Posted on 03/22/2018 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
To the fan who sent an email with the subject line “You MUST speak with Ja'Nese Dixon” — we appreciate your suspenseful opening and whole-heartedly agree with your advice.
Dixon, who writes in a variety of romantic subgenres, started her new career quietly, so that if it didn’t work out, no one would know.
But after taking classes and entering contests, her confidence grew, at least enough to make her take the leap, and now she has several novels, anthology contributions, and flash-fiction pieces under her belt and out in the world.
Read on to meet the author whose goal is to have you on the edge of your seat, telling yourself “just one more chapter” endlessly.
SADYE: Has your background in business marketing been a benefit to you as an author, or are there notable differences in marketing a business versus a book?
JA’NESE: Yes. It’s a benefit, but I believe the rate of change in the publishing industry, especially in the last five years or so, is rapid.
My traditional marketing clients provided the groundwork, working with other authors gave me the tools, but learning to market myself presented more challenges than I realized. ...
So, the notable differences are the rapid change and the fact that each book presents a new challenge. I think the most significant hurdle is the saturated market.
Not being one to back down, I see these all as opportunities to carve out an oasis – one word, sentence, book at a time.
SADYE: It’s a cliché question, but where does your inspiration come from?
JA’NESE: The cliché answer: Everywhere.
The heart answer: Life’s most challenging questions. Do we get second chances? How do I go about seeking forgiveness? Can new love mend a broken heart?
Now, I sound like an old-school soul song, but it’s true. I think literature, in all forms, reflects humanity. Even amidst bare chests and zombies. I just choose to focus on the great command to love.
SADYE: To be a little less cliché, you’re a proud runner (as am I). Does that help with your creative process in any way?
JA’NESE: Absolutely. Open road—or treadmill—music, and a chatty muse do it every time.
The challenge of running also helps me get out of my own way. Characters talk. Stories have a mind of there own. To write and touch another requires that I become invisible.
Another heart response: I also crochet, knit, and quilt. My hobbies are my greatest plotting tools. I can’t tell you the number of “plot issues” that have been resolved by an open road or beautiful fabric.
SADYE: You’ve mentioned that you could “teach a class” on how you name your characters — can you tell us a little bit more about the process?
JA’NESE: Oh, you are a woman after my heart! Names are important. I’m not a historian, but historically people name their children based on their ancestry, life circumstances, inspiration, and even prophecy.
To bring it closer, in one of my recent stories, I named the character Yuki. It means "lucky" in Japanese, and she is a woman of mixed race, African American, and Japanese. She believes she is far from being lucky. But isn’t luck all about perspective? ...
Knowing she feels less than lucky, but through the story learns she may have hit the jackpot in the “luck” category, gives me the opportunity as a writer, and person, to explore symbolism, life experiences, and the evolution of this character.
So, my process is to know the story. I research culture, traditional names, and the decade of his/her birth. Nearly all of my main characters have names pivotal to their role and journey in my stories.
See? A class. :)
SADYE: What authors, if any, have influenced your writing style or even just your genre choice?
JA’NESE: Beverly Jenkins, Evelyn Palfrey, and Rochelle Alers. There are a few others, but these women wrote about characters that looked like me.
They managed to give me a wonderful escape from my less-than-ideal life and to peek at how the rest of the world lived.
I have always been a writer since I could hold a pencil in my hand. But these women were a vital part of growing up and experiencing life. Their influence is present in every line, plot, and HEA I write.
SADYE: What has been your proudest moment as an author so far?
JA’NESE: The first is publishing my first book. The fear and joy at that moment are unmatched. Moving beyond my doubts and focusing on my dreams offer me courage when I find myself battling against the unknown.
Second, my next project. Writing a book is hard. Stringing together almost 70,000 words to entertain readers.
Do you know how challenging that is? Learning to occupy the attention of a person who is accustomed to sliding images, instant gratification, and air fryers? To entice them long enough to read one more chapter.
But lucky me, I’m foolish enough to believe my fear of publicly sharing my work does not compare to life’s challenges imperfectly packaged in a romance story.
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Know an author you'd like to see featured? Email sadye (at) thefussylibrarian.com with a recommendation!
Categories: Author Interview