WiDo Publishing author, Jadie Jones, has recently released her first novel entitled Moonlit. Jadie lives with her family in the foothills of North Georgia. She has a degree in equine business management from St. Andrews University, and she is currently training horses, coaching several competitive riding teams, and working hard on the next installment of her series, featuring her spunky and charming main character, Tanzy Hightower.
Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that cannot be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.
When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t. The question then becomes, why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?
Hello, Jadie. Thank you for doing this interview with me. One thing I always wonder about fellow authors is do they have specific writing “ritual” to get them into the mindset to write. Do you have any such rituals? Thanks, Angela. I really like to have a cup of hot tea within an arm’s reach, especially during drafting. I also work best in stretchy pants. Seriously. I lean forward a lot when I write and wearing real pants just won’t do. I also like to have an empty picture frame somewhere near my computer. I got the idea from a piece of writing advice Anne Lamott gives in her book Bird by Bird. This ritual helps me focus if I get stuck.
Jadie, it is clear that you are a talented young writer. You write with a confidence not often seen in newly published writers. I’m just curious; who are some of your favorite writers? Amy Greene, Walter Farley, and Anne Lamott, to name a few off the top of my head. When a writer’s voice comes from an honest, simple place, I fall in love and will follow them anywhere.
Of course the question everyone wants to know the answer to is where did you get the idea for your novel, Moonlit? I took a head-dive off of a horse and wound up with a pretty good concussion. When I went to sleep that night, I dreamt of an underground chamber in ancient Egypt where a band of dark headed girls was guarded by burly, half-dressed men. I had the distinct impression that the girls made the guards very nervous, and then one of the girls turned and looked straight through me, as if to say: tell our story. I started penning the first draft that afternoon.
What part of the novel came to you first – the characters or the plot? The character has been a voice in my mind for a long time. It just took me a while to find a journey she’d agree to take. And then I had to figure out how to get my down-home farm girl to ancient Egypt…
The question authors are always asked is how much do certain characters resemble them, so I will ask the question of you…how much of Tanzy, your novel’s protagonist, is you (if any part)? The horse-girl aspect is something I draw from personal experience. I started working at a horse farm when I was twelve, cleaning tack and scrubbing buckets, etc. Once I turned sixteen and could drive myself, it was not uncommon for me to be out there alone either blanketing horses on cold nights, or checking on a sick horse. I also liked to arrive before anyone else because I enjoyed the quiet and could get more done. Predawn at a barn is the most peaceful place on earth. I’m also admittedly headstrong and can react before I think something through. Those traits show up in Tanzy as well.
Now that I have finished reading Moonlit, I am ready for book two of your trilogy. How far into the writing process are you with the other two books? I am currently editing the sequel in hope to submit it to WiDo Publishing in May. I’m still unearthing some key factors in the sequel. They make themselves known to me only once they’re sure I’ll know what to do with them. I know what I want to accomplish with the third and final book, but I’ve learned to stay very open minded and flexible when it comes to Tanzy Hightower. She’s a force of nature.
Well, Jadie, I wish you much success on this day—YOUR BOOK RELEASE DAY. I am sure that Moonlit will have a tremendous amount of success. I look forward to reading all of your work to come.
If you would like to learn more about Jadie Jones, please meander over to her website. Click here.
Soon after I was violated by an adult “posing” as a family member, I started thinking about ways to protect myself. I was too afraid to tell what really happened to me, so I knew I had to come up with my own ideas for keeping me safe. My body started “sprouting” womanly features at a very early age. I was what some folks would call big boned or thick.
By the time I was eleven, when the abuse took place, I was no longer wearing a training bra, but instead, I was wearing at least a B or C cup. So I knew my first task was to change my body. Nerd that I was, I decided I would “research” how to lose my excess body fat so that I could look more like an eleven year old. I went to the library and checked out diet and exercise books and I then tried to embark on a healthy path towards losing weight…not easy when your dad is an ex-Navy chef. Daddy was always cooking amazing foods, and I was always a sucker for his barbecue ribs, coleslaw, chicken and dressing, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and the list goes on and on and on. At first, I allowed myself all the water I could drink, six or seven crackers for breakfast and lunch, and at dinner, I would eat whatever daddy cooked. Well, not so smart because by dinner time, I was ravenous. I ate everything in sight, and daddy, the quintessential southern gentleman, thought it awesome that his biggest fan loved his cooking so much that she ate seconds, thirds, and sometimes, fourths of whatever he cooked. Little did he know that I was dying inside, knowing that every bite I took added more temptation to my hips, thighs, breast and backside. Then, I discovered purging.
My discovery of purging actually happened by accident really. At this point in my life, there were no stories about Anorexia or Bulimia, so I didn’t have a name for what I was doing. The Karen Carpenter story had not been revealed, so for all I knew, I was inventing a new way to cope with food. The beginning of my food phobias and addictions began one night when I ate way too much, and within an hour, I was violently sick. I don’t know if it was in that moment or later on that I developed the “bright idea” to continue purging after every meal, but either way, that became my way of dealing with my desire to eat and my desire to get smaller so my body wouldn’t be attractive to anyone, particularly lecherous old men who messed with little girls. During high school, my weight fluctuated. There was a time when I was as low as 110 and as high as 135. No one ever knew my pain because I kept that part of my life secret. Just like the abuse. The weight of the things I carried just kept getting heavier and heavier.
I continued this behavior for several decades –throughout all of my twenties and half of my thirties. When I met my husband, I was down to about 110-112 pounds (not a healthy weight for someone who was 5'5"). Pictures of me at that time are extremely scary. I looked sick, and I was. I rarely ate, and when I did, I picked at my food. My husband is an amazing cook, so I would make sure I ate but I chewed my food for so long that no one really noticed that I barely consumed anything. I began to rely on booze to help me deal with my demons. I was functioning, but just barely. I held down a job. I mothered my boys as best I could. I tried to be a good wife. But inside, I was dying. And to add insult to injury, I felt like the worse black woman ever. I mean, weren’t we the divas who celebrated our hips and thighs? At that time, white women were beginning to get butt surgeries and breast augmentations to add on the very parts that I despised when they were on my body. I hated the catcalls. I hated the dudes who “stepped to me” and said things like, “Them thighs are looking hot, mama.” Their words alone, made me feel violated. But I hated that I felt that way. I wanted to be the upbeat chick who had a quick comeback. The chick who celebrated their words instead of feared them.
I grew up with Queen Latifah singing about our beauty and talent and our need for self-respect. I had a daddy who always, always said I was smart and beautiful. My husband, Robert, told me every day that I was the most beautiful woman in the world, but for some reason, their words didn't compute. I felt like a freak. An anomaly. The more I tried to stop my destructive behavior the more I found myself binging and purging. I got to a point where I would only eat foods of a certain color and each food had to be organized on my plate in a certain way. At that time, I gave up meat completely. It didn’t fit in my color scheme. Then I went vegan. I wanted no animal byproducts in my system at all. Now I am back to being vegetarian with the occasional fish.
The good news – I have stopped binging and purging. I am working on my diet and exercise, but it isn’t easy. My years of abusing diet pills and laxatives have cost me a lot physically. My metabolism is shot. But I am not giving up. I am healing. Hopefully, this post will help others. Hopefully someone out there who reads this post will realize that they are not alone and those of us who did survive are all in this recovery thing with them. That is my hope and prayer.
IF YOU HAVE AN EATING DISORDER, OR YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES, PLEASE CONTACT THE NATIONAL EATING DISORDER ASSOCIATION BY CLICKING HERE.
A few posts ago, I encouraged writers to read their work. There is something so scrumptious about tasting the words of your characters in your mouth. You become the conduit through which they are heard and felt. I have always loved performance art. Perhaps, if I didn't have such difficulty memorizing dialogue/lines, I would have auditioned for the stage. Maybe the fact that memorization is a chore for me, I instead focus on getting the voices of my characters just right. I know I will never perform in a play (unless I am the character who enters stage left, nods at the people in the audience, and then walks off stage right). Therefore, I must allow my creative process to help me engage my characters orally. My ultimate goal is, after I've "written" and "talked" my characters into existence, someone who reads a story written by me will "hear" the voices of the characters as if I or the character herself were speaking them out loud. So, below, I share with you my reading of my short story, "Something in the Wash." This story is part of the thesis I wrote entitled Wade in the Water. Please feel free to leave comments below about your writing/reading experiences, or just talk about writing with me.
I will never forget that July morning in 1979 when, at the age of eleven, my innocence was stolen away from me by a madman, disguised as a “member of the family.” He married into the family but obviously didn’t realize that sweet, little girls with pigtails were off limits. I’ve battled with how to deal with those demons my entire life since this tragedy occurred. It feels like, at times, that I can’t shake the fear, the shame, and the disgust over that incident, all of these years later. In a poem that I wrote called “History,” I say the following lines:
[T]he anger is still there
Most days I can control it, suck it up and own it
But it is still there
All these years later
It is still there.
Those words express for me how I sometimes feel about being violated and then told to ignore it and/or pretend “it” didn’t happen by someone in my life who should have been my protector. This person, I still have trouble forgiving. Sometimes, this person feels more like the violator than the violator.
Sadly, that one incident has affected me and everyone who has been and is a part of my inner circle. Sometimes I am distant. Moody. I pull away. I detach myself. I attempt to be “the life of the party,” as sung by Smokey Robinson, but really all I want to do is to be swallowed up by floor. I shy away from affection. I desire it but it also scares me. I am a control freak. The list goes on and on. And the worst of it all is I still, sometimes, blame that poor little eleven year old girl for what happened to “us.” The adult me scolds her for not being smarter. Why did you let him in? Why couldn't you see that he was drunk and out of his mind? Why didn’t you tell our daddy, so he could have fixed things? Why didn’t you protect us, dammit!?!
So the question is, why am I revealing all of these details about my life now in such a public forum? Those close to me know the details. I’ve spent years in therapy rehashing the story over and over. My husband, who is my lifeline and best friend, deals with these demons right along with me day after day, year after year. So why put this story out there? The simple answer is, I want to be free. At times I think that I am free, and then something happens. My senses pick up on scents that I relate to that morning – the smell of beer, Cherry flavored Kool-Aid, cigarette smoke and stale Pork rinds – and then just as “fast as lightning,” little Angela is catapulted back to the summer of 1979. But I am ready to stop this madness for good now. I am trying to adopt the mindset that I must speak and/or write the words that bind me so that I can be free.
Robin Roberts, the news anchor at Good Morning America, recently said she will “turn [her] mess into [her] message.” I like that. I will strive to do that and release myself of the “noose of child sexual abuse.” And that is what it is. The longer those of us who have suffered from child sexual abuse continue to swing in the trees of torment and despair, we continue to give our assailant the power. We must cut ourselves down from those trees and be free. I will continue to talk about this issue, because there is too much silence about it. Too many little girls and boys have been violated and they are too scared, even as adults, to tell their stories. Well, this is my story. And I say to this violent portion of my history, “I rebuke you.” You will no longer be my mess, you will, instead, be my message. I will write about this issue. Talk to young girls and boys about this affront to our youth and innocence. I will not allow another boy or girl on my watch feel as if the shame is theirs. I will stand up and speak out until it is the violators who will fall on their knees and cry “Mercy.” For their sake, I hope mercy will be granted. Simply put, I claim my freedom…Today.
For more information about child sexual abuse and organizations that can help children and families, click here.