Published March 3, 2021

Shawn A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland, is a writer from Southeastern Virginia, now residing in Gloucester, Virginia. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His short story “The Grass Beneath My Feet” won the Anthony award for best short story in 2019.

Get to know Shawn in this Q&A and then join us on Sunday, March 14 at 7 PM ET as part of the all-virtual 2021 Virginia Festival of the Book to hear him discuss his work in The Back Room Presents: Rural Noir, and again on Saturday, March 20 at 4 PM ET for Trouble on the Road: S.A. Cosby and Walter Mosley in Conversation.

Festival: What motivated you to become a writer? 

Cosby: I think I’ve always had a desire to tell stories. It’s the only thing I’ve ever been moderately good at.

Who or what are some of your creative influences?

Almost too many to mention but a few are: Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, Chestet Himes, Ernest J. Gaines, Western movies, French New Wave movies, 1970s New Hollywood cinema. 

What was your favorite part about writing your book?

I think it was the last scene. It encapsulated everything I was trying to say.

Do you have any sources of inspiration that you come back to while writing?

I often find myself looking at black and white photography as a source of inspiration.

What impact or takeaway do you hope your work will have for readers? 

I hope people will see how hard it is to be the best version of yourself when the whole world seems to be against you.

Describe how a book changed your life or perspective.

I think Native Son by Richard Wright made me realize how powerful the writer truly is when he or she puts their heart into a narrative.

What is something that you’ve read recently and would recommend to others?

Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on a Southern Gothic murder mystery set in Virginia.

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