An Interview w/Jordan Trent: Author of “If Tomorrow Comes and I Am Gone”

By Thadine Quick

It is very rare to come across a writer whose message of survival TRUMPS debate; however, Ms. Jordan Trent has done just that by way of her new book “If Tomorrow Comes and I Am Gone.” Unscripted and unrehearsed, this book follows the main character, “McKenzie” through the different colors, layers and coping stages of her life as she struggles to deal with an illness that has suddenly faced the family. Every night, young McKenzie travels many places in her dreams, but she always wonders, if tomorrow comes and she is gone, what her mother will miss most. This keepsake-book not only reveals coping strategies but it also includes an interactive “McKenzie” activity section for readers to create their own special memories. Inspired to help mend broken hearts, this book is a refreshing burst of activities such as journaling experiences, service projects, and arts and craft activities all designed to allow individuals and families to create lasting memories of their loved ones, so when Tomorrow does come, their yesterday memories will bring them peace and solace. A writer with a driven and diverse perspective, Ms. Jordan Trent reveals her personal fears and triumphs while sharing her noteworthy literary journey with Courageous Woman Magazine.

CW: Ms. Trent, tell us a little about yourself; including your recently published children’s book “If Tomorrow Comes and I Am Gone”.

JT: Well, I am a native of Baltimore, Maryland, the middle child of three girls and I come from a long line of educators, so it felt only natural that I pursue a career in the field of education. My passion for our future leaders inspired me to develop The Ngambika Academy—a Kiswahili word meaning ‘help me carry the load’—to provide a ‘train the trainer’ model and curriculum for volunteers and mentors seeking to create ongoing leadership, service learning, and life skills training for young people. The Ngambika Academy is not an actual school, but is a replicable curriculum that allows others to design and develop their own academies within their schools and/or communities.

My literary journey began very early in life. My mom encouraged my sisters and I to write when we were children. We began writing poetry and short stories as kids and then would perform our work for our parents. However, I never thought I would publish any of my work until I wrote If Tomorrow Comes and I Am Gone.

CW: What, (in terms of your writing) have you been called to do? I mean, is Children’s book your passion/niche or is it more to Ms. Trent’s pen than meets the paper?

JT: Honestly, when I wrote Tomorrow it was initially intended to help me through my own process.
I originally had no intentions of publishing. I let a friend read the story and she said I should try and publish it. But I still wasn’t convinced until I had a friend lose her long‐time battle with cancer, who had children. It was her children’s response to losing her that made me pursue publishing. They seemed to feel disconnected from the universe or unanchored because she was gone. It was then that I realized that this story might actually have the power to help families and children.

Interestingly, my writing process begins first with crafting a title and then I work to build the
story while periodically referring back to the title. For this book, that particular title came to me
because it happened to be the question that continued to go through my mind from the moment I
discovered a lump in my breast. So in that moment the title certainly reflected on all of the very
worse case scenarios I could think of even before the first test was done. However, the title now
means, and serves as a constant reminder, that each of us has the power to seize today in order to
make the very best yesterdays we can with those we love. It is important to create these memories
so when tomorrow indeed comes and we are gone, our loved ones have reminders of their
yesterdays with us and a sense of connectedness that transcends the presence of a physical self.

CW: On the surface, your book appears to appeal to children but from the front-to-back-cover, it is so much more than that. It’s refreshing and unique because it raises-the-bar on our limited understanding on how to cope and best manage this disease. In fact, your book seems to purposely infuse journal activities, personal projects, and arts/crafts in it which ultimately creates an environment of healing beyond that of what an expensive therapist could do; not to mention it’s a keep-sake-gift that just keeps on giving… Was this your intent (to help us manage) and if so, what type of response have you been receiving as it relates to your infusion of the activities in the book?

JT: I wanted to create a story that was multi‐dimensional in nature; one that would be relatable among a variety of age groups and cultures. Loss, grief, disease…cancer transcends age, culture, and location. Tomorrow’s mission is to inspire, mend broken hearts, and provide encouragement to those who find themselves in these circumstances. The activities are an extension of the story. As an educator, it was very intentional to ensure readers were able to interact with the story. The response has been overwhelming. Libraries have cataloged Tomorrow, centers that work with children and the grief process have expressed interest in using the book as a tool for their clients, parents have told me that they are using Tomorrow with their children to help them create memories of loved ones who have transitioned.

CW: Additionally, your book is a very touching story about one family’s journey in the battle against cancer – how hard was it for you to stay in that place, capture, and pen such an inspiring literary journey?

JT: I think it was moving beyond that space that helped me to write the story. When I found the voice of McKenzie, she in fact helped me leap to the only answer that truly mattered, which was that we have the power to determine how we respond in spite of the outcome. So it helped me to move from a space of lamenting the unknown and leap to a space of celebrating and honoring every joy that I have been so blessed to know with my family and friends. I can only hope that McKenzie’s resilience inspires those who read Tomorrow to make the same transition penning her story allowed me to make.

CW: You mentioned you were inspired by the loss of friends and family to the disease, as well as was faced with your own cancer scare… Can you tell our CW reader’s a little more about that and share any lessons learned?

JT: My breast cancer scare really caused me to think about my legacy and how I will be remembered. Though I have no children of my own, my nephews are the absolute loves of my life. They were the faces I considered the most as I went through tests and awaited results. So as the
story came to me, I wondered what might they one day have to say about the life I shared with them.
So my pen name is actually a dedication to them for the life they give to me.

Finally, this journey has strengthened my faith, led me to seek out joy, and inspired me to share this
story. I have learned that this was not just my journey, but that of many unknown voices and faces, for
whom I think McKenzie and her family will provide a means to tell their stories as well.

CW: Last, what are you currently working on… What’s next for you?

JT: I am currently working on three additional children’s books, and like Tomorrow, each is designed
to help strengthen families and children.

Because of Tomorrow, and the activities it provides, I am helping my students find their literary and
creative voices. Our young people have very limited examples of what success looks like. While aspiring
to be a famous athlete, pop superstar, or television celebrity has its place, our young people can also
aspire to become published authors, poets, and composers.

Visit Jordan Trents website

Purchase the book here.

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