On January 26, Class of 2k21 Books member, J.Elle, became an instant New York Times bestseller when her YA novel, Wings of Ebony, debuted at #7 in the first week of its release. Described as The Hate U Give meets Wonder Woman in a magical world akin to Black Panther, J.Elle has written a story that explores the grit and hope of #Blackgirlmagic in a riveting and emotional YA fantasy.
Today we thought we’d take a slightly different tack, and instead of asking J.Elle about her writing journey, we thought we’d send her some quick fire questions for us to get to know this incredible new author a bit more intimately. Alright. Here we go:
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
J. Elle: Kind, Ambitious, Team-player
Why did you choose those three words?
I think those pieces make up the core of who I am. I really believe in loving people well and one way I do that is kindness. I don’t think I owe people kindness, per se. But it’s my own way of trying to put some good into the world. I know how good it feels when someone does or says something that fills you up, makes your entire day. If I have the ability to give that joy to someone, I want to. Sometimes it’s just smiling at someone, or showing that I see them, thanking them by name, or complimenting them aloud instead of in my head. Little things like that can do so much good for a person. I believe in fate and crossing paths with people for a reason, so I try to be purposeful in the lives of the people I meet.
Ambition is woven into the fabric of who I am. It’s the way I’ve always been. But, I am the least competitive person you’ll ever meet, ha ha. I lose Monopoly pretty much every weekend against my partner or my eight year old and yet I’m dying to play again the next day! I do compete with myself, setting the bar higher and higher, seeing what I can accomplish, challenging myself. But, I’ve found if I accomplish something, reach some new height, I’m going to want to pull up my people with me. So we can all shine together. Which is why I mentioned the last one: team-player. I really do believe we shine brighter together. I think that’s another way to love the people around me, well.
Give me one sentence that encapsulates what “power” means to you.
Power is awareness of your impact.
Give me one sentence that encapsulates what “family” means to you.
Family is a group of people joined by shared experiences, mutual affection, or love.
Give me one sentence that encapsulates what “magic” means to you.
Magic is the ember in a person that is hungry to burn.
Do you have any personal mantras you live by? What are they and why?
I don’t really, no. Maybe love people well or be intentional.
What is your favourite meal and why?
OMG ALL FOOD. lol It changes often. I’m a total foodie. But right now my favorite food is this salad from Bellagreen. I love fish first off and I love interesting lettuce pairings and fun new ways to get crunch in a food. I also love anything that weaves in mango creatively. I even love mango in sushi!
If you had a magical artefact that granted you three wishes, what would they be?
I’d wish for COVID to disappear completely. Like, OMG I need to hug my Grandma and my mom so badly. So sick of this lol.
I’d wish to slow down time so I could enjoy my kids being little longer. I work a lot and I’m already feeling like I’m missing so much.
I’d wish for a vacation house on Coronado Island that is also somehow property-tax free.
If you could spread one message to all those who have read about your journey, what would it be?
To writers? Tenacity is your greatest weapon.
About the Author
J.Elle is an author and advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community. Born in Houston, Texas, Jess is a first-generation college student with a Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Human Development.
Her passion for empowering youth dates back before writing to her first career in education. She’s worked as a Preschool Director, Middle School Teacher, and High School Creative Writing Mentor.
In her spare time you’ll find her volunteering at an alternative school, providing feedback for aspiring writers, loving on her three littles, or cooking up some dish true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. Wings of Ebony is her first novel.
Find out more, including purchase links, at:
● Class of 2k21 Books: https://www.classof2kbooks.com/wings-of-ebony
● Buy the book and find out about the author at: http://wingsofebony.com
● Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJ_Elle
● Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorj.elle
Posted By: Graci Kim
Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes magic-infused MG books for magic-infused readers. She grew up not seeing herself in her most treasured books, and has since committed herself to writing Korean-x (Korean diaspora) characters onto the page. The Last Fallen Star is her debut novel.
In a previous life, Graci was a diplomat for the NZ foreign service, a cooking show host, and once ran a business that turned children’s drawings into plushies.
When she's not lost in her imagination, she's drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter.