Why I wrote Hip-Hop High School
In a way, Hip-Hop High School might be my most meaningful book, at least to me. Why? Cause it’s a book about heart. A book about tenacity. A book about life kicking you in the pit of the stomach and bringing you to your knees and forcing you to ask yourself, “What am I really made of?”
In my own life, I have gone to some dark places. And unnecessarily so. I took myself there as opposed to simply having these things thrust on me.
In a way, some of us become our own worst enemies – especially as teenagers – and the question becomes, am I going to live this way forever or am I going to dig myself out of this hole and do something to help myself.
It’s a stage in life when we realize that other people, our parents, our teachers, our friends, no one else can do the hard work of “living properly” for us. Each of us has a choice and there is no “not deciding” because, as the song goes, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”
Push comes to shove for all of us during out teenage years in some way shape or form. This is what inspired Hip-Hop High School – and the sense of inspiration, hope, and so on that is woven into this novel makes it one of my own personal favorites.
You love each of your books as if they were your child. (In a way they are.) Hip-Hop High School was a triumph for me on so many levels. I proved to myself that I was not going to be a “one hit wonder” and instead was capable of writing a second novel. (And until you actually do it, you never are really sure.) I proved that I could tackle some of the most meaningful, hard-hitting issues in a way that felt good to me on the inside. I proved to myself that I belonged at the table of YA authors and that it wasn’t just a fluke that my dream of becoming a writer one day had actually come to fruition.
Hip-Hop High School has inspired lots and lots and lots of kids and it’s a book that I am glad has found an audience but this title, maybe more than any other, proved a whole heck of a lot to me about me as a writer in a way that not many people know – and would never be able to know by simply having read the book.