*It’s been eight months since Kevon Gulley walked out of Kern Valley State Prison after serving 80% of an eight-year sentence for fraud and receiving stolen property.
Having spent the majority of his in life in and out of one system or another, at 34, a former foster child with two strikes and Compton native, Kevon has no plans on going back anytime soon.
In February 2009, just over a year before his release, Kevon put a plan in motion to ensure that when he was released this time, he wouldn’t be coming back.
It wasn’t easy, but with the assistance of his fellow block mates, who passed Kevon their writing paper in return for his magazines and the chance to read what he was writing, it took Kevon just 93 days to complete the first installment in his new gritty urban series about life on the streets of Los Angeles.
In Just Like Compton, Kevon Gulley is trying to write his way out of becoming another California statistic.
A fictional novel where the names have been changed to protect the guilty, Just Like Compton has the grit of Monster Cody’s Monster, the intrigue and mystery of a James Patterson novel, complete with the kind of sex scenes that rival acclaimed author Zane.
Just Like Compton gives readers a strikingly real portrayal of gang life in Los Angeles. Nothing is off limits or too graphic when it comes to telling it like it is for this first time author who admits that for his first novel he drew a lot from his personal life.
For those who have ever wondered about what goes on in the head in those who bang or what it’s like to do time in a California prison as a Black man today, Just Like Compton does an incredible job of breaking down the inexplicable violence, revenge, betrayal, racism, drugs, love and loyalty to a color, neighborhood block, and gang family that many have a hard time understanding. Just Like Compton is the perfect blend of real life-straight up with no chaser complete with baby mama drama, a chick on the side drama, hood drama, and the drama behind the walls.
Being recognized as an up and coming author is new for Kevon Gulley, who admits that he has rejection issues after being left to fend for himself at the young age of 10 in Watts’ Imperial Courts while his parents were addicted to heroin.
The middle of three children, Kevon was left alone for almost three months after his brother and sister were taken by their relatives to be cared for. With only a neighbor, Mrs. Biddle, to care for him the best she could when she could, it wasn’t until his grandmother found out about his situation and came and got him and moved him in with her in Compton that he finally felt like he was wanted. But that feeling soon faded when his grandmother passed away and he became a ward of the State of California was placed in numerous group homes and foster homes until he was finally emancipated.
A former Centennial High School student, Kevon was sentenced to ten years as a juvenile in California’s Youth Authority for carjacking and kidnapping. When he was released in 2000, he once again tried to get his life together by taking classes at Santa Monica College and working at an Arco in Victorville. But just three years later found him facing 150 years that was eventually plead down to 8 years because all of his crimes to date had been as a juvenile.
Having spent the majority of his youth behind bars, in April 2010 when he was once again a free man, there were a lot of things that Kevon said he had to get used to, namely how to text and using today’s technology. In addition, he had 13 years of his 16-year-old son’s life and 7 years of his 8-year old son’s life to make up for.
Kevon admits that the same pressure that was there before still exists today-and it’s even stronger with two sons to take care of and a failing economy that sees African-American’s struggling more than usual.
While he’s trilingual-in addition to English, Kevon speaks both Spanish and French fluently having learned Spanish while in prison and French from his Haitian heritage, Kevon’s been on numerous job interviews with no success. In prison he obtained an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts, something he’s very proud of. Yet and still, when he applied to work for the Compton Unified School District as a Cafeteria Worker, where he was actually hired for the job, when his background check came back it was the same story. No thank you.
“I just wish people would judge me for the person that I am today and not the juvenile that I was,” explains Kevon. “Today I am trying to do things differently.”
And that he is, in addition to writing and looking for a job, Kevon says that he’s devoted a lot of time to trying to keep the peace in Compton amongst various warring gang sects.
“I love Compton,” Kevon says. “I didn’t always do right and I paid the price for it. I’ve seen a lot in these streets and today I just think that if there’s anything that I can do to help make a difference, then I’m going to do it. No one wants to be locked up. Prison is no joke, believe me.”
Self-published, self-edited, and self-promoted, Kevon hopes that sales of his book and a full-time job will help keep him and his family afloat and afford him the opportunity to start writing the second novel in his street lit series where he wants to create more characters that feel like real people, going through real life situations, right here in Los Angeles.
Just Like Compton is currently available online at Amazon.com, local bookstores, including Eso Won in Leimert Park, Smiley’s in Carson, Shades of Afrika in Long Beach and keeping it real Kevon says, at the Slauson Swapmeet in Amina’s. The book can also be ordered directly through his website at www.justlikecompton.com.
Kevon will be a guest on the award-winning Front Page radio show with host Dominique DiPrima on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Thursday, December 16 (4:30 a.m. to 6 a.m.) and will host his first book signing at Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson (20722 South Avalon Blvd. @ Del Amo Blvd.) on Saturday, December 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on Kevon Gulley and his novel Just Like Compton, please log onto www.justlikecompton.com.