Intimate Conversation with Ann Jeffries

Intimate Conversation with Ann Jeffries

Ann Jeffries
is a native of Washington, D. C. She is an only child who enjoyed the benefits of a private school education at Allen in Asheville, NC, and a public education at the University of Maryland. She began writing fiction for her own amusement. She is currently writing novels in her Family Reunion: The Wisdom of the Ancestors series.

Ann is the recipient of many awards for leadership and public service. A speaker at colleges, universities, conferences and conventions, she has extensively traveled the North American continent, Asia and Europe. Among other things, she is an entrepreneur, an avid viewer of public television and a voracious reader of fiction.
Ms. Jeffries’ pride and joy are her family, particularly her Fabulous Four grands. She lives in Maryland and South Carolina. Website address: www.newviewliterature.com; Facebook @Ann Jeffries; and Twitter @newviewlit

BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
Ann: Boredom. I had hundreds of cable television channels to choose from and plenty of books in my library, yet I was still bored. So I picked up a pen and paper and Southern Exposures was born. I enjoyed the writing so much that several books followed.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Ann: Yes, to a certain extent it does. My ancestors were born and raised in a small country town in Sumter County, South Carolina. As a child, while my parents worked, my maternal grandmother would take me to South Carolina during the summer to visit with our rather large family there. I would listen to the stories that they told about their youth in the south that were so different from my northern experiences and the stories that they remembered from their parents and grandparents. Some of that history is reflected in the personalities of my characters. It’s like the old souls showing up and reminding me of what I recall from my childhood coupled with my adult life experiences.

One such life experience was listening to former Congresswoman Barbara Jordon deliver the “Who Speaks For The Common Good” keynote address at the National Democratic Convention. Her words to me were even more riveting than Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech. I encourage readers to listen to her blueprint for a better society.

BPM: Do you write full-time? Do you write every day? Do you have a special time to write?
Ann: Yes, I write full-time, every day and most days, all day. If the story is flowing for me, I do not stop until all of the voices that show up are captured on the printed page.

BPM: Do you ever let the book stew – leave it for months and then come back to it?
Ann: Always. I complete my manuscripts and then put them aside and work on another part of the series. Then I go back and re-read my stories to insure that the theme of the series is still on course. It may be months before I get back to a story that I’ve completed.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven? 
Ann: I have short and long term plans for my books and each character that walks into my story can bring a new idea or twist to the story that I ultimately want to tell from different perspectives in this series. There are currently twenty-six books in the series in various stages of completion. Some of the manuscripts are plot driven while others are character driven.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What separates this story from the millions of other books on the shelves? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
Ann: 
Yes, Southern Exposures is available on Amazon’s Kindle and in paperback format.
Southern Exposures is the introduction to the Alexander family of Goodwill, Summer County, South Carolina. Dr. Bernard Alexander, an educator, and his wife of thirty-plus years, Sylvia Benson Alexander, a nurse, are successfully raising five young adults. Kenneth and Benjamin Alexander are brothers and best friends, but as different as night and day. Kenneth, the older, the cool, calm, and collected is a highly trained electronics engineer and businessman, President of his San Francisco-based computer hardware, software and telecommunications company. Captain Benjamin Staton Alexander is the dashing, young US Air Force jet fighter pilot, stationed in San Diego. Yet they came to the same conclusion: They were both falling in love with the same woman—the beautiful and alluring JeNelle Towson, a businesswoman who owns INSIGHTS, a Santa Barbara emporium.

Next in the family line is Vivian Lynn Alexander, a Georgetown Law School student who comes to the conclusion that she could no longer be in a relationship with her college sweetheart and be a successful lawyer. She becomes friends with former basketball icon Chuck Montgomery; an interracial relationship ensues until she meets Chuck’s best friend, Derrick “Dunk and Jam” Jackson, who was an even more celebrated basketball star. Both medical doctors now, Chuck and Derrick find that they have no protection from falling hard for the former basketball Olympic Gold Medalist turned law school student.

Two more Alexander offspring, Gregory, a high school student, and Aretha, a young genius, are a part of the story, but have their own novels later in the series. We watch as the Alexander offspring grow and move out into a society so very different from the principles that their parents and ancestors laid out for them. They encounter people along the way who challenge them on so many levels. Life is hard, but these characters continue to work for what former Congresswoman Barbara Jordon called “The Common Good.”

I believe that it’s for my readers to say what they believe separates these stories from the mass market literature available on the shelves. For certain my stories have triumphs and trials, love and hate, humor and horror, suspense and mystery, and plots and pleasures to serve the taste of most adult readers. Of Southern Exposures, author Jessica Tilles wrote: “Ann Jeffries definitely has a skill for storytelling. There is vitality and high drama in Southern Exposures. The author did an excellent job with honing in and focusing on the three main, important characters of which the drama surrounds. I fell in love with the Alexanders.” Attorney Brenda Irons LeCesne wrote: “Loved the way Ann described the activities. I felt as though I was there witnessing everything. 
The book is very warm and the characters have to face challenges each in a different way. Loved the focus on loving family.” Karen R Thomas, President of Creative Minds Book Group wrote: “I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I think that Ann’s ability to create emotion is a true talent. She did a great job creating suspense. The characters stories seemed most authentic and entertaining. Language and dialogue overall is a strong area for Ann.” I could not have described Southern Exposures better than these three readers.

BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Ann: Kenneth James Alexander has a strong, but unassuming personality who believes in the theory that he is his brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. He’s an electronics genius, astute businessman and a bit of a nerd who is oblivious to the attention his good looks and fine physique accord him. He sets the high, moral standards as an example for his siblings to follow and is willing to sacrifice his own needs and desires for his family’s happiness.

Benjamin “Benny” Staton Alexander has always wanted to fly jets and rejects opportunities that he had to play professional basketball in order to pursue his dream of one day piloting missions to outer space. He is a brilliant pilot who gives new meaning to the term “Benny and the jets” and rises through the ranks of the Air Force effortlessly. Still, unlike his older brother, he takes time to maintain an active social life. He is just a dedicated to his family as Kenneth, but he loves his life as a bachelor and does not deny himself the creature comforts that his single lifestyle affords him.

Vivian Lynn Alexander has been a bright, energetic and dynamic leader since her early childhood when her parents read great speeches to her as bedtime stories. One such speech was the Barbara Jordon’s “Who Speaks For The Common Good” speech that set the framework for Vivian’s decision to become a lawyer. She was the first to volunteer to champion causes for which she feels a great deal of passion and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Like her older brothers she is athletic and was picked to be on an Olympic basketball team that won the gold.


BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters dealt with issues that are in current affairs?
Ann: Vivian, although a busy law school student, volunteers time at a family homeless shelter where she meets a destitute Peruvian woman, Signora Anna Menendez-Gaza and her two young children, Angelique and Miguel. She helps Anna’s family by bringing them to live in, Benny’s, (her brother’s) huge brownstone, where she rents rooms to other law school students. All of her housemates pool their resources to help this family find out what happened to Anna’s husband who has mysteriously disappeared. Homelessness is a fact of astronomical proportions in current society. It is often rare to see the extent of human kindness up close and personal as we do in this aspect of the story.
In another part of the story, Kenneth and Benjamin learn that JeNelle has been the victim of spousal abuse during her former marriage. Again, a current day issue that has yet to be solved. Kenneth and Benjamin both address this situation in an effort to help JeNelle work through her issues.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Ann: With Vivian and the other law school students, the current political climate runs the gamut. One of the housemates, William “Bill” Chandler is a former male prostitute and high-priced, high fashion model, who comes from a dysfunctional family in the heart of Little Italy in New York City. Bill’s backstory is fertile ground for an airing of issues related to sexuality.

Another housemate and law school student, Alan Lightfoot, is a full-blooded Navajo Native American and former US Marine who is fighting to preserve his heritage and his ancestral home. There is quite a scandal that is uncovered about the powers-that-be who continue to mistreat Native Americans and the reasons for it.

I learned that I love to write from going through this process and that even the research that goes into the details is a lot of fun.






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