Sunday, September 06, 2009

Interview with author, Pat Simmons

Hi Pat, welcome back. Introduce yourself to new readers.

I'm the mother of a son and daughter, and I've been married for more than 26 years. Ooh, I feel so old. I’m a genealogy fanatic and a dedicated seamstress. I enjoy listening to Old Wives Tales and mentoring young adults. I have a B.S. in Mass Communication from Emerson College in Boston, and once a year, I’m contracted to head the publicity for RT BOOKLOVERS Convention. This year, we’ll be in Columbus, OH., if it’s the Lord’s will.

Tell us about your new novel Not Guilty of Love.

It's book II of the Guilty series. "One man, one woman, one God, and one big problem. Malcolm Jamieson is a man's man. He has a strong sense of family, he’s a CPA, and when he finds the woman he wants, it’s forever and a day. Malcolm showers Hallison “Hali” Dinkins with his love and loyalty. Everything about him is right, except for his walk with God. Instead of their steamy love affair leading them to the wedding altar, God diverts Hallison to the prayer altar. Malcolm can't understand why he and God can't co-exist in Hallison's life. Remember, I said he was a man's man. He's in love, but he's not a fool. He issues Hallison a warning. "What we have is good, but we can go our separate ways. If we're meant to be together, we'll find our way back to each other. If not, there is a stronger loves that awaits us."

Share a little about the series.

The Jamieson men (primarily Parke, Malcolm, and Cameron are tenth generation descendants of a royal African tribe). They are strong black brothers who want to think they’re not easily intimidated. Only women they love can bring them to their knees. I have African-American genealogy tidbits weaved into the storyline, a dangerous Grandma BB, and characters that are a reflection of us.

Does it have a spiritual theme that’s consistent in all the books?

Yes, God gave me the gift to write the first book, and He hasn’t stopped blessing since. My Christian persuasion is of the Apostolic/Pentecostal doctrine and I’ve gotten great feedback about the struggles and the victories in my character’s lives. More than anything, I want to focus on what’s good in church. God says He knows where the devil’s seat is, so no surprises there. We know that, too, but I want to overtake the bad with the good characters.

Some authors feel series limit their creativity. What are your thoughts on this?

The Guilty series has become my “bread and butter.” What better way than to build a readership. The first author I met who wrote a series was Brenda Jackson with her Madaris men.

At the time, she had only written about three brothers. Today, Brenda is a USAToday, Essence, and New York Times bestselling author. Why? I believe Brenda (and I know her personally) would agree with me that she gave her readers what they wanted—more stories about the Madaris family. To me, readers determine whether they want a sequel or series—not me. What if I had a four part series and the readers couldn’t stand my characters or didn’t enjoy my storyline, then what? My goal is to offer reader a new set of characters with a different storyline in between the series.

Share some of your strategies for successfully writing a series and keeping each book fresh and interesting?

If you learn of any strategies, let me know. I can tell you about some struggles I face to keep the books fresh. First, every book has to be written as a stand alone book. No one enjoys coming in the middle of a movie or discussion. Give tidbits along the way. Years ago, I read a romance book and enjoyed it, then one day, I was in a used book store and saw the author’s name. When I picked up the book and read the blurb, I realized that I had read the second book first, but I wanted to know what happened before they got together. Second, I don’t care how many readers like your story, they don’t want to read about the same main characters in every book. Fade the major characters in the background and give a secondary character the spotlight. Readers just want an update. They don’t want to read about when the baby lost her first tooth. I have to smile on that one. Three, in the Guilty series, Hallison and Cheney have separate friends. I can’t tell a story about Hallison with Cheney’s friends. Four, keep a diary. I have a Guilty series summary list because this task is a major challenge for me. How old is someone in book I? Or they a year older in book II or has five years elapsed? Skipping a few years helps. I’m not an expert, but these are the things I’m watching out for myself.

Share some of your upcoming events?

I’ve already started my tour for Not Guilty of Love with a successful book release party at Barnes & Noble in St. Louis. I praise God for 43 books sold. I contribute that to two of my books are out in the series. The following day I attended a book club event in Chicago. I never knew there could be so many established book clubs in a metro area. In September, I’ll do signings in Kansas City, MO., Scott Air force Base in Belleville, IL., Books-a-Million Hazelwood, MO., five signings throughout the Chicago area, Dallas- Ft.Worth, and Houston. Are we tired yet? That’s about 15 events. I’m just starting my October schedule, which will include the Maryland, D.C, area and maybe Atlanta. I do my own publicity and set up my signings. If you don’t know what or how, please ask. We’re here to pull someone else up.

My travel agent extraordinaire is my husband who likes to go anywhere. He keeps Hotwire and Southwest Airlines in business. I always try to stay with family when they will take me in, and I have family in almost every place I go. I also want to point out my tour schedule wouldn’t be this ambitious if I had small children. I baby turned twenty on Sunday. Sniff, sniff.

How can readers finds you on the Internet?

Rhonda, thank you for the opportunity you have given to authors and book clubs over the past year. God is going to bless you and we all plan to support you. Love you dearly.


Sharon Ball said...

Rhonda, you asked a great question about keeping the writing and story fresh when writing a series. As a reader, I definitely have to agree with Pat's response. No one likes to feel like they've missed have the story. My hat's off to Pat for working her story so that each book is fresh and interesting.

Rhonda McKnight said...

I too was a Madaris man reader. I also fell in love with Rochelle Aler's Hideaway series. I still have all the books. Both authors were very good at making each book stand on it's own.

All the best to you Pat!

Thanks for stopping by Sharon.