We had the good fortune of connecting with Billy Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Billy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I think of taking risks, I also think of embracing change. I like taking risks. They allow me to push beyond the boundaries of my existing talents to explore new possibilities and opportunities. I learn more and have fun creating more. If one is willing to take a risk, then one should be willing to embrace the change that comes with it. For the past ten years, I thought about writing a collection of horror short stories; however, I reconsidered it because I didn’t think I would fit into the genre. Plus, as a professor at a public institution, I thought that creating such stories would impact me in a negative way professionally. Being a black, gay man who enjoys writing horror didn’t seem like a healthy combination. But then I began to examine the power of change and what it has done in my life. I had a lot to learn despite the fact I was already an avid horror fan since childhood. I would watch many scary movies and read many horror books by people who in many cases didn’t look like me or come from a similar background. If I was okay with that, then I had to learn to be okay with being me in a new, creative space. So I decided in 2019 to focus on writing horror short fiction for my latest work.
I took a risk and decided to attend my first-ever Stokercon in 2021. Stokercon is a horror writers’ convention, sponsored by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) of America. HWA has many chapters around the country and in other nations. Stokercon 2021 was fully virtual. I got the chance to attend every session courtesy of the playback access that attendees were provided after the official conference had ended. I learned from the great as they spoke on panels about a variety of topics: Afro-futurism, splatterpunk horror, objects of fear, and a myriad of other topics. I didn’t know anyone there although I know and am connected to many other authors outside of the horror genre. I met some extraordinary people. It didn’t matter what they looked like or where they came from. They came with ideas and their best interests… to inspire other creatives like me to make a literary contribution to the genre by writing our best works. I was so inspired that I registered to attend Stokercon 2022. The risks were worth taking. Today, I have a host of horror writer friends and fans who get me. That makes me feel good.
Prior to my Stokercon excursions, I took another risk. In July 2020, I took another risk. I decided to start a new series on my Everyday Folks Radio Podcast titled “Fright Talk.” On this series, I, and my co-host Nadim Tabsch discuss all things horrifying and suspenseful. Today, we have many Fright Talk episodes available and a committed audience of listeners. Every time I’m on the podcast mic, I feel alive. And everything is coming together. The beauty of risk-taking is that it teaches you stuff. The more I learn, the more risks I take. And people like to share things that they’d normally not share about horror, such as a personal encounter with the supernatural or a secret admiration for films like Poltergeist or Chucky, or Clive Barker’s book series. Stephen King lives in me. Yet, my favorite authors Toni Morrison and Octavio Butler have become a part of who I am when I write. Through horror, folks come out of the “fear closet” in droves. I’ve come out of the fear closet yet again to tell my horror stories… and that’s cool.
Thanks to risk-taking, I realize that I’m okay. If I continue to be me and to follow my purpose and passion, things will work out just fine.
I love to scare the world with what I’ve created. Taking risks allowed me to find me.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an author, professor, and podcaster, but I don’t think this makes me unique. What’s unique is how I can use all three roles interchangeably and daily. For over twenty years, I have written and published short story fiction and poetry. My most recognized works are Everyday Folks books volumes 1 and 2. I’ve been a professor for over 20 years; I’m a tenured professor at Broward College where I teach English Composition, Creative Writing, and African American Literature. Everyday Folks Radio Podcast started over five years ago. Today, we have over 200 episodes.

No matter what successes may come my way, I don’t achieve them alone. I arrived where I am today through faith, determination, and support. The journey was not easy but well worth it. I’ve learned that it truly does take a village to raise a child. I also learned that your mind and heart need to be interconnected for them to serve the body well and to make good things happen. Furthermore, the people you “hang with” make the difference. My support network has been tremendous and non-judgmental. It makes life more meaningful when you have the right people guiding you and uplifting you.

When people meet me, what they see is what they get. I am an open book and open to new ideas and perspectives. My “layers” are not so deep. That’s why I create what I create. My writing and podcasting reflect the incredible people and experiences I have encounter over the course of my life. People like to tell me stuff; equally important, I’m fascinated by people. In a way, their experiences become my muses for creating. I realize that the more layers I peel back in others’ lives, the more I learn. I enjoy reflecting these realities in my creative outlets.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you’re a friend or family visiting my city, I’ll take you to lunch of dinner at Area Code 55 Brazilian Steakhouse in North Miami Beach. The food is great and the price is good. Because South Florid has so many international restaurants, I’d try and take you somewhere quieter yet fun with great cuisine. Soul food is my weakness. From Magic Soul Food to Red Rooster Overtown, we’d enjoy. Also, I love Middle Eastern dishes. I highly recommend Kabobji in North Miami Beach.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to recognize the following organizations for supporting my professional and creative interests: Horror Writers Association, South Florida Writers Association, and Broward College. Special thanks to my partner, mom, grandmother, and a host of family and friends for their undying support.

Website: https://www.billypauljones.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drbillyjones/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/billy-p-jones-phd-280a4a151/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/billypjones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrBillyJones

Other: Linked Tree: https://linktr.ee/drbillyjones

Image Credits
Book release photos courtesy of Metaphor Heaven Photography.

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