Intimate Conversation with Alretha Thomas

After fifteen years of countless rejection letters and emails, author and playwright, Alretha Thomas, finally received a "Yes." It came from Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group in 2012.  Stacey contacted Alretha via email and told her she had read Married in the Nick of Nine in one sitting and that the novel had brought her to tears. Stacey offered Alretha representation and after a year Stacey sold Married in the Nick of Nine to Deborah Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing. The deal includes all four standalone books in Thomas' Cass & Nick series: Married in the Nick of Nine, The Baby in the Window, One Harte, Two Loves, and Renee's Return.

Alretha was bitten by the writing bug at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class-that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. Continuing in high school, her numerous original oratorical conquests on the Speech Team led her to a journalism concentration at USC.

Upon graduating, Alretha soon realized her interest in journalism was not heartfelt. While at the taping of a live sitcom, the producer noticed her and encouraged her hand at modeling. Modeling didn't mean much to her, but it did lead her to acting and a NAACP Theatre Award Nomination (1993) for BEST ACTRESS. Alretha left acting and began to write full time. Her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces-the community response was overwhelming.

This led to full length plays outside of the church. In 2002, The Stella Adler Theater presented A Shrine to Junior. The play was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award and in 2004, Alretha's play, Civil Rites, was the recipient of an NAACP Theatre Award. Her play Grandpa's Truth ran at the Inglewood Playhouse in Inglewood, California in 2006, and was extended more than once by popular demand. Not only did radio station KJLH support by recommending this production to its listeners, but notables like the Mayor of Inglewood, Roosevelt Dorn, and music legends like Freda Payne and Stevie Wonder had critical acclaim for Grandpa's Truth. This wonderful piece was featured on Channel 5 (KTLA News) by Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin.

Additionally, in 2007, Alretha's play, Sacrificing Simone had a successful run at Stage 52 in Los Angeles and was called "an inspirational crowd pleaser" by the Los Angeles Times and in 2009, Alretha's ground breaking One, Woman Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient Denise Dowse, garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha's first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on KTLA Channel 5.

In 2011, Alretha launched her second novel Dancing Her Dreams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, "Married in the Nick of Nine," spawned a four-book series that has been acquired by Soul Mate Publishing. "Married in the Nick of Nine," the first book in the series was released July 2, 2014.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
A book I wrote in 2011 titled Dancing Her Dreams Away actually inspired me to write Married in the Nick of Nine. The protagonist in that book was a bit on the naïve side and readers found it a little difficult to embrace her. My books and characters are like my babies and I'm very protective. I wanted readers to be able to relate to my female protagonist. So I decided that the protagonist in my next book would be smart, upwardly mobile, someone all women could relate to. Not perfect, but with flaws that a reader could accept. Thus, I created Cassandra Harte and built a story around her that women would find compelling.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Yes, they do inspire my writing. It dawned on me the other day that all of my books tend to have the families intact, i.e., there's always one or more two-parent homes in my books. I grew up without a father, so I vicariously live through my characters' families. Cassandra has great parents, and I often fantasize that they're my parents. I also tend to write stories that encompass all social-economic levels because of my background. I grew up in a dysfunctional home and we were poor. However, I've been blessed to have gone to college, and now I'm living relatively well. Basically, I've lived on both sides of the track. As a result, my writing reflects this when it comes to my characters, their education level, and backgrounds.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
I write from my heart and soul. Stories just bubble up inside me, and I have to get them put on paper. My books are equally plot and character driven.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
My current book is called Married in the Nick of Nine. It's about a young woman who wants to meet, fall in love with, and marry "The One" within nine months. She meets an amazing guy named Nick Harte, but there's one caveat-he's from New York. Cassandra ends up moving from Los Angeles to New York to be near him, but to her chagrin soon finds out there's something rotten in The Big Apple. This book is romantic suspense because there are a number of twists and turns and plot twists that will have you on the edge of your seat. The book is available on Kindle and in a few months will be available on Nook.

BPM: Give us some insight into your characters. What makes each one so special?
The main characters in Married in the Nick of Nine are: Cassandra Whitmore, Nicolas Harte, and Cynthia Townsend. Cassandra is a no-nonsense go getter. She's a communications specialist with a successful hospital Corporation and she owns her own home. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and is an only child. Her parents were in their forties when they had her. This is one reason why Cassandra is so determined to meet Mr. Right. She doesn't want to have children late in life. She also volunteers at a shelter for abused women. I love that about her. Nicolas is a computer programmer. He's so good-looking that he makes hearts stop when he enters a room. He's intelligent caring and a whole lot of something else. But you'll have to read the book to find out what that 'something else' is. Cynthia is Cass' wild and crazy cousin. She's unhappily married and has a seven-year old daughter. I love the mix of Cass and Cynthia. They truly complement each other.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Love, marriage, trust, betrayal, and forgiveness are some of the main topics. I learned a lot writing my book. The most surprising was that human beings have the ability to forgive more so than they realize.

BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have been pursuing a writing career for fifteen years. In 2012, I finally landed literary representation, and in 2013 I landed a four-book deal. I've shed a lot of tears and endured countless rejection. I really feel like I've accomplished a great deal, but there's still so much more I'd like to do. I would love for my Cass & Nick series to be optioned for the silver screen.

BPM: What would you like for readers to do after reading this book? 
I'd love to see this book on the silver screen, and I want readers to post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and all their social media pages.

BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't included?
I just want readers to know that I absolutely love them, and I appreciate all of their support.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can check me out on my website at: My other social media contacts are on my website as well.

Married in the Nick of Nine by Alretha Thomas
Cassandra Whitmore is facing yet another Valentine’s Day alone. Her love life is as dry as the Sharpie pen she uses to mark an even more dreadful day on her calendar—her upcoming 30th birthday. Driven by the maddening ticking of her biological clock, Cassandra is determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months.

When Cassandra accompanies her cousin to a night club, her Type-A quest to meet a man is quickly rewarded by a stranger’s velvety, baritone voice asking if he might occupy the seat next to her. He’s Nicolas Harte, whose good looks leave Cassandra speechless, but not for long. After mustering enough courage to strike up a conversation, she learns Nicolas is everything she wants in a man—smart, successful, and available. There’s only one catch: He’s “GU” (geographically undesirable).

Nonetheless, Cassandra falls in love with Nicolas and makes the uncharacteristic decision to move from Los Angeles to New York to be with him. But Cassandra gets a rude awakening when she discovers there’s something rotten in the Big Apple.

Married in the Nick of Nine by Alretha Thomas
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Kindle Link: