At the close of 2020, The Sassy Writer held a contest. It was the 'Judge a Book By Its Cover' book cover contest.
We encouraged, just for two weeks, to do exactly what your favorite English teacher and overzealous elementary school librarian had told you not to do- judge a book by its cover. Well, we did because the truth is we love books from the front cover to the back cover and devour the words in between. So, I'm sure you understand the need to celebrate the book in its entirety. The contest turned up nearly 50 great covers from even more amazing authors!
I'm not kidding!
Two weeks of voting rendered debut author Jerusalem Grove's Ella & Bella as the contest's People's Choice winner garnering the popular vote. Today we speak with the creative master behind The Sassy Writer's 2020 Judge A Book By its Cover Contest win.
TSW: First, I absolutely love your name. It's very profound and clearly reflective of meaning. However, in your words, tell me the story of your name.
JG: My parents chose to give biblical names to their kids. My older brother is Matthew Luke, and my younger sister, Israela. I believe "Jerusalem" was one they had heard in the past and decided they'd give it to their first daughter.
TSW: I love it. All of you have lovely names. There can be so much to a name and so much to the bearer of the name. You are here with us because we have connected with the writer Jerusalem Groves, but before you were a master of the pen, you were first dominating the fields of futbol. Tell me more about your futbol career?
JG: I was raised watching futbol happen all around me. My dad, an ex-professional, started an academy, Master's Futbol Academy, to take youth off the streets in hopes that soccer would teach them life as they excel. I began to train at age 16 and, by age 17, got a few scholarships to the States. I accepted a scholarship to the University of Houston. Because of hardships and internal struggles, I transferred a couple of times to play at the University of Rhode Island and Grace College. After graduating, I played overseas in Denmark and Sweden, where I truly became more passionate about playing. Still, I couldn't stay as I felt 4.5 years away from my family for school was already enough, especially my first niece. So unlike the rest of my family members, I couldn't go through signing contracts overseas as I had a brand new niece and nephew at home. I continue to coach for my dad's academy.
TSW: Time away from family can bear a heavy burden, so it's definitely understandable. Not to mention, a niece and auntie's bond is essential. Yet, continuing to coach at your dad's academy allows you to continue to master your abilities and pour into the youth while being with family - the best of both worlds. I understand you were an English major, which I'm sure bore heavy on your decision to become an author. What led you to your love for English?
JG: My love for English came to light when taking a creative writing course at Grace as an English Major. It brought back memories of writing songs before leaving to play soccer. I realized writing would be an essential part of my life.
TSW: Writing music? So, we were wrong; you been mastering the pen. Ok, you didn't tell us that, but I'm taking notes with intentions to pick up on this very topic in the next conversation. So, Ella & Bella is your debut book- Is there a story that inspired this story?
JG: 'Ella & Bella' is indeed my debut! I remember coming up with the idea while watching a show about twins on TLC with my mom. I realized there aren't many books out there, highlighting the dreams or fantasies twins may have. I wanted to create something, a fairytale for twins. Hence, "A Twintale Untold." Everything in this fairytale signifies my family somehow: the colour of our skin, the names, the character's looks, interracial love (noticed in the coloured version), our horses, and belief.
TSW: Wow, you are absolutely correct. I love the fact that you've incorporated personal points of beauty and value. When teaching, Do you include your book in any way?
JG: Yes. As a studying teacher, I think it's important for readers to expand their knowledge in any way possible. Within this book, there are italicized and bolded words that may seem unusual to the younger reader. These words will be defined within the deluxe version, which will also include colour.
TSW: Was there any point when writing where you surprised yourself, creatively?
JG: This being my first published storybook made the whole process surprising. Just figuring out writing for children was something enjoyable for me. It was awesome.
TSW: In the quest to blaze the fairytale that hadn't been told, how did you choose the setting?
JG: The setting of the book is in the medieval era. I wanted to keep some familiarity with the classic fairytales most have grown up on.
TSW: Was there an 'aha moment' for giving your current book its name, or did you always know the working title would be the actual title?
JG: I decided to keep my original thought of using the characters' names as the title to mimic that of classic fairytales we know, such as Cinderella. I want my princesses' names to be known.
TSW: Ella & Bella, I'm sure, will be added amongst the collections of fairytale must-haves in every little one's library. Congratulations on your debut and for being named the 2020 People's Choice Winner. Before we go, can we take a quick second for our fave - Rapid fire round?
TSW: Library or bookstore?
JG: Not in either much with technology nowadays.
TSW: True! Favorite music to listen to when writing?
JG: I love music too much, so it more so becomes a distraction. I typically work in silence.
TSW: Hmm, you're right again! Ok -If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
JG: Comedy. I'm not much of a serious person until I have to be. Probably get that from my dad. Every opportunity I get, I like to make the most of it. I'd choose Sanaa Lathan. We've all seen her act a little crazy in Nappily Ever After and determined in Love & Basketball.
TSW: Sanaa Lathan truly has a certain je ne sais quoi. As well, her acting abilities are off the charts, and I feel not lauded enough. Great choice! Before we wrap up the date, anything else you'd like to leave with the people?
JG: No matter who we are, we have all experienced or are bound to experience a moment in life where we feel stripped of things or people who once brought us happiness. In these moments, we need to make sure our actions do not hurt others but create a time of vulnerability where we can assess our emotions and rely on a community that will aid us to heal.
Connect with Author Jerusalem Groves via Instagram and Facebook: Jerusalem Groves.