Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interview with Altonya Washington

1.  Can you please tell us a little about yourself.
 I've been a published romance author for 10years, but have actually been a romance writer for almost 20-yep I got the 'bug' the summer I graduated college. I found that the mainstream romances that I'd loved since I was 13 were missing something and I discovered that it was characters who looked like me. Now, I have the joy of creating, characters, worlds and situations that span as far as my mind allows. By day, I work as an academic reference librarian but being a mom is my favorite role.

2. What inspired you to write your first book?
As I stated above, the lack of African American characters in the stories I loved became a major issue for me and it intrigued me to discover stories out there featuring characters who looked like me. In mid-90s South Carolina I really didn't find many of those on my local bookstore shelves, so I took it upon myself to satisfy my craving.

3. What do you wish more people knew about the publishing side of things?
It's not as easy as it looks. There are so many details that must be satisfied before that book hits the shelves. It's also a job that very much requires passion, discipline and patience.

4. How did you come up with your titles?
Most often my titles are a reflection of my plot. There are times however that the titles are not my ideas at all. Many of my traditional works have been entitled by editors. I do enjoy being able to chime in with my suggestions but I most often have the opportunity to select my titles when it comes to my independent works.

5. What author(s) has influenced your writing style?
 So many! I'd say that my style was most greatly influenced by the writers I discovered during my early days of reading romance-authors like Kathleen Woodiwiss, Kay Hooper and Virginia Henley.

6. For your first book, how long did it take you to find an agent?
 I actually obtained my first writing contract on my own- a result of patience and persistence. I found that it was as difficult to find an agent as it was to find a publisher. I decided to cease agent hunting and focus on getting someone to publish my book. Once I had my first book deal, it didn't take long after that to find an agent.

7. How important was a "platform" in selling your books?
Very important, though as a new author I don't believe I recognized that then. Now, as an author who works on the independent as well as the traditional side of things, I have an entirely new appreciation for how and where my work is published. I believe that having a platform-an effective platform to market and produce ones work is as important for the unknown author as well as the established ones. 

8. Do you have book signings coming up where readers can meet you?
Currently, I'm working to organize a series of lunch events where I'll visit with readers in areas closest to them-give them the chance to come out and ask all those questions they have about my work and the writing life in general. I don't do a lot of booksigning events so I'm really looking forward to being able to connect with my readers at a gathering like this. There will be more details coming soon.

9. Can you tell us about your upcoming project(s)?
I've just released an independent project "When Ice Melts" it's the story of old flames torn apart by a traumatic event experienced by the heroine and unknown to the hero. Time passes and circumstances bring the couple together again along with many of the players responsible for what happened to the heroine- it's a story of enduring love, revenge, sacrifice and triumph.

10. What advice do you have to an aspiring author?
Be persistent in your endeavors and READ, READ, READ! Don't spend so much time creating your work that you don't take time to find nourishment in the joy of reading. Try reading material outside the genre you write- I write contemporary and historical romance but adore the Fantasy/Paranormal, Crime Fiction, Biographies, Horror-Stephen King is my favorite author- and the YA Fantasy Genres. You never know how your creative instincts will evolve as a result of expanding your reading interests. 

Icia Graham’s love affair with Rakim Transou had the makings of a fairy tale romance with the happily ever after ending, until the night of Rakim’s college graduation party. For Icia, it was the night her life was forever changed. So desperate to escape the horrific memories she’d suddenly been saddled with, Icia left school and the man she loved. 

The years passed and; in that time, both Rakim and Icia reached goals that carried them to the heights of success. For Rakim it was a powerful advertising agency that brought him a respected and revered name in the business. Icia’s accomplishment was a bit darker, but no less revered and she had no desire to revisit the past and be tortured by thoughts of love lost with the only man she’d ever wanted. 

A series of events however, would bring Icia right back to where she swore she’d never return. Once more Rakim Transou was back in her life and she was simultaneously overjoyed and distraught. How could she start anew with the man who still meant everything to her, when there were so many secrets between them? When the need for vengeance on those; who were still very much a part of Rakim’s life, still raged so viciously inside her?

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