J.D. Mason is a friend of mine. We've both lived in Colorado forever, but we didn't meet until she read about me in Essence Magazine and emailed me. Proving that writers need to get out of the house more! Especially me.
So, full disclosure. She's my friend, but I'm hosting her here because she's a good writer. If you like women's fiction, I really do encourage you to check her out. Publisher's Weekly raved about her latest saying, "The day of reckoning is unavoidable for all four women in this fast-moving and fascinating look at friendship, the repercussions of keeping secrets, and the power of forgiveness."
J.D. Mason: Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It is about three friends, who, growing up, were closer than sisters. Renetta, Phyllis and Freddie had each other’s backs, and if one of them had a problem, all of them had a problem and they all took care of it, together. During their senior year in high school, they faced the most horrendous challenge they’d ever encountered, and it took its toll on their friendship. As a result, they each went their separate ways. Thirty years later, they see each other at their high school reunion and are forced to finally come to terms with what happened back then, to each other and, most importantly, to themselves.
WRMBA: How would you describe your body of work? Your themes, tone, style? Why do you write about the topics you write about?
JDM: I’m all about the “thought-provoking-ism”. I don’t think that’s a word (Ha), but that’s what I strive for when writing stories. I want to give people something that sticks with them after they close the book. I want to give them characters that challenge their emotions, and storylines that leave them with a sense of, “hmmm…I never quite thought of it that way” or “I never would’ve looked at it like that.”
I don’t know how to describe my style of writing, but I know that I have one, and when I look back through my books, I see it, and I feel it when I read through a few chapters. Readers that like my books like my style. And then there are those who don’t like it at all. I sure wish they did, though. LOL
I choose topics that fuel conversations, opinions, and debates. I choose topics far removed from my own life because it challenges me as a writer and as a person, to think outside myself and consider how other people’s points of view can be different from my own. That’s the fun part. That’s the growing part for me.
WRMBA: What's your goal(s) as a writer? Do you set out to educate? entertain? illuminate?
JDM: I’m an entertainer, first and foremost. And I love being an entertainer. If I could sing, dance, or act, I would, but as it turns out, I write. When I was a kid, I used to entertain myself for hours, making up stories with my dolls and I loved it. Now I get to do it for other people and I am just giddy when I write a story that people enjoy reading. I don’t set out to necessarily educate, but if it happens, then that’s icing on the cake. I do know that have an underlying goal to illuminate; to shine light on a situation or a type of character, or an attitude about something that maybe readers didn’t quite expect, but can appreciate by the end of the book.
WRMBA: You self-published first, right? How was that experience different from being published? Would you ever consider self-publishing again?
JDM: I was clueless the first time I self published and it was definitely not for the sheepish, but I’ve learned a great deal since then. It takes a lot of effort, time, energy and devotion to being a good business person, and the work involved with running your own publishing business can definitely overshadow the writing aspect. I don’t know if I’d ever be good at self publishing, because I’m not a good business woman. There, I admitted it. And the reason I love having a publisher is because I can spend more time focusing on the writing part. But if I couldn’t land another contract from a publisher, and if I weren’t ready to give up being a writer, yes. I’d publish myself again in a heartbeat.
WRMBA: What's next for you?
JDM: I’ve just finished up the very last book in the One Day I Saw A Black King series, called Somebody Pick Up My Pieces, and I finally feel confident that this one is definitely the end of these wonderful characters. I feel a bit saddened by it, but also, I know that it’s time to finally say goodbye—on a good note.
I’ve also just turned in my very first science fiction novel to my editor. It’s the first in a brand new series I’m working on, and I am very excited to see how this adventure works out. If it does well, I’ll probably continue writing in that genre, but if it doesn’t, well…that’ll be the end of that and I can at least say I gave it a shot.
My teenage daughter recently helped me to map out a story idea for a sci-fi/fantasy young adult novel, which I think I’ll seriously consider shopping in the very near future. First I’ll have to search my soul, and be honest with myself about whether or not I can actually pull something like that off. I typically can’t relate to anyone under the age of 37 1/2, but we’ll see.
And finally, I’ve started my first book in a new series about a prominent black family in the south that will encompass the kinds of issues and dilemma’s prominent families tend to have. The family has a rich history, tons of relatives and money, and lots of shenanigans to fill volumes, and I’m looking forward rolling up my sleeves and to getting down to the nitty gritty of telling these people’s stories. The first book in the series is called Beautiful, Dirty, Rich. My editor came up with the title, and I just fell in love with it.
WRMBA: What's the best book (or whose the best writer) that not enough people know about?
JDM: Sandra Jackson-Opoku is, to me, one of the most brilliant and talented writers and under-appreciated writers that I have ever read. I think she only has two works of fiction out: The River Where Blood is Born and Hot Johnny and the Women Who Loved Him, and I loved them both. She has a way of mixing contemporary drama with African folklore and black American history in a way that is absolute magic to me, and it takes a real wordsmith to weave it all together the way she does.