Interview: Jillian Bullock, author of Here I Stand
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Jillian Bullock, author of Here I Stand. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Jillian.
Jillian Bullock: Thank you for having me.
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
JB: I graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia in 1991, with a degree in Communications. I went to college while I worked as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia branch. Once I graduated, I got an internship on Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X. From there I worked on other people’s film projects and a few of my own. I wore the hats of director, screenwriter, producer, and actress. In 2012, my memoir, HERE I STAND, was published. I’ve sold two screenplays in my career, so far. That’s what I’m focusing on most – developing my writing skills. Currently, I’m in pre-production on a movie I wrote entitled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives. Filming is set to begin in Philadelphia in November 2016.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
JB: I write seven days a week, usually from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. I have a little writing space in my home where it’s really quiet, which I must have in order to write.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
JB: When I was in high school my English teacher, Mr. Bravo, told me one of my essays was so good that he wanted to enter it in an essay contest my school was sponsoring. He entered it, and I won. From there on I said I want to continue to write and have my work published.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing in the style that you do?
JB: I write in a very structured style, meaning I outline what my story is about first. Then I do research on the subject, if I’m not familiar with the topic or I want more in-depth information to add richness to my story. I also can’t write anything without a title first. Now this doesn’t mean my story won’t take a different turn than what I had originally intended, but this style does help me stay focused on the basic direction the story is headed, and not go too far off course.
SPS: What would you say if anything, best differentiates you from other authors?
JB: I usually write about subjects I know a lot about. I take from my life experiences, which have been unfortunately rough, gritty, and raw, but also great for storytelling.
SPS: Can you take a moment to tell us all about your debut release Here I Stand?
JB: Here I Stand tells the true story of an African-American teenager, who fights to overcome homelessness, drugs, and prostitution in order to become a filmmaker and screenwriter, thereby fulfilling the dying wish of her stepfather, who is a Philadelphia Mobster.
The memoir is about my life and my drive to overcome some horrific experiences so I could honor my stepfather’s dying wish. He was a big movie buff and it was our tradition to go see a movie every Sunday when I was growing up. He made me believe I could become a writer and filmmaker.
SPS: Why did you make the decision to write it all down, and how cathartic did it prove to be?
JB: Several media publications had done articles about my life and I kept getting letters and emails from people who said I should write a book. It was cathartic because I had to step outside myself to write the book, but I also had to come to terms with all that happened to me as a teenager. It was difficult at times, but rewarding. Now, as a professional speaker, I realize how much my life story touches so many people who are going through tough times in their own lives.
SPS: Is there anything you felt you couldn’t put into the book?
JB: Some of the Mafia activities I did keep out, along with true names of Mobsters. I also changed some incidents for the same reason. Although my stepfather and all the Mobsters he dealt with are dead, I just wanted to be cautious, and I felt it would be safer to do it this way. I always say I wrote HERE I STAND in a way that protects the innocent and the not so innocent.
SPS: How did you set about writing the harder sections of the book?
JB: To be honest, I had to have a few glasses of wine to get those hard sections written, like the rape I experienced when I was eleven. It was difficult to relive a lot of things in my book.
SPS: Is there more to be told of your story, or do you cover it all?
JB: I cover all I wanted to in HERE I STAND.
SPS: You have had some fantastic reviews on the book. How pleasing is this?
JB: I am very pleased. You don’t know how readers will react to your writing and with social media, people can be very mean at times. So, yes, to have people acknowledge my book and let me know how it has touched, and changed them, that’s wonderful. As a writer that’s my life’s mission to write books, movies, and articles that will not only entertain people, but empower and educate them, as well.
SPS: What’s next on the self-publishing horizon for yourself?
JB: My first fitness book entitled Fitness Between the Sheets: How You Can Dramatically Improve Your Sex Life Through Exercise, Health and Wellness is set to be published in early 2016. I’m gearing up to begin promotion of that book in the next few months.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JB: For my memoir, definitely. For my fitness book I was going to go the traditional publishing route. But then I learned that it can take almost two years for a book to hit shelves and that’s after editing and re-writes. I didn’t want to wait that long. Not that I would never go the traditional route, because I intend to do so with my crime fiction novels, but for now self-publishing is working well for me.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
JB: It’s hard work because as an independent author, you do all the work yourself. You don’t have the help of an agent or publisher. But overall, the experience has been great. I get to call the shots and reap the rewards of keeping a greater percentage of book royalties.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JB: You want to thrive to become a great writer, which means read books all the time, write all the time. Turn the TV off, get off of social media, and focus on perfecting your craft as a writer. You may have to take writing courses, especially English, go to workshops, to writing conferences, and join writing groups, in order to become great. Writing means more than just producing a book, you want it to be done well.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word.
JB: I just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing and Karl Iglesias’s Writing for Emotional Impact. Two very different books, but both were amazing and taught me a great deal about structure, style, and character development, as well as the determination and dedication a writer must have if he/she wants a long-lasting career as a successful writer.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today, Jillian, and all the best for the future.
JB: Thank you very much for the interview.
SPS: For more information on Jillian Bullock and her work, please do visit her Showcase Author page here.