CLUTCH sat down with New York Times best-selling co-author Aliya S. King to talk about her new book, Platinum, the fictionalized story of the real lives of hip-hop wives and girlfriends, in stores everywhere Tuesdsay, July 6.
CLUTCH MAGAZINE: One of the first descriptions I heard about your new book, Platinum, was that it is “salacious,” and that is no lie! Since this book is actually based on your real-life interviews and experiences with hip hop wives and girlfriends, I kept racking my brain to fit these details you give in this work of fiction into the real lives of the stars whose careers and private lives I’ve followed. CLUTCH readers want to know — besides your character, video vixen Cleo, and the tell-all book she writes — which parts are true?
ALIYA S. KING: That’s kind of the fun for everyone, guessing who is who and who is not, and what’s true, and what’s not. We’ve all heard the whispers about some of these stars, and never knowing if its really true is half of the fun. Some of the characters are combinations of people. I purposely made it a little murky so the reader can have fun guessing about what is true. But I will say that [the freelance writer in the book, the character] Alex is very close to me, though.
CM: That was my next question! There are so many striking resemblances between your life and the character Alex in the book, from the freelance and ghostwriting career, to the step daughter, to the industry spouse, to even being a recovering alcoholic. How much of Alex’s story is autobiographical?
AK: Just about all of it! I won’t even lie. Enough that if I wanted to sue myself for libel, I could…but I won’t! (laughs)
CM: Platinum is based on your 2006 VIBE article on the Secret lives of Rapper’s Wives. In that article, you told the story of Tashera Simmons, DMX’s now-estranged wife, and how after she saw DMX rob an old woman when Tashera was a very young girl, she started to think of DMX as her hero. What did you learn about these rappers’ wives and girlfriends’ pasts that made them attracted to these men in the industry, in the first place, and why do you think they are staying with them or have stayed with them as long as they did?
AK: That tells you a little bit about what she was going through, because obviously she had her own issues as well. So, it’s no wonder that she was an enabler of his drama for the next however many years. But then again, you can take someone like [super producer] Wyclef Jean’s wife who didn’t have those same issues. She grew up in a good household, financially secure, and she just fell in love with a young Haitian kid and has continued to support him. One thing I made a point of when I was writing the story for Vibe, was that I only interviewed people who have been with these industry men when they had nothing. I think that’s what was really telling to me. I think that’s why these wives have been around for so long. When I spoke to Wyclef’s wife, Claudinette, I do remember her telling me that if she could take back all the money, all of the fame, all of the success, and just have her husband home with her, she would. But, she’s still with him. They love these men. Period. They’ve been with them and it goes far beyond the money the groupies, the fame. They just love them for who these people are. That’s the only reason why I think they would endure this long, in spite of everything they go through as wives.
CM: The twists and turns in the plot of Platinum had me holding my breath, gasping for air, and shrieking out loud. Though this is a work of fiction, there is no rule that says the reader can’t learn from it. Besides, “WOW, that woman can write!” What do you hope the reader will walk away from this book thinking or feeling?
AK: I want them to say, “I need to go tell everyone to go buy this book!” I want this to feel like a really good meal at a restaurant. I want them to say, “I didn’t want this to end and I want to experience it again.”
CM: You’ve written a riveting, page-turning first novel and now you have to sell it. What are five things about Platinum that should make CLUTCH readers want to pick this up?
1. It has some very, very, juicy sex scenes that I am almost embarrassed to admit came out of my own head.
2. It’s a grown folks book.
3. It’s the perfect summer read; It will fit perfectly in your beach bag, you can grab it and go, and you won’t be able to put it down.
4. It’s my very first novel, and if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written for The Source, or Vibe, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
5. With all the different plot twists I have going on in my book, you get to play a guessing game of who’s who, and you’ll be dying to know what’s true and what isn’t. It’s a lot of fun!