J.B. Vample resides in Philadelphia, PA. Although she majored in Computer Science at UMES, her first love has always been writing. The concept of her current book series came to her at the age of seventeen. Since then, she has dreamed that readers would fall in love with her characters and their stories. In 2015, after years of writing for only herself, she decided to share her work with the world. “College Life 101: Freshman Orientation” is her first published book and book one of “The College Life Series.” Aside from writing, J.B enjoys reading and listening to music.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent work? Available on Nook and Kindle?
My most recent book is “College Life 201: Sophomore Studies”, which is book 3 of The College Life Series. The New Adult fiction series, which will be nine books in total, follows the lives of five young black women as they journey through their fours year of college at Paradise Valley University. All published books are available on both Kindle and Nook, as well a paperback through Amazon.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Chasity Parker is a feisty sharp-tongued girl who most people are afraid of. Her words alone can tear a person’s feelings apart. But what people don’t realize is that Chasity is angry because of how she was brought up. Having a mother who hated her and a father who ignored her, turned her from a loving child to an angry, guarded young woman. What’s special about her, is that under her tough exterior is a caring person who just wants to be loved and accepted like everyone else.
Malajia Simmons, is the loud, silly, boy-crazed party girl. The girl loves attention, and her need for it comes from being the middle child of seven girls. She certainly gets it due to her outgoing, flirty personality and barely-there clothing. But she soon realizes as her journey goes on, that not all attention is good attention. And she learns that she must change how she comes off, if anybody is ever going to take her seriously. The special thing about Malajia is that although her exterior seems shallow, she has a big heart and will go to bat for her friends at the drop of a dime.
Sidra Howard, the prim princess with the business attire and neat up-dos, initially comes off as snobby, despite her use of manners and her polite persona. Being the butt of jokes because of her wardrobe, reserved presence and usage of proper words, never bothered Sidra. What will send her over the edge is stress, and blatant disrespect. Sidra has a side to her that rears it’s ugly head when pushed to the limit. What’s special about Sidra is her ability to be the calming, pacifying voice among her friends.
Alexandra Chisolm (Alex), being the oldest child in her family, has a “mothering” personality. Her need to be in everyone’s business, and her need to fix problems for everyone but herself, lands her in a lot of hot water. What Alex doesn’t realize is that not everyone needs another mother, and that not everybody handles their problems the same way. Alex learns that the person she needs to focus most on, is herself, The special thing about Alex is that she genuinely loves her circle of friends, and no matter how she comes off, she has their best interest at heart.
Emily Harris is shy, quiet and a total mommy’s girl. So much so, that her mother seems to control her even when she’s not around. Emily’s meek personality, her bad wardrobe, and her inability to stand up for herself, makes her the most unlike-able character in the very beginning. But the events that she goes through, helps her discover her voice and her backbone. The special thing about Emily is that deep down, she knows that her strength is there, she just needs a way to find it.
BPM: Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
Honestly, a lot of my inspiring thoughts come from movement. Scenes come to me when I’m driving, working out, walking, etc. It seems that my brain juices flow more when I’m in motion, which explains why I can’t seem to keep still for a long period of time…Unless I’m actually writing.
BPM: Tell us a little about your creative process. What brought about the title “College Life 201: Sophomore Studies”?
The process usually starts with me sitting at my laptop, with some music playing, (smooth jazz mostly) and a cup of green tea; and I just start typing. To be honest, a lot of my writing is done off the top of my head. I may get an idea and text it to myself, or create a very basic outline, but I don’t pre-write anything in detail. I just sit and type, and everything just seems to flow. The title of this book, like the rest of the series is a play on a college course. With the main setting for the characters being on a college campus, I figured that it would be a good idea.
But, the fact they are not just dealing with “college issues”, they’re dealing with life in general, both on and off campus…this is where “College Life” came from. The number represents what year/semester the characters are in. Books 101 and 102 represent freshman year/semesters 1 and 2. Book 201 is sophomore year/semester 1. The subtitles, represent the core events of the particular book.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven?
This series idea came to me while I was in high school. I was a senior and was months away from going to college. I started thinking about what type of people I could meet, what scenarios could take place; and from there, I started creating. Any story that I have written, the idea usually came from me day dreaming about something…I swear I’m a chronic day dreamer. This series is character-driven, But I’ve written short, plot driven stories in the past.
BPM: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer?
Writing is very easy for me. Probably one of the easiest things that I could do, because it’s something that feels totally natural. Its a part of me, therefore it doesn’t take much effort. When I write, I certainly enjoy my alone time, but I, in no way feel lonely. I have too many people in my life who won’t leave me alone, even if I ask….I’m kidding, I get my quiet time.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love the fact that I can see a change in the characters. They’re growing up before my eyes. They start to handle things a bit differently than their first year. Whether it be a good thing or bad thing, they are changing as people. I enjoyed creating new funny scenes, upping the drama, and even creating new “crumbs” that will keep readers looking forward to the next book in the series.
BPM: How much planning goes into writing a book?
I usually just have a basic outline of major events that happens in a particular book and just start typing. I swear, a lot of times, dialogue comes to me as I go. It’s like the characters write their own stories. It can take me anywhere between two to four months to finish a book. It depends on what else I’m working on. For the last few books I’ve had to simultaneously redraft older books while writing the new ones. I also work a full time 9 to 5 while I’m working on my career as an author.
BPM: What advice would you give aspiring writers that would help them finish a project?
I would just advise them to stay focused. I know that we have lives and responsibilities away from our ‘writers desk’, but sometimes you have to set time away for yourself, tell people to leave you alone, focus and write. But I will also advise them to not rush the process. If a scene does not feel right, don’t write it. Your readers will know when you’ve rushed something just to put it out.
BPM: What period of life or topics do you find you write about most often?
I tend to write in the New Adult period. Eighteen through twenties. I just find that this is such a major, molding time in life. Characters that age discover so much about themselves, which allows me to come up with so many events that shape them. And they don’t take themselves too seriously, which allows me to factor in a lot of humorous moments.
BPM: How do you feel when someone disagrees with something you have written?
I mean, it’s not the greatest thing to hear. My books are my babies and I put everything that I have into them; every emotion, all of my time and effort. So when someone says that they don’t agree with how I wrote something, it does have the potential to upset me, but it doesn’t. I know that not everybody is going to like what I write. They might not like some of the language, how I describe something, how the characters interact with each other, or even the story concept itself; because it may not be something that they are used to reading, and that’s fine. People are entitled to their opinions. That doesn’t change who I am or how I write my stories.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book?
The idea of the series itself is pretty under-represented nowadays. At least in my opinion. I haven’t heard of, or seen many fiction books, if any, that feature an all-black ensemble cast of characters in a college setting. I find that black characters are rarely featured in the New Adult genre. Therefore leaving our upper high school / college aged readers without much representation in books. I hope to help change that with my series. I write the type of books that I would have loved to read at that age, and even now.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
Well, some characters tend to feel like they can’t show emotions for fear of being looked upon as weak. This is a trait that I share with them. I’d rather keep everything bottled up and deal with things alone. They learn, as I have that that’s not a good way to go through life. That showing emotion doesn’t make you weak, it actually takes a great deal of strength to own up to your feelings and show them.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
That I’m funnier on paper. The things that these characters do and say…I mean, I’m petty witty, but not that much, in my opinion. Through these characters, I can say and do what I won’t necessarily say and do in real life.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Writing allows me to express myself. From a nerdy child who had no friends; writing poems, short stories, and journal entries about her hopes and dreams, to a full grown woman who has written seven full books; writing has been the one thing that has brought me peace in a sometimes chaotic world. It’s my outlet and I sometimes live vicariously through my characters. Writing has been the one thing that I felt that I was good at. If I didn’t write, I might go crazy.
BPM: What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for me isn’t just about money, as nice as that is. It’s about having readers read and enjoy my books. Having them identify with a particular character or characters. Having their lives be touched, or even change their outlook on themselves, just by reading how a character handles their own issues. I have a passion for writing and just want readers to feel that through the words on those pages.
BPM: What are the 3 most effective tools for sharing your book with the world?
I use social media, word of mouth, and face to face interaction at literary events. With face to face, it allows readers to hear the passion in my voice when I talk about my books, which is great.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m currently working on writing the first draft of book eight of the series. I can’t believe that I’m actually two books away from finishing the series in its entirety. I’m getting sad just thinking about the fact that I’ll have to retire my most favorite and loved characters…But knowing me, I’ll create more.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I have a website www.jbvample.com .There, I have blog posts, poetry, information about my books, sample chapters, some reviews and updates on events. You can also follow me online at:
Facebook personal profile: http://www.facebook.com/JessycaVample
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/thecollegelifeseries