When I participated in the Soul Expressions tour last month I had a chance to catch up with some of the romance authors who started this journey about the time that I did. In celebration of the ground-breaking work they did for the African-American romance genre, I asked a few of them to participate in what I’m calling, Romance Pioneer Week. I asked each of them three questions and I’ll be sharing their responses over the next week or so. It looks like about five will participate. Note these are traditional romance authors, not Christian romance authors.
First up, Donna Hill.
Donna Hill began her career in 1987 and she has more than fifty published titles to her credit. Three of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been featured in Essence, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Today’s Black Woman, and Black Enterprise among many others.
How long have you been published and what’s your key to longevity in the publishing business?
I’ve been published in novel form since 1990. My first short story was published in 1987. Wow, a pretty long time! LOL My first novel was Rooms of the Heart which has been re-issued several times. Hmmm, key to longevity? I would have to say being consistent. Delivering story ideas and concepts to editors that liked what I had to offer. Not pinning myself down to one house, and writing to an audience that enjoys what I do.
A lot of your books are series or are connected in some way. Tell us a little about the series you’ve written and why you write them.
Well, I’ve only recently gotten into writing series intentionally. Earlier in my romance career I had two books that connected: Scandalous and A Scandalous Affair. Writing the follow-up was done mostly because of reader demand and the fact that I really liked the characters and felt that they would be perfect to bring back for A Scandalous Affair.
The next time I stumbled into writing follow up books (and I call them follow-ups because they only reintroduce the same characters not a central theme and they were written years apart) Those books are A Private Affair, Pieces of Dreams and Through the Fire. Again, it was reader demand wanting to know what happened to Quentin Parker aka Q. LOL.
Angela: I was one of those readers. I think I stopped talking to Donnna for a couple of years because of something that happened with Q. 🙂 I finally got over it, but it served as a powerful reminder of the close ties readers form with series characters.
The first time I intended on a series was my Pause for Men series which was four books. They all came out last year and did so well I was asked to another series. This one is The Ladies Cartel. The storyline is about three very ordinary woman who have been recruited into a secret agency where they are undercover operatives. And no one, especially their love interests must know what they do. Their friends and family think that the kits that they have is to sell bath and body products! So far I’ve finished writing 3 of the 5 books for the series. Sex & Lies came out in Feb. Seduction and Lies will be out in November and Temptation and Lies will be out in February.
Generally when I sit down to write a book and I put “the end” that’s it for me. I was never a series writer but readers love series. They love getting involved with the characters and following them and their kids and their grandkids! LOL. And our goal is to please our readers.
What do you envision for yourself and the romance industry over the next five to ten years?
My biggest hope is that one day when I pick up RT Mag and others that review our work, our headline won’t have to read “African American” and that everyone will enjoy our work based on the content of the story not the color of the characters.