PWLGB: How many novels in all have you written?
JYJ: I have written a collection of short stories (Please Tell Me If The Grass Is Greener) and a diary of poems (World On My Shoulders). I have contributed stories into two erotic anthologies ("Daydreaming at Night" for the book Twilight Moods and "Just Wanna Love Ya" for the book An All Night Man). I have written two published novels (The Root of All Evil and Dollar Bill) and two forth coming novels titled If I Ruled the World and When Souls Mate (which is the sequel to The Root of All Evil).
PWLGB: How long did it take you to write your first novel?
JYJ: It took me two months to write my first full-length novel, The Root of All Evil, but that was just the first draft. It takes months of working with an editor and rewrites to make a story tight. Fortunately for me, my editor with St. Martin's Press, Monique Patterson is great at construction work-LOL-filling in all the potholes in my stories. But, hey, at the end of the day, with her thoughtful input, my stories are air tight!
PWLGB: Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
JLJ: I'm inspired to write pretty much the same way anybody is inspired to create art, by life. I keep my eyes, ears and feelings open wide. I take in what is going on around me in my life, in the lives of my friends and in society and I cater to it.
PWLGB: Are the characters based on real people?
JLJ:All of my characters are based on someone I know or who have encountered. Not necessarily the situations or the circumstance my characters find themselves in, but just the development of the character themselves. For example. Everyone loved the character Breezy in The Root of All Evil. Well, I based her actions and personality on my favorite cousin who has the most fly and freshest mouth in the midwest-LOL. Sometimes I can't believe the stuff that slides off of her slick tongue.
PWLGB: After writing your first novel, did you self-publish? If so, how was that experience?
JLJ: I self published Please Tell Me If the Grass Is Greener, World On My Shoulders and Twilight Moods (along with two other self-published authors). I eventually self-published The Root of All Evil but it was eventually picked up and re-released by St. Martin's Press. Self-publishing is undisputedly hard work, but I swear, if you are patient and do it right, it is so rewarding. I learned so much from the experience and I'll be the first to tell you that I made a gazillion and one mistakes. Now I teach a self-publishing workshop and I do one-on-one consultations. Of course I teach all of the basics of what you need to do to self-publish, but what I mainly focus on is what not to do. Mistakes waste time and money and I enjoy sharing what I know so that others don't make the same mistakes I made.
PWLGB: What feedback have you received from fans?
JLJ: For Please Tell Me If the Grass is Greener, I have never received any negative feedback from fans or reviewers. That book is short stories told in a unique poetic format so I'm really honored by that. Of course with poetry some people get it and some people don't, so I receive mixed reviews for World On My Shoulders. I haven't received any negative reviews on my short erotic stories because in anthologies there are so many other authors folks can talk about besides me (LOL). I receive both good and bad feedback on my novels, but any review that is honest is a positive review. Even in the bad ones an author can draw from what is being said and gain a sense of how to make their next novel better.
PWLGB: What authors do you admire?
JLJ: I admire Nancey Flowers Wilson and Marlon Green (my other two musketeers). The three of us started this business around the same time and have gone extremely hard in the paint to make a name for ourselves in the literary world. I also admire Nikki Turner (talk about a ride or die chick...even though at one point or another folks tried hard to build a bridge between us, in the end we used it as a means to reach one another, walking across the bridge, meeting one another half way and now doing the damn thang! I also admire Kashamba Williams for her truly divine love of what she does, Keisha and Tu-Shonda for sticking together on making sure their work is always represented and Zane for being one of those authors who stays quiet it says a lot (actions speak louder than words).
PWLGB:Did one of them inspire you?
JLJ: Every last one of them inspired me in a certain way and they continue to inspire me. Some I never realized were truly inspiring me, but it's better late than never.
PWLGB: Is writing your only passion?
JLJ: My children are my passion. The same way I love, breathe, eat, think and sleep writing and reading, I love breathe, eat, think and sleep loving and caring for my children. I'm not going to lie. I want writing to be my big pay off. I want it to be the source that allows me to keep my children happy by being able to provide for them. Unfortunately, I've encountered a publisher along my path that enjoys seeing that other people's children don't eat, only her own, but let that be the reason I continue to strive. I get so emotional when it comes to this. I'm actually tearing up as I type. It's just so deep. I wish my fans only knew how deep each of my passions mean to me and how I desire for them to come full circle.
PWLGB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
JLJ: I see myself penning it down 'tuff', I mean producing some of the best literary works in every genre possible. So many stories flow through my soul, I just pray God allows me time on earth to get them all out of me.
PWLGB:What advice would you give aspiring authors?
JLJ: Study the craft. Writing is not just telling a story, it's telling a story well. The first thing you do to study the craft is to read. Read what other authors are doing. Learn the different styles, formats and voices. Next, even purchase some self-editing books and basic grammar books. I don't know about anybody else, and I hate to say it, but once I got my degrees, half that stuff flew right out of my head. Freshen up your writing and grammatical skills. It will make the process much more smoother.
PWLGB: What would you like readers to learn from your stories?
JLJ: There are so many things a reader can pull out of my work, but when it is all said and done, I want them to learn that there are instructions to life. You can't find the instructions on how to live in my books, on BET videos, in a song or on the movie screen. Sure some of the characters do dirt and prevail, but a reader has to look at everything they went through and determine is it worth it. No, not every answer to every one of life's dilemmas is found in my book, but there is one book that has all the answers........
PWLGB: Are you working on another novel? What is it about?
JLJ: I am currently working on a short story titled "BEYATCH!!!" for a street lit anthology that Random house is publishing titled Street Chronicles. My story is going to be in the second volume. I had so much fun writing the short story that I'm going to turn it into a full novel. The book is about just what the title says, a stone cold, mean, grimy, mean ass bitch....I mean BEYATCH!!!. I got the idea because another author had solicited me to ghostwrite a story for them titled Dirty Red, well, when that project fell through I had already started on some content and it was way too hot to waste so I decided to use it myself and came up with the title BEYATCH!!!
PWLGB: Where can people purchase your books? Do you have a website?
JLJ: People can purchase my books on www.cushcity.com, amazon.com , bn.com and any bookstore (if you can't find it on the shelf, they can order it for you). To read excerpts readers can visit me at www.JoylynnJossel.com.