Jasemine Knowles is not a woman to be taken lightly. As a bestselling author (who is known under her pen names Nailah & Sage), she is also an award winning journalist and the voice behind the powerful blogs discussing self-love, relationships, and mental health awareness. I had a chance to catch up with Jasemine as she talks about her life mantra, what she would tell her younger self, and how writing got her through depression.
What motivated you to start writing books?
JK: “What motivated me to start writing books was after being diagnosed with PTSD/anxiety in college. During that time, I was studying English and had dreams of becoming an English teacher or book publisher (I’ve always been an avid reader), however, I had been under a lot of stress and depression from events that were happening around me. I was contemplating suicide and it had seemed like I couldn’t get a grip on my life. A professor of mine, who noticed my change, told me to seek counseling. Eventually, after a few weeks, I did. Seeking counseling changed my life. At first, my counselor wanted me to take medication. I’m not the type to take medication like that and I had heard rumors about people getting addicted to their meds. So, I asked for other options. One of them was to journal…and BAM! My healing journal entries soon morphed into stories… That’s how I began to write.”
Tell us about the #BetweenLoveSeries. What inspired you to write the series and what did it teach you about your writing?
JK: “The #BetweenLoveSeries is a tragic romance tale of a woman named Indigo who encounters many hardships in life, more specifically love and being loved. She has strained relationships with her mother, her first love, and the biggest love and most important relationship of all, herself. It’s a tale of a caged bird learning to break free (finding herself and her happy) and also learning how to forgive. What inspired me to write the series was the fact that I had struggled with those two things within myself. Self-love and forgiving. A lot of my depression and anxiety (So I’ve learned through counseling) stems from those two things. Indigo is a direct reflection of myself emotionally. She’s taught me that it’s important to trust my healing process, to also ACCEPT IT, and move at my own pace. You can never rush your healing/growing process.”
You get DEEP in your blogs and I LOVE your transparency! What advice do you have for people who hasn’t found their “voice” yet?
JK: “To new writers who have not yet found their voice, I’d tell you to be you and keep writing. Always look ahead and not what’s around you, meaning, never compare yourself to other writers and their styles. It’s okay to admire, but don’t get too caught up in your pace, your flow, or how the story is panning out. Just get the story finished. Which is the most important part…starting and finishing! Then go back and perfect it. When you stay focused on yourself and your own writing, everything else will work itself out. Keep strong.”
As a black woman and also a strong advocate for mental health, do you think our people are becoming more aware of how important self-care is?
JK: “I believe black people, more specifically the younger/millennial generation are not only becoming more aware, but are actually doing something about it and seeking help. Whether it’s on social media, online, or inside of counselor’s office. Or even just allowing themselves a day off, letting go of negative energy and people, journaling, yoga, and even transitioning to veganism…we have found multiple outlets and ways to unplug, reflect, and take care of self. I think it’s important to note that prayer is not enough (something our elders have pushed onto us for years). You cannot pray away a mental disorder or downplay it by saying “Oh, I’ll just go to church and give it to God.” Not that spiritual support doesn’t hold any weight, but a more holistic approach sometimes needs to be taken.”
What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?
JK: “FUCK WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE HAS TO SAY. Don’t share your dreams with people! Excuse my French, but I had to be completely blunt. Too many times we get caught up in what others would think or say about something we’re doing or passionate about. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve allowed someone else project their own securities, fears, and prejudices onto me and it discouraged me. Sometimes, when I look back on my life, I realize there are some things I wanted to do but didn’t do because someone else told me their “horror” story or told me all the reasons “why” I shouldn’t do it because it didn’t work out for them. What may have gone wrong for others may not go wrong for you. I would most definitely tell my younger self to do whatever feels right for you, don’t wait, and dodge people’s projections.”
What are some books/podcasts/movies that changed your life?
JK: “I’m a bookie and have a list of books that have changed my life. However, I’ll narrow it down to three! The first is: The Thing You Think You Cannot Do by Gordon Livingston. Reading this book has helped me challenge my fears and redirect my mindset from thinking negatively to positively. The second is: The Game of Life for Women by Florence Scovel Shinn. This book was gifted to me by my news publisher when I was a journalist. This book has helped me learn how to meditate and to speak beautiful things over myself and my life. Lastly, The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner (audiobook version). This was also another gift from my news publisher (apparently, she could see right through me and knew I was going through it lol) but this book helped me address my anger and why I allowed things to get under my skin for so many years. It helped me calm my spirit in more way than one and learn to forgive.”
What can we expect to see from Sage in the future?
JK: “I write under two pen names: Nailah for my sex, dating, and relationship books; and Sage for my healing, self-love, and romance tales. Sage is working on the sequel to the #BetweenLoveSeries, where she’ll be closing out Indigo’s story (with a BANG! Of course). I’m also working on a major standalone that’s untitled, but I like to call it my “waiting-to-exhale” book! Readers in the past have called my stories “educational drama” and that’s definitely what you’ll receive in both projects. I’m looking forward to releasing one in September and the other in October! Stay up to date by subscribing to my blog: jasemineknowles.com
What steps do you take when you find it hard to be creative through your brand?
JK: “When I find it hard to be creative in my brand I typically set it aside for a couple of days and come back to it later. However, during this downtime, I’m opening myself up to other outlets to get my creative juices flowing again. For me, that is designing, drawing, and painting. I’ve even taken up a couple of art classes at my local community college and Michaels Store.”
What is your writing process? Have you ever been stuck finishing a book?
JK: “My writing process consists of planning, planning, and more planning. I used to be able to free write (and sometimes I still do), however, there’s so much on my mind these days, I have to plan my storyline and every intricate detail. Besides, I’m a Virgo and I need a tiny bit of order. I struggle with writing and finishing a book all the time. I believe wholeheartedly that if writing comes easy for you, you’re doing it wrong. When you’re writing, you’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reaction and not the little minor things that only touch you lightly. Because I don’t just slap my thoughts and ideas on paper and expect that to be good enough, I’ve always encountered hardships in finishing a book or pushing out books back-to back. Writing is truly a craft.”
What is your life mantra?
JK: “My life mantra: If not now, when? This is so important for me because if you don’t do it now, when will you do it? So many people say “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.” No, you won’t. Trust me, you won’t. Soon as the idea crosses your mind, do it right then! Don’t talk about it, be about it!”
What is success to you? What is happiness?
JK: “Success to me is loving yourself, loving what you do, and loving how you do it. It’s also a peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you are doing your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. To me, Happiness is a state of mind. It’s not physical, but it’s an experience created by positive and good emotions. Positive and good thoughts. It’s heaven and a place you can only visit within yourself. ”
Jasemine Knowles, better known as Sage Monreaux is a twenty-something-year-old Houston city girl who enjoys cooking, blogging, traveling, talking sex and self-love, and of course, writing. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and journalism from Texas Southern University (HBCU). Not only was she a star student, where multiple journalism professors highlighted her story-telling skills, it was after she earned two journalism awards and being on her “Being-Mary-Jane” as a journalist for a black-owned newspaper/media company based in Houston, that she decided to pen her first novel: Between Love and a Hard Place (BLHP). Having been diagnosed with PTSD/anxiety in her undergraduate years, in between the pages of BLHP, it is there Sage pours out her most intricate pieces of her soul through her main character.
Passionate about both mental health and self-love, Sage has attracted a community of caged birds (women) who are seeking to break free and learn how to fly again. Sage writes spellbinding tales of the heart that’ll not only bring sheer pleasure and bliss but will declare healing in your life.
Connect with Jasemine!
Facebook: Jasemine Knowles
Instagram: @nailah_writes AND @sagemonreaux