For Braxton Brother-In-Law Andre Carter It's About Writing, Not Reality
The budding writer wants to start a new season of 'Family Values' on his own terms
Andre Carter may be best known as the husband of Towanda Braxton, star on her shared hit reality show “Braxton Family Values,” but what many people may not know is that he has a degree in business from Kennesaw State University, worked in corporate America and, as alluded to on the show, is pursuing a career as an author.
To date, Carter has published 5 books. His latest, Lips of a Strange Woman, was inspired by real experiences with his wife Towanda and his observation of women, he says. pub april 2012
In an exclusive phone interview with Loop 21, Carter shares the inspiration behind his books, addresses his thoughts on how he is depicted on the show, and why he almost decided not to sign on the the show’s second season.
Loop 21: Tell me about your latest book and what inspired it?
Carter: Lips of a Strange Woman is about how women talk to each other and ruin their own relationships. Sometimes women think that they find friends to confide in, and what they do is tell them more about their relationships than they should be. Those friends start telling you [things], you start looking for them in your relationship, in your man - you start looking for faults. For example, a lot of people were telling Towanda, “Andre was a hoe in high school.” [Laughs] Men do the same thing too but we’ll look over faults if we think we have a good enough woman.
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Loop 21: Do you think your appearance on the show has helped or hindered your writing career?
Carter: It has not really helped my career. The light that they show me in [is] the stereotypical black male that’s not working and living off the success of his woman. So now you have people saying, Why would I want to buy a book from him? How can he tell me about a relationship when he’s just a bum himself? But I’m trying to connect with them and let them know I did this way before my wife got to this point. I published my first book in 2005. I wrote literary agents, sending them copies of one of my firsts, back in 1997. It’s not something that I just got in the game to do. This has given me a different platform to expose my work and it kind of helped, but not really because they’re not showing people where to get my work, they’re just showing that [I write]. People actually tweeted thinking the book was made up for the show.
Loop 21: Does that discourage you at all?
Carter: Definitely. I’ve asked [the TV network] to show more of my book signings, but they said that that has no entertainment value. In my mind, that means they’re saying black people don’t want to see that story. I think that’s sad. I told them that I was not going to be a part of season 2 if they did not show me in a different light. At one of my book signings my dad comes and I haven’t seen him in 42 years. They filmed it but they didn’t show it on air. It’s kind of discouraging but I’m gonna fight through that because I have a platform that a lot of writers would love to have.
Loop 21: What writers or novels inspire you?
Carter: When I was younger, I read a lot of autobiographies about white successful businessmen because, when I was in college, I majored in business and I wanted to be this black guy that went out here and set the corporate world on fire. But that’s when I ran into the real truth about what goes on. Then I started reading black fiction like James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. People ask, "Why do you like that book so much?" because it’s on the top 10 homosexual [books] list [laughs], but the relationship he had with Giovanni had nothing to do with sex. It was about the relationship in which you can bond with a man emotionally and it not be sexual. That was a different perspective. Then I started reading W.E.B. DuBois, Alex Haley, Walter Mosley and Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan -- her best book. She really inspired me. I also read a lot of brothers from the Harlem Renaissance period.
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Loop 21: How long does it take you to write one book, and describe some routines, if any, you have when writing?
Carter: Usually I come up with a title first. All of my books are related to my life experiences. Crazy for a Man, which is my first book, was about my relationship with my mom, her being a single parent raising two kids by herself and how that relationship changed when she starts dating again. I fought every man, literally, that came into the house trying to date her because I did not want her to be with another man. Then I wrote Code D.A.N. -- it stands for "dumb ass nigga." I went to a private high school in Georgia and a predominantly white college and then I went to corporate America [where] I experienced so much racism. I wrote about that book because, in America, there’s always going to be a code word they have for black people. I wrote that when I found out they called us "Danny boys."
Loop 21: What advice can you give to young writers who aspire to publish their work?
Carter: The game has changed so much since I started writing. The course I took back in the day was through literary agents. Now that you have the self-publishing game, it’s so much easier. Stick with your market, stick with what you know. Try to read other people to get an idea of what’s out there, develop your own style and stay true to [it] because some are so unique that it can be really impressive to a lot of people. Also, stay true to your own voice. Don’t try to write like somebody else. That was their calling. Write like who you are, what you believe in.
Loop 21: What are some future career moves you may have on the horizon?
Carter: One of my books is going to be a board game. I’m getting into animation; I have two characters that I developed and I want to get my books into screenplays. My latest book, Lips of a Strange Woman, some people are thinking about doing some parts of it as a play.
To learn more about Andre Carter and his books visit www.amontellusc.com or follow him on Twitter @AndreCarter2.