It's a serialized novel called CROWED, which I'm publishing one story at a time. Four novellas and one introductory short story are available now on the Amazon Kindle Platform. I expect to have Part 6 of the series, another novella, ready for publication in about two weeks. The others are available here amzn.to/1knNkzY
I got the idea for my novel series from Playwright, August Wilson, whose goal was to write a play set in each decade of the last century. I recognized my own material in his plays while writing theater reviews for the Seattle Weekly. His stories were not my stories, but the gradual progression of African-American life from decade to decade was certainly something I knew about. When I saw The Piano Lesson, for example, I recognized characters who visited my home and lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up during the cusp years of the American Civil Rights Movement. The review I wrote was full of memories triggered by Wilson's play. In his way, though I never met him personally, his work influenced the stories I would tell later, the ones I'm working on now. But here's the thing: when you write fiction that is rooted in the connection you make with your inner self, the stories will be uniquely yours. So while my stories draw on material you will find in The Butler or The Color Purple, those stories are as different from mine as is Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried or Eric Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Big differences. Bottom line: My stories are about the struggle to become yourself when the rest of the world cares more about race and other irrelevances. I don't know of any other writer who is tackling this material in quite the same way.
Short Answer: I don't really know. The stories I write are part of what's in me. I sit down and do what writers have been doing throughout human history. "Sing, Muse," I say. "And through me tell the story..."
Usually I will "hear" a first line that contains all the elements I need for the rest of the story. I get this, I suppose, from John Cheever, who was a favorite of mine when I was still in literary knee pants and who remains a favorite today. But I think my process comes mainly from reading. I usually write first thing in the morning, while I'm still relatively close to the unconscious world of dreams. I give it two to three hours at most. Then I put it away and try not to think of it again. It took me a long time to learn this. You must it leave it alone. Never, ever write yourself out (do not empty yourself). The next morning, the glass that was nearly empty is now filled to the brim again. You have new energy, new insight, and sometimes even a new take on what you wrote before. Mark Twain, Faulkner, Walter Moseley, all recommend this approach, and now that I'm taking their advice, I can report it really works for me.