Norma L. Jarrett, J.D. is the award winning author of Randomhouse novels, Sunday Brunch, Sweet Magnolia and The Sunday Brunch Diaries (Essence bestseller) and other works: Bridal Brunch, Brunchspiration, Christmas Beau, Love on a Budget, Valentine’s Day…Again??? and Salt and Sky. She loves to inspire and encourage others to pursue purposeful passion. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Essence, Ebony, Publisher’s Weekly, Rolling Out, Southern Living, Upscale, Hope Magazine and other media. Norma has been a featured guest on The Yolanda Adams radio show, ABC 13’s Crossroads, Outlook Houston, Majic 102, and Atlanta’s V103. Among other honors, Ms. Jarrett has received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for her literary work. She has served as a panelist and/or speaker at events such as the Baltimore Book Festival, Miami Book Fair, Faith & Fiction Retreat, Harlem Book Fair, the Essence Music Festival, Christian Book Lovers Retreat and other venues. Ms. Jarrett is a graduate of North Carolina A & T State University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Norma is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is married and resides in Houston, Texas. Visit her website at www.normajarrett.com
1) First, I want to thank you Norma for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview with me, it’s truly an honor! When did you first fall in love with writing? Was writing something that started as just a hobby or was it something that you felt you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
I always loved writing. As a child I’d devour books. It wasn’t until I wrote my first novel did I realize it was part of my gift. So I guess you could say it began as a hobby until I realized it was a calling.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? Where do you draw your inspiration from for the characters you create and the stories that you are able to tell?
I write Inspirational fiction. Contemporary stories. I try to write positive realistic and often multi-generational characters. I love a bit of romance and I like to take readers on a journey of redemption, healing and life lessons. Most of my characters are diverse because I like to write about people I would find in my circle.
Everywhere: family, friends, movies, television, strangers. Inspiration can come from anyplace if you pay attention. I am a people watcher and lean more towards introversion so I see a lot.
3) You have over nine titles to your credit, most notably, The Sunday Brunch Series, which is an Essence Bestseller. What does your writing routine look like on an average day? Does your schedule depend mostly on whether or not you’re on a deadline or do you try and write something every day?
I’m trying to be more consistent but usually evenings and weekends. Once I get on a roll with a book I get excited to return to the computer. Deadlines definitely help. As creative people we like to smell the trees a lot! Procrastination is definitely real. I am trying to train myself to write each day.
4) Does your writing process include outlining and drawing up character sketches? What’s the average time it takes you to complete a novel from start to finish? What projects are you currently working on?
I do loose outlines in the beginning and more detailed outlines and mapping later. It usually depends, 6 months to a year. I’m not a fast writer.
Ivy’s Soul my next novel which is a coming of age, two generational story on the campus of an HBCU. A middle class family is rocked by a tragedy and the family heals through the discovery of and reliving a family legacy and relationships. It’s like the Notebook meets A Different World.
5) You’re not just a writer. You’re also a motivational speaker and a teacher. How does it make you feel to know that you have helped and continue to help so many other writers find their way and tap into their purpose and passion for writing?
It is the best part. I love when people let me know how much books have inspired or encouraged them. I remember years ago I had a young Black dental student e-mail me. She was having a tough time in a strange place, little friends (that looked like her) in a challenging situation. When she read Sunday Brunch it gave her encouragement to press forward. That was epic to me. I live for those purpose moments.
6) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Do you have a favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
It’s not the first but I remember Cane River by Lalita Tademy had a major impact. Not necessarily an author, but genres; I love contemporary fiction and historical fiction. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. His story is phenomenal (but heads up…language) I can endure because his story and education of Apartheid and worldview is so fascinating.
7) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I think earning a book deal as a first time author and getting a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for my literary work (Guess that’s two, hard to choose)
Writing books, producing movies and developing writer related products.
8) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in terms of traditional and self-publishing?
Not so much rejecting in writing but learning how to market with what seems like a crowded industry.
You do have to make an adjustment. There are benefits to both but so much is technology driven. You must challenge yourself to dive into the unknown. It is so much easier to self-publish now and the industry is so dynamic. I think you stick with what you know and challenge yourself to grow from there. Confidence is the key.
9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I want to strive to make sure characters have dimensions and real purpose for inclusion in a story. I also love to balance humor and light moments with serious issues. I don’t want to write about what’s on trend (although there is some merit to it) but what feels authentic to me. Readers know the difference. As I write, I walk through ministry first so the readers are able to receive a story of substance. Writing is the launch pad for all other things and it is a great connector and personal growth tool.