Friday, 18 April 2008

Author interview: Lynn Emery!

Wordtryst: Lynn, welcome to my blog! I think I'm a bit starstruck... I've seen your books in stores here in Trinidad and in the US. When I think of the big names in multicultural romance, yours is one that immediately comes to mind. How many novels have you had published?

Lynn Emery: You're too kind! Thanks for the huge compliment. I have thirteen novels to my credit so far.

W: That is a staggering achievement. Monica Harris, my current editor at Dorchester, actually founded the groundbreaking Arabesque line of romances at Kensington around the time that your first novel was published there, I believe. Did you ever work with Ms. Harris?

For sure! Monica bought my very first book for Arabesque. She was my editor for maybe 4 books until she left Kensington. I loved working with her. She is a wonderful editor, and a truly savvy book biz pro.

W: She certainly is! Lynn, one of your novels was made into a movie for BET. That must have been very exciting! Tell us a bit about that project.

LE: Not much to tell because it was a big surprise to me. I didn't even know that one of my books had made it to the short list (so to speak). BET bought the Arabesque line from Kensington in 1998 because they wanted to make made-for-television movies based on the books. Fast forward to a year later. I was taking my traditional Sunday afternoon nap and the phone woke me up. The president of BET Books told me After All had been selected. I managed to be coherent somehow- between being half asleep and surprised I may have come across as a bit too blase about the news or just as a spaced-out screwball, LOL! Either way once the fog cleared I was excited. The movie premiered on BET in December 2000. I had a huge party - had a blast. I still enjoy seeing characters I created walking around and talking. Kind of a strange experience, too!

W: I've heard that when writers sell movie rights to their work, they have absolutely no say in the making of the film. Was that your experience, or was there some measure of collaboration?

LE: Answer A is the correct one! LOL! I had nothing to do with the making of the movie. Once the company pays for the movie rights, that's it. In a few rare cases authors are collaborators, but most of the time authors just cash the check and keep writing. That's fine with me. Overall I think BET did a good job with After All. They made changes, but that is to be expected. Holly Robinson Peete did a great job as the female lead (Michelle Toussaint, ace investigative TV reporter, LOL).

W: How long have you been writing?

LE: I've been writing since I was ten or eleven, published since 1995.

W: Was your road to publication a difficult one?

LE: Not really. Night Magic was the first manuscript I started and it sold, so I have no stories of stinging rejections before that. But I've been rejected since then. Ouch!

W: Tell us about your awards.

LE: Night Magic was recognized for Excellence in Romance Fiction in 1996 by Romantic Times Magazine. In 2004 my HarperCollins novel Kiss Lonely Goodbye won three Emma Awards at Romance Slam Jam, the only conference that celebrates Black romance authors and novels. The award is named in honor of Emma Rodgers who founded one of the most influential black bookstores in the US, Black Images Book Bazaar in Dallas, Texas. Sadly she closed the store after over 20 years of helping black authors and readers connect.

W: What special books do you remember most from your childhood?

LE: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Reading that book when I was eleven made me want to write murder mysteries.

W: Who are your favourite writers?

LE: Ernest Gaines and Gloria Naylor are on my long list of favorite authors. I have eclectic taste in reading - I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes collection, Shakespeare, Walter Mosely, Paula Woods, and on and on. I love so many romance authors I've really stopped trying to pick favorites. You really don't want to get me started! LOL

W: You have a full time job as a mental health professional. How do you find time to write?

LE: Easy, I have no social life! Seriously though I make sacrifices, which is why I don't watch on-going TV series like Lost. And why I'm terribly behind in watching movies. But thanks to Netflix I'm catching up on movies slowly but surely :o)

W: What, to you, is the very best part of this writing business? ...Apart from the royalty cheques, that is... :)

LE: Writing is the best part, the excitement of coming up with the plot or characters and starting chapter one. Getting "in the zone" when the story is coming together the way I like it.

W: Lynn, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It's been a pleasure.

LE: Thanks for the honor of being interviewed for your blog. Tell Monica I said a big "Hello!"

W: I'll be sure to!

Lynn's bibliography: Night Magic, After All, Sweet Mystery, A Time To Love, One Love, Tender Touch, Merry Christmas, Baby (novella in an anthology) were all Arabesque titles. For HarperCollins: Gotta Get Next To You, Tell Me Something Good, All I Want is Forever, Kiss Lonely Goodbye, Good Woman Blues and Soulful Strut. For Penguin/Putnam: The Lipstick Chronicles (novella in an anthology)

Her website:
Her blogs: As I Was Saying, A Darker Shade of Midnight, and Be Encouraged


Chumplet said...

That was a lovely interview, Liane, and you sure know how to ask the right questions!

wordtryst said...

Thank you Chumplet. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Very good interview and I will check out Lynn Emery's website :)

I always wonder how different authors come up with the plots for their books. I imagine the stories are based partly on the author's real life experience. But then I shudder to think what Stephen King's real life must be like :)

wordtryst said...

akalol, I think 'partly' is the operative word here. Writers of sci-fi and fantasy, not to mention paranormal, slash fiction and such can't possibly base their stories on their lives, but they must draw on their lives, reading etc. for characterization at the very least.

I read somewhere that true fiction is rare. I don't think I agree with that. Most writers lead boring lives hunched in front of keyboards. Yet they conjure up entire worlds. If that isn't fiction then what is?

Anonymous said...

I think people who live active lives are too busy to write, or even learn how to use a keyboard. When you consider how much time it must take to write something publishable with a creative plot, it's not surprising that authors become hermits. Out of necessity, I think, fiction writers have to understand life better than people who claim to live life. Living life isn't wrong it's just that it can be so inconvenient and predictably disappointing.

A mind with a good imagination along with a sense of humor is the only mind worth having :)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Very interesting interview. Thank you both.

wordtryst said...

akalol, a hermit's life for me! *Sung to the the tune of A pirate's life for me!* :) Well, some of the time, anyway. Have to crawl out of my cave now and then. As for real life - I have an acquaintance who always braces himself for disappointment. He says this way he's often pleasantly surprised, and not too let down if life disappoints. As for humour, I don't know how I'd get by without it.

Zinnia, you're welcome. I couldn't wait to ask Lynn about the movie stuff. So exciting! Don't we all dream about that sort of thing?

[Aside to akalol: With the price of food escalating gleefully around here these days it looks like I'll be needing a movie deal just to go the grocery...]

Anonymous said...

books = movies is the new commercial thinking, and not a bad one when you consider how many people would rather pop in a DVD than turn a page.

You need both a movie deal and a sense of humor to go to the grocery store...

...sign at grocery store "We accept all royalty cheques in exchange for only essential items such as flour, rice and rum" :)

wordtryst said...

akalol, I'm laughing - aloud - at your grocery sign. I'm supposed to be working, not checking the blog. :) Thank goodness I'm alone in the office right now...

KAREN said...

Wow, how many books has this lady written!! Looks like I've a looooooong way to go! Great interview though :o)

stephe said...

Great interview, Liane. Thanks for introducing us to one prolific lady. :)

wordtryst said...

Karen and Stephe, you're welcome!