[Interview] Lynn Emery, Author of ‘Soulful Strut’
Lynn Emery is the author of twelve African-American romance novels which include Good Woman Blues (2005); Kiss Lonely Goodbye (2003) and All I Want Is Forever (2002). One of her stories, “Tumbling Down”, has also been featured in The Lipstick Chronicles, a collection of four novellas from different authors.
Another of her novels, After All (1996) was produced as a made-for-television movie by Black Entertainment Television in 1999.
She has also won several awards for her writing. In 1995, she received the Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for her first novel, Night Music Magic (1995) and in 2000, she was nominated the Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance Fiction from the Romantic Times Magazine.
In 2004, she went on to win three Emma Awards, including Author of the Year.
Her latest books include: Endless Passion (2006) — a collector’s edition of three earlier novels, Night Magic (1995); Tender Touch (1997) and Sweet Mystery (1998) — and Soulful Strut (2006), her latest romance novel.
Her first non-fiction book, Be Encouraged: Words of Sunlight For The Soul (BookSurge, 2007), is a collection of inspirational essays and poems.
In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.
What is your latest book about?
Soulful Strut is about a woman who is finally released from prison after being wrongfully convicted and she has to learn a new way of living — that is, she must resist going back to the lifestyle that made her so easy to frame and she has to forgive herself for past mistakes.
The novel took about eight months to write. It was released in the U.S. in Dec. 2006.
Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?
I always find the revision process the most painful (after I get notes from my editor). That’s because writing is such hard work that the thought of changing it literally makes my head and stomach hurt. I have to read the letter, recover, and then get over myself and tackle making the book better based on objective feedback.
Which did you enjoy most?
Coming up with the idea and writing snappy dialogue between characters.
What sets the book apart from the other things you have written? In what way is it similar?
I stayed in the main character’s viewpoint throughout the entire novel. In all of my previous novels I did multiple third person [point of view] P.O.V.
Soulful Strut was about finding yourself after making a lot of mistakes, similar to several books I’ve written (Good Woman Blues, Sweet Mystery).
What will your next book be about?
One is about people facing the truth and learning to go on despite knowing the worst. Another book is about a woman deciding who she really is and fighting a malevolent influence from her own family.
How much time do you spend on your writing?
I write everyday. I write on my novels 5 days a week, about 2 ½ hours a day.
In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?
I decided to be a writer when I was a child, eleven years old to be exact. My ambition to write a novel came from my love of storytelling, oral and written. I am blessed to be from a family of colorful storytellers.
So far most of my novels have been romance or women’s fiction. I have always read and loved romance novels. I love to read these stories and about relationships. When I was in college I discovered stories about contemporary women and the issues they faced. I write both.
As a writer it’s hard to name one person. As I said my family has most influenced me because my relatives on both sides are wonderful at spinning stories. I loved listening to them. As a toddler I discovered the joy of books. I would have to say my family influenced first and foremost, next the people in my community.
Among the writers you read, who would you say has had the greatest influence on you?
How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
I’ve always been very curious so watching the mini-dramas around me as a child fired my imagination. There is at least one event from my past that has inspired each one of my novels. Not that these were things that happened to me, but started the “What if” process in my writer’s brain. Watching how relationships are formed, change and sadly sometimes broken has had a great impact on the kind of stories I tell. I’m not just talking about male/female romantic relationships, but family ties, friends and even the ties between enemies.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
Getting it right. My biggest concern is to not just be accurate in research but to make a story and its characters come alive for readers.
Next comes my effort to let the world know about my stories and finding time to promote or market my writing. In this information age with so many information outlets competing for our attention, not to mention the sheer number of books available, it’s a tough job.
Publishing is a contact sport. Staying published is difficult because sales of books decrease while the number of books on sale increase. It is hard for authors to stay in the marketplace and keep sales up so that publishers keep buying. Authors have to face a lot from reviewers, editors and more. Tough business all the way around.
How do you deal with these challenges?
I tend to rely a lot on using the Internet, my websites. I also try to network as much as possible. Still I try to keep in mind that the writing must be served. That is I can’t get too distracted or exhausted to create the best books I can. To stay fresh I take time out to rest and regenerate.