Hello Zetta! Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Why don’t you start off by telling the readers a little about your novel Messalina-Devourer of Men?
Hi Danielle! I really appreciate the chance to be interviewed here at Coffee Time Romance. In answer to your first question, here’s a mini blurb:
Eva Cavell is a woman with an embarrassing secret. She is sexually frustrated and believes her size and race intimidates men. In an attempt to relieve her sexual tension, every Thursday she goes to a local movie theatre and allows strangers to fondle her in the dark. During one of her escapades she meets renowned artist, Jared Delaney, a smooth Southern gentleman with irresistible violet eyes. He has been watching Eva on her weekly visits and sees through her icy defence straight to the hot passion burning underneath. But Eva has an image to uphold as a tenure-track instructor at a private Denver college and as the youngest child of a prominent black family. Will she ever be able to live her life how she wants and without shame? In order to do so, she has to own up to her own choices in life.
I found Evadne to be fascinating. The complexity of her characteristic shows her with a lot of conflict. Did you set out for her to be this way?
Yes. It’s hard to live up to an image—especially if it doesn’t fit. Eva has allowed herself to be defined by other people rather than defining herself. Her “image” affects her relationships with people, her job, even her safety because she has taken to doing some risky things in order to…, get relief, shall we say? I think we’re all guilty of it. It’s easier said than done, and most of us never completely succeed.
Jared is stated to be an artist with the temperament to match. Why did you choose this as his career?
It was another profession that I could relate to as a writer. Jared is an artist looking for inspiration because he’s getting bored and feels his creativity is drying up. He is truly panicked about not being able to create something he can really be proud of and not just the work he is contracted to do for other people. Jared and Eva are frustrated for different reasons. Both need an outlet to express themselves.
And if you read Messalina – Devourer of Men, you’ll find out what it is!
I love how your characters have flaws, at least according to society. Most romances I have read are about women who are small in stature, while Evadne is a REAL WOMAN (and I mean this in a very complimentary way). Is there a reason you decided to write about big-beautiful-women?
Yes, because when I started writing Messalina – Devourer of Men in 1993 as a short story, there were no stories featuring big, beautiful women, hardly any stories featuring black women (especially romances), and NONE in erotic romance. Zane hadn’t made the scene yet. The publishing world totally ignored us as a group.
For a very long time I have been tired of seeing the “big girl” as the comic relief and never the romantic interest, just like I’m tired of the “black girl” always being the wise-cracking sistah, or the long-suffering victim/martyr. It still irritates me. We’re not all like that. We’re funny, serious, sexy, and smart. Eva demonstrates this.
Messalina started as a story for my private enjoyment, and then I thought, why not try and get it published? No offense meant, but why should only skinny, white women get all the fun? In the end, Messalina has become my manifesto but I hope it’s something that men and women of any size/shape/race can enjoy.
I think Messalina is one example of what other writers in my position felt, and perhaps still feel. If NYC publishers want to ignore us, we’ll do it ourselves. That’s what I plan to do. Some publishers are coming around and there have been more stories featuring “real” women. I’m trying to read more of them to see what’s out there.
Time for me to plug my blog: The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog
This is a blog where I want to review and discuss books featuring “characters of substance” and hopefully interview some authors. I’ve reviewed fiction and non-fiction books so I’m also interested in looking at some of the issues we face.
Even though she explores her sexuality of sorts in a darkened theatre, Evadne is something of an exhibitionist. Is there a motive behind this carnal characteristic of hers?
Living large is hard and loving large can be harder. Eva is a kinky chick but she’s not going to be seen as love starved or sex starved. It’s one way for her to take control of her urges while still letting go of her inhibitions. It’s sort of a contradiction, but it works.
If Messalina were to be turned into a movie, who would you pick to play the main characters? Why?
Eva: perhaps Jill Scot because I love her in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
Jared: Kyle Secor, best known from the TV series, Homicide: Life on the Streets. He has an “innocent” look, but there’s something deep underneath.
I have reviewed both this novel and the prequel Cherries Jubilee -Before Eva met Jared. Why did you wait until after Messalina to write Cherries Jubilee?
“Cherries Jubilee” was originally the first chapter to Messalina and served to establish a subplot that ran through my original version of the book. But considering what happens in Messalina, this was going to be one subplot too many—so I dropped it. But I love the story! I couldn’t just chuck it, so I decided to make it a short, quick read that introduces a young Eva and gives a little more insight to her character, how she was raised, and how she sees herself.
I’ve been asked to develop a story featuring Casey. I have one or two ideas. We’ll see if anything comes of it. Stay tuned!
Can you tell the readers a little about Cherries Jubilee?
At the start of Messalina, Eva describes herself as a “sex goddess,” but before that, she was a virgin. “Cherries Jubilee” is a short story about one of the most important events in Eva’s life. Many young women have romantic fantasies about how/who/where when it comes to losing their virginity only to be disappointed by reality. “Cherries Jubilee” has Eva taking a nostalgic look back showing that while the circumstances may not have been perfect, the final result was.
I read a blurb about Devil Don’t Want Her. I found it to be funny, witty, and the teaser definitely left me wanting to read more. Can you tell us what it is about?
Faith Darling is a mild-mannered, Sunday school teacher who happens to be descended from the Devil. Well, that’s what she considers her late great-grandmother Miss Sunny Vincent to be. As far as Faith is concerned, her great-grandmother was so evil when alive, God won’t have her and the Devil doesn’t want her. Perhaps that’s why she’s having trouble keeping her great-grandmother’s remains buried.
Another one of your teasers is for Malice, a work in progress. Want to tell us a little about this novel?
In a way, it follows the theme found in “Devil Don’t Want Her” in that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives. Everyone has a dark spot in their family history, and if you don’t, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Malice is about Racine Francis, a woman with a troubled past and a deadly history. Not only does she have a secret to keep, but so does her beloved great-aunt Addie Henry. Love, murder, and an over-eager historian digging for the truth are destined to collide in a town called Malice, Colorado.
Let’s turn for a moment to something else. I have to say I love your website. Where did you come up with the unique design for it?
I had the idea, but it was my husband Jim who made it a reality. I wanted to create a page that looked real and not computer generated, so I took stuff that could be found on my desk and went from there.
And that is my handwriting, by the way…on a good day. I’ve always been fascinated by the handwriting of other authors. It’s usually so hard to read! LOL I used to have excellent handwriting before I went to university. Those years of taking notes did a number on my legibility.
You have an amazing array of topics on your site. One of them I noticed is Sistah in Scotland. Can you please tell us a little about this?
I started my Sistah in Scotland blog not long after arriving to Scotland to marry my husband. I’ve posted some stories of my exploits as a black woman living in Scotland as well as comparisons between living in the UK and the US— like finding hair products.
I need to update it, but drop on by! I promise to post more frequently this year.
Do you have any social networks you belong to? EX: MySpace, Twitter, Facebook? Maybe even a blog?
Yep! I post (or have access to!) several blogs:
Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are too many to mention, but over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with some women that have allowed me to join their group, the Bad Azz Authors (http://www.badazzauthors.com). We are a group of interracial/multicultural authors of erotic romance and I’ve been reading and enjoying their work: Jeanie Johnson & Jayha Leigh, Dréa Riley & Laura Guevara, Shara Azod, Camille Anthony, Marie Rochelle, RaeLynn Blue, Savannah J. Frierson, Reana Malori, and Yazmin Taylor.
What I love about this group is that we all write in different styles in different themes or genres and it’s ALL hot.
Did you always want to write erotica?
I sort of fell into it rather than set out to specifically write it. I grew up reading the various lines of Silhouette Romance and was there to see the birth of the Intimate Moments, and Desire lines. I just thought I was writing stories that could fit there—while adding my own flair. Turns out my “flair” is a bit too hot for that audience. Harlequin/Silhouette have since branched out and have become (a little) more open minded, but I haven’t read any of those books in years, so I can’t say anything good or bad about them.
I write what I want to read and if it turns out to fall into the “erotic” category, so be it.
Are there any other genres you have written? Any you want to write? Any you refuse to even think about writing?
With the exception of “Cherries Jubilee,” my short stories fall under literary fiction. I like writing stories that aren’t easily categorized because you never know where your imagination will lead you. I have a series in mind that will fall into literary fiction that I see running to three or four installments. I also have a paranormal erotic romance plot that may run into two or three books.
Like I said above, I write what I’d like to read, and hopefully others will want to read it too!
I love to read. I have read both eBooks and paperbacks. For me paperbacks win hands down. I love the smell, the scent of a book. What about you? Do you have a preference?
I will always have physical books. I love expanding my library. On my last trip home, I bought more than a dozen books. HOWEVER, I was very pleased when my husband got me a Sony Reader because I had a bunch of eBooks I wanted/needed to read but could only read them at home. I used to commute three hours a day and that was time when I could’ve been reading. Once I got my Reader, I knocked a lot off my “to read” list.
Plus, it’s way more convenient to read eBooks on a plane than to carry a physical book. On my last trip home (the same trip where I bought all the books) I had my Sony Reader too. I had about 30 books loaded up on it which freed up luggage space for when I bought those print books.
Today you have the best of both worlds, if you ask me. People who panic and say print books will cease to exist are scaremongering, in my opinion. People said the same thing when paperbacks came on the scene giving hardbacks a run for their money. There’s room for all. Just take your pick.
I know we talked about some of your favorite authors. But do you have a favorite genre you like to read?
Mysteries. I enjoy literary puzzles. Cozy, gothic, police procedural, it doesn’t matter.
And I have one last question that I like to ask all of my interviewees. In keeping with the Coffee Time theme, if you were described as a flavor of coffee, which flavor would you be and why?
Well, I have to confess, I don’t drink coffee. But maybe I’d be an espresso. I’m thick, black, strong, and if you can’t handle it—get something else! LOL
I hope you enjoyed answering my questions. Thank you again for taking time to do so.
Thank, Danielle! It’s been fun and I’m glad you enjoyed my books. I hope others will too!
For more information about Zetta Brown or her published works, visit her website or the publisher’s website at http://logical-lust.com/.