Name: Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr.
Where are you from?
I am from Liberty City which is located in Miami, Florida. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and three lovely daughters and one handsome grandson. I have a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Florida International University and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from NOVA.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am currently working on my first official piece of Christian Fiction, Jairus. It is a novel that will help people strengthen their faith, at least that’s what I intend for it to be; but, the Lord may use it in other ways. It’s about what must have been a very tough decision for both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. On a day when Jesus was surrounded and being thronged by a massive number of people – these two got his attention with their faith. I’m interested in giving one possible way their faith reached such strong levels. Particularly in a time when Jesus hadn’t initiated the covenant of grace – both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood were still under the Law; yet, they were able to have such strong faith that it moved Jesus to act on their behalf.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I had to write for school, my college English class required writing and write I did. Prior to that, at the time when I was in grade school – you had to write; almost every class had something that needed to be written.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still struggle with that now. I suppose I am a writer, but I don’t consider myself to be one. Writing and creating stories is not something that’s difficult to me and I don’t consider it a task. From my point of view, I’m just a person who can write.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My grandfather. I was attempting to organize myself and write something and I decided to introduce a character that was based on my grandfather. But, once I was halfway finished it seemed that I’d written a biography. So, I started over with the goal being to capture the spirit and essence of my grandfather within the story. The novel just flowed out and soon after – Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life was finished.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write like an outline. I go through the entire story adding elements of one thing that I want to include. Like in Jairus I went through and added the points I wanted to get across first. Then I went back and added the conversations that I wanted to take place. After that, I went back and added the view points of the people of the day. Now, I have to go back and add the character traits and tags that I want included. I just keep going over and over the story adding things until it’s finished.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
From the idea behind the story – the point that I want to communicate. For example, 607 Orange Street title comes from my childhood, it’s a place that I once called home. Lots of strange and eerie things occurred there, from my point of view at the time.
Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life just aligned with my grandfather’s point of view in his retirement days. He was quite a different person when he was younger – but by the time he was well into his retirement he was full of laughter and very playful – one funny joke after another most of the time. That’s the Live, Laugh, and Love part of the title. The Golden Moments of Life part of the title pointed to the moments when I thought his old age was getting the best of him. Doing strange things that younger people associate with old age – having Golden Moments, as opposed to Senior Moments.
Jairus is from the most well known person around Jesus in the particular story that I want to tell. Most people who read their Bible know who Jairus is and what happened in the story. It’s a quick way of letting people know that they will be studying and considering the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The 51st and 52nd States is just what it feels like when your money is funny before the next payday. It just feels like you’re in another state and strange place where things seem to be financially aligned against you! You know the feeling you have when you go to thinking that somebody has calculated exactly how much money it takes to get you from one payday to another.
Diary of a Teacher is pretty much what it sounds like, the diary of a teacher – being shared with the world. Letting the reader safely enter the school and see what happens on the other side of the desk and how things have changed from yesteryear to today. It’s fictional in that all of the events didn’t happen to one teacher in one school year at one school – but, at the same time, it’s nonfictional in that if you know a teacher and ask them about any part of it they will swear that you’re talking about them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I just want my readers to be entertained. I want them to get the feeling that they are right there when the event is happening. I want them to stop and wonder and say, “that must have happened.” I have a friend who told me one part of the Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life story had to be true. It wasn’t true and I told him that, but he didn’t want to believe me. To me, that’s the best compliment.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It’s all mixed up. I need to get a certain point across and I will combine fact with fiction and create whatever needs to be created in order for you to believe the story so that you can get the feeling that I want you to get.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I read as a child and as a requirement for school. But, I never read for leisure. I suppose that’s strange, but I haven’t seen the statistics on how many writers are avid readers. Usually, when I read something, it’s because I want to know something that I won’t know unless I take a minute and read.
Mentor, I don’t believe I have one – I have people I look up to but they might not even know I exist. I will think more about this one. As far as writers I look up to – Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and Tyler Perry. I look up to them because of their God given ability to build their stories into a brand. I am going to do that, praise God in Jesus Name. Oh, and Rod Serling.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t know of any off the top of my head. Perhaps J.K. Rowling, God certainly blessed her with a brand and it is doing very well.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
A few of my friends, other than that nobody – I’m not always very open about things; as a result, not very many people would know what’s pressing on my mind unless I think they can and will help me with it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am working on seeing it that way. I sat down for this interview and said to myself, let’s go to work. I have a make a conscious effort to think that way – God has been dealing with me about it and I’m getting it in gear and beginning to see myself as a writer. A few weeks ago I did introduce myself as a writer when a stranger asked me what I did for a living. I’m making progress – so yes, I see writing as a career!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
There’s always that feeling that the book could have been better in some aspect or another. I believe that’s why God doesn’t allow us to travel back in time – we would be like Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect movie, no matter what the outcome there’d be something no matter how trivial or ridiculous that we would want to change and do again.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
The teacher said write about your summer vacation – I believe that’s how it all started.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Currently working on Jairus, the story starts with Jairus as a teen and his reaction to the news about King Herod’s slaughter of the male children in Bethlehem. Then the story moves to the back story leading up to Mark 5:21-43 of the New Living Translation version of the bible. Jairus gets a family and his love for his daughter is demonstrated as well as the type of man that he is. Also, the woman with the issue of blood gets a name, a family, an occupation, an entire back story! Then things unfold that influence them and get them to the point where their faith in Jesus is strong enough to work the miracles that they turn to him for.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
No. Writing is easy. The other stuff associated with becoming a best seller is where the challenge comes in.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. The internet has made the world a much smaller place.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did. Amazon has an awesome app that takes care of covers for you.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Nothing, from my point of view it’s not hard to write.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh I learn all types of stuff. In order to make the story believable I research and research and research. Sometimes, I spend an hour or two researching just to justify the writing of one sentence in the story. I want it to represent the modern knowledge of mankind – so I look and look and look and then write. For example, in 607 Orange Street (Book 2) I learned about super expensive corporate furniture – the type you’d buy for conspicuous consumption purposes – to let you clients know that you have all the gold on the other side of the rainbow.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Samuel Jackson for Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life is the only request that comes to mind right this moment. I’m wide open for anybody else – it would be great for newcomers to be able to be discovered playing the lead.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Start writing and don’t stop.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for the books you’ve purchased and please buy more – put the pressure on your inner reading circle and get all of them to buy.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Not reading anything specific right now. Only researching all types of awesome resources about Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m sure it was Dr. Seuss or something along that reading level.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Almost everything makes me laugh. I try not to cry too often – save those tears for when you really need them is the sound advice my parents gave me.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would like to meet Michael Lee-Chin. I’ve heard a lot about him and it would be nice to put a face to the stories.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that he was raised from the dead you will be saved!” To spread the Gospel.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
It comes and it goes with these – but I do watch Star Trek; Star Wars; Madea; Twilight Zone and various TBN and PBS shows as they come on.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m against food, color, and music discrimination – therefore, I like them all – some more than others.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Praise God, I’ve either done or am doing the other things I want to do right now. God has blessed me to be able to do what I want to do. However, I would like to be (one hundred percent full time) a professional chess player – and I will be one day.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Just Google me, Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr. and you can follow me using your most desired method.
Thank you Fiona for a fun and interesting interview – I’ve learned some things about myself on this interview!