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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Behind the Pages #25: Raven St. Pierre writes from the heart!


It's always a pleasure to have other authors on the blog sharing about their journey and passion for writing. Up next in the Behind the Pages series is the amazingly talented author, Raven St. Pierre. Check out the interview below and enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of her latest book, Marco.

Where are you from and at what moment in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’m a Michigan native; born and raised. I’ve thought about moving south several times, but my husband and I have too much family here. It’d be hard to leave, especially because our kids would miss out on growing up surrounded by extended family like we both did.

As far as when I first realized I wanted to be a writer… me and writing go back so far I can’t even tell you a time when I wasn’t jotting down short stories and poetry. If I had to guess, I’d say I was around six or seven. I honestly always, in the back of my mind, wanted to be an author, wanted to tell my stories to whoever wanted to listen, but even as a kid I didn’t think I could make a living that way. So, when adult me decided it was time to choose a career path, the tossup came down to teaching or human resources. I initially went with teaching, but decided two-years in that it wasn’t for me and switched majors, but not before earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. From there, I took up a dual major and earned my bachelor’s in Human Resources and Technical Management. However, I use neither, because in late 2013 I finally found my way through this whole “self-publishing thing” and released my first full-length novel.

Who are some of your biggest influences in literature?

I often site my love affair with the Twilight series (written by Stephanie Meyer) as my greatest influence, but, upon further reflection, that’s actually not true. My mother is a published author. Thinking on it, I can remember being amazed as a child, watching her pour her heart and soul onto those pages. She was so passionate and dedicated. And when I revisit her work, I’m amazed at how similar her writing voice is to mine. If we ever collaborated on a project, which she’s mentioned a time or two, readers would have a hard time telling which of us wrote which scenes.

Pick four of your favorite books of all time:

Twilight (Twilight, #1)BelovedDraculaKing Lear

The Twilight SeriesStephanie Meyer

The angst tore me apart and I loved every minute of it.

BelovedToni Morrison

I loved that this story left a few unanswered questions. Some aspects were left wide open for readers to interpret on their own. 

DraculaBram Stoker

Classic, creepy horror!

King LearWilliam Shakespeare (and the modern adaptation, A Thousand Acres, written by Jane Smiley)

This story was so drama-filled it was like reading a soap opera lol. I think classic stories are underrated when it comes to having that “Oh, no they didn’t!” factor. Readers may be surprised by some of the tomfoolery “the greats” weaved throughout their tales.

Why interracial and African-American romance?

Truth moment: When I first started writing, I set out to write romance. Period. I wasn’t even aware of all the sub-genres that existed. My only goal was to represent female leads who looked like me (an African-American woman). The race/ethnicity of the men was an afterthought. I didn’t aim to pair the women in my stories with any particular race, but however the guy presented himself in my thoughts, that’s how I wrote him.

The heroes I’ve written thus far are vastly diverse—Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Native-American. In my coming works, I hold to the trend of varying the races of my leading men—an African-American/Haitian mix, a Samoan/Puerto Rican mix, and I’m considering a story featuring a Middle Eastern hero, too. Basically, readers can expect to always be surprised by the guys they’ll find when they see a new release from me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it’s still so true: there are beautiful men of every race and I intend to write about them all lol.

How do you feel about the state of diversity in books? Do you think it’s improving?

I definitely can see signs of improvement, thanks to the efforts of so many authors, bloggers, and readers who have made it their mission to support the cause. It’s been a slow climb, but a consistent one. That’s what’s important. I’ve seen such great strides made so far and can only imagine what the coming years will hold.

Tells us about your debut series, Free Falling, and how challenging was it to write your first book, Gravity?


For years, I struggled to complete a full-length story. I found myself starting several, getting about thirty pages in, and then I’d lose steam. However, when I set out to write Gravity, it just flowed from me like water. That book is over 400 pages and I completed the first draft in about 6 or 8 weeks. So, depending on how you look at it, writing their story was either incredibly easy or incredibly hard, depending on how you look at it. It was incredibly hard if you consider all the years of starting and stopping. It was incredibly easy if you only consider the time it took me to craft this particular story. Either way, I’m so glad I didn’t let my passion for writing die because the task to complete a book was once so daunting.

Note to aspiring authors: That feeling of “It’s so hard to finish a book” goes away once you tread that path the first time. Next time, you’ll know how to get from “Once upon a time…” to “The End” much more smoothly, so keep going!

What were you hoping readers would take away from the story and its main characters, Sam and AJ?

The first installment of Sam and AJ’s story, Gravity, is the only one of my interracial stories where racism is touched upon with somewhat of a heavy hand. The others, when and if it comes up at all, it’s usually a brief mention of an insecurity, misconception, or misunderstanding that I clear up pretty quickly. For Sam (African-American) and AJ (Japanese-America), their challenges are much deeper. They’re hit from all sides—family, friends, exes—and my overall goal, the thing I wanted readers to take away from their story, is that these two were hell-bent on being together… no matter what it cost them. Like I said, Twilight influenced my earliest writing heavily, so for those who haven’t read this one yet, be prepared for some weighty “I can’t live without him/her” moments, because I live for those kinds of feels! :)

Another thing I think a lot of people miss is that this is not a YA novel/series. I hear so often in reviews how a reader bypassed Gravity for months because the first book starts from the very beginning, when these two are seniors in high school. They overlook the fact that the series (three full-length books, plus a novella) spans an entire decade of the couple’s life. My intention was to avoid having to convince people of the Sam and AJ’s intense connection through flashbacks, dialogue, or whatever other devices I would’ve had to employ, because the idea of “telling” readers about it seemed insufficient. I wanted them to “feel” it and the only way I could accomplish that was to take them on the journey from day one.

24326791Why did you decide to write the spin-off, Delivered, featuring Angel & Kai?

With Terrell being my number one, fave side-character in the series, Angel was my second. For anyone who hasn’t read any of the books, Angel is the cousin and close confidante of my heroine. I started getting that itch to give her a book of her own as I was working on book three. The dynamic between her and Sam made me love her and I want everyone I love to get their HEA lol. Angel was no exception. However, in order to keep with the theme of the series, I wanted her pairing to be AMBW as well. So, without giving too much away, AJ’s life/career circumstances gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce Kai (Japanese/Thai) to the series. From there, it was just a matter of deciding how to fling him and Angel into one another’s path and it was surprisingly easy to find the spark between these two! Their story was way more fun to write than I imagined it would be.

23215181
You co-wrote the Only Love series with author Victoria H. Smith. How is it writing with another author, as opposed to writing your own books?

Victoria and I established a friendship before the idea to co-author a book came to us, so I think that made a huge difference. Because of this, the brainstorming and writing process went much smoother in my opinion. We felt freer expressing our thoughts and expectations for this series and I believe that brought things together much faster than either of us thought possible.

What makes co-authoring different from writing alone is that you’re able to feed off the other writer’s creative energy. For example, at places in the story where I might’ve lost steam and needed to step back from the project, she was there with a fresh perspective and her energy pushed me over those humps. I’m pretty sure she felt that at times, too. Overall, the experience was a pleasant one and I look forward to working with her more in the future.

Who is Marco, and what can readers expect from the Men of Indecent Exposure series?

Marco Rios, despite what the world assumes about him because of his occupation, is a good man—he’s a protector, he’s honest, and he’s all about handling his responsibilities. OMG I loved writing this book!

Every book in this series will be a standalone, although there’s a common thread—the male leads are all as close as brothers and work together at the club, Indecent Exposure. Expect a lot of diversity throughout and expect to find equal amounts of heart and heat. I was happy to see that most readers were pleasantly surprised by how deeply emotional Marco’s story was. They went in assuming that, because he’s an exotic dancer, the book would be more sex than love, but anyone who reads my work knows I go out of my way to establish real feelings between my H and h. Yes, there are definitely sexy moments, but I think what held most readers was being able to watch Marco and Brynn’s connection deepen organically as the story unfolded. Who doesn’t enjoy watching two deserving people fall in love? I know I do :)

Do you have a release date for the second book?

There’s no definitive release date for the second book yet (Justin and Sidra’s story), but I’m aiming for spring of 2017. Because Marco’s story didn’t end on a cliffhanger, I’m not necessarily in a rush to get Justin’s book out there. Forcing a story is always a bad idea, so I’m adding chapters to it slowly as I work to complete other projects being released this year.

Thank you for taking the time, Raven. Any tips for aspiring writers in the interracial romance genre and others?

To all aspiring writers:

If this is what you love, then chase your dream! If you’re seeking to become an independently published author like I am, understand that your writing career will be equal parts passion and business and managing the two will be solely your responsibility. Embrace both aspects because the hard work will be worth it. Study your craft as well as the industry. Always be in search of new ways to let people know your work exists and the readership will come eventually. Patience is so important because nothing happens overnight. 

Lastly, focus less on your earnings, especially in the beginning. Instead, write from your heart because writing is what you love to do; publish because you want to share your stories with the world. Everything else will fall into place.

Thanks so much for having me, Shane!!

~~~
More About Raven St. Pierre
Raven is the author of several interracial and African-American romances, including her debut series, "Free Falling" books 1 - 3, "Red Sun", and "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". Since early on, she has found writing to be her creative outlet of choice, although she did not complete her first full-length novel until 2009. She has a Bachelor's degree in Human Resources, but currently works from home, mostly writing, but also building her own Virtual Assistant business.




28210365Marco (Men of Indecent Exposure book one)

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Who is Marco Rios? 

Most would say guys like him are only good at one thing… breaking hearts. 
By day he’s a tattoo artist who took the plunge and started his own business, but by night… 

He’ll be whoever you want him to be—a wet dream in the flesh. 

Brynn Palmer was content, enjoying her low-key life, one that rarely sprouted surprises. That is, until she crossed paths with the force better known as Marco. 

It was only one night, but that one night changed everything. 

*To the guys, Indecent Exposure is more than just their place of business; it’s a place where they make women’s fantasies come true… and have a ton of fun doing it. “Marco” is the first standalone in “The Men of Indecent Exposure” series, so kick back and enjoy, but don’t get too comfortable. You never know when you’ll need to have your singles ready!*


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8 comments:

  1. I want more diverse books, and am determined to write them as well. Great interview!

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  2. Enjoyed the interview. Just downloaded Marco.
    Carol Smith
    penelope223(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoyed the interview. I think all readers should try reading Interracial romance, they just might be surprised on how many talented authors out there.

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  4. Great interview, so in depth. I'm not a big Twilight fan myself but Beloved, Dracula, and King Lear - we could be related. As for diversity, the more the better. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Marco.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. Love Dracula and Beloved too :)

      Delete

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