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 a 1990s-era Garden Heights, which takes place 17 years before her first work’s plot does. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Thomas says her inspiration for the character Maverick came from a source many wouldn’t immediately guess: actor Russell Hornsby.
“My favorite character from The Hate U Give was actually Maverick,” she said to the outlet. “I remember the first time I saw Russell Hornsby as Maverick, I was like wait, this is the cop dad from Lincoln Heights and now he's going to play this former gang member dad? But he blew me away and he was Maverick, full-stop. Here was this man I've never met and he just embodied my character in every way I had envisioned when I was writing.”
She continued: “Russell and I would have conversations about Maverick, with Russell asking me questions I hadn't answered before: what his relationship with his mom was like, did he have siblings, what were things like for him? It got me intrigued to the point that I realized, huh, this could be a book all its own.”
As for people in her own life to pull for inspiration, Thomas says there are a few that further developed characters in her books.
“There were several men that helped me with building this character,” she said. “There was a young man from my neighborhood, he was 17 years old and he ended up becoming a father of twins. He had no car, no form of transportation, and the children and their mom lived a couple of streets over — I would see him on his bicycle going to visit his kids.”
She added: “If their mom needed a break, he would load those babies on to his bike. I would see him going down the street with one baby in his arm and the other in the basket; he handled his business as far as being a father. I thought about him a lot when I was writing this character.”
Read the full EW interview with Angie Thomas here.
Photo: Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Massachusetts Conference for Women 2019