BIW Member Interview
Judy Powell is a Jamaican Writer living in Mississauga, Canada. Judy, who loves to learn, holds a Bachelor’s Degree and three Master’s Degrees and is a member of the USA honour society, Phi Beta Kappa. Her novels – Hot Summer, Hot Chocolat and Coffee, Cream and Curry (two of which have received awards) – are available in bookstores across Canada, and in selected stores in the USA and the Caribbean.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Judy Powell: Since childhood, I’ve loved to read. I got my first library card at the age of 5 and have been devouring books ever since. This love for reading evolved into a love for writing. However, I did not give writing serious thought until, several years ago, a college instructor told me she thought I had a genuine talent for writing. It boosted my confidence and I finally wrote my first novel in 2003 – Coffee, Cream and Curry – which was awarded a silver medal in the 2005 National Creative Writing Competition (Jamaica).
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?
Judy Powell: I’ve learned: Not to be a perfectionist when writing my first draft. I just try to get the novel done, then I go back and revise, revise, revise. This method ensures that I don’t get so bogged down with perfecting the early chapters that I never finish the work.
If I genuinely want to be a writer I have to take my writing as seriously as a nine-to-five job. I have to be disciplined and stick to my writing schedule. I can’t shirk off or put my writing at the bottom of my list of priorities for the day or else I will never get my novel done.
I have to hone my writing skills by taking advantage of as many classes and seminars on writing that I can, and by reading widely (books on the craft of writing, works by other writers). Constant training in the craft of writing (while being conscious to maintain my own writing “voice”) should go a long way in enhancing the quality of my work.
Moe: What are you working on now?
Judy Powell: I am working on an erotic romance novel entitled Delicious and a literary critique of the works of Flannery O’Connor, a renowned American author from the South.
Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?
Judy Powell: One of my favourite books on writing is Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. It contains a myriad of ideas for getting your novel to stand out from the crowd by effectively using techniques including characterization, setting, emotion and tension.
Moe: What is your favourite writing website?
Judy Powell: Outside of websites where I can get writing tips, my favourite is Thesaurus.com – so many new and fresh ways to say the same thing!
Moe: What is an important BIW Tip you would like to pass along?
Judy Powell: The first, and most important, tip in my opinion: BIC HOK TAM!! Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away like mad! There is no better advice than this. This is the only way we will get our words, and our works, out and onto the printed page.