Their story reads like a page-turning novel. But that’s probably because they write them.
Cash Money’s Ashley & JaQuavis (aka Mr. and Mrs. JaQuavis Coleman) have hit the New York Times best seller list twice and have co-authored more than 37 novels, all before reaching the age of 27. They have turned street literature into a legit genre as their urban novels consistently sell.
But it is their life prior to being published authors that could be a plot in one of their books. The pair met when they were kids growing up on the streets of Flint, MI. They survived together by the participating in a life of drugs, violence, and crime. Though addicted to the money they made from dealing, they knew they wanted out. They went to college and started writing about their past experiences. By the age of 17, during their freshman year, they were already on their way to ink a publishing deal.
Their street cred is part of the reason their novels have been hits. Among their more popular titles are the books in The Cartel series as well as Murder Mamas; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; and Black Friday. Ashley & JaQuavis have been publishing out of one of the giant publishing houses, Simon & Schuster. Together they have written 22 books and separately each has written five books. They have also ghost written more than 10 novels.
The Colemans are readying for the release of various books, including Prada Plan 3 and Murderville 3, the third installment in the Murderville series. The series centers around two youths from Sierra Leone who are trafficked into America — one is forced into the drug game; the other one is turned on to the L.A. sex trade.
Their popularity grabbed the attention of Cash Money Records, which was branching off into literary publishing. They signed on with Cash Money and now they are readying for a film version of one of their books, The Cartel.
Madame Noire spoke with the writing duo.
MadameNoire: Are you surprised at the crossover success your books have enjoyed?
Ashley: I’m actually not surprised. As an artist of any form you have to have the utmost confidence in your work. From day one I knew that we had tapped into a special talent. We don’t just make up hood stories. We convey them intelligently while still keeping it authentic to the streets that birthed us. From the very first book I knew that we were writing classics, but I also knew we had to put in work before we earned our place. I was just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on.
MN: Is it hard not to fall back into that former lifestyle?
Ashley: We’ve never looked back to that lifestyle. There isn’t even the temptation to go back. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to go legit and make a life for yourself without taking any risks. There was a certain appeal to the fast life because it was easy money…but we’re still applying the same principles that we learned coming up in Flint. We’re just applying them to a different game, a business game. There is no temptation because we were never addicted to the lifestyle. We were addicted to the money and our novels and upcoming films have been very lucrative.
MN: If someone wants to make a life transition such as you two have done, what would your advice be?
JaQuavis: If you’re into anything negative, get out of it quick. Use us as an example and turn a negative into a positive. The game ain’t for everybody.
MN: Why do you think so many people can relate to your books?
JaQuavis: We come from a dark place. We know how to intelligently depict what a young child, man, or woman sees in the ghetto. It comes from a real place, that’s why they feel us. They feel the authenticity.