Profile: Lamar Neal

Lamar Neal is a 28 year-old poet and novelist. Other than writing, his main interest is music. Due to his passion for music, but lack of musical talent, he likes to believe he must have been a musician in a past life. He’s described himself as being logical, but emotional, scatter-brained and a day-dreamer.

He writes under no pen name, but told PJ that he used to go by the name “Naadir.”

I hated my real name. I thought by using it, I would somehow succumb to the same temptations as my dad. I was terrified of being him so I tried to distance myself from anything related to him. I googled Swahili names and saw Naadir. I thought it looked and sounded cool so I went with it. As I got older, I realized I was trying way too hard. I’m happy with myself and who I am. Lamar Neal. That sounds corny, but it’s true.

 Lamar is all about being true to self, but he wasn’t always like this. He learned to value his true self as he grew older. As a 28 year-old successful black author, being ‘true’ was an ongoing battle. Growing up, Lamar didn’t have the pleasure of watching black people on TV in non-stereotypical roles. As a result, his main goal for all of his works is to:

Normalize black people in positions of power and respect.

He went on to describe his hopes as well:

I want every kid to grow up knowing that they can be anything, not that they can be an exception.

Lamar believes that Black Panther was a major shift toward normalizing black people in positions of power, but there is more work to be done. As it stands, Black Panther is the exception.

If you’re wondering what inspired him to first put pen to paper, keep reading!

As a kid, Lamar used to create mini shows (yes, actual shows) with his toys. It wasn’t until his first heartbreak in middle school that he began to write poetry. At that time, his poetry was a form of therapy. He’d write about his deep emotions, and then destroy the paper.

Like most writers, his characters and the worlds he creates are intertwined within his mind. He sees worlds, and can hear them. They’re creations that are 3 dimensional – alive and breathing.

After his first breakup, he was an emotional wreck. He told PJ that he had been depressed for days, and had to be comforted by his mom. During that time he watched, and thoroughly enjoyed Death Note so much that he had forgotten about his heartbreak. The next thing he knew, he felt nothing.

I want to do that for other people. I want to create something so entertaining that it can make a person forget all the bad happening around them.

Lamar Neal has written over 10 unpublished novels, since the age 14. Each novel belongs to a different genre, and include various inspirational and educational themes.

Currently, he has no upcoming novels, but recommends reading his poetry collection, Charm Bracelet. Through deep poems, it details his struggles with depression and suicide. It includes warm poems about familial and romantic love. Overall, it’s a book that he describes as his therapy session on paper. Charm Bracelet can be found on Amazon, in both electronic and print formats.

His first published novel is A Misc. Eden. I asked him to describe it. Here’s his response:

It is a pseudo anthology. The story mostly centers on a boy named Adam, who believes his mother is a goddess, and his three friends as they navigate through adolescence. Each chapter is a different genre. And it just gets plain weird at times. When I say weird, it really is. I’ve gotten complaints and bad reviews because the first chapter is just nonsensical and bizarre.

The story is supposed to show the jovial imagination of children. The narrators-the kids-are supposed to be unreliable, kinda like Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. The reader has to make sense of what’s going on and, at times, doubt what they’re told. The first chapter has talking dragons, ghosts who speak in a fake Shakespearean dialect, and so much more random stuff. 

Spoiler: Adam has a terrible life and he is trying to escape the harsh reality by living in a fantasy world. The story comes back down to earth after that. The story came to me in a dream and I wanted to keep that dreamlike feel throughout the novel. 

I asked him about his first story, and if he can detect any significant changes in his writing. Here’s what he had to say:

The Wind Only Blows South. I have no idea why I titled it that. It was about a teenage boy who had to give up living the normal life of a teenager to take care of his little sister because their mom was a drug addict. I thought I was Spike Lee or Tyler Perry back in the day. I still have it too. It’s in a purple notebook in my closet. Sometimes I go back and read it just to see where it all started.

[Before], I didn’t understand the concept of show-not-tell. My best friend is a creative writing major and he used to give me a copy of his notes from class. That and reading more books helped me. My dialogue tags used to be crazy! “Said” is supposed to be your go-to word when writing descriptions. It’s repetitive, but it keeps the focus on the writing. I used to write stuff like “I like you,” he smiled. I learned that this is a big no-no.

I [also] toned down the explaining since my first novel. I rarely wrote dialogue. Now I can’t get enough.

Learning to love and utilize dialogue is something many writers have to grow into. However, he’s a firm believer in creative freedom. The Greats (the likes of Poe, Shakespeare, Angelou, Emerson, etc) were always true to their art first. Writing conventions came second.

I asked Lamar if he had any advice for writers with doubts about publishing. Here’s what he had to say:

Don’t let your fears prevent you from sharing your work. Your words could be what someone needed to see at that moment.

Further Reading:

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I'm a self-proclaimed aesthete, an amateur literary critic and a history buff with a BA in Political Science and History from Wesleyan College.

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