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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A conversation with New Orleans author Michelle D. Jackson

michelle and ardainArdain Isma

Talking about a writer who speaks from the heart, Michelle Jackson is one like no other. I learned this firsthand when we sat down last week for a conversation. A novelist, Michelle Jackson has written two great novels:  The Heart of a Man and From Darkness to Night. These are two intriguing titles, which reminds me of my own Midnight at Noon. Michelle herself admitted the captivating nature of the titles, especially the first novel. “What led you to write The Heart of a Man?” I asked.

“I always have men asking the same question,” she replied with a burst of laughter. She went on to tell me the circumstances that led her to write the novel, a compelling tale depicting the life of Conrad Bydon, an Atlanta successful businessman. Born in a poverty neighborhood of Atlanta, Conrad, now a CEO “of a commercial real estate conglomerate,” is forced to face the tough realities of the sacrifices he had to make in order to build his fortune. In this novel, Michelle guides the reader to the difficult path to self-awareness, an unavoidable journey filled with unwanted existential realities. The novel was published in 2010, but its relevance reached a new plateau in 2014 when she earned the second-place award for The Authors Zone Annual Writer’s Competition, General Fiction Category.

From Darkness to Night was published last year, and like many of her peers in the literary world, Michelle now feels pinned down, unable to take her book on the road due to Covid-19. However, Michelle is not sitting idle. A multitasked writer, she has created the Black Writers Workspace, an organization devoted to showcasing the literary works of black authors, especially young African-American writers, providing them a platform, a literary venue, if you will, to display their works. We spent a big part of the conversation talking about this pertinent subject.

African-American literary works are too often overlooked. As Michelle puts it, “They criticize us for writing too much about pain.” But a writer writes about the world he knows best, a world mired in socioeconomic injustices. Writing about pain underscores a painful longing for a painless world—a more equitable world, a world in which a person would be judged not by his race or ethnicity or even by where he lives, but rather by the merit of his potentials, and of course by the content of his character.

Michelle was born in Fairfield, Alabama. At first, she said she was not sure if she could become a writer. All that changed when, as a teenager in the late nineteen-eighties, she was given the opportunity to participate and win in several poetry and essay competitions.  Later in life, however, her journey to corporate America had helped build on that self-confidence, her intellectualism.

Besides her literary works, Michelle is also a businesswoman. She heads a PR firm and i.Invest National Youth Business Competition.

To learn more about Michelle D. Jackson, you can visit her website.

Also, you can buy her books on Amazon. The Heart of a Man

From Darkness to Night

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