BY GREGORY HEDGEPETH
Last year, we created a series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a fellow writer. This year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a recurring series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.
Gregory Hedgepeth: If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Shannon Ford-Jefferson: I would choose Tel Aviv or somewhere green and plush in Africa. Tel Aviv was a beautiful place, full of great food, ambience and I've always wanted to go to the motherland.
You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
I just start writing whatever comes to mind. Sometimes, I read a book or listen to music when my thoughts don't produce content, but that's never really been a problem I've had trouble with.
What is your most unusual writing quirk?
I draw poetry.
What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
I don't like to unpack. I usually live out of my luggage.
What does being a successful author look like to you?
Writing content that makes me feel something, and in return, inspires others to feel something as well.
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
My best friend Audrey. She always has been willing to listen, critique and cheer me on.
How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
It helps me articulate difficult situations and come to terms with my feelings. I don’t have to be so concerned with the narrative and how I planned it that I don't live the life out loud that brings me joy opposed to the one I wrote in my head.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
It usually just comes to me and the meaning is similar to where I am in life.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Editing. Hands down.
Tell us about your first published book? What was the journey like?
Naked. Circa 2008. It was effortless, because I was enjoying the process and had no one to impress. I was only doing what I loved.
What is the significance of the title? What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
This title DDD & ATMILAH is heavy. Meat and potatoes if you will. Personal experience. Shared experience as well, because I do believe so many can relate.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Not wanting to rewrite the book at each edit phase.
If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?
I would choose either Pablo Neruda or Kwame Alexander. I love them both equally. The three questions I would ask are:
How do you convey the hunger and urgency of love so effortlessly?
What was your breakout moment, going from a name no one new to a beloved poet?
What is your favorite poem or body of work you've written and what/who was the inspiration behind it?
Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.