Thirty-seven books at the age of 26? Seems impossible.
However, NY Times Best Selling authors Ashley and JaQuavis have reached that milestone with the release of their 37th book, Murderville 2: The Epidemic, the second installment in the Murderville series.
The married couple, who have been writing since they were teenagers, recently signed a publishing deal under the Cash Money umbrella.
Now, with one of the biggest names in hip-hop working with them, the two critically-acclaimed authors are getting ready to make history.
The authors chopped it up with GG about their latest novel, their writing process and what future book of theirs is about to be made into a movie.
Check the interview out below!
GlobalGrind: Talk about Murderville 2: The Epidemic.
Ashley: Murderville 2 is the second installment of our trilogy that began last year. It’s about two youths from Sierra Leone that get human trafficked into the United States. When they get here their paths separate: one is forced into the drug game while the other one is forced into the sex trade in L.A. At the end of Murderville one we kind of left our readers hanging with the death of one of our main characters. So Murderville 2 embarks on the female character’s side of the story. You kind of get to grind with her as she crawls back up from the bottom and recovers from a broken heart. It’s a gritty, hood story with a love story intertwined with it.
Do you have the whole trilogy mapped out? Do you know where you’re going with the last book?
JaQuavis: No, no, we write off of inspiration. So, the fans and our creativity drives us, and it pushes the pen. We actually let the story write itself. So we never really plan books ahead. We just let it flow. We let our hearts flow from the pen into the paper and eventually into the reader’s hearts.
How does your writing process work, considering that there are two people?
Ashley: Our books are so strategically planned. From the very beginning we have a conversation on what content we want to tackle, and then we write completely opposite of one another. JaQuavis has a method where he likes to start at the end of a story, he’ll work his way to the beginning. And I like to start in the beginning, and get to know my characters first before taking them to the conflict, so we kind of just meet in the middle. Our writing is so alike and our chemistry is so on point with one another that it just flows effortlessly. We’re best friends. We’re husband and wife, like, our bond is unique. The fact that we’re in tune with one another like that allows us to trust one another’s skill and take the story in the same direction while we’re writing together.
How much clashing goes on?
JaQuavis: Nah, we rarely fight with each other. Really, our motto is us against the world. Like, that’s my ride or die. That’s my right hand. Any problem we have, we have it with other people, because we’re cut from the same cloth. Pretty much, we’re always on the same page. I know it’s crazy, but it’s the truth.
We actually learned how to write together We were only 17 when we first got our deal, so we grew together. Now it’s like organic. It’s like a math problem, and we got the equation. So we never run into each other.
How many books have the two of you written?
This is our 37th book. We have 22 together, then separately we have five each. Then we’ve ghost wrote over 10 novels. So, yeah, we keep it pushing. We’re only 26, and we’re at 37 books. We want to write 100 books before we retire.
Shakespeare did it, why not us!
Which is your favorite?
The Cartel, because it opened up so many doors. It actually got Cash Money’s attention. It’s going to be a full featured film on the sliver screen, and it got us the biggest check, so you know we love that, man.
So The Cartel movie is going to happen?
Ashley: Oh, yeah, most definitely. Cash Money, Baby and Slim, they approached us about inking a deal with them. Actually, the ink is probably just now drying. It’s a fresh deal. It’s their first movie deal out of their new company that’s coming up, so we’re honored to be the ones to spearhead their movie decision.
Is that the book you would have picked for a movie?
Oh, most definitely. It’s the one that pushed us into the New York Times Bestseller list. We were grinding before that. We were writing, writing, writing, to get that recognition. And with the debut of The Cartel 2 on the New York Times Best Seller list, it made us two of the youngest black writers to ever make that list. So, it definitely catapulted our career, and we wouldn’t have chosen any other project to start with.
How ya’ll hook up with Cash Money?
JaQuavis: Ironically, we were fans of Cash Money, but we didn’t know Cash Money was fans of ours. So, they were always reading our books as fans, and we didn’t know this. So when the opportunity came when they started a publication company, they wanted to start it with us, spearheading it with another author, so we were elated. They reached out to us. It was nothing like we reached out to them. They came and got us out of Flint Michigan, from the hood, and dropped a money truck in front of our house.
Who from Cash money have you met?
We love everybody from there, but we rock with the bosses, Baby and Slim.
We’re fans of Nicki, Drake, Wayne — Wayne is prolific. We actually base our work ethic off of Wayne, because of the way he go hard, that’s the way we go. That’s why Baby and Slim kind of gravitated towards us because we work just like their son. We go hard. Real recognize real.
What’s ya’ll writing process like? Do ya’ll treat it like a nine to five job?
Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life. Even when you’re not writing, you’re thinking about your plots. Sometimes you get inspired at 3 o’clock in the morning. As a writer, sometimes you get thoughts in your head, and the creativity will not let you go to sleep until you get it out. There’s not a certain time where we sit down and write. We write all of the time. Even when we’re not actually writing, our brain is spinning. We’re obsessed with it. This is a good thing to be obsessed with, you know, because it creates money.
Do either of you have a past in the streets?
Ashley: Our books are based off of things that we’ve lived, experiences that we’ve been through, places that we’ve seen. We come from the gutter. We come from Flint, Michigan. And anybody that knows anything about our city knows that it’s the roughest of the rough. It’s like living in the Wild Wild West. It’s like a concrete jungle out there. So, we’re writing about things that we personally know about. We pride ourselves in being authentic. We’ll never write about anything we don’t know firsthand, because we want to portray a realistic viewpoint towards our readers. We want to paint a picture for them that they can’t help but feel, because we’ve been through it. So, when we’re 35, and we’ve moved on to other things, maybe will tackle other genres. But right now we’re writing about what we’ve seen though our eyes and we’re trying to give you a vivid picture of what we’ve seen.
JaQuavis: Just to piggyback on what Ashley said, I really want to convey: Who can write about a hustler better than an ex-hustler. Who can write better about a female that rode passenger side with that hustler holding them down and being right there with them and being witty, counting a 100 grand on hand, that’s something that Ashley has really done. And I respect her for it. I have a thing for women with aggression, and she’s very highly intelligent, and she’s my counterpart. I think that shows in our writing, that’s why people gravitate towards us, because if you speak the truth, you’ll never go wrong, and that’s what we do.
Is the streets your attended audience or do you want to reach a broader audience?
Ashley: Our writing, we keep it street, we tell great street stories, like the real true stories of the street. But we mix it with classical storytelling. Like our stories can be told in the classrooms at any university in the country. But a corner boy on the block can relate to it. So, you mix great writing with hood stories—our fan base has no limits. We have fans from 16 to 80. We have lawyers and ex-cons as our readers. So we have a wide demographic.
What do you hope to accomplish with this Cash Money deal?
Well, we just hope to touch a broader fan base. We want to show everybody that reading is cool. It’s the oldest form of entertainment. So we’re trying to bring it back. We’re trying to force the youth in the hip-hop community to embrace reading, to embrace literature. Because it’s kind of the same thing. Hip-hop and reading can go hand and hand. Like, the rappers are telling the same stores that we’re telling, they’re just putting them over hot beats. We’re telling without a beat. We’re telling without any distractions. We want you to use your mind to make the melody to go along with the words. We’re just hoping to expand, to make reading cool again. We’re young—we’re 26—we’re far from corny. We’re the epitome of youth and the epitome of hip-hop. We’re hoping to get others on board, to show them that you can be from the hood and still be intelligent and that it’s OK, and that it’s cool.
Anything else you want to tell your fans?