This month, AUTHOR
OF THE MONTH is ARABESQUE's Candice Poarch... by LaShaunda Hoffman.
1. What inspired you to
write TENDER ESCAPE?
My desire to feature a full-figured heroine began even before I wrote my
first novel, WHITE LIGHTNING, a novel in which the heroine had lost a great
deal of weight before the story began and still thought herself overweight.
I believe that all kinds of relationships should be celebrated in romance.
In Tender Escape we see that women are much more complex than their weight.
They nurture the people around them and give their heart and soul in
relationships. Olivia Hammond, the heroine in Tender Escape, has a full
productive life even if she isn't built like the typical romantic heroine.
She has goals and needs. In a month that celebrates love, I wanted to show
that all women can be desirable.
2. Why did you choose the city it's set in?
Since Prince George's County has a high population of hard-working
African-Americans, I thought it would be the perfect setting for a day spa
business. It is close to home and I knew the area, even though I chose
fictitious communities. Most of my books have been set in rural Virginia,
fictitious setting near where I grew up.
3. What message would you like to send to your readers?
I would like to send the same message my parents taught me. Dreams, when
combined with goals, are possible with hard work and perseverance. Just a
decade ago, one couldn't find African-American romance novels on the
bookshelves. Now BET publishes four novels every month and other
are releasing or actually searching for African American romances. When I
started writing, none of the major publishing houses were seeking our
novels. However, like-minded writers were working toward this goal all
over the county. Just because something hasn't been done before doesn't
mean that you can't be the first to try.
4. What should a reader expect from a Candice Poarch
I enjoy entertaining readers with novels that focus on love, commitment and
hope. I like to show a side of our world where women and men struggle to
give their families the best they can provide. There's an underlying
in romance that individuals can make things better for themselves and for
others. Most of all I enjoy creating a special relationship between two
characters. I also enjoy writing about colorful secondary characters who
appear in several books. My Nottoway series does this.
5. Do you have a full-time career outside your
Writing is a full-time career. When my second book sold and I signed
another contract, I left a position as a computer systems manager two years
ago to write full-time.
6. How often do your write?
I write regular hours Monday through Friday. During deadlines, I also
weekends. I respect writing as a business and I spend my days working as I
would at any other job. I spend many weekends doing book-signings.
7. How long does it take you to finish a novel?
The time depends on the story. Longer, more complex plots take more time.
I can complete a short novel in three to four months.
8. How do you feel about those who don't take
romance writing seriously?
I don't expect everyone to love romance novels the way that I do. I have
letters from many readers who enjoy my writing. I never understood how the
same people who enjoy novels that feature senseless killing can disrespect
those that reveal positive relationships. I don't believe I can change
everyone, so I concentrate on the positive responses I get from my readers and
from people who love the romance genre because they know what it is all about. Many
times the people who don't respect romance have never read a romance and enjoy
them when they do. Books are difficult to write for every writer. Hundreds
of novels are published each month. Romance novels play an important role
in the lives of many readers.
9. Did you read romance before you began writing it?
Yes. After the birth of my son, my sister visited. She was reading a
romance novel. She left it when she returned home. When I read it, I
was hooked. These were characters I could identify with. I thought
this was an excellent way to talk about the kind of family I grew up with.
Years passed before I made an attempt to write. Once I started, writing
became my passion.
10. What do you like about African-American Romance
African-American Romance novels give us an opportunity to read material that
portrays us in positive, loving relationships and as productive individuals.
With so much negative publicity, we need positive images to combat the effects.
How can we aspire to better things if we aren't exposed to something greater or
different? My readers tell me my novels give them something special.
11. What was the last good romance you've read?
I thought that I would not enjoy historical romance novels because of the impact
of slavery. I read romance for relaxation. I read Beverly Jenkins',
Indigo and enjoyed it. Although it held wonderful historical content, it
wasn't depressing. I enjoy reading Marilyn Tyner as well as wonderful
novels from other Arabesque authors.
12. Do you see yourself ever writing a historical or
Yes, but they will have a romantic flavor. I enjoy developing
relationships between main characters and see how they interact in the
community. Most of my novels are set in small towns, where we can get a
better feel for the area.
13. Is being a romance writer what you thought it
would be like?
Writing is more involved and harder than I thought it would be. It is much
easier to read a novel than it is to write creative stories that engage the
14. What was your becoming a published writer
My desire to write started in the eighties when I wanted to read stories
that featured African-American characters. It wasn't until the early
nineties that I actually started to write. But when Kensington Publishing
Company started the Arabesque line, I completed my manuscript and mailed it to
them. They responded that it was too short and asked me to send another
proposal. The result was White
Lightning, released February 1997. I've published five
full-length novels (White
This Kiss, The
Essence of Love, Intimate
ESCAPE) and two novellas (Moonlight
Mistletoe, A Mother's Touch).
15. If you could pick one of your books for a movie
which one would you
choose, and who would you cast in it?
I would choose White
Lightning and I would cast Queen Latifah as Clarice,
Denzel Washington as Tylan and Ruby Dee as Ms. Drucilla.
16. What are your favorite sites on the web to visit?
I do research on the web. There are many interesting sites that supply
medical information, details for detective and police matters and information on
African-Americans, past and present. Romance Writers of America has a
website for people interested in writing.
17. Do you like communicating with your readers and in
what forms (letters,
I enjoy talking one-on-one to readers at book-signings, but I have a website
at www.erols.com\cpoarch. You
may also reach me at PO Box 291, Springfield, VA 22150.
18. What's the best part about being a romance
I enjoy crafting stories and characters who fit into a special world I create.
The characters and circumstances can be whatever I imagine them to be. I
enjoy helping them work out problems I've created for them. I'm in charge
but my characters take on a life of their own. Sometimes they surprise me.
Of course I always include suspense and mysteries in my novels.
19. Any advice for those aspiring romance writers?
If writing is your desire, learn as much as you can about your craft and never
be deterred from your goal. Rejection is the name of the game.
Simply keep trying and you will realize your dream. Remember the saying
"Writer's Write." Also RWA national conference is in Washington,
DC this year in July. If you live nearby, try to attend. There are
local chapters throughout the country. Go to the RWA website to find a
chapter in your area.
20. Can you give us a peek at what we can expect from the
To find the person who murdered his foster brother, Carter Matthews begins
his search on a small island near the North Carolina coast with the woman
who claims to have borne his brother's child. Carter finds much more than
what he'd bargained for. He discovers the family and love he never thought
could be his. As a foster child, he never felt at home. Throughout
the story he sees the family he already has in a new light. Shattered
Illusions will be published November 2000.