The path from writer to published author is rarely a short, straight line. It’s usually long, winding, and replete with fits and starts and the challenges of finding the right balance between life and “the calling.” J.L. Campbell’s love of writing and a dogged persistence paid off after a couple of decades, landing her the deal that sparked a prolific career. Today this Jamaican author weaves realistic and engaging characters and lush Caribbean settings into contemporary romance stories that will have you longing for your book boyfriend and calling your travel agent—yesterday. Join Diverse Romance today as J.L. shares a little background on her writing life and her new release—The Thick of Things!
I know you’ve been writing for a long time. Tell us a little more about your writing journey.
I’ve been writing for many years, stopped for 20 of them before I started again by writing short stories. I submitted queries to several agents and publishers before deciding to submit to an African-American publisher. The result was that she said yes to two manuscripts and I signed another contract with a second publisher at the same time. That was 2009. In 2011, I self-published a collection of short stories and kept on that path.
So, what sparked the idea for this for your latest release?
This new book is with Garden Avenue Press. Golf has been a part of my life for a long time and the idea for The Thick of Things started marinating in my brain when I was at a resort for a week during a golf event. I wondered what would happen if someone working at a tournament was attracted to someone she met there and what complications could arise if that happened.
The Thick of Things is about a woman who goes through upheaval in different areas of her life. Khalila loses her son and is on the edge of divorce. She lives in Jamaica and her love interest is from Antigua, but resides in Miami. The distance and her situation prove to be a challenge, but determination on the hero’s part turns things around and Khalila begins to explore possibilities she never thought possible.
Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?
Thought-provoking. Educational. Humorous (in parts). Descriptive. Poignant.
Life sometimes does not go as planned and we need to keep an open mind and adjust our expectations. Love never happens on a schedule and good things can come from bad situations.
Give us one or two of your favorite lines from your current book.
“My name on his tongue was a caress that scattered my thoughts.”
“His fingers roamed every hill and valley that defined my body.”
Hello! I can’t wait to pick up this read. Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.
I have a small desk in a corner of my bedroom. Not ideal, I know, but it’s what I have to work with unless I move downstairs which is not as comfy. The television usually provides background noise while I write.
I don’t write every day, nor do I have a set routine. I write anytime, anywhere, as long as I have a few minutes.
What’s one of your favorite comments you’ve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?
I did a workshop with one of the Caribbean’s noteworthy writers (now deceased) some time ago. He looked at a vignette he’d asked me to write and asked how long I’d been writing and why I stopped. He then told me I should have been writing again ages ago. With his encouragement and recommendation, I submitted stories to a literary paper. Having those stories published gave me the oomph I needed to submit my novels to several publishers.
What’s your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do/did you handle it?
Sometimes, my biggest struggle is motivating myself to write. I’ve been trying different methods to find new readers and that has worked to an extent. Without a strong base of readers, this writing journey can feel like a lonely, uphill climb. The urge to write never leaves, no matter how long a break I take.
What has been the high point of your career, so far?
As weird as this may sound, that would be when I signed three contracts with two small publishers. That happened around the same time and launched me into the only thing I’ve done consistently over the years. Write.
What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?
I believe if people understood the power their words have to hurt, they would be less free with them. I’ve read some cutting reviews on my perma-free story collection that sucked away the desire to write. The only thing that kept me going then was that the work in question included several short stories that won awards.
Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.
I’ve read several books by Nia Forrester and enjoy her stories thoroughly. I am currently writing two books, an interracial novel for a boxed set and an inspirational story. After that, I’ll be writing book two of the In Medias Res series.
What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?
My advice to writers (no matter what stage you’re at) is to continue to study the craft. No matter how long you’ve been at it, there is always you can learn that will improve your writing.
What is something your readers don’t know about you that you wish they would?
I sometimes write about subjects that can be controversial, but I doesn’t mean I’m promoting the lifestyle about which I’m writing.
How can readers connect with you online?
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jlcampbellwrites/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/iarreaderssuite
Thank you so much for joining Diverse Romance today! Please check out J.L. Campbell’s latest releases in Caribbean Contemporary Romance and pick one up today!
Thanks so much for having me. It’s highly appreciated.