‘Momma said the first day I got up off the floor to walk I shook my ass like I was a pro. I haven’t stopped shaking my ass since. I was born to be an exotic dancer.’
Born and raised in the the inner city ghetto of Kingston, Mercedes Ford (affectionately known as Bubbler) leaves her home turf for the bright lights of Montego Bay, Jamaica’s second largest city and tourism hotspot. There she gets the opportunity to dance in a strip club owned by local wheeler dealer, Danny.
Romance blossoms between them and before long Danny secures Bubbler’s help in managing the club. Now he can devote more time to his other investments – an undercover business.
But Bubbler is in a quandary. She has fallen in love with Greg, a German tourist whom she first met on the beach. Torn between two lovers, she believes the universe has brought her and Greg together, and her heart aches to be with Greg even though she and Danny have always been together.
Reader reviews of Jules Mitchell Bailey’s novel, Champion Bubbler all seem to agree on one point – it’s a captivating read packed with suspense and drama.
Jules says her novel isn’t just about a young woman and the challenges she faces. “It is a story that brings together the people and culture of Jamaica in such a thought-provoking way that it will ignite all kinds of emotions, and will keep you turning the pages.”
Jules who was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, moved to the USA in 1996. She lived in Maryland for several years before relocating to Georgia where she currently lives with her husband and three children.
A graduate of the Howard University School of Communications in Washington, DC and the Troy University MBA program, writing has been her profession for more than 15 years and she has served as editor for several company-related newsletters.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jules about her novel and her success in achieving her dream of becoming a published writer.
What inspired you to write Champion Bubbler?
Jules: As a Jamaican, reggae music and dancehall are important aspects of my culture. I was listening to some reggae music when the idea to write a novel titled, Champion Bubbler came to me. Once I started writing, I just couldn’t stop – the story literally flowed from my head. It was easy writing this novel because I was able to use the experiences and happenings of life growing up in Jamaica to guide me and embellish them into a novel. The novel, although fictional, does provide portrayals of the spirit of the Jamaican culture and life in the inner-city.
Growing up in Jamaica, what motivated you to take up writing and how did your homeland shape you as writer?
Jules: I have always loved writing. Writing helps me to get my thoughts and words on paper exactly how I would like them to sound. It helps me to escape to places I would not venture into in real life. Writing for me is therapeutic – it calms my fears and soothes my spirit. Growing up with my siblings and cousins in Jamaica, my grandmother used to sit around the back of the house with a fire going every night and tell us stories. These stories stayed with me and overtime I fantasized about life and developed my own versions. In school, I did excellent in English, one of my favourite subjects, and so I used to love writing all kinds of stories. My love for writing led me to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. Hence, writing has been a part of my professional career for more than 20 years.
How would you characterise your novel in terms of genre and did you gravitate naturally towards this category of fiction?
Jules: My novel can easily be characterized as multicultural fiction or general fiction type of work. I tend to lean on the multicultural fiction characterization. While it is a story of a young woman’s life, the people and culture of Jamaica are woven throughout the novel. Some of the places and events mentioned in the novel might not be familiar to those with very little or no knowledge of the island. While reggae music might be very popular, how many people know about Reggae Sunsplash? Many Jamaican athletes are well known, but how many people know about our high school athletic championship where most of our athletes are discovered? Writing these kinds of stories come naturally to me because I am writing about a culture I am familiar with.
What do your fans tell you they like most about your novel?
Jules: The first thing someone always says to me is, “I started reading your book and just could not put it down.” The book is described as captivating, entertaining, and one that will bring out all your emotions. It will make you cry as well as make you laugh. My readers love the characters. They tell me that the characters come to life before their very eyes. The main character, Mercedes aka Bubbler, has been described as a “no-nonsense type of person and a bad-ass chick.” Her life has been described as “colorful and interesting.” Many of my readers also fell in love with Danny. They think that he was a good guy who just got caught up in the wrong things. Those with Caribbean background or who have visited the Caribbean say that they connected with the novel; they could see, smell and feel the settings.
Are you planning a sequel to Champion Bubbler?
Jules: Yes. A sequel, A Love Bubbling Inside, is currently being worked on with plans to have it released on May 1. After completing Champion Bubbler, I realized that the story did not end there. There is more to Mercedes’ life and so it is necessary to have a sequel. Also, there are many unanswered questions which my readers need answers to.
Do you find the Internet to be an effective marketing tool?
Jules: I believe that the internet could be a great tool to help get the word out. The issue that I am experiencing is finding the best way to use the internet. With so many websites, social media and blog sites, it is an overwhelming task trying to figure out where the opportunities exist.
Who are some of your favourite writers and what books and movies had the greatest influence on you?
Jules: I love, love, love Terri McMillan! I am actually re-reading all her books, starting with Mama which I just finished and have moved on to Disappearing Acts. Sister Souljah’s Coldest Winter Ever grabbed my attention – I could not put it down. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza tore at my heart.
It would probably be easier for me to say who my favorite actors/actresses are than to pick movies. Over the years, there have been so many movies from the Bodyguard, to How Stella Got her Groove Back, to Men of Honor, to more recently War Room that got my attention.
You are involved with the group Caribbean Girls Rock. Tell us a bit about that.
Jules: Caribbean Girls Rock is an outlet to gather, develop and promote the diverse culture, talent and experiences of Caribbean ladies. The group was instrumental in assisting me with having an official book launch for Champion Bubbler. I am featured on their website and they have expressed interest in launching a “virtual book club” with Champion Bubbler.
Click here to read an excerpt of Champion Bubbler
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