Jessica Tilles is publisher, speaker, and an award-winning, best-selling author of ten books: Anything Goes, In My Sisters’ Corner, Apple Tree, Sweet Revenge, Fatal Desire, Unfinished Business, Erogenous Zone: A Sexual Voyage (an anthology), Loving Simone (a 2013 Black Expressions® Book Club Best Seller), Crossing Sisters, and Loving You. She also penned a short story, “Julian’s Grace,” in The Triumph of My Soul Anthology, and co-authored No One Has To Know with critically acclaimed, Essence® bestselling author William Fredrick Cooper. In addition to penning her own novels, she has written many books as a ghostwriter under http://www.LiteraryGhostwriter.com.
In 2000, Jessica founded TWA Solutions and Services (formerly The Writer’s Assistant), a full service, creative design firm offering services in graphic design, book design, web design, editing, book/self-publishing, packaging/branding and ghostwriting. Her design skills have garnered her the Best of Upper Marlboro in Graphic Design Services Award in 2015.
In 2006, Jessica opened her publishing company, Xpress Yourself Publishing, to talented authors, growing her roster to more than eighty authors. In 2008, she received the prestigious title of Independent Publisher of the Year awarded by the African American Literary Awards Show.
In addition to her many accomplishments, Jessica is a staff writer for Black Men In America.com. She has contributed the article “Third Shift Blues” to Black Romance Magazine, is the recipient of the Memphis Black Writer’s Guild’s Rising Star award, the Jackson, Mississippi Reader’s Clubs’ Outstanding Contributor to Literature award, and is listed in Heather Covington’s Top 100 Literary Divas.
Jessica resides in Maryland with her furbabies: Piccachu, Chelsea, and Chanel.
BPM: It is such a pleasure to have you join us to discuss, Loving You. Let’s have some fun, describe yourself in three words.
Creative. Compassionate. Determined.
BPM: What drove you to publish your first book or create your first series? How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first book, Anything Goes, in 2000. Since then, I’ve written and published ten books. I have been writing professionally for eighteen years. Wow… I don’t realize how long I’ve been at doing something I love until I see it written in black and white. Eighteen years. How about that? I’m so blessed and fortunate, for sure.
BPM: Describe what you do outside of writing to expand your business or brand?
Outside of writing, I write for others as a ghostwriter. I also own and operate TWA Solutions & Services (formerly The Writer’s Assistant), a small boutique firm that provides graphic design, writing, editing, and publishing services for authors, publishers, and businesses. As I write this, I want to jump out my seat to praise God—He is so phenomenal. He allowed me to turn my passion and love into a strong, thriving, full-time business. Thank you, God! Okay, I digress. Moving right along…
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your body or work/books?
The most significant thing I learned was that I have an alter-ego. She (my alter ego) is quite dark and only shows up when I’m the writing zone. Many times, when I’m in ghostwriting mode, we struggle to get her to stay in her place because she can only show up in Jessica Tilles novels. She has no limitations, no filter, and is very uninhibited. Simply put, she’s a bit much…even for me!
BPM: How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I love writing in different genres. It is so liberating, being able to spread my wings. I don’t like that suffocating feeling of being boxed in with my craft, with my creativity. The limitations are not for me. Honey, I need to breathe life into characters who like to do a lot of different things; characters who enjoy being the good, the bad, and the ugly.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Wow, this is the scary part for me. It has been seven years since I released my last novel, Sisters Crossing, so I’m nervous, to say the least. My newest creation is titled Loving You. It is not a full-length novel, but a novella.
Loving You is the story of Grace and Julian Winters. Grace is terminally ill and Julian is battling with losing the love of his life. It is a story of unconditional love that shows how one can go beyond living for the moment to enable a deeper value of an innate love beyond the surface. This is something we all deal with as we get up in age, losing those we love.
When I wrote this story, I cried, laughed, and cried some more. I cried so much, I simply could not push it into a full-length novel. Doing so would’ve meant adding a ton of fluff to an already powerful story, and I just didn’t want to do it.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or the speakers. What makes each one so special?
Both characters have special qualities that really shine in the book. Julian is sappy and overly sensitive, which can be an unusual trait for a man. Grace is strong-willed, which is not unusual for a woman, but she also understands that Julian’s character does not allow him to accept the inevitable, as she has already done.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
I’d say it’s more so the past for me. Loving You is an extension of a short story I wrote on November 15, 2007. Its original title was “Julian’s Grace,” published in the anthology, The Triumph of My Soul, by Peace in the Storm Publishing in 2007. You see, November 15 was not a good day for me at all. On that day, I had to make the decision that forever changed my life. I had to say goodbye to my mother after removing her from the ventilator. Therefore, because I was obligated to the anthology, I had to write “Julian’s Grace” on the day my mama died, through all my tears, snot, and pain. That short story was my best work, I think.
Extending the short story to a novella was as painful as when I wrote the short story because I felt like I was reliving it. Writing to a full novel wasn’t going to happen. It is still too painful.
BPM: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I am curious to know what Julian’s life would be like without Grace. Would he meet someone else a maybe marry again? Would be live his life in solitude, battling depression? I’m thinking I’ll write his story.
BPM: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I will not show child molestation. I may “tell” about it, but actually showing the act it is a no-no in my book.
BPM: Have you ever received a rejection from an agent or a publisher?
I have never considered seeking an agent or publisher. I love the freedom of writing and publishing whatever I want without anyone placing me inside a box or limiting my creativity.
BPM: Do you ever have days when writing is a struggle? Have you ever had to deal with rejection?
Yes, most days I struggle. Loving You is my first book in seven long years. As a ghostwriter, coming up with a topic to write about is easy because I am writing what someone else wants me to write. Ghostwriting is easier than writing for me. Sounds crazy, I’m sure. However, by the time I put one hundred percent of myself into someone else’s book, I’m too mentally exhausted to work on my books. Therefore, I had to make a change in how I work. I, literally, had to make Jessica Tilles a client of TWA Solutions, and it works!
As for rejection, I’ve been fortunate to create stories people seem to enjoy. I hope that I can keep it up!
BPM: Have you written any other books that are not published?
Like most authors, I have a tone of half-written books. However, I’ve been working on a manuscript for more than nine years. I finished the draft, but I can’t stand it. It rubs me wrong. I can’t put my finger on it, though. However, all half-written manuscripts I will complete—soon or later. I hope that sooner because I don’t want to wait too long between books anymore.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
Well, I have several projects that I’ve already started. My “madness” is crazy, but it works for me. My madness works in three steps: 1) design the cover, 2) come up with the title, and 3) come up with the opening line for Chapter 1. Therefore, right now, I have twenty book covers designed, all with titles. When I’m ready, I’ll choose one of the twenty, focus on Step 3, and write by the seat of my pants.
BPM: How do you stay connected with others in publishing and your readers?
Even though I hadn’t put out a book in seven years, through TWA Solutions & Services, I’m in constant contact with authors and the industry. Of course, social media keeps me connected to my readers.
BPM: What legacy do you hope to leave future generations of readers and new writers with your writing?
Good question, but hard to answer. I never thought about my work as leaving a legacy, but I guess that’s what I’m doing, huh?
Well, of course, I want folks to enjoy my work for years to come, but most importantly, I want to be remembered as an author who was honest, dedicated, and loving to the craft of writing and who loved giving of herself by sharing her passion for the written word and the business of publishing.
BPM: What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
Google me! I love saying that, even though it does sound kind of pompous. Readers may reach me through my website at http://www.jessicatilles.com or email me directly at email@example.com.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Jessica Tilles, Owner/Creative Director of TWA Solutions and Services
A Certified, Small, Woman- and Minority-Owned Business
2015 Best of Upper Marlboro Award for Graphic Design Services
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: http://www.twasolutions.com