Vol. 111 (2021) 

Five Questions for New York Times Bestselling Novelist S. A. Cosby about Razorblade Tears






S. A. Cosby became a New York Times Bestselling author in July 2021 with his fourth book, Razorblade Tears. His prior book, Blacktop Wasteland, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was named a New York Times Notable Book, was selected as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020, was called “... a fast-paced, bareknuckle thriller,” by Stephen King, and “[a] roaring, full-throttle thriller, crackling with tension and charm,” by the New York Times Book Review.


Stay Thirsty Magazine first visited S. A. Cosby to talk about Blacktop Wasteland in a prior edition of the magazine (2020) and it was clear then that he had a bright future as a novelist of significance. With the nearly instant success of Razorblade Tears, we were delighted to visit with him again for these Five Questions.



STAY THIRSTY: In your new novel, Razorblade Tears, you confront many contemporary social issues. How did you settle on gay, interracial marriage as one of those? What is the significance of race in America to you and in your novels?


S. A. COSBY: For me, it was just a natural part of the narrative. I think in many ways society has advanced in many respects so an interracial gay couple isn't revolutionary, or it shouldn't be. I wanted to show that in a normal everyday way. Unfortunately, there people who don't feel that way and that leads us into why race is a large aspect of my work. America is a beautiful dream that is shattered again and again by the reality of racism. Only by shining a light on that darkness can we hope to make that dream come true.

STAY THIRSTY: Your story is told with opposites and commonalities coursing through the principal characters. What was your purpose in making these differences such a pivotal issue?


S. A. COSBY: I really wanted to show how people from disparate backgrounds who have had vastly different life experiences can find common ground, as long as that common ground is rooted in mutual respect. Because common ground without mutual respect is just condescension.



STAY THIRSTY: How and why did you develop the power of loss as the bond between the main characters?


S. A. COSBY: I believe there are certain emotions and feelings that are universal. Pain and loss are among the most powerful. Regardless of your place in life we all understand loss in an intrinsic way. It creates a shorthand that allows us to communicate without all the extraneous social niceties.

S. A. Cosby

STAY THIRSTY: What role did love and revenge have in your novel? How did you develop the humanity or lack of it in your characters and what was your purpose?


S. A. COSBY: If there is a mantra in the book it's "love is love." It's just that simple. Love is all that matters. And when love is taken from us there is no stronger motivation than revenge. I'm in no way endorsing violence or taking the law into your own hands. But I am fascinated by what justice looks like when the juridical apparatus turns its back on you. How far would you go? How much of your humanity are you willing to give up? And can you get it back. I don't know if I answered those questions, but I was incredibly interested in asking them. 



STAY THIRSTY: What authors influenced you when building your style of writing? Do you think of your books as contributions to the Southern Noir canon? If so, how have you kept that tradition alive and continued to expand on it?


S. A. COSBY: My influences come from multiple genres. Writers like Walter Mosley, Cormac McCarthy, Chester Himes, Raymond Carver, Harry Crews, Alice Walker, Flannery O'Connor, Ernest J. Gaines, just to name a few. I hope that people will consider my books a part of the Southern Noir tradition. A tradition that is not the sole provenance of only white Southern writers but belongs to anyone from the South. Black and brown, LGBTQ and Indigenous writers whose voices are also a part of that complex tapestry. To paraphrase James Baldwin: I love the South and because I love it, I reserve the right to criticize it so that it can be the best version of itself.




S.A. Cosby    



All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.