J. D. Mason

J. D. Mason
And On The Eighth Day She Rested
Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
January 2002

1. Who is J. D. Mason?

I was born in a little town called Paris, Texas but have lived in Denver since I was about 2, so I think that pretty much qualifies me as a native.

I come from a pretty big family that's like most families and not without its share of drama, love, and devotion. And not many people know this, but I spent 8 years in the Navy, and have lived as far west as Hawaii, and as far east as Iceland.

2. How long have you been writing?

I began writing stories when I was in the 4th grade thanks to the encouragement of my teacher. As time passed, however, I lost track of my love of storytelling until around 30, which is when I first sat down to pen my very first serious attempt at a novel.

3. What made you decide to write a novel about spouse abuse?

I hadn't meant for the novel to take on that theme when I first started writing it. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to write a story of an African American heroine, who'd overcome some monumental issues in her life.

The more developed the characters became, the more the abuse issue rose to the surface, which made me leary. I've never been in an abusive relationship, and for that reason, writing about one was intimidating to me.

The last thing I wanted to do was trivialize the issue of domestic violence, so I opted not make the violence the central point of the story. In 8th day, the central point is recovery and healing.

4. Why did you choose the cites Jacksonville and Denver in your novel?

I was familiar with both. At the time I started the story, I lived in Jacksonville, and with Denver being my home, it made sense to make that Ruth's hometown.

5. How long did it take you to write "And on the Eighth Day She Rested?

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it took about 5-6 years. The story was originally entitled "Resurrecting Ruth" and it's been written and rewritten about half a dozen times to where it is now. This book has been a learning experience for me more than anything. During the course of this project, I was in essence, learning how to write, and even rewrite a novel. My subsequent books haven't taken that long, thank goodness.

6. Why did you choose to let Ruth run an online bookstore?

At that point in the book, Ruth has run away, in a sense. She's faced some of her problems/issues, but not all of them. She doesn't feel she has the strength to deal with everything, so her escape, if you will, even goes as far as her career. She needed something to do, but without the pressures of dealing with people and the normal stresses of working face to face with them.

7. Which character is more like you: Ruth, Sharon, Bernie, May or Clara?

Being the author, all of them have a little of me in them, but Ruth has more of my personality, which for me, was necessary in getting to the heart and soul of this character. I've never been in an abusive relationship, but in order to tell the story from her perspective, I had to imagine myself as having been in one in order to authenticate her voice.

8. Why did you choose the title "And on the Eighth Day She Rested?

When I decided to finally self publish the book, I also opted to do a complete and total rewrite to make the story fresh and exciting to me again because my motivation surrounding it was waning. In doing that, I realized that if I were going to start from scratch, then I also needed a new title.

Ruth Johnson is a character who begins the process of discovering herself after her marriage ends. In my eyes, she's not re-inventing herself, because she's never had the opportunity to know who she really is. But she's inventing herself from scratch. Of course the verse comes from the book of Genesis where God rests on the 7th day. Ruth just needed an extra day in her creation before she could take a breather.

9. Will there be a sequel to "And on the Eighth Day She Rested?

I've been asked that several times, and honestly. I don't think so. I believe I've taken the character of Ruth full circle and there's no where else to take her. If, by some slim chance, I were to do a sequel, it would focus on other characters of the book (Bernie, May, Sharon), but Ruth wouldn't be a central figure

10. Can you tell us if you are working on another book and when it will be out?

I'm just finishing up my next book "One Day I Saw A Black King", which will be released by St. Martin's Press in November 2002.

11. How did you come about Ruth's and Eric's character?

Ruth's character came first and she's run the gamut of being entirely too teary and crying all the time, to where she is now. Eric's been the same since the beginning for the most part, so developing his character hasn't been an issue. He's scum, and that's about all there is to it.

12. How did you come about the names for Ruth, Eric, Clara, Bernie, Sharon, Adrian and May?

There's no real science behind naming my characters. I typically try to choose names for them that I can remember. If I struggle with the name of a character (remembering it) then I know the name isn't right and I need to find another one. I think it's kind of a cosmic thing, really, and I can't explain it.

13. What atmosphere do you require to write?

I like quiet time when I write. Some authors listen to music to derive the mood of a story or scene. I can listen to music before I write, but seldom during. I'm too busy singing into my hairbrush and pretending I'm Anita Baker, to write properly when I'm listening to music.

14. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "And on the Eighth Day She Rested?

Being a fiction writer, I normally don't write with the intent of teaching lessons because I feel that fiction writers are first and foremost, entertainers. However, if we can include something enlightening or thought-provoking in the novel, we should take advantage of the opportunity to do so, but without preaching. I think 8th day is a novel with a message whether I intended for it to have one or not. Ruth spent a lifetime letting other people carve out a niche for her. Eric molded her into the woman she'd come to know all those years, and she'd accepted everything he'd taught her as truth. It took leaving that situation for her to discover her own truth about herself. The things she'd learned weren't easy to learn and they weren't always pleasant, but some things were delightful. I guess the message from 8th day would be that validation of who you are should come from within, not without. Don't wait for someone else to tell you you're an ok person. Figure it out, and believe it within yourself, and you won't need to hear it from other people.