Seven Stories Press release ‘Smile Now, Cry Later’


Publication News:

“…an incredibly literate personal tale that transcends Latin American culture, gang lifestyle, and incarceration. It’s a story of purpose and triumph, and it’s truly remarkable.” — Nick Cassavetes, filmmaker and actor (The Notebook, Alpha Dog, My Sister’s Keeper)

“Freddy Negrete’s former life is as dark and forbidding as a thick lined skull tattoo on the face of a menacing gangbanger…one hell of a journey. This memoir by Negrete and Steve Jones is riveting and intense and I couldn’t put it down.” — Patrick O’Neil, author of ‘Gun, Needle, Spoon’

“This is one of the most moving, original, and ultimately uplifting memoirs, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.” — J.P. Smith, author of ‘Airtight’, ‘The Blue Hour’ and ‘Breathless’.

Smile Now, Cry Later: Guns, Gangs and Tattoos — My Life in Black and Gray was released in hardcover by Seven Stories Press, New York on August 30th, 2016. (Now available on Kindle!)

Authors: Freddy Negrete and Steve Jones

Distribution: Penguin Random House Publisher Services. 

Available from: AmazonBarnes&Noble, Books-A-MillionPenguinRandomHouse and booksellers everywhere.

Foreword: Luis J. Rodriguez — Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, best-selling author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. and founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and the Chicago-based Youth Struggling for Survival non-profit organizations.


Profiled in the History Channel’s Marked series, East L.A. gang member Freddy Negrete became an orphan-of-the-living at two and a half years old when his parents, both pachuco gangsters, ended up in prison, one for armed robbery and the other for manslaughter.

After growing up in foster care, Freddy joined a San Gabriel gang, Sangra, one of the oldest gangs in Los Angeles, and ended up in a number of juvenile halls and camps, the LA County Jail and eventually Youth Authority prison at the age of eighteen.

A gifted and natural-born artist, Freddy was transported from the confines of prison cells–where, using home-made tattoo machines, he honed his craft as a pioneer of Black and Gray realism–onto the sets of major Hollywood films such as Batman, Blade, Con Air, Austin Powers and Falling Down. But then, after years of success in the motion picture industry, in a tragic twist of fate, he found himself back inside again: in Folsom maximum security prison–tattooing for packets of soup.

Smile Now, Cry Later is a journey of survival and transformation, a moving and inspiring redemption narrative of a Jewish-Chicano artist who overcame death in the form of shootings, stabbings and multiple heart attacks; the scourges of heroin and Oxycontin addiction; and the loss that is every parent’s nightmare: the tragic death of his 16 year old son, Lorenzo, in a gang-related shooting incident.

“Freddy Negrete’s story is about how even the most troubled young man has vital gifts for the world, intrinsic to who he’s meant to be, and filling a void only an artist can fill.” —Luis J. Rodriguez, Los Angeles Poet Laureate and best-selling author of the memoirs Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., and It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.


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