Welcome back to another Launch Week installment of Soapbox Spotlight! I’m so proud to introduce you to this next author; she’s my best friend of thirteen years, J. Mahogany! Her first work is Barely Breathing, a prose compilation we authored together. She’s here to talk to us about poetry, prose compilations, and what she loves about writing.
So, tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Inglewood, CA, but grew up all across America. I am what some people call an “Army Brat”. Both my parents were in the Army. Growing up in so many places allowed me to be introduced to many cultures and people. It is because of that upbringing that I have such a diverse group of friends, most of whom I consider extended family. I have always loved losing myself inside of a new book. I have a colorful history of experiences that inspire me to write most of my work. I am a child at heart and will never change that part of me for anything in the world. It keeps me from being hardened by some of the tragic experiences I have had to deal with in my life. It also keeps those around me laughing and remembering to appreciate even the little things in life.
You are also a member of our honored military. Let me, on behalf of our readership, give you the deepest thanks for your service. We are so blessed as a country that you take those risks out there.
How long have you been writing?
Since I can remember. Writing has been my method of “breathing”. It started as just journaling when I was 8 or 9 and continued into poetry and prose as I got older.
Your genre is prose; have you ever considered writing anything else?
I have written a few children’s stories that I read to my friends’ and neighbor’s children. They are mainly about teaching children life lessons in a creative and fun way.
How would you describe the pieces you write?
[They are] my life experiences. I am very imaginative, but most pieces I write stem from a memory or something I have heard from someone else that inspired me to write about it.
Do you feel you’ve evolved as a writer? What caused the change?
I am the worst critic of my work! But, yes, I can definitely see the changes of my writer’s voice through the years. [It’s much more] emotional and mature. [A lot] of my growth in writing stems from life experiences that were very painful. If I could describe it, it would be as if I died emotionally and resurrected as a new being. When I am at my lowest, that is when I find the words that surface like a butterfly from a cocoon. Still, when I read others’ work, such as yours, it makes me want to burn my notebooks and be shameful to want to call myself a writer!
That’s ridiculous; you’re brilliant! Can you tell us more about what inspires you to write?
Life. Memories. Pain.
What do you love about independent authorship?
Creative control gives you the freedom to write from your heart. I love being challenged and given a topic to write about, but being an independent author puts no restrictions on what I want to say or how I should say it.
Do you have any new projects planned?
Always! I have so many projects….I just tend to procrastinate. I have three novels I would like to one day finish as well as two compilations of prose that I have yet to edit, one of them with you that we’re hoping to get out next year.
Yes! Above Broken Dreams is the name of the project, and I think it’s going to be incredible. Oh, and let’s not forget about the joint venture novel, Riding Past Dawn. I’m so looking forward to finishing those with you.
It’s going to be really fun working together again!
What do you see ahead for yourself in your writing career?
A solo project of my own prose is the long term goal. But I feel that I have a bit more growing to do as a writer before I make that leap.
What do you do for fun?
I love listening to music; it is so soothing. I love to travel the world (which as we speak I am in the Middle East), and I absolutely love playing with my dogs, a.k.a. my babies.
Can you tell our audience about some of your favorite things?
My favorite country is Australia. The people are so friendly, and the country itself is so beautiful. My favorite city is Point Reyes, Calif. It is in northern California on the coast and is the perfect setting for a relaxing vacation or to find peace of mind. I love Italian food – well, I love all food, but that is my favorite. I love too many artists to pick any favorites, but what stays in constant play on my iPod is Jill Scott, Eric Benet, Maxwell, Ledisi, Fred Hammond, Alicia Keys, Jasmine Sullivan, Rihanna and Melanie Fiona. My absolute favorite author is Paulo Coehlo. His books really make you reflect on life and yourself. And many have a religious theme to them. When I read his books I feel my spirit growing.
Wow, those are some amazing favorites! Do you have any poetry you’d like to share with us today?
Sure! This is titled “Lighthouse”.
Nestled deep behind my strong demeanor
You will find a heart that bleeds deeply for you.
A trail of tears will lead yo to a woman
Who has become weakened by your existence.
I am intimately connected to you.
I dream of you; I crave you.
Locked away behind my poised expression
I dance for you.
I celebrate your existence in my world;
I cherish you.
You are – everything to me.
That is what my heart would say if it could speak.
Even when the shadows engulf your light
I see you. I seek you.
Your love is a beacon to my ship
Where I long to moor at your pier and embrace you.
I whisper your name to the ocean
In hopes of navigating my sail back to you.
My safe haven.
You are my buried treasure that I seek diligently to find.
Have I lost you forever?
Has my bearing lost its course?
Never. A sailor never loses sight or faith amongst the arduous seas
In hopes of returning to their beloved.
I pray you will always be my beacon home.
Amazing, as usual! Well, Besti, it has been an absolute honor to have you stop by the party and talk with us today. Keep us posted about all your upcoming projects.
I certainly will, and thanks for having me. It’s been great catching up with you, and congrats on The Grim! What a read!
Thanks so much!