We had the good fortune of connecting with Billy Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Billy, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success, including the success of my brand, is remaining constantly creative and staying connected to my creative voice while at the same time learning and growing along the way. Each year, I try to be a better and more creative me. I love taking creative risks; you learn throughout the journey. Currently, I’m reading three books and writing my next short story collection. Also, as a professor, I learn from my students, too, especially my Creative Writing scholars. They motivate me through their creations. Somehow, everything relates back to my brand. Because I’m in tune with everything I’m exposed to, it motivates me to be even more creative and to provide readers and podcast listeners what they’re yearning for… and so much more.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m told that what sets me apart from others is my geographic focus. My short stories are all based in South Florida. I’m a Miami native and love my city. Years ago (after college) many of my closest friends chose to move away, but I chose to remain. South Florida is well known for its tourist attractions, but like everywhere else, it has everyday people who have stories or circumstances that have yet to be told. Since grade school, I always wanted to be a print or broadcast journalist. In college, I was a disc jockey and General Manager of my college radio station. By the end of my sophomore year, I decided to change my major to English. I wanted to teach and eventually write books. I attended Florida International University for undergraduate and graduate school (bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in English Education. I earned my PhD in Leadership & Education from Barry University. For the first eight years of my career, I taught high school in English/Language Arts. Over twenty years ago, I started teaching in higher education (College Composition). Eventually, I crossed over to higher education, full-time, 18 years ago. In short, I chose the education and creative fields; I wake up each day passionate and ready to do good things with what I possess. I love my profession and craft. The journey was amazing, but it did pose it challenges. In 24 years, I’ve grown immensely. I’ve lost a few loved ones and students. In each person’s passing, I’ve learned that it’s not about how much money you make or the prominent status you hold in society. It’s about what you do with your talents and resources that matters. The Arts is my refuge. As a child, I turned to reading, writing, and music in times when I was frustrated or doubtful of myself. I’ve experienced depression and loneliness in my youth. However, the Arts saved me. It was more than just a creative outlet. It was (and still is) a part of my being, my life. I’m grateful to be surrounded by good people who want to do good things in the world as well as great creatives who inspire me to keep creating. I want the world know this: I am a simple, African American man who loves people. Not everyone gets to make it on the covers of magazines or the news, at least not for good reasons. I want to hear your story and to reproduce it for other, incredible, everyday folks to enjoy. The Everyday Folks brand is a personal treasure; I’m happy to share it with the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love small, quaint mom-and-pop restaurants. I don’t mind a large crowd at times, but I much prefer the intimacy of a good dining space with good company and over good, affordable cuisine. Prior to the pandemic, I would escape regularly to a wonderful restaurant, Broccolini Cafe, in Cooper City, Florida. It’s an Italian bistro-inspired restaurant with food to die for. Reservations are required, but the attire is casual and atmosphere family-friendly. Every person I’ve taken to this restaurant has fallen in love with it. Seriously, I’ve never received a negative comment from any of my fellow patrons I’ve taken to Broccolini Cafe. There’s so much more to South Florida. Yes, South Beach, Star Island, and Las Olas are fun, amazing places to visit and enjoy. But there are some exciting, not-so-hidden treasurers to explore, too. I recommend Roberts Is Here, a fruit stand and petting zoo in Homestead, Florida. Enjoy artistic events or other ghost tours at the Deering Estate. Take a tour at Coral Castle. I like these places because each serves as a historic imprint of South Florida. Most importantly, South Florida is an international gateway to so many places. So finding a restaurant with international cuisine is easy to find. I pose this challenge: Try a new restaurant each month for a year. I guarantee you want repeat the same restaurant because there are so many good choices to consider.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I recognize the following individuals and groups. I stand on their shoulders for success: My family and friends, South Florida Writers Association, Zorina Exie Frey (Author), Broward College, the Everyday Folks Radio Podcast family, the thousands of students I’ve taught, and all my fans who have welcomed me into their hearts and minds over the years.
Book release photos courtesy of Metaphor Heaven.