~ Interview by Melina Kantor
Welcome, Ms. Jenkins!
Q: How do you handle moving back and forth between so many different genres? In your inspirational novels, how do you create sexual tension between characters who have limited physical contact?
A: Moving back and forth between genres is fun. I just have to keep in mind the different voice, dialog rhythms and vocabulary. Moving between the two re-energizes the muse, and keeps me from burning out in one genre. Generating sexual tension in inspirationals can be accomplished via setting, body language and dialogue.
Q: Please tell us a bit about your travels with Diva Daze. How do your trips influence and inspire your writing?
A: Diva Daze is a group of about 35 ladies and we travel to historical places mostly in the southern U.S. We range in age from about 40 to 75 and came together initially on line through our love of African American romance. We’ve been traveling together annually about nine years now. Our trips help me see and tour the places that have impacted my historical characters. In my novel Through the Storm the hero and heroine are married in New Orleans’ historic St. Louis Cathedral, one of the places our group has visited.
Q: Besides traveling, what other forms of research go into your writing? What is it like creating fictional characters who live through actual, often painful and traumatic, historical events?
A: I do my research via books and scholarly papers written and or edited by such great historians as Dr. Benjamin Quarles, Dr. John Hope Franklin and Nell Irvin Painter to name just a few. The history can be painful at times but it is history and thus can’t be altered. So I present the history in a way that is informative and enlightening while keeping in mind the journey of the hero and heroine towards their HEA.
Q: You’ve got a great community of readers, especially on Facebook. What are your tips for connecting with readers?
A: Facebook can be an awesome tool for writers. I’m on every day and do my best to be engaging and real. I don’t spend time pushing my books but prefer reaching out to touch my readers and letting them touch me in turn. I post whatever interests me in areas of history, entertainment, science, archaeology – you name it I post it. My readers and I also come together twice a month to discuss my books in the Beverly Jenkins book club. We have a ball!
Q: In your opinion, what is the appeal of contemporary romance?
A: I like both historical and contemporary but I think the appeal of contemporary lies in its ability to engage readers in the here and now. They can relate to women dealing with issues that they may be also dealing with. I also like the contemporaries because I can have car chases and blow stuff up!
Q: What advice do you have for writers just starting out or not yet published?
A: My advice: Only you can tell your story so write fearlessly and don’t ever give up.
Thank you so much for being here! 🙂
Ms. Jenkins is a USA TODAY bestselling author and the nation’s premier writer of African – American historical romance fiction. She specializes in 19th century African American life and has over thirty published novels to date.
She has received numerous awards, including: five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards and a Pioneer Award from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild, and in 1999 was named 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.
She has also been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and People Magazine. She has lectured and given talks at such prestigious universities as Oberlin University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton. She speaks widely on both romance and 19th century African-American history and was the 2014 featured speaker for the W.W. Law Lecture Series sponsored by the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.
Bring on the Blessings, her first, faith based, women’s fiction novel was published in 2009.
The fourth book in the Blessings series: A Wish and A Prayer was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award.