Thursday, April 16, 2015

Interview with Jamila T. Davis, author of She's All Caught Up


She's All Caught Up
Title: She's All Caught Up!
Author: Jamila T. Davis
Publisher: Voices International Publication
Pages: 338
Genre: Memoir/Young Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

She's All Caught Up is a cautionary tale based on the life of Jamila T. Davis, a federal prisoner serving a 12 1/2 year sentence. Jamila grew up in a loving middle class home, raised to become her parent's ideal star child. All was copacetic until high school years. Jamila rebels and chooses to live life in the fast lane. When this good girl goes bad, it seems there is no turning back!

For More Information

She's All Caught Up! is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads. 

1) Welcome to the Writer's Life, Jamila. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?
      Hello my name is Jamila T. Davis. I am an author, prison reform activist and the co-founder of WomenOverIncarcerated, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to women in prison and female ex-offenders. I've been a published author since 2011.
       I write books to inspire, empower and uplift the down trodden. My books are primarily written as cautionary tales to enlighten my readers to the severe consequences of making poor choices and not loving ourselves enough. I share my mistakes, and those of many others who also attempted to live life in the fast lane. My writing is geared to expose the serious repercussions of this lifestyle.

2) Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
       My recent release "She's All Caught Up" is a memoir about my early life experiences. I grew up in Jamaica-Queens, New York. I was raised by my mother, who was a school teacher, and my father, who was a NYC Transit Supervisor. My parents grew up dirt poor with limited opportunities. Their hardships growing up caused them to be determined to provide my brother and I with the opportunities they themselves never had. My mother became a stage mom. She had me trained in the arts at an early age. By the time I turned 10 years old, I became a cast member in an off-Broadway play and toured the country performing. I also danced professionally in dance recitals at Lincoln Center, all while maintaining straight A's in school.
     When I became a teenager, I was accepted to the acclaimed High School of Performing Arts in New York City, also known as the "Fame" School. Back then, I was my parents ideal star child and voted "most likely to succeed" by my peers. Then, it happened! All of a sudden my values changed. I was swept off of my feet by a 16 year old drug dealer from the Southside Housing Projects of South Jamaica-Queens. He became what I perceived to be the love of my life. My life went down hill from there. I made one poor choice after another, and I never seemed to fully recover.
     I wrote my book because I am not alone in making poor choices or putting love over the best interest of self. Although times have changed, teens today are still rebelling against their parents and making the same drastic mistakes which have the potential to ruin their lives. In my book I honestly expose my flaws and the root problems that led me on a high speed chase to find inner fulfillment. I decided to share my intimate experiences with my readers in hope that they will avoid my tragic mistakes.

3) What are some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
      While writing, I took note of the many details of my life experiences that I overlooked at the time they occurred. I found myself wanting to stop Young Jamila from crashing. The signs of danger were so visible, but at the time I could not see them. Recounting my many mistakes that caused me severe hardships was extremely painful. My continued destructive patterns ultimately led to a 12 1/2 year federal prison sentence, which I am currently serving. On the top bunk in a 5 1/2 x 9 cubicle at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp, the same facility where Piper Kerman of "Orange Is The New Black" was housed, I wrote my book. Dealing with the reality of my circumstances and the events that led up to my current fate didn't make my writing easy. I often found myself having to take breaks to cry and process, as I pinpointed the areas in my life where I went wrong. Although my writing process was painful at times, ultimately it was rewarding. It helped me to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from my past and heal.

4) Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link where we can see it?
      Yes, I have a press kit. My press kit includes my bio, my author's photo, past press release and articles written about me and my books, and a selection of articles and poetry I wrote. My press kit appears in the media room of Voices International Publications at
 www. http://voicesbooks.com/?page_id=90

5) Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
      As I mentioned earlier in this interview, I am an author who is writing from behind bars. This has limited my access to media. Yet, I am apart of a prison community outreach program created to deter at-risk youth from crime. We go out into the community and share our stories. This experience is actually what led me to write "She's All Caught Up." After I was able to witness first-hand the reception I got from teens, who vowed not to make the poor choices I made after hearing my story, I knew my story had the power to change lives. Teens are one of the hardest audiences to reach because they think they know it all. Once I captivated their attention, I realized by being a real person who is currently paying a high price for my actions, it gives me an advantage. Dressed in my prison khakis, serving a decade plus sentence, my audience has no choice put to take heed to my message, because it is REAL!

6) Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it is necessary to have one?
      I never dreamed I would become an author. It wasn't until I was incarcerated that I discovered my ability to write books. Although I strayed far away from the path my parents had established for me, they did not abandon me. Earlier in this interview, I explained my mother became a stage mom when I  was growing up. In my adult life, she reassumed her position, but transcended it to cater to my writing. My mother started her own publication company, Voices International Publications, as a means to publish my first book series, "The Voices Of Consequences Enrichment Series." It is a three book, self-help series for incarcerated women. Since then, she has become more experienced in the publishing business and has signed several authors under her company. It is her goal to collaborate with a major publishing company to distribute her current catalogue. Knowing her track record of excellence, I believe this is something she will get done. Therefore, my mother serves in the role as my agent. She is doing an amazing job at championing me to the top!

7) Did your agent, or publisher, prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
       My mother is a woman who is all about purpose. Her objective is to utilize my story at an educational tool to help children avoid my past mistakes, and to create awareness about the epidemic of women in prison and over-incarceration. It is her hope to humanize those of us service lengthy sentences for non-violent crimes, so a real solution will be provided to end this destructive epidemic. Her marketing and publicity plans are all surrounded around these objectives.
       My mother is currently working on a documentary about my life, my case and my efforts behind bars. Recently, after Teresa Giudice, cast member of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" was imprisoned at the same facility where I am housed, and the premiere of Dianne Sawyer's new series about women In prison, there has been a great interest about incarcerated women and the circumstances that led to our incarceration. My mother is currently fielding calls from media outlets who want to tell my story.

8) Do you plan subsequent books?
     I plan on writing a sequel to my book "She's All Caught Up," which is entitled "The Trade Off." I have also created "The High Price I Had To Pay" Book Series to give incarcerated women a platform to share their stories. These books are written as cautionary tales, featuring the lives of incarcerated women serving decade plus sentences for non-violent crimes. My experience has taught me that God has a plan for my life that is bigger than just me. I am merely a vessel that He is using to send a message to His children. I write for the purpose to help others avoid my tragic mistakes, and to inspire the down trodden to push ahead and overcome. It is important to know that our past mistakes don't have to dictate our future. We can change our course at any time. I did!

9) Thank you for your interview, Jamila. Would you like to tell my reader's where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

      Yes, thank you. Please visit www.jamiladavis.com or www.womenoverincarcerated.org to support my prison reform movement. My books are available on www.voicesbooks.com, and on Amazon.com and BN.com. You can also reach me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorjamilatdavis, or Twitter/Instagram: @jamilatdavis. I have tons of informative information that I think you will all enjoy on the web. Please take a minute to check it out! Thanks again for your support. 

Jamila T. Davis (@JamilaTDavis), author of "She's All Caught Up!," is a self-help expert, motivational speaker and a women's prison reform activist. Through her inspirational books and cautionary tales, based on her unique real-life experiences, she is helping to transform the lives of both the young and the old. For more information about Jamila T. Davis visit http://jamiladavis.com or http://www.facebook.com/authorjamilatdavis.

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