So I know what you’ve been thinking: “Anita, you haven’t posted any author interviews lately. What’s up with that?”
Good question! Instead of apologizing like I should, how about I offer a Q&A session with bestselling author J.D. Mason? J.D. is a fellow Denver resident so I’m very excited about the chance to spotlight our amazing writing community.
J.D. Mason is the author of several bestselling novels, including And on the Eighth Day She Rested, This Fire Down in My Soul, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved, and Somebody Pick Up My Pieces. J.D. has been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards in the African American Fiction and Best Contemporary Fiction categories. Her novels have consistently been chosen as Main Selections by The Black Expressions Book Club, and her work has appeared on bestseller lists in the Dallas Morning News, Black Expressions Book Club, and on Amazon.com.
AM: Welcome, J.D. You just celebrated an amazing milestone: your tenth book, Drop Dead, Gorgeous, came out just in time for your tenth anniversary as a published author—congratulations! Any lessons you’d like to share with debut and yet-to-publish authors? How are you different as a writer now than when you first started?
Thank you! Yes, Drop Dead, Gorgeous was released June 25th. I would tell new authors to get a thick skin, but that’s impossible. Writing is personal and any criticisms you get are going to sting. You’re going to have critics no matter how fabulous you think you are. So, expect it, but have enough faith in yourself and your writing to continue doing what you love despite the negativity. This business isn’t for sissies, so man or woman up, dig in and commit to it.
As for how I’ve changed through the years as a writer, well, the critics still hurt my feelings, but I don’t dwell on it like I used to. And I’ve changed my idea of what success looks like now, versus what I thought it would look like when I first started. I used to think that if I didn’t land the six figure contract advance or land a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, that I was a failure as a writer. But now I know that there are thousands of writers who’d love to be standing in my shoes. I have worked with some of the top publishing houses in the business, have one of the most sought after editors in the publishing industry who loves working with and supports just about all of my crazy ideas. I have readers standing by tapping their foot waiting for my next release. Years ago, I set out to become a published author, and I’ve done that. Define what success means to you, and go for it.
The best thing is being able to express myself creatively. When you’re a kid, your imagination is everything, but as you grow up, people start to try and convince you that imagination is childish, and tell you that you need to stop pretending and grow up. Well, I have never stopped pretending, and now I get paid to make stuff up. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The worst thing is time. Time is the enemy in this business, especially if you don’t write for a living. There never seems to be enough of it, and you’re always scrambling to try and meet deadlines despite the interruptions of life. But even during the periods when I did write full time, the issue was still the same for some reason. Adding to that is the effort it takes to put together a story. I have a million ideas or new stories, and can’t seem to write fast enough to get them all down on paper.
You’re in a writers’ group with fellow published authors Carleen Brice and Kimberly Reid (who also happens to be an NLA client—lucky us!). The three of you write in different genres and for different audiences. How did you find each other, and how is this variety an asset to the way you support each other as writers?
I found Carleen from an article I read about her and her new book, Orange Mint and Honey, in Essence Magazine. I was so happy to find another writer in Denver, and especially a writer of color, that I stalked her on the internet until I found her email address and forced her to be my friend.
She introduced me to Kim and the three of us found sounding boards in each other and meet monthly to talk books, cry books, and drink margaritas. Oh, and sometimes, we even eat.
Even though we write very different kinds of books, the writing world is pretty much the same for all of us, and we support each other in trying to navigate our way through the industry. I think that it’s great that we don’t write the same type of books. The differences we bring from our experiences stem from the different backgrounds, and so we get insight into parts of the industry we wouldn’t otherwise have exposure to.
Many thanks for sharing this fabulous insight, J.D. And best wishes for your next ten books!