Spotlight on Nia Forrester and her new release, FOUR

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Some of you already know that Nia Forrester is one of my favorite authors. I 1-click all of her books and I’m never disappointed. As soon as I found out she was releasing FOUR, I made sure to pre-order it. Get to know Nia and FOUR.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 09.39.12When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t know that writing begins as a realization. I just know that I always have. From the time I could string together coherent sentences and write them down, that’s what I did. I remember writing something like poetry when I was about four. Something about raindrops and the sounds they made. I only remember because I had an aunt who was so impressed, she acted as though I’d split the atom and kept reciting the poem to everyone and saying how amazing it was. I guess that makes her my first reviewer. 

Which authors have been your literary inspiration? 

Some writers I admire are Donna Tartt for her keen insights into human nature; Anne Rice for her rich detail, Agatha Christie for her tightly woven plots, Stephen King for his ability to use simple almost mundane prose to convey situations that are anything but mundane and also his ability to create equally fascinating characters as plots. And more recently, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell and Peter Swanson’s mystery suspense novels.  My classic favorites are Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston. My by-far favorite independent author is Jacinta Howard, because she doesn’t just share characters and their stories but portrays a world that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction – young, Black, talented, and socially-conscious hipsters (who sometimes fall in love with each other).

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Could you describe it for us?

I wake up thinking about writing, and where the characters and story were when I last left them. I start counting in my head all my other obligations for the day, and the hours I can spend writing. I think about the characters as I shower (which is where some really great ideas come, interestingly) and when I get out, I may scribble down the thoughts that came to me. I work a day job, so I don’t write (much) while there. But when I get home, I go immediately to my computer and turn it on. I set the intention to write, even if I don’t get many words down. But on average, I think I get about 2,000—3,000 per evening on paper. And maybe about 1,000 of those words survive the evening.

Writing CaveWhere is your favourite place to write?

My home office. Sometimes in my bed, if I use my iPad or Surface. Things don’t work out well when I write from my bed.

Which themes recur in your writing? 

My most frequently recurring theme, I think, is that imperfections and even glaring flaws in who a person is, or was, shouldn’t deny them a chance at happiness. Another would be that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can become your best self through and with another person; and there is no rule that says you have to self-perfect before finding love, and growing in love. I also like to insert a lot about how our families can make us, and how we can make our own families.

What inspired the stories in FOUR? How did FOUR come into being?

Quite honestly, FOUR is my gift to readers. The characters in that book are the ones that they ask about the most, who they constantly refer to over and over again, and who, I think resonated with the largest group of people. So, though I have other stories an ideas that I am eager to get to, I wanted to give my readers deep thanks, for reading about these people and their lives, for loving them, and for letting me know they loved them.

Of the four couples in focus in FOUR, is there one that you would call your favourite? Why?

I think Tracy and Brendan. Because Tracy is so outwardly difficult to love, even while she loves fiercely, and permanently. And because Brendan is her soulmate, her complementary other half who could not be more different from her, and could not be more perfect for her.

Many writers have said they’ve found it difficult to focus on writing in the current political and social climate. Has our current state of affairs affected your writing? 

It is difficult to think about relationships and love in a time when we’re having so much difficulty relating to each other. I can focus on writing only if I incorporate some elements of our time into what I write. I can’t write as pure escapism, and I suspect that the readers who dislike my work may dislike it in part because it doesn’t offer that pure escape. When I write, the people in my books may lie, cheat on partners, make ill-considered decisions, have sketchy pasts, or are just plain stupid. They also interact with the world as we do. They confront racism, colorism, classism, homophobia, abuse … So, I can focus, but the work definitely takes on a darker, more edgy tone in times like this.

Is there a story you would love to tell but haven’t dared to write yet? Tell us about it. Do you think you’ll ever write it?

I want to write a period piece. About what it was like to be Black in America in the early 1900s, when there we were almost one generation past Emancipation, and beginning to embrace the idea of having full agency, or ”freedom.” I want to write a story centered on the journey, hopes and dreams of a young woman in that time, her work, her loves, her ambitions. I may write it, but it’s so perfect in my head that it’s tough to make the leap to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

What’s next for you? Upcoming 2019 releases? Events?

I may do two events in 2019. Wine with Writers, which I do with Lily Java, Rae Lamar and Jacinta Howard, and one other, as yet to be determined.  As far as upcoming releases, I have three or four that I know I want to do, and plan to continue writing my ’Shorts’ as inspiration strikes me.

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Four couples, four transitions, four seasons of marriage …

Grace

Most couples wouldn’t have weathered one mistake of the kind Shawn made when he and Riley first got married, let alone emerge with a commitment that’s stronger, a beautiful family and a love that’s even deeper. Is there any way their relationship can survive mistake number two?

Balance

Whatever Brendan wants, Brendan gets. It’s an arrangement Tracy doesn’t mind, because he provides everything she needs: love, financial security and the comfort of never having to work outside the home. But now, the most important thing she wants, he doesn’t have the time—or maybe even the will—to give. With a relationship built on giving all of herself, is it fair to now ask for a piece back?

Growth

Robyn’s career is in a growth-spurt just as Chris’ seems to be at its natural end. No longer empire-building, he’s struggling with his new reality, and the need for a sense of purpose separate from his work. His wife seems way too busy to notice. That is, until someone else does. 

Renewal

Once a mistress, now just a suburban wife and working mother, Keisha doesn’t recognize herself most days. The problem is, Jayson doesn’t either. If he’s reading her right, she wants out. And unless she’s mistaken, he might not mind too much if she decided to go.

The ‘Commitment’ series finale.

On Sale October 21

Pre-OrderEnter to Win

About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

 

AUTHOR SITEFACEBOOKTWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Book Review: Brunch at Ruby’s by DL White

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 09.55.15DL White has done it: written a wonderful book about friendship and all its foibles in such a way that you don’t want the book to end. In Brunch at Ruby’s, we meet lifelong friends Debra, Renee and Maxine when all three are a crossroads in their lives: Maxine is convinced she’s met Mr. Right (based on standards her mother has instilled in her since her youth–wealthy and cultured and above her station), Debra has been caught in a clinch with her lover and the shit is about to hit the fan at the school where she’s principal (especially since her lover is the Athletic Director at the school) and Renee is struggling to deal with her father and his quickly declining case of dementia.

White takes us through the highs and lows of the women’s lives in alternating points of view and does so with a deft hand. There is NO head-hopping here; instead, we have confidently drawn characters whose voices are unique and whose storylines are differentiated enough that we understand all the time whose story we’re following. This pleases me as there are far too many books out there told from alternating POV in which less confident authors jump from head to head mid-paragraph and end up confusing readers.

What I love about Brunch at Ruby’s is that DL White has taken everyday life and made it so compelling that you don’t want to put the book down. This is a story every woman can relate to–the ups and downs of friendships, marriage problems, dealing with ageing parents–and it does so without becoming maudlin or predictable. Loved this book! Looking forward to DL White’s next release!

My rating?

5_Star

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Add Catherine McKenzie to my list of favorite authors

A few months ago a friend in the US asked me if I’d ever read anything by Catherine McKenzie. I hadn’t and told her so–and she promptly began to rave about how wonderful her books were and how I’d love them.

I bought two of Catherine McKenzie’s books for my Kindle–Arranged and Forgotten–but it took a while for me to begin reading them. I had so many other books on my to-read list. But then I finally read Forgotten and then Arranged…and now I am a bona fide Catherine McKenzie fan.

ImageForgotten is about a woman who goes to Africa and, when illness and an earthquake prevent her from coming home as planned, is declared dead despite her being very much alive. She returns home to find that she no longer has a home, a job and a boyfriend. And she must reclaim her life and figure out just what she wants out of this “new” life.

This was such a page-turner. I was hooked from start to finish and think this is a book I could read again and again.

ImageArranged is about a woman who, after a very bad break-up with her boyfriend, finds a card for a matchmaking service on the day she moves out from their apartment. Taking this as a sign (though she says she doesn’t believe in signs), she makes an appointment to meet a consultant at the service. She thinks it’s a dating service but is soon informed that they are about helping people find marriage partners. And–instead of being turned off by the idea–she is intrigued. Should she give up on romantic love and focus on platonic love as a way to happiness in a marriage? And is there a place for an arranged marriage in her life? Loved this book and would definitely read it again! 😀

Both books were fantastic! I loved how the characters felt so real–sometimes you loved them, sometimes you were so frustrated by them you wanted to scream at them, but you always wanted the best for them.

That’s it for now! Happy reading (and writing)! 🙂

Review: The French House is a real pageturner!

ImageJust before I headed to Matera for the Brainstorming at the Spa, something wonderful popped up in my mailbox–Nick Alexander‘s new novel, The French House. Now you may remember I interviewed Nick a few weeks ago for Kim Talks Books and I mentioned that he had a new book in the works. Well, the wait is over. As of today, you can purchase your copy of the novel, which is a sequel to The Case of the Missing Boyfriend.

So while I was en route to Matera via Munich, I read The French House and found myself with a book I didn’t want to put down. Fellow book nerds, you know the feeling–when a book is so good you get annoyed when you have to set it aside to do other things–like talk to people, order coffee, say thank you to cabin personnel…that sort of thing. Well, The French House was just that sort of book for me.

The novel is a continuation of CC’s story. She’s found love with the very delectable Victor, who has inherited a farmhouse in the south of France and decided to make a go of it with renovating the house and living his dream of keeping goats and making cheese. CC goes to France to see Victor and, even though life in the mountains is not the south of France life she dreamt of, she is charmed enough to imagine moving there fulltime with Victor. Once she’s back in London, her job feels pointless and she misses Victor enough to make a snap decision to join him there and help him with the renovation.

What starts off as a dream quickly turns into a bit of a nightmare for CC as she realizes that getting things done in the French countryside is more difficult than she and Victor imagined and then there’s Victor’s eccentric aunt who gives CC the heebie-jeebies. Add to it a number of strange mishaps, CC’s mum and the new man in her life, and you have the makings of a story that keeps you hooked until the very last page.

So do I recommend The French House? You bet I do! CC and Victor’s story is not your picture-perfect romance–but who wants that? That would be boring! They are both flawed enough that you love them even when you want to shake some sense into them.

So what do I give The French House? Five stars! And I hope Nick’s got a new book coming out soon! 🙂

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Review: The Case of the Missing Boyfriend had me hooked!

Image Every now and then you read a book featuring a character who feels like someone you already know or you should know. That’s how I felt when I was reading The Case of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander. CC, the main character, has a great job, an enviable flat in London (even if there is too much shade from her neighbor’s tree) and a group of friends she adores. But there’s something–someone– missing from her life, and that’s the boyfriend she wishes she could share her life with. So where is he? Like a lot of us, CC hasn’t had the best of luck on the romance front. She’s had the cad ex-boyfriend (who didn’t want to have a baby with CC but got someone else pregnant within two months of breaking up with her), she’s tried speed-dating but it hasn’t yielded any results. So CC’s wondering where is the elusive missing boyfriend–the Mr. Right   is because she’s ready to settle down.We follow CC as she journeys through the the emotional minefield of searching for that special someone–not an easy task since CC isn’t interested in casual sex and she hates the dating scene. Through it all, you’re firmly in her corner, rooting for her and hoping she finds the person who will make her feel complete.

What I love about this book is that it feels like CC is sitting beside you, confiding in you as she recounts these highs and lows of her personal and professional life. You could be sitting in your favorite wine bar, pub or café commiserating with her over a glass of rosé or a huge mug of coffee. I love the honesty of CC’s character. She isn’t shy about sharing her likes and dislikes, her foibles and her secrets. There’s a rawness to her that pulls you in and makes you care all the more about her, especially in the second half of the book, which has a darker feel to it. And CC’s spot-on humor made me laugh out loud on enough occasions that people on the subway gave me strange looks. 🙂

Nick Alexander has crafted a fabulous book that traverses so well the ups and downs of women’s lives, especially single women on the cusp of 40 who are caught in that limbo where their married-with-children friends aren’t so comfortable with their single friend and their single friends are too busy looking for love themselves. The Case of the Missing Boyfriend is a fun read that isn’t afraid to tackle serious topic, so if you like your women’s fiction to have an edge, then this is the book for you. I loved CC and her story, and I can’t wait to read the continuation of CC’s story, The French House, which is coming out in April. 

My rating? Image