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Interview with E. N. Joy

BLESSEDselling Author E.N. Joy is the author of the five book “New Day Divas” and three book “Still Divas” series, which have been coined “The Soap Opera in Print.” She appears on panels and hosts workshops across the map, sharing her literary expertise nationwide. Her title, And You Call Yourself a Christian, has been submitted for consideration for an NAACP Image Award while her upcoming title, The Sunday Only Christian, will be one of the Black Expressions Book Club main selections for January 2013.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Usually, long after my story is written, I realize that most of my characters, some of what they are going through and some of what they have been through, are me. Strangely enough, while writing, everything just flows and I never make the connection at the time. Sometimes I cringe at the reality, feeling exposed. But it’s my accidental transparency that often touches the readers most. There’s that saying that a writer writes what they know. Even though it’s rarely deliberate or intentional on my part, I put so much of my own story into my written stories. The good, the bad and the ugly; it’s all there engraved in stone. When it’s all said and done, it’s almost like therapy for me. I get to reveal hidden parts of myself/my life to the world, only they don’t know which parts are me ;-). If I had to sum it up, I guess I could say that my story and character ideas come from my very own testimony.

How do you go about brainstorming the twists and turns in your books? (or What's your favorite way to brainstorm the scenes in your book?)
Because I have a ghost writer, I really don’t sit and have to brainstorm on the many twists and turns in my books. The minute I begin to think about things, I ultimately end up over thinking things. That’s one of the worst habits a writer can take on. Thankfully, for me, once my ghost writer drops the story into my spirit, I allow the scenes to play out in my head as if I were dreaming them. Basically, I simply sit down at my computer and take dictation from my ghost writer. Yep, that’s right; I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I have a ghost writer. Of course my ghost writer is the one and only Holy Ghost. Having started out as a secular writer, I used to always write the ending to my stories first. That way I knew exactly what my characters had to do and say in order to get my desired outcome. But writing Christian fiction, for me, is such a different process. Now I get to remove all flesh and sit on the edge of my seat and see what God’s going to do next (through my pen).

Is there a story behind this series?
The “Still Divas” series is a continuance of the “New Day Divas” series, which 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 of books that I pray will touch readers world wide.

My purpose and prayer with the “New Day Divas” and the “Still Divas” series is to put an end to the Church Fiction/Drama versus Christian Fiction dilemma, and find a divine medium that pleases both God and the readers. By doing so, I wanted to create stories that included drama, not about the church, but the lives of the people within the church. Drama is entertaining, which is a must in fiction, but the goal is to do more than just entertain readers. Above all, there had to be a message from God.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
When I look back at where I started in the publishing industry, writing erotica and street lit, to where I am now, writing children’s books and Christian fiction only, everything that transpired was to get me to the place I am today. It had to happen the way it did. The rejection letters, the thieving agents, the fudged royalty statements, low book sells, not so good book reviews sometimes, not earning back royalties, therefore not knowing how I was going to pay my bills; it all had to happen. If I had not experienced those things as part of my publication journey, I would have never found myself broken, not knowing what to do next or who to turn to. So what do I see as most significant to my publication journey? Failing. Had I not failed, God would have never had to pick me up and place me where I belonged, which was with Him. Which is ultimately right here doing an interview as the ACFW Featured Author!

Who is your writing support system?
Starting off as a self-published author in 1998 and then moving on to write for traditional publishers, over the years I have joined many writing groups and connected with various authors of various genres. Some of my contacts over the years have come and gone, but I’m fortunate enough to still be connected to some wonderful people in the literary industry. Whether an author, agent, publisher, publicist or a dedicated reading fan, my support team includes individuals that believe in me. But nothing says support like family and friends. It has been a true blessing to have a husband and children who value what I do and look at it as more than just a hobby. I have a mother-in-law who, without fail, calls me up at the beginning of every year and asks me what my tour dates are so that she can schedule her vacation time from work around my tour. Now that’s what I call support!

What do you do when you're not writing?
Ha! As a lover of the written word, when I’m not writing, I’m reading of course! I suppose I could say that as the acquisition editor for Urban Christian, an imprint of Urban Books, I’m reading and editing. I do freelance editing projects as well as provide literary consulting services on the side and I’m the artistic developer for the girls group, DJHK Gurls, in which I write all of their original songs.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
When people ask me the question why I do what I do-why do I write Christian fiction? The scripture below says it all:
We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:10

What trivia about yourself would few people know?
That award winning author Joylynn M. Jossel, Essence Magazine Bestselling Author JOY, N. Joy, Author of the American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor, The Secret Olivia Told me, and E. N. Joy are all the same person; ME!

What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?
Hands down, the testimonies I receive makes it all worth it. This goes for all authors, not just Christian fiction or inspirational authors. Still to this day I receive testimonies from readers regarding my secular titles. When an author is able to write a story that pulls at the reader's emotions, that lures them so deep into a story that they begin to take on the essence of the characters and see themselves or people they know, then that author knows that they have done their job. It’s confirmed by those emails and letters they receive from readers telling them so. It's an amazing feeling that lets me know as an author that all my sacrifices of penning the story was not in vain. I love touching people's lives with words. And I'm not that typical author that says, "If my book can touch or change just one person's life, then I'm happy...then I've done my job." I do not set out to touch or change just one person's life when I write a book. If that was the case, I could stop with just myself. But like, Jesus, my goal is to reach the multitudes. That's when I'm happy. That's when I've done my job.

Any parting words?
Thank you so much for this opportunity for me to share some details about myself and my work. This is something I love doing, as I consider myself to be an open book (no pun intended). If you want to know a little bit more about me, what I do, where I’ve been and where God has placed me now, please visit my website at www.enjoywrites.com or find me on Facebook under Author E. N. Joy.

Thanks for sharing with us, Joylynn!




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