Brittney Holmes Jackson is a self-identified multi-passionate creative, who has a passion for helping other creative minds identify their gifts and passions, in order to pursue their divine calling and impact the world around them. An author, educator and mentor, she uses her experience to guide others toward success in business and in life as a creative consultant and coach.
For as long as she can remember, she has loved to read, but for years she had her heart set on becoming a medical doctor. At the age of 14, her longtime appreciation for reading expanded to a love for writing and creating fictional stories of her own. At 16, she became a published author and discovered that while she remained fascinated with the field of medicine, she did not feel about it the way she did writing.
She is a 2012 alumna of the University of Georgia, where she earned dual degrees during her 4-year tenure: a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism (a degree for which she was also named “Grady Ambassador” from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication). Selected by Teach for America to help mold and educate young minds, she taught elementary education in the school systems of Jacksonville, FL for three years before shifting back to Atlanta where she continue to serve as an educator and mentor.
In pursuit of her passion, she made a future career change and decided that as she obtained a higher education, she would focus on subjects that would expand her command of the English language and sharpen her skills as a creative writer. She am now the author of several bestselling novels and the recipient of many literary honors including Essence Bestselling Author, Black Expressions Bestselling Author, the 2007 Yale Book Award, the 2007 AALAS Best Young Adult Fiction Award, induction into the National Association of Black Journalists, and induction into Who’s Who In Black Atlanta.
She is the founder of R.A.D.I.A.N.C.E., LLC., a nonprofit mentoring group for young ladies, ages 10-18 years, and The Proverbs 31 Collective, LLC, a network for women in business that provides access to affordable resources with the purpose of helping them achieve entrepreneurial success. She is also a devastating diva of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and a member of the national writer’s fellowship, M-PACT Writers.
Check out more of her products and services at www.brittneyholmesjackson.com
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you so much for the invitation to be interviewed. I always find it an honor to be featured and to take the opportunity to share my experience with the hope of inspiring readers and writers alike. I have been writing for decades, probably back to my early educational years, but I didn’t discover the call until around the age of 14. It was purely divine, almost a mistake on my part, because what turned into my first novel was initially supposed to be a personal journal that kept my darkest secrets lol. But God had other plans and He allowed me to experience success in my purpose early in life. I became a national bestselling author, traveled the US, spoke to audiences across the country, all before the age of 20 years old, and it continues today. I love being an author because I have the ability to share stories that relate to my readers and not simply entertain them, but help them navigate some of life’s toughest challenges. The only thing that frustrates me about being a writer is not being able to do it full time, which probably has less to do with being a writer and more to do with my expansion into the consulting arena as a writing coach. Though it does take time away from my own writing, I thoroughly enjoy helping other aspiring authors find and tell their own stories.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I’ve published 5 novels: “Living Consequences,” “Testing Relationships,” “Grace and Mercy,” “Searching For Right,” and “On Bended Knee.” These are all stories of adolescent or young adult relationships, centered on forgiveness and finding hope in God. Each story finds the major characters navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood, making decisions that are reflective of their values and figuring out what their own personal relationship with God looks like. Readers can learn more about and purchase these titles on my website at www.brittneyholmesjackson.com.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
My next release is a non-fiction devotional, entitled “Hannah’s Prayer.” This title is one for women who are experiencing infertility and desire to give birth to greatness (whether physically or through their divine purpose). This project is my most personal one because it is a journey I am currently on. This is sort of an exclusive here, because it’s the first time I have shared my “why” behind this project. The most interesting thing about it is, I am on the journey while writing the book. It’s a manifestation of the affirmation I often share with my literary clients: “You can write your testimony while going through your test.”
4) 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?
With all of the awards and accolades I’ve been blessed with, I’d have to say my greatest achievement is realizing that my purpose includes being a pusher of others’ call to write. Being a literary consultant and writing coach has been so gratifying; watching those who once couldn’t manage to put pen to paper become published authors’ produces an incomparable feeling.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Whew, this is a good one! I had so much success as a young adult author that the transition to being an adult in the industry produced a great deal of trial for me. I have been discouraged from transitioning genres and even told that I should focus on remaining traditionally published, instead of getting onto the self-publishing train. While not direct rejection, the idea that people only believe you can be successful in a certain avenue is very disheartening. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of it and chose to focus on what I know God has called me to do.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I do have a writing schedule; it’s actually set as a daily/weekly reminder in my phone. I don’t generally outline my work unless my thoughts are all over the place, which has been the case for this latest project. While I have written all my other projects without an outline, this latest piece has proven to need one. It’s also the one taking the longest to write. Novels have generally taken me 3-6 months to complete and this latest project has taken about a year, but I fully believe that is a result of it being a story that requires a greater level of vulnerability from me. In addition to it being a personal story, it is also being written while I am coaching other writers on their journey to publication.
7) 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?
No I don’t think it’s ever too late to do anything you desire to do in life. As for the literary industry, the key to being successful is in understanding its constant changes. It doesn’t matter when you start, but if you jump in, be sure you know and have studied your audience, their trends, as well as the current trends of the industry itself.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I was more of an avid reader in my earlier years. Now, with all of the responsibilities on my plate, it’s more challenging to maintain a leisure reading schedule. However, I try my best to keep a book list so when my schedule is more flexible, I can easily grab a book to read. The first book that drew me into the world of romance was “First Love” by Yolanda C. Brooks. It was such an enamoring book that fulfilled all my adolescent dreams of what love looked like. I would have to say my favorite author is actually my mother, Kendra Holmes (formerly writing as Kendra Norman Bellamy); her books are always weaved with intricate character traits and twists and turns within the plot that most don’t see coming. Her books aren’t always predictable and I appreciate the craft it takes to make that happen.
9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?
You know, quarantine has truly been a blessing for me, and I do understand and empathize with others who cannot say the same, but that doesn’t diminish how God has truly allowed this season to be one of productivity for me, my business and my clients. I have found more time to write, since I’ve been working form home since March, and I also have been able to expand my business to better serve my clients. I have absolutely no complaints.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
There are benefits and drawbacks to every type of publishing. I am a traditionally published author who has recently transitioned to self-publishing for myself while also coaching other writers in the best strategies to implement if they desire to do the same. I will be a hybrid author, but I am not sure if I will attempt to be traditionally published again for any future projects. Having complete autonomy over my work and what occurs with it is priceless. However, I do understand the “perks” of being traditionally published and depending on how my goals change in the future, I may revisit the option. The only apprehension about the direction of the publishing industry is the saturation of vanity press publishers, who seem to take advantage of aspiring writers’ desires to be published.
11) 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 write to share untold stories. As a Christian author, there is a lot that I believe my faith shies away from; topics that have become taboo to discuss within the church or outside of it for that matter. I write to free myself of the man-made constraints that religious people tend to place on others, and I write to challenge my own levels of transparency and vulnerability; concepts that are necessary when attempting to show anyone else what faith truly looks like. This is where my empowerment comes from – pushing my own limits and challenging the status quo of what I have been taught for so long.