help memoir in Perfect is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, And Being a Boss. The candid and humorous mother and daughter guide embodies the young female experience with topics from from menstruation, dating, sex, and career to (of course) beauty and body image. “I think that in the future, the most prized looks will be the flawsome ones (flaws + awesome ones), not the perfect ones,” Banks writes.

The model recalls the time she advised a fellow contestant on America’s Next Top Model to minimize her gap, a decision the executive regrets today. She also divulges her own share of criticism she’s faced throughout and even prior to her modeling career.

Surprisingly, Banks was a bully and was eventually bullied herself. Her mean-girl behavior and awkward stage were both short-lived, and helped inspire Banks to become an active supporter of other girls. Before launching her then talk show, Banks and London had a camp devoted to helping and empowering young women.

Perfect is Boring also reveals the supermodel’s self-described misguided attempt at a singing career (did you know she’s collaborated with Kobe Bryant and Pharrell Williams?) before realizing it was not her calling. Throughout the pages, Banks and London possess an entertaining and we’re-rooting-for-you way of dropping both wisdom and laugh-out-loud admissions, but the dynamic of the book that especially shines is the beautiful bond between mother and daughter.

Every Day I’m Hustling by Vivica A. Fox Review

vivicaaa EVERY DAY I’M HUSTLING, Vivica A. Fox. St. Martin’s Press, $26.99 (288p) ISBN-13: 978-1250134455
Publication date: April 3, 2018

Actress, producer, television host, entrepreneur, and now author, Vivica A. Fox, has penned a riveting memoir-inspiration based on her various life experiences turned life lessons from on and off the screen. Themes of family, relationships, beauty and fashion, and ageism are discussed, and, yes, the book does address her relationship with Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent (as well as Celebrity Apprentice, which of course, comes with discussing President Trump and his family), but the most resounding aspect of the book is Fox’s overall sheer commitment to helping the reader.

She provides lists of tips and examples of how to be successful personally and professionally, without sounding preachy or arrogant, but instead projecting honesty and confidence. The book also manages to capture how personable she is—Fox will have you thinking she is a friend in your head, and her tone is perfectly woven into the pages. This feels like such a complete memoir; it reads true and heartfelt; and none of the pages are filler. She even creatively includes her favorite things, like specific things she carries in her pocketbooks, and the songs she listens to to motivate her. There is very little she does not discuss.

Let me tell you a secret,” Fox writes. “When I was a little girl growing up in Indianapolis, no one could say “Vivica”…I was so sensitive about my name that I made it easy for everyone else, going by a shortening of my middle name….In life sometimes we run away from the things that make us unique.”

When Fox moved to California to pursue modeling (while working and going to school), she’d carry around a portfolio just in case she ran into someone of note—you know the saying, you never know who you may run into, so always be prepared. Well, one day she gets approached by a film producer and even though the exchange had nothing to do with modeling, she recognized the potential. She saw it as an opportunity. This moment arguably highlights her hustler’s mentality even then as just a teenager. It was this same drive that would lead to Fox producing her own projects, performing in theaters, launching her own hair line, being smart enough to capitalize off the reality TV craze, and even looking for ways to find a career based on another passion of hers, sports.

At one point, Fox considered quitting show business when she saw a decline in movie role offers and being considered “too old” for most, however, she managed to pick herself back up and take matters into her own hands. It can be said that her perseverance led to her snagging a role on the hit show Empire, the sequel to Independence Day, writing her very own book and her newly announced endeavor, talk show host. Full of heart, personality, and inspiration, Every Day I’m Hustling will appeal to people younger and older than Fox.

Comparative Titles: Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God; How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

Honorable mentions: I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice by Keke Palmer and Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis