Vallean Jackson is my name and I was born & raised in Birmingham, AL. I am a Jacksonville State University graduate that majored in print journalism with a minor in biology. I am a journalist that has written for various publications & love being a journalist just as much as I love writing books. My genres of books range from anthologies, romance, urban fiction, some horror, and recently children’s books.
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?
I first realized that writing was my calling when my mind started to finally feel free. There are times when my mind becomes so clouded or the pressure and ideas build, and one day I just started and found my peace, my voice a little, and a place I could let my creativity flow.
One thing I love the most about being a writer is a way to be free, and in a sense leaving a legacy behind. Over the years, things come and go, but words have stuck around for years, and I hope that one day my words too can stand to tell stories years after I am gone.
Honestly, my most frustrating thing as a writer is that I can not write as fast as I come up with a story. Like the story I am working on now, it’s already finished in my head, truthfully, a lot of stories are, hell tv shows and movies too, but I can’t write it all up as quickly. So I just make a note of the idea and try to work my way back to it.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Love On Thin Ice (urban fiction)-A jaw dropping love story that leads to unexpected betrayal and love used as a weapon. As the paths of Nova Emerson and Keiontay Clark continue to cross, Nova thought that fate was showing its hand in her life and she had finally encountered her one true love. But as Nova drops the guard of her heart, she starts to question her decision to be in a relationship with so many red flags. The urge to have to look over her shoulder starts to become second nature. Someone has made Nova their target, and this obsession is jeopardizing her success and life. Pushed past her limits, Nova is stuck in the crossfire of love and hate. Is Keiontay really her forever — or will his past and decisions become her Achilles heel?
Adventures With Liyah presents: Colors At First Sight (children’s book)– Liyah is very curious, eager to learn, and loves taking adventures. This adventure explores colors we see everyday and notices how colors are tied to so much. This helps her learn her colors as well explore things around, and realize what she enjoys and dislikes. Along the way some things are sour, and quickly causes her to make a bad face, but it is not just one thing she encounters she discovers she doesn’t like.
Both books can be found on Amazon, Kindle, & www.valleanj.com
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
I am an observant person. Though I can be outspoken at times, I sometimes tend to sit back and observe my surroundings and situations. Then there are times when my imagination plays things out of how it should go or should have gone, and I put it down. I honestly get inspired from many areas, but I think my biggest inspiration is telling the story that someone is afraid to tell. As for the characters, it just kind of depends on the story I am telling, but for children’s book, that character inspiration came from my daughter. In fact, the little girl on the front of the book is her!
4) 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? What projects are you currently working on?
I do not! I do not think I probably ever will because for me I think that will take the passion out of it for me. I love being able to write when I want to. I feel like that allows me to give my stories the best of me instead of my work seeming rushed, and like I am just trying to get any story out.
If only you could see some of my notes for my books. I have tried to do outlines so many times, and I just never stick to them unfortunately. For part 2 of Love On Thin Ice, I wrote down an outline, and I think I’ve jumped around so much on that outline and added so much, I really think they are not for me.
I am not sure. I have never really measured the time because I sometimes write a lot and other times not as much, so it’s hard to pinpoint.
Currently, I am working on like 3 different things at once. I believe strongly in multitasking. I love being productive! There’s part 2 of LOTI, part 2 of my children’s book series, and a children’s activity book. I have the hope and faith that all 3 will release this 2021 before the year is out in Jesus name!
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
The first book that moved me emotionally would probably have to be, Every Thug Needs A Lady by Wahida Clark. When I first got into books she was one author that had me flipping the pages with an attitude and talking back to the book as if it could hear me.
I currently do not have a favorite author unless I can say myself. I know that’s being biased, but with being a single mother of a 2 year old, being a journalist, and working on my books…I barely sometimes have time to keep my eyes open. If I’m reading something it’s either proofreading my work, or a bedtime story to my daughter at night.
6) 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?
Maybe to no one else it’s not significant, but to me it felt and feels like a major achievement to have produced my first urban fiction book in years under the name of my own publishing company. I have a ways to go with my company establishment, but the first step thus far has felt like a great one.
In the years to come, as I once heard, and I pray that God enlarges my territory. I don’t want to think small or limit myself to what I think I can achieve. I hope that as time goes on, God opens doors for me that no man can close, and bless me with opportunities so great that not even I could have imagined. He knows I want to do great things. My words, my work is more than just about me, I desire to help others and make a difference somehow in this world.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
I only dealt with rejection early on in my writing career, but when it came I didn’t give up. I just researched a little harder and sent in submissions that were more so for my genre.
My advice to writers in which path of publishing to take would be, take the route of the amount of work you want to do. If you want the pressure not on you as much, I would say the traditional route is the way to go. However, if you can handle the heat that keeps with it, the self publishing route will be best. It just all depends on the vision you want for your book. Do you want others to help you show people your vision? or Do you want to express your vision on your own?
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
For me, no. They are two different things, but I know the goal at hand is to keep the content creative and unique. This goes for both writing the book, and coming up with ideas for promo.
With starting over from scratch, it has certainly not been a walk in the park. I think building a following is the hardest thing about building my platform. With so many different types of books in the world the options are plenty. I feel like sometimes commanding the following aspect is one thing I am constantly battling with trying to do it organically. I pray in time my followers increase. I feel like more followers equals more eyes on my work, and hopefully the word can get out a little more.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
In the editing process, I think I go over the book so much with different corrections and additions that about the time it is published, it’s like woah!. Lol. So I rarely go back and read my work. Sometimes I have where I have taken the author in me out, and take on the eyes of a reader and I just be like wow! That is good, but then I realized maybe it’s just me that feels like this. Then I read the reviews and it makes me proud that it’s not just me that believes what I do.
10) 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?
I love that being a writer is one of those fields that do not have an age cap. Like Tupac said, the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice….I believe, the greater the age, the more wisdom you have, and more you have endured. I don’t think a late start hinders chances, because there is a target age group for all kinds of books. So if you can, do!
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?
What makes my writing authentic is that it feels like I am truly putting my heart into what I do. Usually when I am done writing, I sometimes feel so exhausted because I honestly put my all into my writing. Also I am writing with the intent that my books will teach someone, and or help them get through a situation, encourage them etc.
My writing makes me feel more empowered in my purpose as a way to escape almost. I at times get lost in my writing where I am so content writing and enjoying myself that I do not want to stop. Then I remember that I have to so I can get started on dinner. So I guess the feeling of being free is empowering.