At the height of her drinking, self-proclaimed Hope Dealer Jen SluMac turned to a women’s bookstore and asked if there were any books about alcoholism. “On what?” was the initial response she got before they found Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. SluMac read the memoir three times. “It gave me a little more space in my shame, to breathe,” she shares with So Booking Cool. “I was like ‘Okay, I’m not alone. Somebody else wrote this down. So I wanted to build that book for others; and when I get those kinds of comments from readers, I feel like God and I have done that.”
soulnotskin: becoming the me I was meant to be, released just last year, is just as much a novel as it is an autobiography. The book follows a teenager, Jenny, whose experiences include being the child of a minister, going through her parent’s divorce, falling for a girl while dating a jock, turning to alcohol and promiscuity to cope, and rape. The book also explores the questions that come with those intense topics. SluMac writes: it is about a young girl who loved God more than anything else, and abused alcohol to survive in a world that told her she wasn’t allowed to as a queer person.
“When I think about my book, I pray that it reaches who it needs to reach,” the Just Say It podcaster says. “I don’t think it’ll ever be a bestseller. Maybe it will and surprise me. But I think that my purpose with it is to go out there and find the folks that need to see some light in whatever closet they might be in. You know, and we all have closets. Closet is shame. Closet is ‘If somebody knew this about me I don’t think that they would love me’ or the closet is ‘People don’t love me because of this, and, so, I have to pretend that I’m okay with that.’ The closet is that place where we are hiding our heart so that we can survive.”
She continues, “It’s proven to be a lot more universal as a story than I had expected. People who are not gay, who are not alcoholic, who do not have family that was divorced, are really finding themselves in it and saying that it’s generated some incredible conversation in their book groups and with their friends.”
SluMac is a former stand-up comedian (her credits include NBC, MTV-LOGO, and Comedy Central). She always wanted to tell stories, especially because they have the ability to heal. The meaning behind “hope dealer” is simple: she wants to deal hope. For seven years, she worked in a county jail as a teacher, as well as a counselor. She is also a mother and wife. Currently, she is studying Instructional Design.
Watch the interview to learn more about soulnotskin and how SluMac’s family responded to the book; how she overcame the battle of telling her story while offending others in the process; why she says institutions like schools, churches, jails, and prisons do not offer rehabilitation for people; her thoughts on mass incarceration; the time she worked with The Prison Within’s Troy Williams on a restorative justice symposium; her days as a stand-up comedian; her advice for people struggling and enduring hate; and more! For more information, visit SluMac’s official website. Check out her trailer below!