Feauturing Judah Lee Davis author of She Tells All
I would like to thank Judah for taking the time to answer my questions for her. Her answers are very honest and heartfelt. If you haven't read her book, I am telling, not asking, for you to go get it right now.
Available at Amazon!!!
Where are you from?
I am from a small Southern town. For the time being, though, I’ve been rather elusive about my origins and am writing under a pen name. This is because I work for a prestigious company who in no way wants to be affiliated with the nature of my book. As noble as it’s intentions, and as powerful as its redemptive qualities are, it still contains a fair amount of vulgar language that isn’t appropriate for publish in certain circles. Therefore, my identity along with the name of my hometown will stay quiet – at least until I can quit my day job. As soon as that happens, I'm comin' out of the closet!
Tell us your latest news?
No news here, really. I started my first Facebook fan page yesterday. I have three friends. This was somewhat of a milestone.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing short stories at the age of seven. My mother says it was earlier than that, but I don’t remember. While most of the children in my class wanted to be teachers and fireman, I always wanted to be a novelist. Once I filled up an entire spiral notebook with nonsense, only to be chuckled at by my mother.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself an official writer when I graduated with my degree in Journalism and started working as a corporate writer. It was so “official” for me then. I had articles in newspapers that I was terribly proud of. Unfortunately, some of my favorites have disappeared over the years, but I still have a clipping or two left.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I always knew deep down inside, that I had a book in there. Writing a book, for me, was like being pregnant. I lived in misery with the pain of holding something in that I couldn’t get out. I would sit down to write, and to my dismay, nothing would come out but a poem or a journal entry. This was very frustrating, because I knew there was a story in there, but I would just have to wait.
Finally, beginning Oct. 1, 2008, I read the Bible from cover to cover and did a fair amount of research on it. This was my ultimate inspiration.
I was fascinated, mostly by the prophets in the Old Testament. They accused the nation of Judah/Israel of being worse than a whore, because she chased after her lovers. Lovers, in this sense, represented idol worship, child sacrifice, worshipping Baal, etc.
For me, this inspired the idea of a modern day woman, who would be worse than a whore, because she was promiscuous and sought after companionship of the darknest nature. This character would invoke the same disdain and gut wrenching emotion that I felt as I read about a harlot nation who defied God on every level. She would be symbolic on so many levels. She would represent the fall of humanity, the nation of Israel, and ultimately she would represent the sin that every individual keeps hidden in the closet.
She was to be an airing of dirty laundry that would resonate within the hearts of all, and convey the message of humanity’s great need for redemption. Even in the smallest details of Madison’s story, such as the slut signage, you can find this theme.
Do you have a specific writing style?
As a trained journalist, I’m notorious for short, sweet writing that is to-the-point. I write in a clear and simple tone that is designed for impact. In college, they trained me to write for news media, which according to my professors, was on a fifth grade level.
I believe this is a powerful tool, because it makes my writing accessible. Even for those out there like me, who feel they have a shorter attention span than that of an orangutan, this book should be readable.
I do not use over-inflated vocabulary so that I do not isolate anyone from my writing. I also make a point to use simple imagery that is easily digestible to all. For example, Madion’s heartache felt like a whale on her chest.
How did you come up with the title?
I went through so many titles, must most of them winded up sounding terribly offensive. Finally, I was sitting out on my back porch chain smoking (this was before I quit) when it came to me. She Tells All – a story about someone who is not afraid to give the embarrassing little details that make everyone cringe. She tells ALL. It had a ring to it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message that I want readers to get is that we have a higher power who loves us unconditionally, regardless of where we’re at spiritually. Regardless of how many times we lied or cheated, or slept around, God loves humanity even in its glaring imperfection.
In the story, Madison ultimately doesn’t feel worthy of God’s love. She feels as if she is somehow fundamentally flawed and different, and that she doesn’t fit into the family of God. She won’t listen to anyone when they tell her differently. That is, until Dion comes along.
Because Dion loved and accepted Madison the way she was, Madison learned to trust her. Dion never judged her or condemned Madion’s promiscuity in any way. She seemed to understand that it was just Madison's way of dealing with her pain. So, instead of reprimanding her, Dion lived by example. She didn’t PREACH, she SHOWED people the love of Christ through her life.
How much of the book is realistic?
Certainly much of the book is realistic, as it started out to be a biography of my tragic life. I felt I had done enough sinning to adequately convey the message, so I wrote 1500 pages, submitted it to my editor, and was met with a scowl.
He called it word vomit. That was my editor. He loved me enough to tell me the truth. He pointed me in the direction of some notoriously dirty authors and told me to collect ideas. He said it needed to be edgier, dirtier, and more compelling.
At that point, I decided to stop holding back, and I let my imagination run wild. I got into character by painting my fingernails black and dancing around in stilettos to Beyonce songs. I wrote the trashy fun story of a sleazy girl, and then submitted a completely new novel to my editor two weeks later.
“It’s better,” he said, “but the best novels make you laugh AND cry. So you need to merge the two. Take the tragic parts from your epic saga of word vomit, and combine them into this ho story, and I think it’s a wrap.”
That is exactly what I did. It wasn’t easy, because my two writing styles were dramatically different, but instead of trying to change one style to fit the other, I merely endeavored to make flow them together harmoniously to represent Madison’s changing tides of emotion.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Dion is a fictional character based on the life of a real character that I knew. A large majority of her story is true, but I added in details or changed things up a little bit to go along with the story. While I use a lot of real dialogue that actually happened, I made up a good bit of what I thought she might say based on her character.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Bible has been the most influential book in my life. I was also deeply influenced my Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I like the way Chelsea Handler writes because it is funny, to-the-point, and easy to read. It contains unexpected turns and twists, and every other line you’re saying, “I know she just didn’t …”
What book are you reading now?
I’m now reading a book from an author I met on Goodreads. Her name is Heidi Ruby Miller and her latest book is Ambassadora. It’s a sci-fi romance, and I’m enjoying it so far.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not yet, but I have a big family, a full-time job, and am working on a sequel, so I haven’t had time to look for interesting reads on the Horizons. I’m keeping my eyes open though on Goodreads.
What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the sequel, which is going to be a journey Madison takes down the path of darkness and then the path of light. It is a book that will hopefully explore the difficulty of changing ones ways after they are already set. Just because someone gives their life to God, their problems and struggles do not instantly disappear. It’s not a magic Jesus eraser pen. Therefore, Madison continues to struggle, and falls so many times before she walks.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I can’t say her name, but she is a coworker. (Shout out to you Big Booty, you know who you are!) I love her so much. She has been like a sister and a best friend to me. When so many people turned their nose up at my idea, she was there for me, supporting me and believing in me through it all.
Do you see writing as a career?
I would LOVE to see writing as a career again. Several years ago my career path took an interesting turn, and I haven’t been writing professionally for almost six years.
Hopefully, my book will make a splash, and open up some opportunities for me to write professionally again.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That is a good question. Right now, I’m not allowing myself to think like that, because changing it up will make it unavailable for several days, and I am working so hard to get the word out. So, while I certainly think I would like to tweak some things, I’m holding back the urge.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child I loved to read. I taught myself to read at three, and by seven I was reading the Hobbit and the Yearling. Upon the advent of adolescence, I wrote two space savers full of suicidal-sounding journals and poetry. I always felt a deep desire to chronicle my life, and when I began writing She Tells All, I pulled out those space savers and started swimming in them. It was a painful archaeological excavation of feelings that took nearly a year.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
On my blog, judahleedavis.wordpress.com, I posted a story of a bad blind date experience that will be included in my sequel.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing for me is writing the sex scenes. I want them to be filthy enough to represent my character’s carnal nature, but at the same time, they really make me blush. I often look back over my shoulder to make sure no one’s watching.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is King David. His psalms are the most eloquent and simply beautiful piece of literature I’ve ever read. He uses simple imagery to convey a message. For example, “Like a deer pants for water, so I thirst for you.”
No other writer captures my heart like King David, and I get chill bumps when I read the Psalms, because his heartfelt emotions jump off the page at me. I feel as if I know him personally as a good friend.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet, but hopefully this book will open up some opportunities. As a mother, I am rather settled, but I would still like to spread my wings a little here and there if the opportunity arises.
Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover, using a picture I got from istock and Photoshop. I then uploaded it to Createspace’s cover creator program, which I might add, REALLY comes in handy.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Dealing with backlash from friends and family. Since there was so much truth to the tragic parts of the story, many assumed the entire book was non-fiction. This was quite embarrassing, and I quickly decided that I would stop asking for my friends and family’s opinions since they were extremely biased!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that we are all pilgrims on a journey that God has mapped out for us. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘what are you making?’”
For this reason, I try to stop questioning God’s plan for me, and go with the flow. I don’t know what he’s making, and I suppose he may show me in time.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. First of all, this book came out in painful word vomit splatters over the course of three years. Being a writer is one of the most terribly difficult things to be. They often have mood disorders because it is difficult for them to manage their emotions, and I’ve found that many times writers struggle with depression and other disturbances.
Most writers have been writing all their lives. Writing is innate. In my opinion, it is a natural ability that one is born with. If someone has it, they usually know it. Many times good writers have been told all of their lives that “they really have a special gift.”
Trying to wake up one morning out of the blue and decide “Hey, I should be a writer,” is similar to me deciding that I would like to be an astronaut. It’s not that it isn’t possible, it’s just that it isn’t probable based on my training, ability, experience and natural talent. It’s not like going out and buying an ab lounger so you can have washboard abs by Spring. Writing is not a whim.
Now, for those writers who are certain with ever fiber of their being that they are writers, then hold on and brace yourself. Writing is like kickboxing, you take a lot hits to the head. When people don’t like what you write, it feels so personal, and you have to remember that what you write is like a seed. It will fall on some hearts and grow, while for whatever reasons, the others may be stony ground.
Different writers speak to different audiences, and so if you’re not having success, maybe you just haven’t found your audience. Try not to get discouraged, and remember that even if your Granny is the only one who reads it, that’s still says something.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
If you have read this interview, and are in any way on board with this mission, I really appreciate and need your support. My book is not about making money. It is about reaching out to others through Madison’s story.