I have a new YA novel coming out on September 7, 2021 called “Zero O’Clock” and to help mark the occasion, I wrote an essay for the New York Times Sunday Review about the interviews I’ve had over the years with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
I interviewed Franklin a number of times, for Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. One of my interviews with her launched that “beautiful gowns” meme–and I talk about all the drama behind that in my New York Times essay.
Aretha also had an influence on my new book. There’s lots of musical references in the novel, to the Strokes, to Lauryn Hill, and others, especially the South Korean K-Pop band BTS. In one scene in the book, a character creates a Black Wall of Fame with photos of Black icons like Thurgood Marshall, Bob Marley, Jean-Michel Basquiat–and Aretha.
You can check out my New York Time essay here.