Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Michele Andrea Bowen to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Michele is one of the early pioneers in this genre. I still remember reading her debut novel, Church Folk and laughing out loud for three nights in a row. After hearing me laugh, my husband read the book and he's been a Michele Andrea Bowen fan ever since.
Welcome Michele! Introduce yourself to my readers.
I’m Michele Andrea Bowen. I live in Durham, NC. I’m a single mom. I have two sweet babies—girls. The oldest is almost 21 and the baby is 11. I sing, when I’m not writing, and I have been writing stories since I was eight years old. My first novel, Church Folk, was such a blessing, it gave me name recognition that only God can give.
Tell us about Up at the College?
Up at the College was a fun and interesting book to write. It is about two main characters, Yvonne Copeland, who comes back to Durham, NC after a nasty divorce, and Coach Curtis Parker, who is the head basketball coach at a fictitious HBCU, Evangeline T. Marshall University in Durham, NC. Their lives have intersected since they were teenagers but they never did more than give each other a passing glance.
Now, even though sparks fly between these two characters, it is not a ‘love story’ per se. It is about trusting God, it is about restoration and recompense after being in a storm, and it is about how God wants to be in every part of your life—even if it means He has to come on out on the basketball court with you. Up at the College is also very funny.
I know the Holy Spirit guides us in interpretation, but what do you see as the spiritual takeaway for this novel. Renewal, restoration, righteous living, and learning to open your heart to the beauty of a relationship and deep friendship with the Lord.
If you had to describe the person you believe reads your books, what would he or she look like, and what would be their interests? Hmmmm….they would be anywhere from the age of 28 to 80, a church-goer, someone who appreciates a good joke, someone who loves a good movie, and somebody who loves a plate of good ribs.
Last year at the Faith and Fiction Retreat, I have to tell you, I was very impressed with your presentation during your book club discussion; specifically the scriptural ties to the story. Is all of this planned during the outlining process or does the Lord reveal this to you while you’re writing? Both. God touches my heart during the prep time for the books, and then He really blesses me with the scriptural ties during the actual writing of the book. By that point, it is like singing a solo at church. You know, you have worked on learning the song, the notes, the rhythms and so forth, and now, you’re with your choir, and it’s time to let the Holy Ghost catch a hold of you and cut loose.
You’ve been successful at navigating this publishing business for almost ten years now, and you are certainly one of the few authors in Christian Fiction that is released in hard cover. Other than the obvious favor of God on your career, share how you’ve been successful. Prayer, prayer, prayer, and more prayer. I trust God. And yes there have been some “trills and tryboolations”….but as Jesus told us, He overcame them all. Some of the things I’ve also done is to make sure I write a strong manuscript, I research my books, and I really enjoy the editing process. I participate in the work needed to promote the books and I look for new opportunities to touch base with more readers. I also work real hard to form relationships with churches. I’ve learned that so many readers will come to a book signing at church and they buy the books when they are there. I am very aware of the business side but I don’t let that control how I create and write the stories.
And then, I’ve been with what is now Grand Central Publishing (they used to be Warner Books) since I started my professional career as an author. They started me off in hardcover, and have continued doing so with each new book.
If you weren’t a Christian Fiction author, what else would you be? Historical Fiction with some romance thrown in.
Please share how readers may get in touch with you.
Readers can reach me at my website…. www.micheleandreabowen.com My oldest told me to catch up with the modern world, and is working with her Facebook-challenged mom, to do a page on Facebook. I’ll have a link for that soon, so folks will have a better way to touch base with me, and my child can take me off of her “Lawd, please put my mama on Facebook,” prayer-list.
Michele, I'm a Facebook junkie. I have to tell you of all the social media I find it the easiest to use and people are very friendly, so join the new millineum and get that item off the prayer-list. Great having you.
Please join us on Wednesday for a review of Up At The College by Janice Ingle.