INTERVIEW | Fon James

Fon, describe yourself for our visitors.

My name is Fon James and I am often described as a fun-loving person! I am a wife, sister, daughter, author, and an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in journalism, and a MBA.  I currently work full-time as a Sr. communications consultant for a major insurance company in Houston, TX. When I am not working or writing, I enjoy hanging out with my hubby and all of my family back home in Mississippi (my home state). I love attending black college football games and hearing the sound of the marching bands. I attend the Fort Bend Church in Sugarland, TX where I am an active member of the choir and the praise team.

Right now, I am listening to G-Mayes and N.E.’s song, Hit the Deck (check it out on my www.myspace.com/fonjames page. It is definitely jamming)! The group is basically telling the devil he’s got to go!!! I’m definitely feeling that because he definitely doesn’t have any place in my life!

How do you find time to connect with God?

I connect with God at home, at work, in the car, wherever! I talk to Him like He is right there with me because I know that He is. I believe that God has a sense of humor because He makes me laugh a lot when He does things, like open doors, shut doors, send people directly into my path, and remove people from my life that aren’t good for me.  He has a way of doing it, and sometimes it just makes me laugh because He truly does work in mysterious ways (LOL). It’s one of the ways that He and I connect. But while I connect with God most of the time, I am still always trying to connect with Him more and more. That’s one thing I can never get enough of…HIM!

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

My favorite authors? That’s a good question. I have several, but I like T.D. Jakes, Tia McCollors, Victoria Christopher Murray, Stephanie Perry Moore, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Kendra Norman-Bellamy…hmm seems like I like a lot of authors with two last names (LOL). My favorite books include The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord by T.D. Jakes. I also liked the literary prowess of Sister Souljah and her book, The Coldest Winter Ever. That book showed me a lot with regard to the craft of writing. I also like novels penned by the authors I just mentioned, as well as a host of others.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

In 1998 while interning as a reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH, I began reading African American novels, by the likes of Michael Baisden, Lolita Files, Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Omar Tyree to name a few. I was away from home, working, and I didn’t go out much in Cleveland, outside of work, so I spent a lot of time my free time in book stores. It was during that stint in my life that I said, “There really aren’t a lot of black authors out there. I think I am going to write a book.”

I knew I loved to write because I was a journalism major. And even though I was working a paid internship, a lot of the news stories that I bylined weren’t all that exciting to me at the time, so I figured writing a book would be a lot more exciting because I could write about what “I” wanted to write about. So I started, stopped, (repeat the last phrase several times) and talked about it for more than eight years.

My mother, who’s probably in a tie with my husband, for my number one fan title, kept asking me when I would write the book… and she even started getting on my nerves about it (LOL). But what I didn’t know was that 2007 would be the year it would all go down (as the young people say) or actually it all went up… things have never looked more up in my life than they do right now.

So here we are, almost 10 years later (actually nine) and I am the author of a new young adult novel, Back and Forth, which will be published by Tucker House Publishing (www.tuckerhousepublishing.com), my publishing company.

Tell us about your current book?

Back and Forth is my debut novel and it centers around the lives of Faith, Gavin, Chrissy, and Remi… all seniors  who attend historically black, Jackson State University, where Gavin and Remi play drums in the marching band, and best friends Faith and Chrissy are majorettes on the dance squad. It’s their last year in college and they’ve been engaging in all the activities that most college students enjoy, including a little sex here and there. So what’s the big deal when two of these friends sleep together? Everything, if one’s supposedly a Christian. 

The main character is college senior Faith Walker, who’s committed to staying focused and abstinent during her final year.  She recommitted her life to doing right after enduring a life changing incident during her freshman year. For the last couple of years, she’s been going back and forth on her commitment to no sex, to keep boyfriend Gavin happy. It’s now senior year and she wants nothing more than to do the right thing and be consistent with her celibacy goal. But as the fall semester starts, her goal gets abruptly interrupted when she experiences an unexpected betrayal from Gavin.

While she struggles to forgive, she can’t help but to wonder if she could have prevented this by giving up her goods a little more, further compromising her promise to God and to herself. She knows it’s wrong, but she fears losing Gavin forever. After forgiving him, her world is shattered again when she finds out that his little indiscretion has lead to an even bigger issue. To make matters worse, a big family secret is revealed that leaves Faith clinging to the only stable width=’100%’ width=’100%’ thing in her life… her faith in God.

Have you ever gone back and forth on your commitment to God? Are you doing something that you know is wrong, but you can’t seem to let it go? Have you ever said, “God, if you just forgive me this time, I promise I won’t do it anymore?” If you answered yes, but still go back and forth, then step into the lives of Faith, Gavin, Chrissy, and Remi to see how temptation, betrayal, faith and forgiveness all play an integral role in the journey to growing closer to God.  You can’t straddle if you want God to fight your battle!

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

The ideas for this book were derived from my experiences in college, along with those I knew in college, my imagination, and God’s divine intervention. Initially, I began writing a different story, but God took over and thank goodness I let Him, because I would have been lost without His direction. This book takes a peek into the lives of those that struggle with doing right. A lot of us know what to do, but for some reason, we “say” we are going to do right, but when it comes to certain aspects of our lives, we straddle the fence and don’t really turn everything over to God. We partially turn it over. We try to handle portions of our lives ourselves, and we can’t do that. We can’t fight the devil alone… period, end of sentence. We need God to fight our battles. But guess what? All we have to do is put on the whole armor of God and stand. THAT’S IT! Now, how many armies do you know of where you can put on your armor and just stand? Exactly! God will fight our battles, but only if we let Him. We can’t be going Back and Forth on it.

Also, part of the mission of my writing is to provide young adults with real world content they can relate to, all wrapped up in a perfect bound paperback that has a real Jesus message that will resonate with them, whether they are Christians or not. When I was in college, there wasn’t much out there for me to read with regards to African American young adult novels, and definitely not Christian novels. So I read what was out there, which exposed me to a lot of things that I shouldn’t have allowed to enter into my person. We have to be careful what we expose ourselves to. It’s harder to be tempted by something we’ve never been exposed to, because we probably wouldn’t even recognize it as a temptation.  That’s why I want to offer those that are coming up behind me, something new, and something fresh. With all the stuff young people have access to in our world today, there is a major need for young adult Christian fiction, and I am glad that I can contribute with Back and Forth, and help to close that literary gap.

List your three most recent books.

I recently penned an inspirational short story, A Mother, Her Son, and THE Father, which will be featured in the upcoming release of The Triumph of My Soul, an inspirational anthology, published by Peace In the Storm Publishing.  I am very excited about that project because I know lives will be changed through the awesome short stories appearing in this anthology. So look out for that. It will actually be available in November prior to Christmas… and you know, these two books will make great Christmas gifts! LOL

What’s next for you?

Right now, I am gearing up for the November release of Back and Forth, but there are definitely a lot more projects to come from Fon James. In addition to my upcoming releases, I’ve started plotting two more books, which will be the 2nd and 3rd books for the “On the Yard” series. Back and Forth is just the beginning… I know there are young people out there searching for Christian novels and I plan to continue stepping up to the plate to answer their call.

Where can visitors find you online?

You can find me online at www.fonjames.com or www.myspace.com/fonjames  (and don’t forget to check out that G-Mayes song on my myspace page (LOL)…it’ll make you get up from that computer!