VIBE caught up with Sister Souljah to get details about her new book, Midnight and the Meaning of Love, the sequel to her Coldest Winter Ever spinoff, Midnight a Gangster Love Story. Midnight and the Meaning of Love finds protagonist, Midnight, searching around the world for his wife Akemi, who was kidnapped by her own father in an attempt to keep the lovers apart. Midnight, a highly skilled Ninja, will do anything to get back the love of his life but does that mean facing off with his own father in law?
Here, Souljah chats about the influences for what she calls a "global story," and why she doesn't like being considered a "street lit" writer. ⎯Starrene Rhett
Talk about Midnight and the Meaning of Love.
I would describe Midnight and the Meaning of Love as a global novel, which means that it’s a story that anyone, anywhere in the world can truly love be attracted to and understand, and it’s also a story that travels around the globe so it introduces a young Black cat living in Brooklyn, to Japan, Korea, and other cultures and languages, and in that sense it introduces the genre of literature that I write to people and places and traditions that they probably haven’t seen before in their literature.
What do you consider your genre of literature?
I consider it literature. It’s just that. It’s often categorized as urban literature but in The Meaning of Love, of course, it starts in Brooklyn, which is an urban area but as it travels the areas are suburban and also rural and so I don’t think it can be classified as urban literature and I don’t know why they came up with that classification anyway.
A lot of people credit you with starting the quote, unquote, street lit movement. How do you feel about that?
I think it’s literature. I went to college and graduated from college and was always a good student, and I know what the components of literature are and I know that what I write is quality literature, so I don’t know why they want to come up with another term, especially a term like street literature, because what does that mean?
This book does have a lot of unique elements, like with the Brooklyn guy who is a ninja who ends up traveling the world, like you said. What was your inspiration for such diverse elements?
I like to be challenged and I like to be introduced to new things and as a writer, in order for me to continue to write quality stories and do great story telling, I have to also be inspired so I went into it seriously where not only am I going into it to teach something to the readers but I had to learn them myself. So it wasn’t like I knew it all, it was a whole learning process that I went through.
Speaking of learning, what was your research process?
My research in regards to Japan⎯I felt like if I was going to write Japanese characters and families and neighborhoods, I needed to be familiar with not only the country but also the culture and I needed to be familiar with it in a way where I wasn’t like the standard tourist that goes to any great country. I wanted to move into the neighborhood where other people live⎯not just a place that was a bunch of hotels⎯I wanted to shop at the supermarkets that people shop at and become part of the lifestyle. So I got an apartment in Tokyo and I stayed there over a three-year period, back and froth from Tokyo to China, Korea and the United States.
So you just dove into unchartered territory. That must have been scary.
It was really great because it was unfamiliar so that made it great. Anytime you experience something fresh and new you’re gonna learn a lot, you’re gonna see a lot, you’re gonna be hungry to see more and learn more, so it was a great experience for me and my family, and we learned a lot about the culture and the people and the traditions and the lifestyle.