Book of the Month MY FUNNY VALENTINE
I am excited to see my words in print! It is a surreal feeling because I have worked on this story for over five years and never thought I would see the day that it was actually finished. It is a proud moment to finally see my dreams of becoming an author come true.
Tell our readers who is Jenn E., and what inspired you to become a writer?
Jenn E. is a laid back girl born and raised in Houston, Texas. I am a textbook introvert but I can let my hair down. I’m a big kid at heart and enjoy the simple things in life. God is always first in my life, then family and friends. My father, who is no longer living, was a big inspiration behind me becoming a writer. I was a very curious five-year-old with a vivid imagination and I would always tell my father about the little silly stories I made up. He told me to write them down, with his help of course. I think he really told me to write so I wouldn’t keep interrupting him when he was watching TV. I still bothered him anyway. Whatever his motivation, it caused me to fall in love with writing and creating stories.
Are the characters in the book based upon people that you know? Is there a real life Kenya Jones and Lawrence Washington and is any parts of this story reminisce of your life?
The characters in My Funny Valentine are based upon people that I have known for years or encountered in my personal and professional life. I have had a few in my intimate circle try to figure out if they or someone we knew mutually were a character and they were often wrong. I never want to be that transparent. I learned that lesson after watching The Best Man. Kenya Jones is loosely based on myself and a few other friends (again, I’m not naming names). I didn’t want to create a cookie cutter female protagonist because I’m not a cookie cutter woman. She is intelligent, disciplined and curvy just like me. For Kenya’s personal story-line, she struggles with low self-esteem and weight issues just as I struggled with and still deal with as an adult. She is also a former victim of domestic abuse. I experienced domestic abuse in the form of psychological and emotional in my early twenties. Kenya avoids speaking about it and I hid it for years. Kenya Jones was my opportunity to find the courage to finally break my silence. Lawrence Washington is a compilation of men I dated throughout my late teens and early twenties, and I even threw in a little of myself in the mix. There’s a plot twist for you! I always refer to Lawrence Washington as my anti-protagonist. He is good at his core but his actions are villainous on occasion. He has issues with trust in relationships because of being burned many times and I suffered with the same ailment. Likewise, it was my way of trying to control them and control the dynamics of the relationship. Lawrence also has a fractured relationship with his father and I had the same challenge with the relationship with my mother. I can say now that my mother and I have a very healthy relationship. I knew that if these were circumstances I faced in life, others could relate.
The story-line deals with some controversial relationship issues. What has been the feedback from readers experiencing similar situations?
I have had readers to thank me for touching on those types of issues because honestly no one wants to talk about them. Either they are too ashamed or have too much pride. I was amazed at how many women experienced abuse in their relationships and never talked about it. Or how many young men have fractured relationships with their parents and most of all, a fractured relationship with God. Readers felt inspired to seek professional help or to start committing to reshaping their lives emotionally and spiritually.
Do you find yourself giving relationship advice to family and friends after writing this book?
I was giving relationship advice to family and friends even before writing My Funny Valentine <laugh!>. Well my two cents anyway, but I would say after writing the book, the quality of my advice has matured. I gained more experience with the good and bad sides of relationships and I am able to be more insightful.
Where do you draw your inspiration when writing? What motivates you?
Inspiration comes from observation. A friend of mine shared a funny Facebook post about traits of introverts and one line said “I’m not antisocial, I’m just listening, I’m just observing.” I don’t talk much but I’m always observing situations in my personal life or in the lives of others and it triggers this curious mind of mine. The end result is art.
I am motivated by my desire to share a story and to create awareness. I have observed that our society is in danger. We live life as though there are no issues, no pain and no consequences. And sometimes by the time we come to the realization that these types of things exist, it is too late. I believe God blessed me with the gift of writing and I want to do something meaningful with it until He says my time is up.
What do you want your audience to gain when they read the book?
I want my audience to gain healing and life. Before and while I wrote My Funny Valentine, I was living as someone else and I didn’t know who she was. I was filled with bitterness and hatred and by the time I finished the book I began to see someone new…I saw the real Jenn E. There are times I cried when I worked on this book and I had one reader to tell me he shed a few tears because he began to discover himself. I want my audience to heal just as I did. At the same token, the book is called My Funny Valentine for a reason! The situations we get in can be so ironic that once you are over them you can’t help but to laugh. And laughter in itself is the ultimate healing.
Will there be a Part II?
There is definitely a Part II and will be released soon. Kenya and Lawrence are just getting started and I will just say this… the next story is juicy. Follow me, author Jenn E., on Facebook @JennEkeoba and Twitter and Instagram at @jennekeoba for exclusive updates on my journey as an independent author as well as information on book signings, events, and what is in store for Miss Kenya, Lawrence and the gang.
Photos: Jenn E.