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Writing the Urban Novel

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With Jeff Rivera, Author of the Latino Novel Forever My Lady

Photo Copyright 2006

From Forever My Lady:

“You got cotton for brains or something? Move!” the Drill Instructor screamed.

He was nose-to-nose with Dio and Dio could smell the funk from the D.I.’s breath, like cigarettes and garlic. He was a stout black man that resembled a boar more than anything. His eyes were piercing enough to bring an elephant to his knees. His teeth had nasty coffee stains like he brushed his teeth with shit or something and never flossed. Spit sprayed out of his mouth with every syllable he spoke. Dio had a pounding headache from all the yelling and the D.I. had been doing it for the last 24 hours, ever since they got off the prison bus.

Dio hadn’t had a cigarette in over a week and he was about to jump out of his skin. He’d been smoking since he was 12. He was exhausted, hungry, and just not in the mood for all the bullshit. His mind was on something much more important than all this exercise crap that the D.I. had all the inmates, or trainees as they called them, doing. He was troubled, aching inside, like his heart had been ripped out and stomped on over and over.


Jeff Rivera writes and publishes “urban novels,” and if his first is any indication, he’s going to be hot stuff. In fact, he already is.

Jeff has written two books. His first, Oh Yes I Can!, was an inspirational book for young people. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and raised in Hillsboro, Oregon. He has been writing since he was six years old and has made it his personal mission to change the way the world thinks in a positive way. Forever My Lady is his first novel.

In 1997, a miracle happened to author Jeff Rivera that would turn his life around 180 degrees. After living in his car for months with his family, he managed to get on his feet and begin working at a department store. That is when he met a young man that would change his life forever. The young man shared with Jeff slices of his life as a gang member on the streets of LA. He began to tell Jeff a story of love, and of loss, of passion and of heartbreak. He told him of how the love of one girl, he called his “lady,” had inspired him to become a new man. Listening as he shared the private letters and poems he had written to her, the story captured Jeff’s heart and soul and never let it go. It motivated Jeff to write a story that would inspire others, as this young man’s story had, that anything is possible with the power of love.

In this high-adrenaline, inspiring interview, Jeff reveals:

  • How he started the book, and how he fleshed it out
  • Why he decided to tell much of his story through letters between the characters
  • How he got stuck while writing some of his characters, and what he did to overcome the block
  • How he keeps the reader riveted to the story
  • What he doesn’t like about most novels, and what he did differently
  • How he comes up with gripping and natural dialog
  • How he came up with his characters’ names
  • Where the title came from
  • Why he started his own publishing company, and where he plans to take it
  • How his book was picked up by a major publisher
  • Why he’s writing a sequel.

Join us for this very special conversation with a star in the making.

Interviewee: Jeff Rivera
Host: Paula B
Date: July 24, 2006
Running time: 01:00:54
File size: 48 megabytes
Rating: PG
Jeff Rivera’s Web site:

Purchase Jeff’s book from


2 Responses to “Podcast: Writing the Urban Novel”

  1. JTennant Says:

    Jeff Rivera’s interview was one of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard. He casually mentioned that he’d been homeless, living in his car with his mother and his pets, and before I had the chance to get over the shock of those words, he went on to talk about the book he’d written, his reason for doing so, and, after self-publishing, going on to find an agent and a publisher! There was no bitterness, only an upbeat attitude and a desire to help other latinos who want to write. I truly hope he has a long, prosperous career as a writer.

  2. Administrator Says:

    Me too, J. Jeff is an incredibly charismatic guy, and very talented. I feel privileged to have interviewed him.