I had the pleasure of coming across the work of a budding young and talented author by the name of DM Lattisaw.
The Washington, DC native was kind enough to discuss his first book, ‘Priceless,’ with me and share his story, in hopes that his story would serve as inspiration to others. It’s, perhaps, that very reason I was compelled to reach out to the author and delve a bit deeper into his life and the trials and tribulations he faced, and had to overcome, being raised by a single mother, an absentee dad — whom he later discovered battled drug addiction.
Let’s hear it from the author himself:
Cotten Kandi: What does DM stand for?
DM: DeJoun Marquis
CK: For all those who don’t know who you are, describe DM Lattisaw?
DM: One word that describes me is unique. I am not your traditional kind of guy. There’s more to me than drinking an ice cold beer, or watching football. I’m not a thug or a softie. I’m just DeJoun, and I’m comfortable with being the odd one out of the group. I’ve always been labeled as different. A good time to me is visiting an art museum or cooking a good meal that I’ve never cooked before. It’s the little things that I enjoy. However, I do have an alter-ego and his name is Marquis. Marquis is my middle name, hence my pen name DM Lattisaw. Marquis is the wild card. He can get ratchet, and he usually says how he feels without any regrets, while DeJoun is more polished. Marquis usually comes out when DeJoun gets upset or feels the need to be youthful like go to a club or party.
CK: Did you always have a knack for writing?
DM: I never thought I would become an author or writer; however, I knew that one day I would tell my story. It just so happened that I conveyed my story through a book. It could have been a movie or television show, but I believe that God is the operator of the ride that we call life. I feel like He put it on my heart to write the story so that I can testify my victories and failures. The story saved my life because it was so therapeutic to sit and just write and release the pain. I needed to be the sole writer to document how things really happened and how I felt when they actually happened. I remember in 2006 when I started writing Priceless in the bedroom of my SE, DC apartment. There was no prepping or thought about what to write. It just came out on the paper. I remember the tears that I cried while writing some of the events. That’s how I know that God used me to go through some of that stuff and to tell the story because of the bigger picture. My tragedy and triumph are a benefit to my fans. I’ve connected with hundreds of people, and the ones that reach out to me actually tell me how they went through the same things or they are still going through things, and my story helped them. I’m so blessed.
CK: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
DM: I realized my craft would be writing after I finished writing, editing, and publishing Priceless independently. There is much more to come from me and my brand. I’m not going to subject my writing to only urban novels because I also plan to script write. My fans motivate me to turn Priceless into a movie. When you read it, it’s like your visually watching the characters. It’s like you’re sitting there and listening to their conversations or you can feel their emotions. That’s how deep Priceless is to people.
CK: What made you want to write this book?
DM: Well, I was motivated to write Priceless because of my life story. I come from a single parent household; eventually my mother married my step-father, but before that that happened it was just her and me. My mother was a young mother. She was in her mid-20s when she got pregnant with me. My biological father was a dead beat coward. He was very flashy with his money and clothes. He hustled back in the day. In the 80s, that stuff was much more important than me and the four other children he created. He denied me and suggested an abortion. The nine months that my mother carried me, she did everything on her own. She had no support. She went through so much during that time, and then after she had me, she still had no support. I was born in Palmer Park, which is not one of the greatest neighborhoods of the DC area. There were times that my mom couldn’t even eat to make sure I had something to eat. It was very tough during that time in our lives. When I did re-connect with my father, we didn’t have a relationship because it was just like before. He chose drugs and money over me, and I admit that I gave up on him because I gave him several chances to get it right. His last chance was in 2008 when I lived at his condo. He accused me of breaking into the condo, which housed most of my belongings. It sounds crazy because why would I rob myself? However, the reality was he was high. He was a secret addict, and I believe he pawned all of my hard earned belongings. He never got a chance to say I’m sorry. He died on Valentines day in 2010. We found him in his house because his heart exploded. I believe that was caused by the cocaine use. There’s so much more drama that happened to me and other people that are close to me. I really didn’t tell the whole story, but if you read Priceless, you will get a glimpse of me disclosing some events.
CK: Why did you choose the title “Priceless”?
DM: I chose the title Priceless because it’s a Priceless story. It’s not like I was paid a monetary advance from a publishing company to make up some drama and compile it into a story. The story is based on true events. The events are relatable. It’s not a story where you wouldn’t know how the characters truly felt. There are all walks of life and all types of events, whereas somewhere into the story while you’re reading, you will find yourself in it or you will ask yourself questions. That’s why I named it Priceless.
CK: The title suggests you pulled from personal experiences. Were you afraid of offending anyone in your family/personal circle you wrote about?
DM: I wasn’t afraid of offending anyone. I was more afraid that I wouldn’t reach my target audience. Priceless is not for a wordsmith to dissect each sentence line by line. It’s for people to sit, read, and relate. I believe my audience was reached through my story. I wanted the little girl from an urban neighborhood to read my story and learn that it’s more to life than a man chasing you because of your curves. I wanted the young boys to see that it’s more to life then hitting the block. I wanted the single mother to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel after he leaves you in the cold to fend for yourself. I wanted the gay guy who’s in a psychological war to break free and love him in spite of the discrimination and barriers that society has created for him. I am so blessed because those individuals I named are fans and they told me that I told their stories after reading Priceless.
CK: What challenges did you face while writing?
DM: One challenge I faced while writing was to actually go deep into certain aspects of a homosexual relationship. Priceless is not a gay novel; however, there is a gay couple in the story. The character Marcus was introduced to the story at the last minute. I actually had to go back into the story and add him in Chapter 3 because something happens to another character that the gay community might have felt I was bashing them. I completely understand that there are different types of gay men. Thus, I had to include Marcus and Josh to create balance in the story line. I wrote about one guy who is in a spiritual battle because he cannot shake his feelings for men, but he is also of the Christian faith. He is so confused and he just cannot find inner peace. Then I have one character that is comfortable with his sexual orientation. He understands that it’s how he was born, and if God gave him those feelings, then there’s no reason to deny or conceal his attraction for men. Then I have one character that is just disgusting. He sleeps with married men, DL men, and anyone who pays him money. The kicker is that he is HIV positive and the men that he sleeps with do not know of his infection. Writing all of this was a challenge for me because I didn’t know if people would accept these types of characters in such a spiritual/inspirational story. However, I had to tell the truth. I stepped out of my comfort zone with these guys, and it worked.
CK: What would you change or do differently in writing the book?
DM: The only thing I would do differently is how Priceless was released. The book was first released on Blurb.com, and then I released it on iTunes with the sketched cover art the following day. I gave my anticipated fans a teaser because they were following me and asking when it would be finally released. I should have waited until I finalized the cover art, made the final edits to the story, and then released it via Amazon first. Priceless II, will be released on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, and the book stores.
CK: What did you learn about yourself?
DM: I learned to use the gift that God has given me. I feel like I finally found my calling, which is to help people go through life through my stories. You know sometimes we feel like we go through things and we are alone. I believe that many share the same story, it’s just that we live in a time where we cannot openly share our failures and the situations that we’ve been through because we do not know how people will twist and turn the stuff and use it against us. I’m not afraid to tell someone that I’ve been down that road before, or I shouldn’t have did this, or I was wrong for this, or tell them you better learn from my mistakes if it’s going to help them. Priceless made me grow into a seasoned young man and I feel I am more openly spiritual than I’ve ever been. I don’t mind talking about the goodness of God with anyone.
CK: Are you currently writing another book?
DM: I just finished writing my second book, Lessons From A Sinner Vol. One. It’s not a novel but a self-help book that speaks on relationships, spiritual growth, and empowerment. It’s scheduled to come out this summer.
CK: What other projects are you currently working on?
DM: I’m currently writing Priceless II, Vengeance is Mine. It’s a page turner like Priceless Part 1. I’m also looking forward to transitioning on to the silver screen with the Priceless trilogy.
CK: Where can people find you, social media etc.?
DM: My Instagram is @therealdmlattisaw, twitter is DMLattisaw, and Facebook is DM Lattisaw
CK: Anything else you’d like to say/want people to know?
DM: Never give up on your dream. If you want to accomplish something, and if it’s in God’s will, you will achieve it. You may lose everything. You may lose friends, money, cars, clothes, and jobs, but never lose your faith.
For more about the author and to purchase his book, ‘Priceless,” head over to Amazon.com.
(Photo Credit: DM Lattisaw)