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FunTimes Magazine

Solomon Jones

A Writer With A Purpose

Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award- winning journalist who has been featured nationally on NPR’s Morning Edition, CNN Headline News and Essence Magazine. Jones is currently an award-winning columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and morning host for Praise 107.9 radio in Philadelphia. In addition, he is a blogger and frequent on-air commentator for NPR-affiliate WHYY.

Jones began his professional writing career in 1993, penning articles for the Philadelphia Tribune while living at a Philadelphia homeless shelter. He graduated cum laude with a journalism B.A. from Temple University in 1997, and went on to be published in Essence, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and the Philadelphia Weekly. His first novel, Pipe Dream, was published in 2001 by Random House. Jones went on to publish eight books and is an award-winning radio broadcaster.

Defining moments: One moment was when I decided to get clean and go into a period of recovery from addiction. I think that God has blessed me in that aspect of my life and it changed things because it allowed me to see clearly where my path was taking me from that point. The second was the moment that I got married.

I think that transformed me into a better man because you aren’t just responsible for yourself but you’re responsible for your wife, your house and everything you’re trying to build together. The third is when I got saved when I was, I think 12 or 13 years old. That was a moment that would define what’s happening now in my life as I move forward and try to speak out for what’s going on in our community and speak up for people in
our community.

Another defining moment was when my first book was finally published. It opened doors for me and opened my eyes in ways that they haven’t been open before. That moment was special and [it] propelled me into places I never thought I would be.

Significant accomplishment or project: I’m thankful that there are a lot to choose from. I’ve written eight novels, two short story collections, have been published by major publishers, appeared on national television and international radio so I think there are a lot to choose from.

I think it was that first book; having it published by Random House after it was rejected 50 times was significant. I just happened to get the manuscript into the right persons hands and it was accepted. Random House sent me on a 7-city tour and gave the book first-class treatment. It really let me know what was possible for me as a writer and set me on a path and let me know that if you persevere, it doesn’t matter how many times they tell you ‘no’, all you need is that one yes and the doors will open.

Advice for young people: You should find someone who will mentor you; someone who really has your best interests at heart; somebody who wants to pass on what they know. Young people are our future, and our present and we should be grooming them and allowing them right now to do the things that they are gifted to do.

Learn as much as you can about the craft you are seeking to do. Be open to advice and critique and instruction and be willing to listen. Then be willing to do and be willing to fail. Failure is just another step on the way to success.

How to build relationships within the African Diaspora: We have to understand that we are all Africans, that we all came from the same place and although our histories might be a little different, we are all in the same boat. Whether you’re African, West Indian or African American, guess what, the cops aren’t asking you all that when they pull you over. 

The bank isn’t asking you all that when they deny your mortgage. The realtor isn’t asking you all that when they decide not to show you certain houses in certain neighborhoods. We as a people experience these same things because we’re Black, regardless of biographical origins. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we realize that we are all the same people, the better off we will be and the more willing we will be to work together.