Jacqueline P. Walker (Jackie) is a documentation manager, motivational blogger, and author of the biographical fiction, “A Season of Disruption.” Born in Jamaica and raised in Washington, DC, the interactions within her close-knit family demonstrated the power of storytelling, fueling her desire to create works that entertain, educate, encourage, and build relationships across cultures and generations. In addition to her self-published titles, she enjoys writing inspirational blogs about life, career, goals and striving for success. Her essay, “Disrupted Not Defeated,” is scheduled for publication in The Caribbean Writer – Volume 36 (an international, refereed literary journal with a Caribbean focus published annually by the University of the Virgin Islands).
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 for interviewing me. I appreciate the opportunity to share my writings and interests with you and the subscribers/readers at Write 2 Be magazine.
I have always been quiet and reflective. I read a lot as a child, and that fueled my interest in writing. As I continued to expand my reading interests, I also felt the need to share my thoughts, and that is how my calling as a writer came to being. I enjoy the storytelling aspect as well as the opportunity to encourage others through writing. I believe storytelling can build bridges of understanding across cultures and generations. Also, words have power, and I choose to uplift positively and motivate everyone to excel.
The most frustrating aspect of my writing journey is feeling forced to place myself in a particular category or genre instead of simply sharing my gift based on what I am inspired to write at a given moment in time.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I published my most current work, A Season of Disruption, in June 2021. This book is my first work of fiction, based on actual events in my family’s life journey.
A Season of Disruption is an inspiring biographical fiction recounting how a family’s life turned from routine to disruption. The book chronicles the parallel journeys of a mother and her children after unexpected circumstances separate them. It details experiences from both sides and reveals their struggle to survive, strive, thrive, and reunite. This story is one of perseverance, life-changing, legacy-defining decisions, and the ability to withstand challenges that often break and defeat families.
I have also published a chapbook of poetry titled, Mothers, Sisters, Friends containing poems honoring women’s beauty, grace, and strength.
In addition, my book, Lyrics of My Reality – Reflections & Inspirations, is a compilation of inspirational essays, each complemented by a related original and introspective poem aimed to encourage readers by focusing on hope, support, caring, love, and relationship building.
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
My personal and family life experiences influence my writing. Also, I draw inspiration from people I interact with (family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances), hearing their stories, or listening and understanding their needs and desires. My values and spiritual beliefs are also influential, and I think readers can glean this from my work.
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 don’t have a defined schedule for writing. But I develop a plan for my writing projects. So, once I have a subject/topic or storyline, I map out sub-topics, timeline and set a target deadline for completing each stage and the overall work.
I create an informal outline, so I have a guide for designing and building the story. And sometimes, if a thought hits me when I am not writing, I get up and write it down so I don’t lose it and can get back to it or determine how I can weave it into my defined plan.
I am currently working on a collection of inspirational short stories. I also wrote a personal essay scheduled to appear in The Caribbean Writer -Volume 36 (a print and digital journal) in April 2022.
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 I read that really moved me emotionally was “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. The rawness in the writing was revealing and eye-opening for me as a young Black woman, coming from the Caribbean to the US.
I can’t say I have a “single” favorite author to read. I enjoy stories where you can see and feel the vulnerabilities in the characters. I lean towards books that present situations and circumstances depicting human/social/emotional challenges, trauma, and determination. I enjoy books that also push me to be introspective and assess my character or choices. And I can always get sucked into a good memoir. I will say that I have had a great affinity for the writings of Langston Hughes, Terry McMillan, and Maya Angelou throughout my life.
As far as my current reading list, I just finished “The Beauty In Breaking” by Michele Harper. I am about to begin reading “The Leavers” by Lisa Ko and “The Power of People: Four Kinds of People Who Can Change Your Life” by Dr. Verna Cornelia Price.
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?
I am incredibly proud of my latest work, A Season of Disruption, and the reception it has received from everyone who has read it to date. And as a writer focused on inspiring others, I would say my most significant achievement to date is the endurance of blogs I wrote for the everydaypower.com site that are still being utilized to uplift and motivates others in their personal and professional lives. Also, having my essay accepted for publication in The Caribbean Writer, which is a refereed, literary, journal is extremely encouraging.
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?
Like just about every writer, I have had my work rejected many times. But for me the key to dealing with rejection is to focus on two aspects: 1. The rejection was specific to the work and not me personally; 2. “Everything is not for everyone.” So, we all have different tastes and interests, and that is okay. As long as I remember these two aspects, I deal with rejection positively. I didn’t enjoy every book I ever read, but others may have truly enjoyed those same books. And the reverse is also true. So, rejections may come because it isn’t the style of work that the particular reader wants.
I recommend that other writers follow that same perspective by not taking rejection personally and recognizing that some readers’ interests and focus may not match their writing style or book content. But that does not mean there isn’t an audience for their work. Also, whether traditional or self-publishing, as a writer, you have to believe in your story, or no one else will – not publishers, editors, or readers.
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?
The marketing and promotions side of writing and publishing are the most challenging areas for me. I understand that they are necessary because if you don’t reach readers, you can’t share your story and get the desired results of encouraging or enlightening others. As a writer, I want to write. I enjoy sharing or connecting in small groups, but frequent promotional appearances, large events, and advertising efforts are challenging. Building my author platform has been tough. Still, I know that I have to reach people to achieve my desired results. So, I step up to the plate and engage in those activities that will foster the interactions and interest in my work.
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?
During the development process, I read the manuscript to evaluate the quality and value of the story and from a technical point of view for accuracy in grammar, etc. Once the book is published, it is difficult for me to switch perspectives and become a reader who purchased the book purely for enjoyment vs. the author creating the work. It is sometimes uncomfortable to read my books because I think, like many writers, I am very critical of myself and my work. So, I typically stay away from just sitting back and reading my work from the “audience” point of view.
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?
Jimmetta – I love this question. It truly brought a smile to my face, and here’s why: As “a woman of a particular age” who is just now making her way around the publishing industry, I am not disheartened. I believe my work will speak for itself and has value; therefore, I will aspire to accomplish writing and publishing goals regardless of age. So, having had a late start doesn’t worry me. I don’t think it hinders my chances for success.
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?
Writing represents my authenticity because I have always had a “teaching spirit’ desiring to help others grow, develop and excel. My role in my family across the generations has included counseling and guiding my loved ones in their educational pursuits. Focusing my writing on inspirational topics or creating stories with a motivational twist reveals who I am. So, my writing represents my authenticity and empowers me to carry out my life’s purpose.
Jimmetta – I want to end by saying that I am grateful to share a bit about me and my books with your readers. I am thankful for platforms such as Write 2 Be magazine because you provide an avenue for Indie/self-published authors (like me) to reach readers they typically would not be able to. You provide a valuable service, and your efforts are appreciated.
Thank you so much for that Jacqueline! It truly means a lot.