Becoming a writer was never something I was particularly interested in or even considered doing. Honestly, I was content being an avid romance reader. It was the challenge from my late husband, Colin in the spring of 2003 that made me seriously consider penning my first romance novel and it was quite funny how it happened.
One night, I was in bed reading a romance, but simply couldn’t get into the story. It was well past midnight and Colin had whined and moaned enough. He finally turned to me and said, “Baby, if you can write a better book, do it. Now turn out the lights, please.” At first, I thought this man was crazy. Well, truth be told, I thought he was funky, crazy insane. Although I was a fairly decent technical writer in my profession as a public health educator, fiction writing was a different monster all together. Eventually, I honored Colin’s request, but not before a zany cast of characters settled in my head, and wrapped themselves around my heart. They’d later become known in the literary world as the Baptiste Family.
Three months later, the timing was right and something amazing happened. My enthusiasm for teaching health, social responsibility and social justice over the years sparked a multitude of storylines. What if. . . Since I didn’t have anything to lose, I took Colin up on his challenge and rolled the dice.
While researching the romance industry, terms like ‘unique voice’, ‘interesting story premise’, and ‘strong characterization’ kept popping up. Did I know what any of this meant? Uuh…I didn’t have a clue! Interesting story premise, huh? Hmmm…let’s see. What if I took a real-life issue and put a romantic spin to it? After all, I’d spent the last twenty years in community public health, a profession where I was on the frontline and worked in the drenches with underserved communities. Every day I interacted with individuals struggling with chronic diseases, waging a war to find treatment within a fractured healthcare system, or both. Despite their failures and the socio-economic deterrents they lived in, many fought and overcame issues most couldn’t wrap two thoughts around. Why? Someone came along and dared to love them during the most hideous time in their lives. And since a romance novel centers on the love between two people and provides an optimistic ending, the only thing I needed to do was connect the dots, right?
Four years later, the gamble paid off and earned me the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Emma Award for Debut Author of the Year.