I write paranormal romance. I love the sexiness of a straight forward romance, but I also like a book to have a plot beyond the main couple meeting and eventually falling in love. Integrating paranormal aspects into my novels gives me a little more to work with. It forces me to be creative in a different way.
Honestly, I used to never read fiction, no less romance books of any genre. But a few years ago I heard Marvel was going to have Storm and Black Panther marry – an unprecedented move by the comic book company. As an African American woman and fan of X-Men’s Storm, I was intrigued enough to buy all the comics leading up to their marriage. Well, from there, I fell in love with comics with romantic relationships, especially those with African or African American characters. I’m such a nerdy fangirl that I even included a silly line or two about Storm and Black Panther in my upcoming book and made a secondary character a comic book fan.
When Marvel dissolved the marriage between Storm and Black Panther, I was so disappointed. Worse, there was no comparable comic I could turn to to get that particular enjoyment fix. That’s why fanfiction is so popular. I truly get why fans turn to writing fanfiction. For some, they want to have a certain level of power over their favorite characters, writing what they would like to see in the actual comic, book, movie, or television show.
Thus, I write what I see as a dearth in the romance genre - African/African American love with a paranormal twist. I spend a lot of time developing the mythology of my stories, as well as the execution of the paranormal element. If I write a book with witches and shape-shifters, I think it’s important to actually show what it means to be a witch and shape-shifter. That’s one thing a reader of my books can look forward to. The paranormal is not a sidebar in my novels. It’s center stage and critical to the plot.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
The most challenging part of the writing process is the temptation to rush or shortchange a scene because I’m feeling tired or being lazy. Certain scenes, love and action scenes, for example, take a lot out of me. I know they must be written well, hitting all the emotions I’m going for and hope the reader will feel when they read the scene. For me, that takes so much more effort than writing any kind of dialogue-heavy scene. I’m slow, when it comes to love and action scenes. But they are my favorite and, when done properly, turn out to be among my favorite in the book.
When and where do you do your writing?
Since I work during the day, most of my writing is done in the evenings and on the weekends. Basically, while my children are completing their homework I use the relative quiet of the house to work on my manuscript. It works out well. It’s always good for children to see their parents reading, writing and enjoying both. It’s modeling at its finest.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
Marketing my books is the most difficult part of being an independent writer. At heart, I’m an introvert. So the marketing spirit required to promote myself and my product requires an emotional effort not natural to me. I’m doing a lot more online marketing, through social media, than I’ve done in the past. I’m more active on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter than ever before. Doing this blog tour with Sage is a new endeavor and one I’d like to do more of in the future. I’ve also joined many groups and have given away books to get my name and work in the public eye. I’m trying to find my niche audience. It’s laborious and often frustrating, but it’s what needs to be done if I want to continue down the path I’ve started. I’ve learned a lot, and there’s still plenty I have yet to learn.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
I’m most proud of my growth as a writer and my persistence to continue pushing forward. My self-worth as a writer, as a person, is not defined by book sales or customer reviews. If authors judge themselves by book sales and reviews, they may fail to recognize and understand themselves fully or to appreciate the personal milestones they’ve accomplished.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Octavia Butler once said, “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
This is a great inspirational quote from Ms. Butler, especially for a new writer. And it is so darn true. Persistence, while necessary, is not easy, which Octavia Butler well understood. By some standards, Ms. Butler was an unorthodox writer. She didn’t write for any particular group or audience. She simply told stories she wanted to tell, which I respect. If I had an opportunity to have dinner with Ms. Butler, we would talk about far more than writing. Writing was her avocation but it didn’t define all there was to the woman.
N.D. Jones lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. While she likes to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as action-packed comics, she enjoys writing love stories with three-dimensional and positively depicted characters of color.
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