Photo Credit: Elise Romany
1. Hey Jeanelle, we see that you are from Trinidad & Tobago! What would you say is your absolute favorite thing about your country?
Specifying an absolute favorite is difficult because there is just so much to love! I’d say that right now, I’m in love with the creativity I’ve witnessed during this period of national, and global, difficulty (COVID). It is near impossible to rob a Trinbagonian of their drive for finding joy through creative expression. It may even be a coping mechanism to stay sane, and if so, what a profound and meaningful way to cope!
2. In your Instagram bio, you describe yourself as a ‘Renaissance Woman’, which can be defined as ‘a woman who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences’. When would you say your passion for both arts and sciences began? Were you dabbling and experimenting in both fields as a child?
I’d say it all began when I was chilling in my mama’s womb while she and my father played in an orchestra. My parents met in guitar school as teenagers. Their love affair with music merged with my father’s love of engineering and birthed me, a kid born with an inescapable obsession for both. We had a family “band” so to speak (all gospel music) so I had an avenue for expression. My dad and I sang together while he played the keys and my brother played the drums. I also touched as many instruments as I could back then (keys, drums, guitar, violin, African drums, saxophone, clarinet, etc.… really, anything I got my hands on). Still, I could never stick with one for long before another seduced me. In my later years, I finally understood that I was trying to produce songs, but back then I felt guilty for my polygamous music affairs LOL! Even worse, I was smitten with science and, like the difficulty I had sticking to one instrument, syllabuses were my torture. I wanted to know the more “intriguing” details beyond the scope being tested, and I would often find myself getting very carried away in off-topic studies. My coping mechanism through this great divide was none other than writing.
3. Who or what inspired you to start writing? And what was that defining moment that made you decide to do it professionally?
I don’t have a starting point for when the words began, but I do have a duffle bag chockful of my writings since I was a single-digit human. Words were my way of trying to make sense of the chaos in my head by imposing the order of articulation. There is a distillation structure that language imprints upon noise, beyond which you can perceive the various connections that underpin your life.
I don’t think I ever decided to do it professionally, but I did decide to be open about the worlds that have dwelt within me for a long time. The choice to write this particular series (The YaraStar Trilogy) came from an aching need to tell Yara’s story. The lessons riddled within the tale were, at times, hard to write because I’ve had to learn many of them painfully firsthand.
4. Who are some of the authors you look up to or inspire you?
Gosh, more than I can name! The ones whose words have inspired me include Malcolm Gladwell, Paulo Coelho, James Redfield, Susan David, Don Miguel Ruiz, Jen Sincero, Steven Pressfield, Dr Jordan Peterson, Mark Manson, Cal Newport, Rachel Hollis, Louise Hay, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and Dr Norman Doidge. Many of these are non-fiction authors because I dedicate a large part of my life to personal and spiritual development. There is no disconnect for me between the quality of one’s creative expression and the quality of the vessel through which it must pass.
5. We checked out your fantasy series Yarastar Trilogy online and it seems very exciting. We love the artwork btw! Of all the genres of literature, what attracted you the most to fantasy? Also please, can you tell our readers more about the series? Where can we purchase it?
Fantastical worlds for many are a form of escapism, but for me, they are alternate realities at play. As a result, many of my more “normal” dreams at night tend to carry apocalyptic signatures with dystopian aftermaths. World-building intrigues me, and character development even more so. It helps when the source material can be a good night’s sleep or a life experience that induces a wakeful imaginative way to cope.
The YaraStar Trilogy was the latter of the two—a life experience that caused a series of connections and landed me with the sixteen-year-old, blue-haired Yara, a strong girl with a lot of understandable identity issues. She was found as a baby on a planet with two distinct tribes, and she looks nothing like either of them. The trilogy embarks the reader on a journey of what it means to find yourself, know yourself, and be yourself. It is available on Amazon (Kindle and paperback), and the artist behind the artwork is the incredible Israel Silva.
6. We did some digging and discovered that you actually come from an engineering and project management background and also worked on the business side of the entertainment industry in your home country. What was the experience like transitioning from a more corporate/professional environment to a more creative/entrepreneurial environment?
Before the final transition, I admittedly had moments when I stretched my legs from the corporate rivers and dipped my toes into the vast oceans of creativity and entrepreneurship. Although nothing enticed me the way the oceans did, those short periods never lasted because soon enough, a “safe” offer would appear and shake my faith. However, I finally knew it was time when I grabbed my own faith and shook it with an earthquake of a decision that was beyond the scope of any Richter scale. The aftermath? I found myself still standing firm. I knew then that I was ready to be the most unadulterated version of myself. The challenges are very real with transitions such as these, but the joy is even more so. It has been about two years since, and there hasn’t been a moment that I’ve looked back.
7. What is your writing process like and how do you get yourself inspired to write? What can you share with us about the ‘method to the madness’?
I’m a spurt writer, meaning that I grab the reigns of the “word-horse” and hold on for dear life until I’ve ridden so much of it, I might burn out for a little while. Then, I’m back on the horse again. In between, I pursue my other passions so that each passion is a form of active rest for the other. Downtime for me is always rejuvenating. An example of this is if I’m watching Netflix, I ensure I’m still learning and being inspired by paying particular attention to the use of words (scriptwriting) and the placement of songs (music supervision and synchronization). The experience is far more enjoyable for me that way, and the guilt is far less LOL.
8. You are also the CEO and Founder of the Mark Made Group Ltd? Can you tell us more about this venture? Also what inspired you to set up this particular initiative?
Mark Made Group Ltd. has a singular mission: to enable adept humans, and choice projects, to make their mark on the world. It is a holistic process that is transferrable to most fields. I used my trilogy as proof of concept. I believe that exceptional excellence is always the MVP of a process (the minimal viable product AND the most valuable player). While everyone’s standards for defining excellence may vary, I think some are willing to give their absolute best for their ideas, and that is what makes them exceptional. I want to help exceptional people do excellent things with their lives.
9. From digging a bit into your social media, we observed that you are also experimenting with visual art. Can you tell us more about that journey and about Looping Layers?
Gosh, Looping Layers is another one of those “active rest” passions. As someone whose dreams belonged in fantastical lands, it was painful to be unable to draw or paint them. I was pretty ‘meh’ when it came to art, but I loved the thought of being able to express my mind visually. I only gained the confidence to try digital art at the end of August last year, mostly because I believe that everything we love, we love for a reason and we owe it to ourselves to understand why. This may be a weird way to put it, but I think each of our senses has at least one alternative expression, so our ears have eyes, and our eyes have a voice. Looping Layers is the representation of my eyes’ unique vocal frequency. Art speaks.
10. You are also a fitness enthusiast and proud mother. How do you balance it all? Your schedule must be insane!
Firstly, I am soooooo proud to say that I have THE MOST incredible parents (Alyx’ grandparents) who have contributed in immeasurable ways to my son’s development. They are my village (thank you, my beautiful human gifts from God).
Regarding fitness, I’ve been an enthusiast since I was a teenager. Still, it was a very targeted pursuit: I wanted the health and stress management that fitness gave so that I could savagely pursue my dreams without dropping dead one day.
I loved feeling strong and having a large endurance capacity, but after I hurt my knees a couple of times, the joy I derived began to decrease as the pain of the exercises I pursued increased. I had an on-again-off-again relationship with fitness after that until I found back my joy through connecting deeply with my body from a place of love versus treating it like a workhorse. Now, I am gently sculpting who I am with my body, versus trying to sculpt my body so I can be who I am.
Photo credit: Jerome Mc Clean
11. What makes you Addicted To Progress?
I see no point in living if you aren’t growing. In fact, as plants have long tried to explain to us humans, if you aren’t growing, you’re probably dead.
12. What’s on your workout playlist now and what are some of your plans for 2020?
The song I’ve had on REPEAT while answering these questions is “Tidal Wave” by Andrew Bayer featuring Alison May. I LOVEEEE THIS SONGGGGGGG! My workouts tend to begin with me saying “Alexa, play Chill Electronic Music” and it is thanks to Alexa that I found Tidal Wave.
My plans for 2020 are to “find a new way to make a move in spite of the tidal wave” – yes, that’s what the song says. See why I love it? :)
Note: All interviewee responses have been stated verbatim to maintain honesty and accuracy in translation"
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