Long Island, NY Native Latris Oliveira Discusses Her New Book: Gully
Latris Oliveira chats with Thisis50.com to introduce her first novel, “Gully” which is available for purchase now on Kindle. In this interview the Long Island, New York native discuss how she had to live in a car with her son, to later owning a very successful lingerie company (PrettyPosh). Latris explains the ebbs and flows of creativing writing, and why it took a decade to complete the first trilogy of Gully.
ThisIs50: Who is Latris Oliveira?
Latris: I (Latris Oliveira) am a creative entrepreneur hailing from Long Island, New York. I spent a lot of time growing up in Queens due to my parents separating early on. I moved out of my parents’ care when I was a young girl, which meant I had to find creative ways to survive. That has stayed with me. Today, I run a successful fashion business, I make music, and I now write books.
ThisIs50: When did you first realize you had a passion for creative writing?
Latris: It started off with poetry. My dad would take me with him to off-track betting spots, and I started writing to escape the cigars & shouting (laughs). My first rhymes and short stories made it on the back of betting slips. My uncle still has them to this day. My handwriting was mad sloppy, I’m telling you.
ThisIs50: Tell us about “Gully” why did you decide to write this book?
Latris: When I had my son, I found life difficult as a single young mother. We struggled A LOT. I lost my apartment, and we literally were staying in my car. My best friend caught wind of it and offered us to live with her.
My brother’s little sister April and his girl Sha held me down too. Right up until I got on my feet and moved to ATL. It was a rough point in my life, and I hustled my way back and forth to New York City, D.C, and Boston to find ways to make ends meet.
April would always open up her home for us; we were always welcome. She was living in Inwood, a little fold of town that bordered Far Rockaway. It was close enough to the train stop to get into the city, so I’d crash there.
In between trips, I started developing Homilee, the main character of Gully. I was using a big old Compaq computer that looked like it could be used in the military or something. She had it on the floor in a spare bedroom she had.
Funk Flex was on one night doing his usual shit-talking and running back records, and he kept saying, “keep it GULLY, New York!” All between those infamous bomb drops. I was like, okay Flex, Ima keeps it real, Gully, and name my book that. And just like that, the story was named.
ThisIs50: What were some key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Latris: Life. It took life to write it. Sometimes you have these ideas, and they’re so closely connected to your own life that you need resolution to your problems before you can even be ready to finish them. So I had to keep fighting. I had to go through shit, the best and the worst kind of experiences until I was finally ready to bless the world with the story.
ThisIs50: Is “Gully” your first published book? If not, what do you enjoy the most/least about this process?
Latris: Gully is my first novel, yes. My first publication was a poetry book under another imprint. Novels are a different beast.
There were many challenges with self-publishing my own release. But there were definitely lessons learned. Aside from that, the process between Gary and I is so seamless that it’s mostly an enjoyable process.
Making art is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in life. But it’s also mentally draining, which is why the timing has to be right.
ThisIs50: Tell us about your partnership with Gary Swaby?
Latris: Collaborating with him is truly a blessing. Gary is a gifted and skillful writer that matches my flyness (laughs). He’s from Luton, in the United Kingdom but has roots in NY. His family migrated from Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens, NY, literally.
It’s dope to have someone who’s connected on both sides because he totally gets it. And he’s a huge hip-hop head who loves 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, and Nas. We worked on other projects, too, including a script. (Sssh) That one is going to be a banger!
Our writing chemistry is unmatched. It’s so unique. He sees everything in the Gully universe that I see. He has sickle cell anemia, so he’s felt a different kind of pain that makes him understand the harsh realities in life.
His knowledge and connection to the culture again from both sides is what gives him an edge. And because the sickle cell pain gives him discipline, he’s mad structured in how he works. We kind of flow together like a Jadakiss and Styles P verse (laughs).
ThisIs50: How long did it take you and Gary to complete this book?
Latris: It took about a year. We both had lots going on, including health issues for both of us. That’s before we even mention the pandemic and family obstacles. But we managed. And it comes down to passion and determination. Some of our Skype sessions were quite therapeutic.
ThisIs50: What did you learn about yourself when you were writing this book?
Latris: That survival is limitless. That persistence brings results.
ThisIs50: Do you have a favorite character that holds a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Latris: That is very hard to say. I feel like Homilee / Lee, and I hold a lot of connections. But ultimately, I have to say, Jamal. Jamal is a character based on certain deep experiences in my own life, so there’s a lot of attachment there.
ThisIs50: What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Latris: Respect the Origin. None of this would be here if nobody took some shots for you.
Give a good reminder of how far this hip-hop culture has come and exposed youth to its rich history. Enjoy the new material, but appreciate the classics.
And for all the young women out there, I hope they get some inspiration and education through Homilee’s journey. I feel like she’s a female perspective.
Not because she’s preaching what’s right, but because her mistakes are clear enough to learn from. When we’re young, we’re not always thinking about consequences and where they will lead us, and that’s okay because we’re young and enjoying life. But Homilee’s journey shows that sometimes it’s okay to trust yourself and who you really are inside.
Not everyone will have your best interest at heart. You have to identify the ones that do and keep them close. This is what’s shown repeatedly throughout the story of Gully. And this is often overlooked and not exposed enough.
Girls need the keys into these industries too. It’s always hush. It’s a lot of GWOTS (greatest women of all time), as my man Nyce would say. We need to hear more about them.
ThisIs50: If you could invite one person to dinner to talk about “Gully,” who would it be and why?
Latris: One person? You mean I can’t get 50 and Cortney Kemp together? Lol. If it’s just one, then it would be 50 Cent for sure. Because he just gets it!
Gary and I are huge fans of the Power universe. Gary has an entire podcast talking about every episode. I never miss one. 50 is from where I call home. He grew up in my era. And I’m sure he would agree that Mobb Deep albums damn near raised us Queens kids. Man, nobody else would grasp this era like him. And that’s what made him perfect for the BMF show too.
ThisIs50: Can we expect a sequel?
Latris: It’s a trilogy series, so expect two more. Gully Book II is the story of Berkley, a character introduced in this first book. She’s got next.
ThisIs50: Where can readers purchase your book?
Latris: You can get it firstly by visiting the website: gullybook.com. It has all the links. You can also buy directly from us on there.
If you prefer, you could just go to Amazon and search for Gully by Latris Oliveira. We’re published on all Amazon stores globally right now. We’ll shortly be listed on all major book retailer websites also, including Barnes & Noble and Waterstones in the UK.
And just to show which cloth I’m from, we also got it selling out the trunk too! All you need to do is hit me on social networks, and I can get you the book direct. IG: GullyTheNovel Twitter: GullyNovel
Thank you, Thisis50!