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.
Next up, Beverly Jenkins.
Beverly Jenkins has written sixteen books to date and has received numerous awards for her works, including: the Detroit Free Press Book of the Year, three Waldenbooks Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild, and in 1999, Ms Jenkins was voted one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. In May of 2002, Ms. Jenkins published her first historical novel for young adults, titled: Belle and the Beau. Her second YA, Josephine and the Soldier followed in 2003.
How long have you been published and what’s your key to longevity in the publishing business?
My first novel Nightsong was published in 1994. I attribute my longevity to giving readers my best effort with each book.
Angela: I attribute Beverly’s longevity to the details of African-American history that permeate her historicals. She’s known as a very sexy writer, but she’s also known for writing books that teach you something about history that’s not found in your typical history book. If that intrigues you but the sexy turns you off, then try her young adult titles: Josephine and the Soldier and Belle and the Beau. IMO, they’re the same as the adult historicals, but without the sexy. These books are being re-issued by Kimani TRU next year as Josephine and Belle, respectively.
My books are not series in the real sense. Some of my secondary characters have gone on to get their own books, but they can function as stand alone titles. Topaz brought forth Always and Forever, and A Chance at Love. Taming Jessi Rose brought forth Something Like Love which brought about Wild Sweet Love which is also related to Nightsong. It can get complicated. LOL Indigo is related to Through the Storm and Winds of the Storm with descendants who show up in one my romantis suspense title Deadly Sexy. My historical characters live on through their descendants in my 5 titles of romantic suspense. Like I said – complicated.
What do you envision for yourself and the romance industry over the next five to ten years?
For myself I hope to keep writing. For the industry, continued diversity in the stories that are marketed.