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October 10, 2013

Real life experience helps CSU PR student publish

By Joshua Hoover

Cleveland State student Branden Whitt, a public relations major, just released his first book, titled “A Summer in Harlem.”

The book, a work of urban fiction, is the story of Thad Thomas, a young teen from Alabama who spends some time visiting his cousins in Harlem at the end of the Harlem Renaissance. While in New York, Thad realizes that life in the city isn’t what he dreamed it would be, and that Harlem is a much darker and dangerous place than he had heard.

“I wanted to mirror stuff that I’ve seen in real life,” Whitt said. “This whole book is based on real life.”

Rather than going through a large publisher, Whitt self published his first book through Amazon’s CreateSpace. He also did all of the editing of the book on his own. Whitt said that he believes this is how any aspiring author should begin their career.

“It’s like being an independent musician,” Whitt explained. “You do all the work, but you get all the rewards as well.”

Whitt had a local Cleveland artist, Dakarai Ashby, do the cover art for his book. He met Ashby at the Ingenuity festival a few years ago and really liked his work.

One of Whitt’s goals while writing is to make the book read like a movie, which led him to include a lot of dialogue. He believes that dialogue really makes scenes come to life.
Whitt realized he enjoyed writing after winning the Power of the Pen competition in 2005, when he was in eighth grade. This competition is designed to promote creative writing in young adults.

“I was in awe when I won,” Whitt said. “I was just standing there, looking at the trophy and shaking everyone’s hand.”

“A Summer in Harlem” is available for digital download through Amazon, Google Play, Google Books, and Kindle currently, and Whitt is working making it available through iTunes by the end of October.