kiki swinson (and the score cover)

Photo credit: Solomon & Solomon Photography

*If you read street lit, then you’ve probably read a book by Kiki Swinson.

The Virginia native has been in the game since 2002 and made a name for herself as the Essence® bestselling author of the Wifey series.

Now, Swinson is making her hardcover debut with “The Score,” a sexy, high-octane, cat and mouse thrill ride about two street hustlers whose identity theft scheme leads to jealousy, revenge, and murder.

Q: I noticed that a line in your book reads “Devious minds think alike.” Is there something in your background that makes you relate to your characters?
A: I grew up in the projects in a small town, Portsmouth. We lived there because my mother was poor, but I always knew I had to get out of there. My way out of the projects was to date a drug dealer and that’s what I did. And that drug dealer put me in a nice home and I was able to afford a lot of luxury items that ended up landing me in jail when I was twenty years old. So I’ve definitely lived some of the things I write about in my books. The “devious minds” part, that’s all fiction.

Q: Jail at twenty years old must have been really tough. How did you go from being locked up to being a bestselling author?
A: Before I went to prison, I was taking college courses to major in English, so I was already on my way to being a writer.  When I was locked up, I used to read magazine articles about Terry McMillan and I was so inspired. I was fascinated with how she was writing for a living and really getting paid nice money, so I thought I could do that. That’s why I started working on my first book.

Q: Your new book, “The Score,” seems very different from your other books. How did you come up with the story?
A: I wrote “The Score” because the industry right now is saturated with good girl gone bad, drug dealer books with guys being the big time drug dealers and girlfriends are the wifeys. There’s a lot more going on in the hood than that and I wanted to write something different. Inspiration struck last Christmas when I was shopping at Target and their system got hacked. Their customers’ information was compromised and I was one of those people. For the first time in my life I knew how it felt to be targeted for identity theft.

I know every type of criminal. Everything that I write about is something that I’ve seen or experienced. And I know a lot of people who dabble in identity theft. It’s a shame that I used to hang with those types of people back in the day. They are still doing the same thing and I’ve moved on. But I do know people who still do crazy stuff.

Q: Since you write from experience, what’s the most SMH situation you’ve dealt with, and did you put it in one of your books?
A: I knew someone who used to be a heroin addict for thirty years. They’ve been clean for over five years now. They were so strung out on drugs that they stole someone’s food stamps and sold them to a dealer, a street thug. The trade was $150 cash for $400 worth of food stamps, and it was all spent on drugs. Isn’t that crazy? You’ll just have to read my books to find out if that story is in there. It’s definitely the kind of crazy that belongs in a book.

Q: There are a lot of people writing street lit books right now. What do you think makes “The Score” different?
A: “The Score” is about the type of crime that affects everyone today. It’s not just something that happens in the hood, so it’s bigger than your usual street lit. That’s the kind of new and fresh material I like to give my readers; I always have an original twist. And because I do that, people come back to read my books again and again. When I write a book, I always hit them at the end with something fresh, and they are surprised. I come up with crazy endings.

“The Score” is available wherever books are sold and online via this link.

For MORE on Kiki Swinson, visit www.kensingtonbooks.com/kikiswinson.