Tuesday, November 23, 2010

~*Author Spotlight on Raquel Mulgrew*~

CK:  Hello folks! Today, welcome
Raquel Mulgrew! I’m curious to know, where did you submit your first story?

RM:  My first erotic story was published at the publishing company, Wicked Women of Color. Oddly enough, I didn’t approach them with my story, they approached me. I had been posting work for free online and the owner of the publishing company contacted me. She was a fan of my work and she asked if I would be interested in writing for her. I accepted and the rest, as they say, is history. Unfortunately, WWC is no longer around, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

CK:  It’s such a wonderful feeling when a publishing company approaches the author! Please, tell us, what are the pros and cons of being a published author?

RM:  In my opinion, one of the major pros of being a published author is the feedback from my readers. I love getting reader emails and interacting with people from all over the world. I had a great dialog going with a man from Australia. There are very many deep and interesting people in the world, and I have to say if not for my writing, I would know even fewer of them. Cons: writing is work. It’s emotionally expensive and mentally exhausting work. I know so many people who think writing is easy. I’m not really sure why, but I would venture to guess that it’s because they’ve never actually done it. At least not with any real enthusiasm, anyway.

CK:  Would you do us the honor of providing a sneak peek of your most recent project, if possible?

RM:  But of course! My latest piece is called, “A Summer Rain”. It’s a short story about love and loss and love again. I liken it to a Romeo and Juliette-ESQUE style romance where the “Montague” family is less than tolerant of the young miss “Capulet” and makes arrangements to ensure that our Romeo stays far, far away from his true love.


Shana Sanders was moving on with her life after the only
man she ever loved walked away from her with no explanation. One rainy
Chicago afternoon, she's stunned to find him standing at her doorstep begging for forgiveness.

Robert wants her back in his life as he tries to convince her
that his departure had nothing to do with his feelings for her but
everything to do with his bigoted father and brother.

Can Shana forgive him and recapture the love they shared, or will hatred and ignorance keep them apart forever?

“Why are you standing out there, silly?” Shana asked, holding the door open for Robert in the entryway. “Come on in. I made your favorite, chicken Marsala and mashed potatoes.”
He smiled.
“I can’t stay,” Robert said in an almost inaudible tone. “I just—I wanted to see you.”
“You just got here. Where do you have to go?”
“Shana, I… I can’t really talk about it.”
Shana eyed him curiously. It was obvious there was something amiss.
“What’s wrong, Robert?”
“Nothing. Just trust me, okay? I’ll be back soon.”
“Shana!” Robert exclaimed with mild impatience. He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. Shana noticed the bruised knuckles on his right hand. She thought to inquire about their origin, but pushed the thought from her mind.
“Trust me. I need you to do that for me. Can you?”
Shana backed up and viewed the figure in front of her with confusion. What was he doing?
“Yes?” Robert asked.
“Yes,” Shana said shyly. “But what…?”
Robert cut off her inquiry with a kiss. He wrapped his arms around her waist and squeezed her tight, lingering there as if it would be their last. He rested his forehead on hers and kissed her nose. He finally broke their embrace and turned to leave.
“I love you,” Shana said with an abruptness that made Robert freeze in his tracks.
It was the first time either of them had uttered the words to each other. They spilled forth from Shana and hung in the air like a billowy cloud. She held her breath and waited for his response. After seconds of nothing but silence, the three words that had patiently hung above them seemed to evaporate into a distant memory.
Shana felt chilled at Robert’s lack of response. How could he not say anything? She stood there, vulnerable, wishing he would reciprocate her words. But silence was her answer. She’d wanted to tell him this so many times in the past, but never had the courage. They’d been together for over six months, and tonight, she had decided she was going to say what she had wanted to for so long. But even if he didn’t feel the same, she still deserved a response.
From behind, Shana watched his shoulders hunch. He still hadn’t turned around to face her. The fact that he couldn’t return her glance spoke volumes.
“Robert? You have nothing you want to say?” Her lips trembled at the words. “At all?”
Robert turned and stole a quick glimpse toward her, then looked down to the ground. He was quiet—too quiet. Shana knew he always got that way when he was thinking.
He walked back up to her, as if he had finally figured out what he wanted to say. His eyes widened, and his face looked sad. He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead.
“I have to go. I’m sorry.”
Shana’s eyes welled with tears as she stood aghast at the man in front of her. She wanted to yell and scream, but she couldn’t think of anything to say. No words could convey the anger and hurt welling inside her, so she stood in the doorway, dazed. Soon, all she heard was the thunderous beating of her heart. It was rapid and out of rhythm. Her vision dimmed in slow increments, and soon, everything had gone dark. It wasn’t until his voice broke the silence that she realized her eyes were closed and she felt the sting of hot tears stream down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. She opened her eyes only to see him standing in the doorway looking lost and confused. “I’ll be back, I promise.” He gave her a pained smile and turned out the door.

CK:  Please share one of your earlier novels with us. 

Just Beneath the SurfaceRM:  My last book is entitled, Just Beneath the Surface. It’s available for purchase at my publisher, Amira Press or at Amazon.com.

Grace Williams, a forty-three year old black college swimming coach reluctantly falls in love with her twenty-two year old, white swim student, Eric Bailey. Grace not only has to reconcile the age and race difference between them, but also the ethics of dating a student. To complicate things even further, she has to choose between Eric and her current lover, Edward, who’s not so willing to let her go.

Eric has his own issues to deal with concerning his sister’s death, his alcoholic mother, and his adulterous father.

Can the two of them find happiness in each others’ fractured lives?

CK:  What are your future goals?

RM:  My professional goal is to be able to write for a living. Although, I love the work that I do (I’m a computer tech) I do find creating stories very fulfilling and it leaves me free to pursue my personal goal of living abroad. I want to spend my life traveling and living in different countries immersing myself in the various cultures of the world. To me, the world is meant to be explored and I would be remiss if I just stayed in one little corner of it pretending the rest was irrelevant. Being a writer would allow me to work from anywhere in the world, and BONUS: the more exotic the travels, the more exotic the stories!

CK:  If your books were turned into a movie, but producers wanted the heroine to be white and the hero black, would you allow that? I ask this question only because over a year or so ago, another interracial author took a poll on this. From what I remember, her story would have been turned into a movie, under the condition that her black heroine and white hero would be swapped; to a white heroine black hero. “The Powers That Be” insisted a ww/bm couple would sell better and was more prevalent in society.

Since then I’ve checked her website, and I’m unable to find any further information on this, so I cannot mention the author’s name. Perhaps, if she allows me to interview, then everyone will know.

RM:  For me, the ethnicity of the characters is not as important as the message I’m trying to convey. If I feel that the ethnicity of the characters is critical to the message, then, “no”. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with the change. But in a lot of my stories, the ethnicities of the main characters aren’t as important as the evolving the characters do as a result of their interaction. That, to me, transcends race and if it stays true to the essence of the story – and the lesson is still learned, I don’t see how their skin color would matter.

CK:  Also, I see many varieties of books in Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, and Rite-Aid, with the exception of interracial. How does that make you feel?  Do you foresee interracial romance (not erotic because of children) books in these stores in the near future? Any ideas on how we in this genre can make it happen?

RM:  Well, first of all, I think Walmart is the wrong place to expect to see this change if and when it ever occurs. Stores of this ilk (i.e. Target, Walmart, etc…) do not cater to the average bookworm. I read extensively and I have never gone to any of these stores in search of a book. Their target market is not us regular readers. Stores such as these cater to the popular demand of the masses. You will frequently see the Stephen Kings, Dan Pattersons, John Grishams and the like on the shelves there. In other words, “the best sellers”. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, if I were in the kind of business that these stores are, I would probably do the same. But until the IR genre has its “A –list” author, you probably won’t find us covering the bookshelves of your local Walmart.

But this doesn’t mean that the genre isn’t popular! There are many online communities catering to IR romance lovers. This rise in popularity, for me, was abrupt and surprising and the community is growing larger every day. We IR romance authors are here and in full force, and as long as we have a large and devoted audience, we’ll keep writing the stories you love and the publishing world will take notice, trust me. It’s all about the bottom line and if it sells, you better believe publishers will be interested.

CK:  Do you see yourself writing in other genres in the future, and leaving erotica/erotic romance behind? If you were to spring into another genre, becoming even more successful than you are, would you deny you once wrote erotica?

RM:  I currently write in a few different genres, but as it stands right now I don’t see myself completely abandoning erotic romance. I have some devoted fans who let me know regularly that they enjoy my writing. So, if for no other reason, I’ll keep doing it for them.

Would I deny I wrote erotica? Ha! My first instinct is to say, “no”. But the more I think about it, the more the question gives me pause. The unfortunate part about this genre is that it’s not only not “mainstream” but, in some circles it’s looked down upon. I’ve always had a really big problem with people comparing erotic romance to porn. They are not the same thing. Wait. Did I say that loud enough? :: getting out bullhorn :: THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.
So, sometimes when I mention what I write to people, they get this look of shock about them. It’s amusing, but troubling at the same time. And I know that it only stems from their misunderstanding of what erotic romance is. Erotic romance is plot, it’s character development, it’s ROMANCE, it’s all the things you would find in a regular romance novel except the bedroom door stays open. Yes, erotic romance tends to be a lot more sexually explicit than other romantic genres, but that’s okay. In my opinion, if your sex life isn’t messy and “curl the toes, scream your head off” good, you’re doing something wrong, anyway! J

CK: What other genres are you interested in writing in?  YA, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Scifi, or would you combine all these, with the exception of YA into your erotica/erotic romance stories?

RM:  I currently write mystery, horror (a la Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe), suspense, psychological / intellectual thriller… Hmm, did I mention I have a bit of a dark side? The fact that Poe and King are two of my favorite authors should give you a little insight into my psyche. Something else I’ve noticed just recently? All of my romance novels have someone dying in them. Not particularly “romantic” but I guess it says a lot about what kind of writer I am. J 

I’m also a screenwriter and I’ve had one of my fantasy / comedy scripts looked at by a couple of movie producers, but neither of them picked it up. There is one that I’m particularly fond of and I would love to see it find a home one day. It’s not even about the money. I just want to see this dang movie!

CK:  Well, my fingers and toes are crossed for you! Believe me when I say, congratulations, because you are inspiring everyone who reads this interview, as well as myself. ; )  What are your hobbies?

RM:  I’m a HUGE movie fan. I’ve literally hundreds of DVDs in my collection. I like action, suspense, drama and sci-fi. Oddly enough, I’m not a big romance / chick flick woman. :: shrugs :: Go figure.
My new favorite movie to date? Inception. That. Movie. Was. AWESOME! I saw it three times at the theater and I can’t wait for the DVD. (December 7th for anyone wondering.) I highly recommend.
I love to read, but that should go without saying. I host a monthly book club in my city which ensures that I read at least one book every thirty days or so. Generally, I finish 2 – 3 a month, but some months I’m lazy. L
I love to travel, too. Every year I try to visit at least one place I’ve never been before. I also play the violin. Unfortunately, I don’t practice as much as I would like, but I try to make time for it. Learning is another hobby for me. No, I’ll be honest, it’s more of an addiction. Taking classes at my local college is incredibly exciting to me. This semester I’m finishing up the first of four novel writing classes, and next semester I do believe I’m going to complete my second semester of Spanish. Then on to French…

CK:  How do you unwind?

RM:  Can you say, “Dave & Buster’s”? I thought you could…

CK:  Ah yes, good ole Dave & Buster’s! Do you mold your characters strictly from imagination or from those you cross paths with in everyday life?

RM:  I think it’s more of a mixture of the two. I have an incredibly vibrant and, dare I say, sometimes “out of control” imagination. But I also like observing people and I tend to incorporate a lot of that human interaction into my characters. I want them to come off as real as possible to my readers and so I do my best to make them as authentic as I can.

CK:  Do you allow your muse to take total control, or do you create an outline before writing? 

RM:  It depends. This one is more dependent on the length of the story I’m writing. Shorter stories, say 15,000 words or less, I don’t outline. The plot and characterization comes easily enough that I don’t feel an outline is necessarily critical to mastering the story. Conversely, for longer works, I would be lost without an outline. More detailed and intricate plots require the extra time and effort to map them out, to thoroughly analyze each character, interview them in turn (yes, I interview my characters. I let them tell me who they are instead of vice versa) and make sure I stay as true as possible to the unique and diverse personalities of each character.

CK:  What methods of research do you utilize? I know, I know! The internet is available, but do you scour the library as well? LOL

RM:  Life! Yes, life is a great resource for information. Believe it or not, not all of us writers sit in a little cave day in and day out and only see the light of day when it is forced upon us. (NO! The light…it BUUUURNS…) I’m very active socially. I go to college, I have lots of diverse and interesting friends, I travel a lot – the world has a plethora of resources available to anyone willing to get out and find them. Yes, the Internet is a great tool, but I believe it should only serve as a starting point. I think the best way to make your characters’ personalities as rich and authentic as possible is to have a rich and authentic personality yourself. Someone who enjoys exploring and learning will find that there is a nearly endless sea of information available to them. You just need to jump in with both feet and find it!

CK:  Where can you be found on the internet?
You can visit my website at http://www.raquelmulgrew.com and friend me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Raquel-Mulgrew/1028198993
You can also visit my blog at: http://raquelmulgrew.blogspot.com/
Feel free to message me anytime! I love hearing from my readers.

CK: What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring authors?

RM:  I’ll try to stay away from the clichéd advice you’ve all heard before.
The best advice no one ever gave me as a writer (I had to learn it on my own) was to READ. Yes, read. Read, read, read. And not just in the genre you write in. Covet a multitude of genres. You will learn much more than you ever thought you would. Read all you can. Read non-fiction, pick up a classic or two and find out why they’re called “Classics”. One of my favorite authors (who, unfortunately was not recognized for his genius during his lifetime) is George Orwell. His book, 1984 was one of the most incredibly well written and life changing novels I’ve ever read. Pick up a book or two by Kurt Vonnegut and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is phenomenal. Check out Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Alice Walker, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Immerse yourself in the great writings of history and learn from them. Reading great works will improve your writing by leaps and bounds. Bonus: You get an awesome story to boot which could also inspire your next novel. It’s win-win, baby! (And yes, don’t forget to WRITE!)

CK:  I totally agree, and Ohh, I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Raquel Mulgrew, thank you so much for sharing.

RM:  It was my pleasure! Keep up the good work!


Serenity King said...

Raquel and Charisma, this was such an awesome interview. Raquel I am glad you did this interview give me more insight into the person. You did an awesome job. Computer tech...interesting. I am looking forward to reading your new release...loved the blurb and excerpt. Much success!


Charisma Knight said...

Hi Se,

Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed the interview!

Take Care.

Raquel Mulgrew said...

Thanks so much Serenity! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really appreciate all the kind words.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating interview! I love reading about authors and finding out they are just as interesting if not more than their books! Great job! Loved it!

Best Wishes!


Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Wow in my wildest dreams some would contact me to wrote a book! Great interview!

Raquel Mulgrew said...

Thanks so much, Stacy! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Abigail, it's a great feeling. I couldn't believe it when I got the email. I never would have imagined a publisher would approach me. I was floored and flattered at the same time. Glad you liked the interview.