Intimate Conversation with Vanessa Riley
The Regency era (early 1800s), which captivated Vanessa Riley, also made her wonder why faces of color who were integral to the building of this society: serving in her wars, adding to her arts, loving and dying for her causes, were missing. Now she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to these stories, restoring these old souls to historical romances for all the world to read. Riley is the author of "The Bargain", A Port Elizabeth, South African Regency serial and Regency novels: "Unmasked Heart", Madeline's Protector, and "Swept Away.”
BPM: When did you get your first inkling to write, and how did you advance the call for writing?
I've been writing and telling stories since I was a little girl. I remember keeping myself and my younger brothers enthralled with sweeping tales of adventure. By the time I was seventeen I began winning writing competitions. But, like many college-bound students, I put creative writing on hold, while I pursued degrees in Engineering. I made myself very busy building a career in Technology.
It wasn't until my husband and I were expecting our first child, that God got a hold of me. I suddenly had to slow down and set my pen to paper. He gave me a gift, and it wasn't just to write technical briefs! Obedient to this calling, I read books, I took courses, and I joined writing organizations like the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. I did everything to strengthen my craft. My first novel, Madeline's Protector, was published by Pelican in 2013. It hit the top ten on Christianbook.com in December of that year.
BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
I love sweeping romances with a holy passion. The hero and heroine are challenged by their goals and desires, and by their Faith, too. I want to write words that have the power to energize the possibility for change. Maybe my words will help to change how you see things, or the words might offer a new perspective on how to deal with life. Mostly, I just want my words to affirm who you are in God's eyes.
BPM: What hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome as a new author and business owner?
For me the biggest hurdle is to learn how to grow my audience. I write Regencies or Jane Austen sounding work. In my stories I love to show the reader how we are all woven into God’s ‘Fabric of Time’. People of color didn't disappear after 300 BC suddenly to return as slaves in 1865. We are in the fabric of time. Our stories need to be told. I want to capture my reader’s imagination, so they lose themselves in the tales I weave.
BPM: What’s the most important quality a writer should have in your opinion?
I believe a writer should be hungry and fully awake with a thirst to do amazing things. Readers can taste passion in every bite of a book. We honor our readers by writing with passion and meaning.
BPM: Our life experiences, challenges and success help define who we are on many levels. At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
I am still very new in my career. I began to get emails and letters about how my books touched a reader. I’ve been told that I bring joy with my words. This gives me a strong sense of fulfillment. The stories in my head are meant to help someone. I’m sure of it! If I can bring you a smile or offer hope, I'd say I've been that hungry writer who has passion and commitment.
BPM: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Introduce us to your book and the characters.
There is that moment in a good book, when all secrets are exposed and there is nowhere to run. In Unmasked Heart Gaia Telfair discovers the truth about her illicit birth. She is not a gently-bred daughter of a gentleman, but a mulatto who has been passing for white. Her world changed. In a time where birthright defined everything about your life, she had to learn to love herself and to know she was worthy of love. Just as she was ready to tell her secret, the man who is the one for her, learns his father was responsible for destroying hers. Everything changes again.
I write very long novels and serials. A serialized story is told in episodes. The episode is completed by solving one problem. The overarching problem---will the couple be together? Will they survive the war? Those problems are resolved as the season is released.
The Bargain, a serialized Regency Romance, is set in the colony of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I love the multicultural cast of warriors, brothel workers, heroes and heroines. The theme of this first season is about scars. Are you defined by your scars? Precious Jewell was an enslaved maid from Charleston, who has to decide if she is defined by her own scars. Her scars are both physical and emotional. I hope The Bargain challenges readers to deeply examine these lies, to uncover who we are in God's Light.
BPM: We are here to shine the spotlight on your new book, but what's next?
The finale episode IV of The Bargain releases November 22, 2015. This series has really captured readers’ imagination. Good news! Season Two releases in Fall of 2016. All of your favorites (if they lived) will be around in the next season. The central story will surround cast members you met in season one. I will also be releasing a Regency Romantic suspense in Spring of 2016, Unveiling Love. This one will keep you on the edge of your seats! You’ll be rooting for celebrated mulatto barrister Bradley Norton, and his half-Egyptian, half-Spanish wife, Ariana. Together we will solve the mystery of London's Dark Walk Abductor.
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Books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Vanessa-Riley/e/B00C55DARS/
Unmasked Heart (Challenge of the Soul Book 1)
The Bargain (A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Season One Book 4)