Thank you for returning. Today is a beautiful day and we are in great company today because we are graced with the presence of BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy. She is the author behind the “New Day Divas,” “Still Divas,” “Always Divas” and “Forever Divas" series, all which have been coined “Soap Operas in Print.” She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY. Her title, If I Ruled the World, earned her a book blurb from Grammy Award Winning Artist, Erykah Badu.
An All Night Man, an anthology she penned with New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Jackson, earned the Borders bestselling African American romance award. Her Urban Fiction title, Dollar Bill (Triple Crown Publications), appeared in Newsweek and has been translated to Japanese. Her children’s book titled The Secret Olivia Told Me, written under the name N. Joy, received a Coretta Scott King Honor from the American Library Association. The book was also acquired by Scholastic Books and has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops E. N. Joy instructs in schools nationwide.
Let's get right into the interview. Thank you for joining us, E.N. Joy , it's a true pleasure to have you here.
Tell us, when did you start writing, and what did you write about?
I have been writing since the days of elementary school journals and rainy day writings. I started out just writing poems, and then I went on to writing short stories. My first self-published book, Please Tell Me If the Grass Is Greener, is a mixture of poetry and short stories. It was self-published in 1998. Growing up, my escape from reality was the La La Land I invented with pen and paper. So, I guess that is truly what drove me to pick up the pen for the first time. It was an escape. Some people use drugs, some people use alcohol, some people use sex while other people use guns. I used a pen to escape my real life drama and trauma by creating stories that others could escape to as well.
What is the difference in your perception between now and the time you started writing?
When I first started writing, I wanted nothing more than to be a New York Times Bestselling Author. I wanted to be famous; my books known and read around the world. But after being in this business for almost two decades and shifting from writing secular works to Christian fiction, my perception of my purpose for doing this writing thing has changed drastically. I went from thinking my purpose of being a writer was to become a famous author, to knowing that my purpose for writing was to make God famous.
Please write a few lines about the books you have published, and what brought you to publishing each one of them.
Although Me, Myself and Him was my first book in the Christian fiction genre, the books in my various “Divas” series are what is allowing me to make a name for myself in the literary world. I’m the author behind the “New Day Divas,” “Still Divas,” “Always Divas,” and “Forever Divas” series, all which have been coined “Soap Operas in Print.” You haven't met real divas until you've met the women of New Day Temple of Faith. She Who Finds a Husband is the book that started it all. When Mother Doreen thought she was forming a singles’ ministry to support the single members of New Day Temple of Faith, she had no idea that only women would join and that these women didn’t want support; they wanted a man!
The “New Day Divas” series was incited by my publisher, New York Times Bestselling Author Carl Weber, but birthed by the Holy Spirit. God used Mr. Weber to pitch the idea to me; sort of plant the seed in my spirit, of which I prayed on and eventually the seed was watered and grew into a phenomenal series that I hope will touch readers across the world.
Like a televised soap opera, the series are filled with drama, romance, chances, coincidences and fate. But more importantly, they are filled with characters that will make you feel young and restless, bold and beautiful; all as the world turns upside down. These divas will be your guiding light to a literary feast. My “Divas” series are the series of a lifetime, and remember, you've only got one life to live! Start living it with the New Day Divas
What are you writing about now and why are you writing this book?
I have two books that just released. One is part of my romantic shorts and it’s titled The Miserable Wives Club. The Miserable Wives Club is one that the members don’t want anyone to know they belong to . . . especially their husbands! I decided to start my “Everybody Needs Joy Shorts Series” because after writing books filled with so much hurt, pain, turmoil, and drama, I wanted to reconnect with the happy side of my creativity and write books that allowed readers to reconnect with their happy. Romance books have to have a happy ending, so they most definitely take readers to a happy place. But what I was finding was that most of the romance books and movies I engaged in didn’t deal with married couples. That gave me the sense that once a couple marries, the romance is gone. I wanted to pen stories to the contrary.
My latest full-length novel is One Sunday at a Time and it’s book two in my “Forever Divas” series. In this soap opera in print, the main character, Deborah, asks herself, “What does crazy look like?” Let Deborah tell it, it's the reflection that looks back at her in the mirror. She has a career she loves, two beautiful children and a handsome and successful husband. Her life seems to be the blueprint almost every woman she knows would kill to live. But working full-time, being a full-time mother, full-time wife and a full-time Sunday only Christian seems to be taking its toll on her.
With all the scheming and shenanigans Deborah orchestrated to get this lifestyle, she might have to come up with a whole set of new ones to maintain it.
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Lynox is Deborah's husband who she thanks God for putting back into her life after a game of cat and mouse that defies the laws of romance. He feels that all Deborah needs is to let her hair down, maybe make some new friends and live a little. When Deborah agrees and then suspects Lynox of having an affair with the woman that he suggested she form a friendship with, will he live to regret his own advice?
I began to pen One Sunday at a Time after looking at myself in the mirror one day and asking the very same question I have my character ask: “What does crazy look like?” I honestly thought crazy looked like me. If I felt this way, I could only imagine how many other women wearing multiple hats—being mother, wife, working, and trying to stay saved—might have felt. I wanted them to know that they were not alone, because it was the moment of feeling alone that could have taken me down a destructive road; the same one it took my main character, Deborah, down.
Congratulations on your releases. Tell me, how do you go about writing your books? Do the ideas just pop in your head or do you have to plot and plan?
I’m probably one of few authors who will admit that they have a ghostwriter. Well, I do. So when I go to write a book, I simply sit at my computer and take dictation from my ghostwriter; the Holy Ghost. There are some television shows I DVR and use as resources for my stories as well. Those shows are Law and Order, CNN specials, and reality shows. I want to be in tune with what is going on in the world, as well as what the rest of the world is connecting to. From there, I build upon that with a spiritual message, plus add a twist from a Bible story.
It goes without saying that reality shows are the world’s guilty pleasure. I was curious as to what it was that drew viewers to tune in weekly. What was it about the cast members that viewers connected with? I realized that it was the real, raw pain those characters displayed. Pain is the common denominator that we all share. At one point in each of our lives we will experience pain in some type of form. Pain is what connects us more now days than it is love. Just look at how the world unites when a tragedy takes place. We become filled with more compassion. Heck, some people even change their religious views, beliefs and opinions after a tragedy takes place.
I wanted to be able to capture that pain and use it to connect my readers with the characters. I not only want to show the characters going through pain—walking it out—but how to get delivered from the pain and then walk in (maintain) that deliverance. So, yes, even though romance is the number one selling genre with books, God has me writing about the polar opposite; pain. Go figure!
I’m having a bit of a hard time marketing my books. What are your techniques and do you feel they are working?
First, as an author, you have to ask yourself what are your dreams and goals for you as an author and for your books. Then take that dream and form a team to help you orchestrate and realize it. TEAM work makes the DREAM work. I hate that I just learned that last week (LOL). You must, must, must put a team together of persons that believe in your work and do not mind spreading the news. I have a person I use for Twitter Chats, I have a person I use for Blog Tours, I have a person I use for Print Ads, interviews, etc. I even have an Author-Reader Liaison who advocates for me on social media and connects me with online book clubs and readers
Where can the audience purchase your books?
My books are available at Walmart, Barnes and Noble, wherever online books are sold, and in your local book stores. If my book isn’t on the book store shelf, readers can ask the store clerk to order it for them. My books are also available in the library. And if the library doesn’t have my books in the system, they will order them if a reader requests it. My titles are available in eBook format and some are even available on audio.
I have a habit of talking (interviewing) to the people in my books. How do you communicate with your characters?
My characters communicate with me. They run my life. You think we serve a jealous God? Well, huh, I write about some jealous characters. They don’t care that I have children and a husband to tend to, among other things. When they are ready to speak, they speak, no matter the hour. My characters are like tornadoes inside of me, threatening to cause major destruction if I don’t speak on their behalf with my pen. My characters truly do live inside of me, as I put a great deal of myself into my characters. I’ve already written about at least 90 percent of my life in all of my books combined.
If I were to interview one or two of the characters from your novel what do you think he/she would say about the role you put him/her in? Do you think they would like the book?
If you were to speak to my character Helen from the book, I Ain’t Me No More, then she would be livid for the role I put her in. I know for certain she would express that to you because 80% of that book is based on my life . . . and I’m mad at myself! It’s so hard to read some of the reader reviews for that book. Nine times out of ten when they are dogging Helen out, they are dogging me out. But it’s okay, because that’s the old me. Like the books says: I Ain’t Me No More.
Helen wouldn’t just like the book, she would love it. Yes, she made a many costly mistakes in the book, but the lessons she learned from them were priceless.
What hobby or activity do you enjoy other than writing?
Besides reading, I love traveling, not just across the states, but across the country. The Caribbean beaches are my favorite destinations. When I travel, I don’t like fancy resorts or five start hotels. I like renting a house and living among the natives. I don’t just want to see another culture; I want to experience it.
Besides traveling on getaways with my husband or family vacations, I also travel with the ladies of my monthly breakfast club. There are six of us in the breakfast club. Each month we take turns hosting breakfast at our homes. We watch YouTube cooking videos and try to find recipes in order to outdo one another. It’s a friendly competition. Every other year we travel to a different country to partake in their breakfast foods.
Thank you for your time and stopping over to chat with us here at IN THE CHAIR. It’s been fun.
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