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NEWS | March 31, 2015

Author Brenda Jackson Speaks at SERMC's Women's History Month Observance

By Dan Smithyman SERMC

MAYPORT Fla. (NNS) -- Best-selling romance novelist Brenda Jackson paid a visit to the Southeast Regional Maintenance Center March 30 as an example of the contributions of women in history.

Jackson's publishing company lists her as the first African-American to have published 100 books; not just first black woman, but first black author.

"I started writing in 8th grade," Jackson said. "As an adult, I really enjoyed books by Nora Roberts, and my husband said, 'you can do the same thing.'"

Jackson's husband, Gerald, was her childhood sweetheart. They were married for 42 years before he passed away a year and a half ago. Jackson said it was Gerald who helped her get her start by paying for her to take a Nora Roberts workshop on romance novel writing. That workshop was the springboard that has led her to now putting her 106th book in print near the end of this year.

She drew a lot of advice from Nora Roberts about writing, and the business of writing to make a good living. Jackson says Roberts is both a friend and mentor nowadays. Jackson also wrote some books with her husband in mind because he wanted some fight scenes. Jackson has recently dabbled in bringing her books to life on film. She said BET (Black Entertainment Television) produced her first movie for TV, and her eldest son Gerald Jr., who studied film in collage, directed the second film; that one for release on DVD. Now actor and director Debbie Allen will turn a Brenda Jackson novel into a movie for the big screen.

It's Jackson herself and the strong, successful women she associates with that made for a lasting impression. Jackson brought copies of her books and the DVD, "Truly Everlasting." SERMC's program also included a poem and an interactive game where presenters would read a short biography and ask the audience, "who am I?" Members then responded with the name of the woman.