Interview with JJ Gumbs

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, I do. The first "story" I ever read was the novel, bed of grass, by Janet Dailey. It had such an impact on me, three decades later I still have a copy in my library. Dailey's writing evoked feelings I did not understand at such a young age. It made me believe in true love and the idea of soul mates. While it did not influence me to become "a writer" immediately, it did influence me to start journaling my life, and I have been doing that ever since.
So when did you first start "writing"?
I first started writing in primary school, if my memory serves me. I remember in Grade 5 I was asked to write an essay on how I spent my summer holidays and I got an A on the paper. Later, I got the same question on my exit exam and was able to ace it as a result of the early practice. (Laughs).
What is your writing process?
What is my writing process? Hmm. Tough one. I wish I had some "writerly" response for you. But the truth is, I don't really have a "process" per se. I tend to write when I am in the "mood", which goes against every writing teacher's advice: to write every day. I think it was Stephen King who said to write at least 10 pages a day. I can't. If I could do that I would have a novel every year. (Laughs). What is usually consistent with me though is the fact that I do research everything I write. Even if I have first-hand experience about it I am Googling to get other perspectives. If it's a matter of setting, then I am going to the place to get the "feel" of it. For instance, in The Jamerican Too, Anthony is now living in London, so I know at some point even though Google is wonderful in giving me descriptions of London, I know I will have to find myself in London. That's my writing process. (Laughs).
Describe your desk
I don't have a traditional desk anymore. My laptop is my "desk" if you will. I do everything on it, which is why it is now falling apart and I have to be praying that it holds out until I can afford to replace it. (Laughs). In essence, my "desk" is usually in my lap, in my bed, on the park bench, on the dining table... basically everywhere I am. So to answer your question, my desk is old, well used, well loved and is an Apple MacBook.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, The Jamerican Too, continues the story of Anthony, the antagonist in The Jamerican, who is now the protagonist. When I first wrote The Jamerican, I wrote it in dual point of views to get both Theresa's and Anthony's point of view. However, one of my professors who was forced to read it (lol), discouraged the idea and suggested I write it strictly from Theresa's point of view. This proved successful. However, Anthony still had his story to tell as evidenced by the responses I got from many of my fans. Everyone wants to hear Anthony's side of the story. He is truly a "good guy" though he is the antagonist. I therefore felt it necessary to write his story--hence, The Jamerican Too. I hope I will be able to finish it this year as I have quite a few eager fans dying to read it. (Laughs).
On the subject of fans: What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean the world to me. Yes, it sounds like a cliché but it is actually the truth. My #1 fan (yes I know who it is) makes me feel like a million bucks. She literally cried when I autographed a copy of my book for her. She has read The Jamerican twice, and I am even more driven to complete The Jamerican Too so she can continue to enjoy the story between Theresa and Anthony. When I first started writing, I wrote only for me. I found writing to be very cathartic. However, as people started reading my writings and expressed pleasure from reading my writings, I realize I could no longer just write for myself (that's what my diary is for). So now, when I write, I am thinking of my audience and how to make the reading experience as pleasurable for them as writing is for me. I am also open to suggestions and constructive criticisms from my fans because I value their opinions.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love to read, so I can read almost anything and find pleasure in reading it. It would be easier for me to say what I do not read for pleasure: I do not read materials that contain obscenities; that do not have a moral story at the end (it doesn’t have to be preachy), but the good guy should win; wrongs should be righted. Even if the world is destroyed. I should see where there is a rebirth at the end--If you know what I mean. (Laughs). It's kind of why I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, because though Frodo Baggins went through so much, and the world was almost destroyed, there was happiness in the end for all the "good guys". In the romance department, I do love a good historical romance novel because I have a vivid imagination and I can transport myself back in time and "see" myself living in the setting described by the author. This gives me great pleasure.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing I spend my time reading (I read a lot and I enjoy reading The Bible), traveling, playing dominoes, catching up with friends and family on Facebook, volunteering, and most important: spending time with my God--whether it's going to church (the physical building), participating in activities that honors Him like helping others less fortunate, or just praying and meditating.
Published 2014-05-09.
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Books by This Author

The Jamerican
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,480. Language: English. Published: October 27, 2013 by Banana Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
THE JAMERICAN, by J.J. Gumbs, is a novel about an American Christian living in a Jamaican subculture in NYC. The Jamerican reveals how faith and culture, though we want them sometimes to be mutually exclusive, are really mixed into one thing that forms the principle ingredient of some people's lives.