In his debut novel, Flipping Boxcars, veteran comedian-actor Cedric The Entertainer, 59, serves up a charming 1940s crime caper that pays homage to his grandfather’s generation. He tells AARP what inspired him to write the book, how he’s feeling about turning 60 and why he’s starting a barbecue business.
What inspired you to write a book in this genre?
I love the Walter Mosley kind of storytelling — those characters coming to life from the ’40s and these men that had to fight to be men when there was even more oppression. They were very much men of their community, yet flawed people. I would have these imaginations about my grandfather. I’d never met him. My mother would tell me stories. My uncle would tell me stories. As I started to become me, I started to think about him as a person who wanted to be me in the 1940s. In his own way, he wanted to be free. He wanted to be creative and do things and not have nobody stop him. He was that in his own version, in a small town.
Would you like to see a movie made of it?
Oh, for sure. I’ve written a TV series version of it at one time that we tried to sell, but I’m really, really happy that we didn’t, because I love the idea of this book experience being the first introduction. I set it up to where I could tell more stories.
What advice would you give to young people today who are trying to break into the creative business?
Really, the spirit of creativity is just to do it, man, just to do it — not let people judge you, not to judge yourself by what you think someone is gonna think of your works — and just make many, many mistakes. Just go, man, because the art of creation really can’t be defined by what you think is gonna be on the outside of it. You really just got to start it and deliver it and let the world absorb it. Some of your things are going to be great, and some things are not. But the more you do it, the better you get. That’s the only way you can be creative is just to do it. Like really just dive, go, take losses, get wins. If you love it, get up and do it. Don’t worry about it, man.