RG2E Reader2Author Interview with Chicki Brown and Joanna Villalongo
Here is the second in my Reader2Author Interview series for RG2E.
Of course the subject is — reading! 🙂
Welcome contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown. Four of her five Kindle novels have made Kindle bestseller lists, and the WG2E All-for-Indies Valentine’s Day Anthology includes a short story of hers. A New Jersey native, Chicki and her family relocated to suburban Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, and she now proudly calls herself a “Georgia peach.”
Our reader today is Joanna Villalongo, an avowed book lover, who sees reading as a way to take a peek into someone else’s drama and escape her own for a little while.
We hear ya, Joanna!
Alicia to Chicki and Joanna: When did you first become an avid reader? As a child or an adult? What got you started?
Chicki: My mother was a voracious reader, and she instilled her love of reading in her girls. I have always been an avid reader. The library became my favorite hangout in elementary school. The small New Jersey town where I grew up only had one branch, and every two weeks, I would walk across town get a stack of books I could barely carry back home. Back then my favorite books were Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries and anything by Beverly Cleary.
Joanna: I have always liked reading. But I became an avid reader as an adult. What got me started was, we used to have what was called “Secret Pal” in my church and one year, my secret pal got me an Historic African American fiction book and I fell in love with it. I searched for that genre for a while but it seemed they were pretty hard to come by so I suspended my search. That was until John Grisham wrote A Time to Kill, it was then that I fell in love with legal thrillers.
Alicia: Do your children read?
Joanna: I could not PAY my son to touch a book but my daughter absolutely loves to read and she writes also. That is her goal, to become an author.
Alicia: Where do you read? And how often?
Joanna: I read whenever I can wherever I can. I love to read. I have read so many books that my mother, grandmother and I have started our own little “book club”. I usually sit either on the couch or in a rocking chair and read. I usually like to read late in the evening when the kids are in the bed and I have no distractions. Any time I have a dentist or doctor’s appointment, I make sure I have a book with me. If the book that I was reading at the time was that good, I have read at traffic lights and asked my son to tell me when the light was green! LOL. So I guess anytime is reading time!
Chicki: Since I spend my days writing, editing and promoting my work, my reading time is limited. I read everywhere, because I read on Kindle – in bed at night, in the car while my husband is driving on the weekends, standing in line at the grocery story, waiting in the doctor’s office.
Alicia to Chicki: Was there a particular book that first made you want to write? Did you always like love stories?
Chicki: For years, I read nothing but mysteries and thrillers. James Patterson, John Grisham and John Sanford filled my bookshelves. It wasn’t until I read Lucky’s Lady by Tami Hoag that I fell in love with romance. After reading that sultry Louisiana romance, I started reading every romance I could get my hands on.
Alicia to Joanna: What genres are your favorites? Any you absolutely would never read?
Joanna: My favorite genre is African-American Christian Fiction. I also enjoy romantic thrillers as well as mystery/suspense. I don’t think I would ever read anything that is sexually or verbally graphic.
Alicia to Joanna: How did you discover the first Chicki Brown book you read? How did it affect you?
Joanna: My mother told me she ordered this book on Kindle called Have You Seen Her and I immediately thought of the Chi-lites song! So she kept asking me if I ordered it yet and I told her no, but I would get around to it. Needless to say, my mother had long since finished the book and told me I didn’t know what I was missing. I was the kind of reader that need to feel the pages turn. To me, reading an e-book was not the same as turning the pages of an actual book. I finally downloaded the Kindle on my phone and ordered the book. Oh my goodness, I was so intrigued. Have You Seen Her is actually one of the books that I read at a red light! It changed the way I saw e-books. After reading her first book, I was instantly messaging her on Facebook, asking when her next book would be available.
Alicia to Chicki: Do you have an author you’re currently read that inspires you writing?
Chicki: Everything Beverly Jenkins writes inspires me. She writes both contemporary and historical African-American romance and women’s fiction. Her characters are easy to fall in love with and her villains can often be hilariously funny.
Alicia: What about for pure pleasure?
Chicki: Paranormal author J.R. Ward has been my guilty pleasure for the past few years. Until I read Dark Lover, the first book in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I had never read a paranormal book before. By the time I finished it, I was a sold-out Ward fangirl. This series’ urban flavor is contemporary, raw, funny, exciting and sometimes frightening. I loved it so much, I read the first six books twice.
Alicia to Joanna: What is the reason you continue to read Chicki’s books?
Joanna: I continue to read Chicki’s books because she is a very versatile author. Some authors have one main theme and that’s what they stick with, yes the location changes and the names of the characters change but they end up being predictable. Chicki is not that type of author. Every book that I have read of Chicki’s has kept me on the edge of my seat and the events that transpire during the journey through the book are not predictable in the least. When Devon’s stalker ended their connection the way that she did, I was shocked. I was even more shocked to learn who was encouraging her to keep going after Devon.
Chicki to Joanna: Of my books that you’ve read, what did you wish you could change?
Joanna: Of the books that I have read, I don’t know that I would change any of them. They each have their own twists and turns that I loved. The characters are very unique and have a voice of their own. I loved what you did with Kinnik. Her transformation from a wanna be video vixen whose children were an inconvenience to a wife and loving mother was amazing.
Joanna to Chicki: How do you come up with the characters and make their lives so detailed?
Chicki: I always have an idea of the hero in my stories, so I usually start with him. The first thing I do is to search Google Images for pictures of a real-life man that fits the bill as far as physical features go then I fill out a detailed character profile for him. This profile contains questions about every aspect of the character’s life, their background, their likes and dislikes, their worldview, hopes and fears. Once my hero is done, I do the same for each of the major characters and a shorter version for the secondary characters. It may sound crazy, but sometimes I actually “interview” the character and ask them the questions contained in the profile.
The next step is to create a photo collage in PowerPoint of the story’s setting, the characters, their homes, their cars, etc. I use this to keep a visual image of everything in front of me as I work.
Alicia to Chicki: Is there one character you get the most compliments or complaints about?
Chicki: That would definitely be Kinnik Watkins in HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME. I never intended for her to take over the story the way she did, but when she started forcing her way to the forefront, I just stepped aside and let her. Kinnik’s over-the-top personality evokes strong reactions from readers. They either love or hate her.
Alicia to Joanna: What prompts you as a reader to contact an author?
Joanna: The things that prompt me to contact an author are reading a book so good it almost makes me hyperventilate or the disappointment of finally connecting to a character just to have them killed or in some other way eliminated from the book or series. I will also contact an author if the book ends and there are still some things left unsaid or questions left unanswered. I e-mail them to find out if there will be another installment to answer these questions. If not, what direction would they have taken it if there were to be another installment in the series? I also contact an author to tell them how much I absolutely love their work and thank them for sharing their gifts with us.
Alicia to Chicki: What was the most satisfying response you’ve gotten from a reader? The most unusual?
Chicki: These two reviews were both the most satisfying and the most unusual. I value them, because I’ve heard so many African-American authors bemoaning the fact that Caucasian readers don’t read their books, and I’m thrilled that my books are crossing that reading divide.
“I bought Hot Fun for Kindle because it has a good review and was cheap! When I started reading it, I realized that it was about black characters and I thought I wouldn’t be able to get into it or enjoy it at all. I was SO wrong!
I am a very white, Mid-Western, woman. I live in an all-white town, never have had a relationship with any black people and graduated from an all-white school in Iowa and both my colleges were 99% white. You can see why I felt out of my comfort zone. There were a lot of things in the first book that I had to just figure out from context, but that wasn’t a distraction and it never hurt the flow of the story. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately bought Hollywood Swinging and have just finished it. Loved the second book, too and hope you continue those character’s stories in another book.” – reader Vicki M.
And this one:
I had never read anything by this author before. To be honest when I first began reading this book and realized that the characters were African American I was afraid that I would not be able to relate to the characters, but I was so very wrong. This book is well written and the characters are very well described. I really enjoyed this book. – Mamie J (Brighton, TN)
Alicia to Joanna: Is there something you’d like to say to most authors? Something you wish they’d understand better about readers?
Joanna: Yes. The one thing I wish most authors would understand better about readers is, we need closure! (laughing) When we meet these characters and spend hours upon hours getting to know them, finding out what makes them behave the way that they behave, watching as their drama unfolds, when we see all of this, we need an ending just as detailed. It is nice to be able to use your imagination sometimes but others, not so much. We need to know, did their relationship with their parents improve? Did they end up having children that they never thought they could have? Was she ever able to move on from her past or was he able to trust again after being hurt so badly? Closure! That is what I love so much about epilogues, they answer all of those questions and leave us, the readers, satisfied. Like being able to release a breath we had been holding since the drama began.
The conversation continues. You can read the complete Interview at :
Chicki Brown’s many homes in cyberspace include:
Personal Blog: http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com
Huge Thank You’s to Alicia, Chicki, and Joanna for a wonderful Reader2Author Interview!!!
Now then…who all would like to win an Ebook Gift Copy of one of Chicki’s superfab books?!
You can find all 6 of ’em right here…
Tell us here in today’s Comments Section which one you’d like…and you just might win it!!!
The Best of The RG2E Ereading Wishes — D. D. Scott, RG2E Founder
P.S. You’ve also still got till April 1st to Enter to Win a Kindle Fire…in our Second RG2E Ereader Giveaway!!! Here’s where and how to enter: