On Tuesday (January 12), Angie Thomas released the prequel to her 2017 breakout blockbuster novel The Hate U Give called Concrete Rose.
The novel takes readers back to the Garden Heights of the 1990s, 17 years before the plot of their first work. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Thomas said her inspiration for the character Maverick came from a source many would not immediately guess: actor Russell Hornsby.
"My favorite character from The Hate U Give was actually Maverick," she told the outlet. “I remember when I first saw Russell Hornsby as Maverick, I was like waiting, this is the Lincoln Heights cop dad and now he's going to play that former gang dad? But he blew me away and he was Maverick, period. Here was this man I never met, and he just embodied my character as I imagined when I was writing it. "
She continued, “Russell and I would have conversations about Maverick, with Russell asking me questions I hadn't answered before: How was his relationship with his mother, did he have siblings, how were things for him? I was so intrigued by it that I realized this could be a book in itself. "
As for the people in their own lives who want inspiration, Thomas says there are some who have evolved characters in their books.
"There were several men who helped me build this character," she said. “There was a young man in my neighborhood who was 17 years old and had twins. He had no car, no means of transport, and the children and their mother lived a few streets away – I would see him on his bike to visit his children. "
She added, “If her mother needed a break, he would put these babies on his bike. I would see him walking down the street with one baby in his arms and the other in the basket; He did his business as a father. I thought about him a lot when I was writing this character. "
Read the full EW interview with Angie Thomas here.