Tiffany D. Jackson Visits Liberty High School

Fiction and thriller author TIffany D. Jackson visited Liberty, sharing her story and advice with Liberty students.

Jackson talking to a Liberty student about her book White Smoke.

Abby Stapleton

Jackson talking to a Liberty student about her book White Smoke.

On March 29, young adult fiction author Tiffany D. Jackson spoke with Liberty students on her career. Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author popularized by her NAACP Image Award-nominated debut novel “Allegedly”. Now, having published many more books, Jackson often visits high schools to connect with students and share her story.

“You guys actually keep me really motivated. That’s one of the biggest reasons I go into schools. I don’t want to be that old lady that writes books and talks in 80s slang,” explained Jackson. 

In addition to using her visit to keep up with young people. Her time at Liberty also inspired many students.

“She talked about her first book and how near the beginning of her career no one believed in her. She worked on [her first book] for five years and now she’s a successful author. I was very inspired by that,” said Lucia Allgood, 11.

Jackson shared with students her path to becoming an author. It was not linear. After graduating Howard University, she worked in film and television for 15 years before working as an author. Throughout this time, she worked for many different companies including National Geographic, Rock Nation, JayZ’s label, BBC America, Epic CD and more. However, she was always focused on her writing career. 

“Throughout this entire tenure, I was always writing. I have always wanted to be a writer… I would wake up every day at 5:00 am to write. I would write on the subway to work, in between takes, during lunch hour, in the middle of concerts,” reflected Jackson. 

To illustrate this point, Jackson shared with students that there is even a picture of her standing behind Kanye West with headphones on, writing. 

Even as early as freshman year of high school, Jackson was writing books. She wrote her first book by hand in Earth Science class. 

“It was eight five-subject notebooks. I wrote an assassin’s story… I completely damaged the nerves of my hands by writing so much… The next day my dad bought me a computer,” said Jackson. 

Despite often writing dark stories, Jackson describes her childhood as very happy. Many of her earliest memories were related to writing. 

“I was in my room practicing my handwriting and realized that if I put letters together I could spell a word. The first I spelled on my own was the word ‘nose.’ So I ran to my mom and told her ‘Mom I spelled the word nose. I’m a genius. I’m gonna be an author.’”

Jackson’s early success as an author came from her first novel “Allegedly”. She describes this book as a true crime book.  

“I am essentially a true crime author. My books are loosely inspired by real cases or events,” said Jackson. 

That did not make the writing process any shorter. Jackson described how long it took to write her first novel.

“It took me one week to draft, three years to complete, five years to be published. And if you ever read “Allegedly” that is the 18th draft of that story,” explained Jackson. 

Since then, she has published books including, “Monday’s Not Coming”, “The Weight of Blood”, “White Smoke”, and many more. She even branched out of her normal genre in a few novels including her romance book Blackout. 

In each of her novels, Jackson tells the story of a black character. Often in her works, Jackson addresses real life issues, including those relating to race, while simultaneously telling amazing thriller stories. 

“I didn’t see a lot of books that were telling my story,” reflected Jackson.

 In addition to using her books as a form of representation, Jackson’s work as an author also fills a large hole in representation. 

“There are [so few] black authors writing young adult and thriller novels,” said Jackson. 

She hopes to provide aspiring authors and readers more representation. 

A few of her books have been banned in many parts of the US. She wears these bans as a badge of honor. Her career has actually gained more attention for it. However, it can be very frustrating as well. 

“I trust [young readers] that you will understand [my books] and if you don’t, you will ask… It’s frustrating to see adults trying to prevert that dream,” said Jackson. 

Even Liberty students that don’t have an interest in writing left Jackson’s visit inspired by her story. Her determination and focus on sharing the stories which are often ignored was very encouraging to many. 

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