JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Briana Scott and Carl H. Thompson, author of Jasmine Absolute
Jasmine Griffin believes she has it all: a loving and supportive group of friends, a blossoming career at one of Atlanta’s most prestigious ad agencies and a passionate relationship with her boyfriend of nine years, Kahlil. She is hopeful that she might finally have a shot at realizing her dream: to open a community center to honor her slain younger brother.
Everything is looking up for her. Until… An uncle whom Jasmine barely remembers moves in after a near-fatal heart attack. Plus, a stunning betrayal costs her her job. In desperation, she falls prey to the one thing that everyone thought her mother’s death would have taught her to avoid forever: a drug addiction – in this case, meth.
As she slips farther into the abyss, she realizes that fighting her way back will be a lot harder than she ever thought possible. What results is a thought-provoking, sometimes-funny, sometimes-tragic journey to Hell and back, examining issues of pride, economic hardship, drugs, violence, inner turmoil, love, loyalty, and most of all, what it means—and takes—to find one’s true self.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write Jasmine Absolute?
Briana Scott and Carl H. Thompson: When we first met four years ago and started talking about writing. We bonded over the idea of how one deals with adversity, and then how we ourselves have dealt with it. Jasmine Absolute has its origins in stories from Briana’s life (colored in with fictionalized elements), as a young African-American female trying to develop a successful career, while also having to deal with the personal pressures that constantly nip at one’s heels.
Even when someone is flourishing professionally, it is not without its inherent challenges. And then, there are still family issues, relationship pressures and one’s own self-doubt that have to be dealt with. Others may not see the strain that these obstacles put us under, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
Whoever we are, wherever we are, adversity seems to come find us. And it is in how we respond to that adversity that we discover where our strengths lie. How Jasmine Griffin deals with the problems that suddenly upend her normal, happy life—her choices, and their consequences—forms the central storyline in our novel.
JP: What sets Jasmine Absolute apart from other books in the same genre?
BS&CT: We believe if someone were to open a time capsule years from now with our novel in it, they would get a pretty solid snapshot of urban life in the early twenty-first century: multi-culturalism, the hectic pace, the drive to succeed, the complicated and confusing social dynamics, the shoddy economy and the desperate choices made because of it. We touch on all of it throughout Jasmine Absolute.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to Jasmine Absolute getting out to the public?
BS&CT: We’re still learning how to be most effective at this ourselves. Our first bit of advice would be to think hard about who your core audience is. Like most authors, we want our book to appeal to everyone. While it may grab the attention of a larger audience in time, ask yourself who will be most likely to snatch up your book immediately and tell their friends about it.
Brainstorm on where to find those people, and market to them assertively and consistently. Do your research on traditional strategies, and implement them, but don’t stop there. You may have to think of unconventional (NOT illegal, immoral or stupid) ways to get your book into people’s hands. If something doesn’t work, learn from it, and try something else
For us, the great thing about being a writing team is that when one of us is discouraged, we have someone riding shotgun to give us a pep talk. Just believe in your work and keep trying. You won’t fail if you don’t stop.
Online and social media marketing are a must these days. Now, we’re not saying that you should run yourself ragged signing up for every social networking outlet in sight, if that’s not your personality. Maybe you don’t have a lot you’d like to say in a blog, or on Pinterest. That’s OK. But for authors, we would start with the Big Four, at a minimum: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and your own website. Then you can branch out to other places as comfort allows. There are lots of great services and websites out there (like, well, JoeyPinkney.com) that will be glad to help you get the word out or review your book. Do your research and use as many as you can.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish Jasmine Absolute?
BS&CT: It took us a little over a year to complete the book. Briana already had the original story, with most of the characters and their back stories pretty well mapped out. Then, we worked on a detailed outline together, via phone conversations, online chats, texts, and face-to-face meetings.
We would have lots of discussion and debate about subplots, motivations, who lives/dies, all sorts of fun stuff. Finally, Carl would write each chapter, running them by Briana to get notes and confirm that we were keeping our story on track. Once we were done, we edited for about a month.
JP: What’s next for Briana Scott and Carl H. Thompson?
BS&CT: We’ve already made lots of notes for our follow-up novel, which we hope will be released around mid-2013. We’re excited about its potential. Currently, though, we are hard at work on a screenplay adaptation of Jasmine Absolute. We’ve been told it would make a great movie, so we’d love to see it happen. If anyone has connections out there, hit us up. We’re very proud of it so far.
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Please check us out on the web (www.BrianaAndCarl.com). We love hearing from people, about the book, or writing in general. We also have individual Twitter handles to talk about more personal interests: @BrianaScott2 and @CarlHThompson. Finally, if you’ve read Jasmine Absolute, please, please, please post a review. The few minutes it takes to offer your feedback can truly change an author’s fortunes.