Last week, I attended the Philadelphia Writers Conference along with several members of the South Jersey Writers Group. I wrote a blog about the experience. One of the workshops that I had signed on for was Novel Character and the instructor was the Author Solomon Jones. He had asked the class to describe a character from our own manuscripts that we were working on. When Uriah Young described the character from the novel he’s hoping to publish; all chatter and noise ceased. We were all ears; the description that good. I asked Uriah if I could interview him and he graciously agreed. So, with great pleasure, let me introduce you to a very talented young man, Uriah Young.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Uriah.
My personality goes like this: I try to listen more than I talk, produce more than I consume, and give more than I take. Though I take my profession (teaching) and my craft (writing) seriously, I take myself lightly. Biographies are the books I love to read, along with mystery novels. I love the thrill of competition (chess, hoops, Taboo) but can throw myself into Lionel Richie mode in an instant: easy like Sunday morning'.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
In 2008, I was mourning the death of my mother and tried everything (legal) I could to escape the grief I felt. The only thing that could take me away was a book I borrowed from the library called Freefire, by CJ Box. His plot was so entertaining and his characters were so compelling, I was able to escape my dark days and nights through the portal of his imagination. Freefire's plot distracted my emotions and helped me get through a very difficult period. It was this book that made me want to write something that could make a difference in someone's life.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired by the emotional connection I hope to share with readers around the world. In my book, March Gone Wrong, I want people across the globe to absorb the message of humanity and solidarity I have to share.
Tell us a little bit about your book, characters and a little of the plot.
My book takes readers through the dramatic events of the historic Memphis Labor Strike of 1968. From the perspective of two very different protagonists, the plot is driven by a heated dispute between the garbage workers' union and Memphis city officials.
A Negro garbage man and a Jewish college student have to navigate through a hostile time period of racially charged riots and political conflict. If James Wheeley, the garbage man, joins or avoids the labor strike, his family's situation seems ruined either way. So what does he do? If Marty Rosenthal, the college student, can't pass his sociology class, his law school dream is shot. How does he recover? As fate would have it, the two are in a position to help each other, but how are they linked? What's at stake is more than just their personal goals and the labor dispute; when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to town, the complexity of the strike changes, as tragedy and despair gradually converge on Memphis.
What inspired you to write this story?
Two things inspired me to write this story. The first was an experience I had when I was 20. In college, the student activities department at Hampton University invited Dr. King's daughter, Yolanda King, to speak on campus. There, she spoke about her life and career, but she also shared what it was like growing up with such a great civil rights leader as her father. After she spoke on stage, we were allowed to ask her a question, and I made my way to microphone. Standing in front of her, I was a little nervous but ended up asking her a question that made her dig deep for a response. The answer she provided left an indelible mark on me to this day. (If you want to know what I asked her, visit http.//www.marchgonewrong.com to watch a documentary I filmed)
What else inspired me? I really wanted to tell the story about an unfamiliar group of people whose story is powerful. I had some knowledge about the garbage men in Memphis who Dr. King came to offer support to, but I really did not know their story. So, I researched what transpired in 1968, and I was inspired to create a plot and characters that could give life to the story of the Memphis sanitation workers. Their bravery and sacrifice just astounded me. Also, Dr. King's dedication to the strike embedded in me what his legacy was all about. The combination of the virtues that were demonstrated that year made me want to produce a riveting story.
What Author’s works, living or dead do you like to read?
I am a big fan of Richard North Patterson, C.J. Box, and Stephen King.
What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in writing?
I would recommend that they read Stephen King On Writing and How To Grow a Novel (by Sol Stein). Also, I would tell them to read as many books as they can to discover different writing styles and techniques.
Do you belong to a writer’s group?
Yes, I am an active member of Pennwriters.
What other stories are you working on?
Right now, I am so focused on March Gone Wrong that I cannot devote time to another novel. I don't have enough water to spread to other seeds; I am watering this seed so what grows from it can be healthy and durable. To stay sharp, I am writing short stories and submitting them to magazines.
I want to thank Uriah Young for sharing his thoughts with everyone and you can find him on