I met Gwyneth at a Romance Slam Jam. I think I talked her ear off while we road the bus. We talked about books and movies and she shared her experience about writing a non-fiction book. I was excited to hear she was jumping into the fiction world. Please take a moment to meet a new romance writer.
SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
Gwyneth Bolton: By day I’m a mild-mannered college professor . . . By night I’m a sultry-seductive weaver of romantic tales . . . Okay, seriously, I teach at the university level and live in upstate New York with my husband. I have been an avid reader of romance novels since I was around twelve-years-old. I published a non-fiction book on women and hip-hop culture titled Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture and the Public Sphere. I have also published several non-fiction essays and articles. But fiction writing has always been near and dear to my heart. I have an MA in creative writing and composition studies and a Doctorate in English (Rhetoric and Composition). In 1996, I received the College Language Association’s Margaret Walker Creative Writing Award for a one-act play I wrote when I was an undergraduate. I’m at my happiest when I’m either writing or reading.
SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?
BOLTON: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is my first romance novel. It is the first in a trilogy of novels that I am calling my “Hip-Hop Debutantes Trilogy.” The idea behind the trilogy is to take those classic romance plots and give them a fresh and funky remix. So, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is the story of Alicia Taylor, Darren Whitman and an arranged marriage. The hero and heroine have had a love/hate relationship ever since they were children. When Darren finds out that their father’s plan on telling Alicia about the marriage arrangement, he makes a deal with them to woo her so that she will fall in love with him. Alicia doesn’t trust Darren as far as she can see him and sets out to prove that he isn’t sincere in his sudden interests.
SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
BOLTON: The main thing I want them to take away is the feeling that they have just read a fulfilling romance story. I hope that I’m Gonna Make You Love Me touches readers and that by the time they are done with it they will fall in love with not only Alicia and Darren, but also my writing. I want this book to introduce readers to my writing style and hopefully give them a taste that they’ll want more of.
SORMAG: Tell us about your publishing experience?
BOLTON: As I mentioned, I have published a non-fiction book. I have also published several articles and essays in academic journals and anthologies. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is my first romance novel and it is also the first full novel I completed. I’ve written lots of short stories and poems and I have also published some of my poetry. My second romance novel, If Only You Knew, will be out in July 2006 (Kimani Press, Harlequin.) And for those of you who read I’m Gonna Make You Love Me and want to know a little more about that super producer/ record label mogul, Flex Towns, Sweet Sensation, the second in the “Hip-Hop Debutantes Trilogy,” is finished and slated for release in March of 2007 with Genesis Press. It’s a hip-hop remix of the secret child plot.
SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?
BOLTON: Shades of Romance of course! The on-line writing community that you offer has really made me feel connected to other writers in a phenomenal way. It’s a wonderful resource for writers to connect and share. I also use the net to catch up on Black fiction in general, to stay current on what is hot and new in the publishing world. So sites like SOMAG, RAWSISTAZ, and Romance In Color are very useful for their reviews. They keep me in the know and help me feed my reading habit in a big way.
SORMAG: What’s it like to go from non fiction to fiction?
BOLTON: Since I’m still writing both, I haven’t made a switch from one to the other. I will say that in some ways my nonfiction projects, because they usually entail more research seem to take a little longer. For example I’m currently working on a nonfiction book on Black women’s book clubs and reading groups. I did a lot of surveys and went to several literacy events to research this project. I also conduct research for my fiction writing. For example, I had to do some research for I’m Gonna Make You Love Me since the characters are a part of the Black elite. Even though I like to think of myself as a princess without a country, alas I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. So, I had to read a lot to learn about this group of people. It was fun and I learned so much in the process. However, the research wasn’t as intense as the research I do for my nonfiction. And the fiction just flows from me in ways that the nonfiction doesn’t. When I’m into the characters and into a story the writing sort of pours out of me onto the screen. I think I use the same tools—research, outlining, etc. But I use them differently depending on if it is fiction or nonfiction.
SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
BOLTON: I love the initial stages, the part where you get the ideas and things start to come together. I love the writing, especially when it flows. I also love working with editors and making the work stronger. The part that I hate the most would probably be the waiting. I hate that waiting period between sending a manuscript and waiting for a response. My stomach usually hurts until I hear something back. The thing that irks me the most about this “waiting for a response” is that it never ends! Even when you sell the manuscript, you still have to wait to see if the editor likes your revisions. When it’s published, you have to wait and see what the reviewers’ responses will be, what the readers’ responses will be. You feel all torn because you really want to know what people think about your “baby.” But you’re also nervous. What if they don’t like it? So, I have a feeling, I’ll be popping lots of antacids because doing what I love also means I’ll have that nervous stomach while I wait to see what you all will think!
SORMAG: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
BOLTON: I wish I had known a little more about the business end of publishing. I wish I’d known things like where to tap into a network of writers and find out about various publishers and practices. The wonderful thing is that each experience helps you to grow and learn. I’m still learning a lot.
SORMAG: What should a new writer know about the publishing business?
BOLTON: That it is just that, a business. I think a lot of writers, myself included, like to think about the creative space that our stories come from and don’t like to concern ourselves with the nuts and bolts. A lot of us are just happy to see our names in print and hold something that we wrote in our hands. But if we want to build a career and have longevity, we need to be more aware of the business aspects of the publishing market as well. A little business savvy has never hurt anyone! I think we can look at any of our favorite writers especially the ones who have been prolific and see that talent and business sense go hand in hand for a successful career. I know it is something I plan to work on myself!
SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
BOLTON: Readers can contact me via mail by writing to me at PO Box 9388 Carousel Center, Syracuse, New York, 13290-9381. They can also email me at email@example.com or visit my website http://gwynethbolton.com/
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