Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TAKE TEN: Bestselling author Elaine Flowers

Conversations talked with author Elaine Flowers as she was promoting her second book ITS MORNING, a collection of stories with rich characters that readers will love to discover and discuss as well as empathize with. The book was chosen as one of Conversations "25 Best Kept Literary Secrets of 2008", and during the interview she talked about her return to the literary world and how she feels about the response of the new project. Here is our conversation.

Elaine, thank you for taking out time out of your busy schedule to talk with Conversations Magazine! Before we get into your new book IT'S MORNING, begin by tell our readers a little bit about who Elaine Flowers is.
Although this is my second book, I’m still a new author on the scene. I am a divorced mother of two adult children. A full time writer and lover of everything literary.

When you were growing up, did those around you have any idea that you would take the path that you have and become an accomplished author?
No, in fact when I wrote my first book “Black Beauty“ no one in my family even knew I was writing a book and they were shocked when I told them I planned to publish it. It took me five years to finish it and I didn’t want the pressure of them asking me when the book would be finished, so I kept it to myself and wrote late at night and sometimes between clients at the salon. My family had no idea that I had any interest in writing professionally. But they have been very supportive and excited about my work. I have met other grassroots authors who say they don’t have the support of family and close friends so I don’t’ take that for granted.

One of the things I like to do when I am preparing for these interviews is research my guests so I can best serve our audience. You seem to have taken a hiatus from the literary industry before resurfacing this year with the new book. Tell our readers about your first book and why you took the break.
My first book is my baby. “Black Beauty“ is about three women and two of them work in a beauty salon named Black Beauty. When I independently published the first book I had to come out of writer mode and wear many different hats as a publisher. For me, and I’m not speaking for any other author out there who published their own work, but that took me away from the practice of writing. There is a certain element that I need to create in and I just don’t do my best work when I am running around and being overly interactive with people, as you have to do when you are busy with the business of publishing and promoting. Although “It’s Morning“ was written before “Black Beauty“ was even published there were a couple of other books that I was working on during that time off as well as searching for a publisher.

I was struck that your book IT'S MORNING has characters that are just as passionate and diverse as those created by Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins and even Danielle Steel, however, most stores will categorize you in the African-American section when shelving you. I want you to speak about your intended audience when writing and how you counter the obvious limitations that are put on authors as talented as yourself who just happen to be black.
First let me say thank you for that lovely compliment! I am going to answer this question like an artist. I do write with black readers in mind. I don’t concern myself with trying to cross over, or thinking how I can invite a more diverse group into the demographic of readers that I write for. Growing up I read many books that didn’t have characters that looked like me and I’m not bitter about that at all. One of my favorite books back in the day was “The Promise” by Danielle Steele. And like many other writers who were also avid readers growing up, I always wanted to read stories where the characters looked and behaved, culturally speaking, like me. So, this is the reason I’m moved to write what I write.

Addressing the categorizing of AA books in the stores, I would love to see them do away with that and categorize books based on genre alone. And maybe with this new shift in the atmosphere that we all witnessed this past Tuesday, eventually this can happen. And other cultures and races maybe will be more interested in us as a people and desire to read about us. I’m excited to see where this new frontier and true diversity that is obviously taking place right now is going to impact the literary world.

Let me also add, that the publisher may not share my exact views because at the end of the day it is all about book sales and if writing more diversely will sell more books then that’s what needs to happen. I don’t want to speak on behalf of Brian Smith or Hollygrove, but I believe we share the same ideas about being true to the art, which is one of the reasons we clicked so well right off the bat.

Along the lines of the last question, Elaine, I want to talk about your role in marketing and promoting. You are published through Hollygrove Publishing, a company who has been nationally recognized and respected. With that being said, the author still has a major part to play in getting their books out to the public. Let's say I am a new author on the scene. What advice would you give me?
My advice is so simple, when I share it with others who ask the same or a similar question of advice to new writers or authors they almost look at me with disappointment because they were expecting something more profound. But, my advice is this; be true to yourself, read as much as possible, and write everyday. To expound on that, I would also say not to concern yourself with the finish line—because none of us start there. Don’t worry about becoming some famous, world-renowned author and big time celebrity. And if you’re writing to become famous, forget it. That’s just the wrong attitude to have. When you write, just tell your story, give your advice, or inspire someone, depending on what kind of books you write, and don’t concern yourself with all of the other stuff.

In the music industry artists sometime talk about the "sophomore jinx" when they have experienced extraordinary success with their first project. Since you had been away for a while what did you do to prepare for your return and did you have concerns about how you would be received?
Well, I’ve never heard of the sophomore jinx, but I can tell you that I don’t overly concern myself with what others think or how me, or my work will be received. And it takes way too much work to try to be something or someone that I’m not so I don’t bother myself with that. I’m just always hopeful that the readers will embrace the voice of my characters and the stories that I write.

The reviews I have read on Amazon about the new book have been incredible. Do you read reviews, and were you surprised at the response so far?
Yes, I do read reviews. And I could not be more thrilled with what I’ve read. I wouldn’t say that I was surprised but I am truly humbled and grateful. I know for a fact that human nature suggest that when people are dissatisfied they quicker to speak up then when they are satisfied. So, I’m thrilled that readers took the time to give a review instead of just keeping it to themselves how much they enjoyed the book because I need to hear what they think in order to stay motivated to do what I do.

Success comes in many forms and varies from person to person. What is success for you today when it comes to your writing?
Success to me is the absolute enjoyment I get out of creating these characters and weaving together the stories that I tell and having readers be moved and take things personal by getting angry or totally relating to what’s happening in the books. Being able to write everyday is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. I know that other people have different ideas of success and have different ideas of success for me, but I feel successful already. The only thing I would add to the success that I’m enjoying right now is to alleviate some of the simple financial burdens I experience from writing full time. Most writers have other careers or work that they do to keep with the expense of daily living. And I am a retired hairstylist and salon owner and used to make plenty of money that came fairly easily, but you couldn’t pay me to go back to doing that. On most days I enjoy the struggle of the artist it keeps the creativity sharp I think. But then there are days that I think “okay, this isn’t fun today. I need a job!”

What would you like to say to your fans that enjoyed your first book and have stood by patiently waiting for you and the release of IT'S MORNING? Well, I’m a little uncomfortable with the title ‘fans’ so I’ll call them readers. But, I will say that I appreciate them so much. And it’s because of them that I’m motivated to keep going. And actually, the readers were waiting on my novel “Broken Appointments” which has two characters spinning off from the first novel “Black Beauty.” I kind of slipped “It’s Morning” in on them unexpectedly. But, I’m hopeful that they can look for “Broken Appointments” next year.

Thank you so much, Elaine, for your time. How can our readers find out more about you and purchase your book online?
Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. And, I have joined the new age and can be reached at . And the books are available at all booksellers, and online at or

Bestselling author Elaine Flowers also talked to Conversations LIVE! Radio about herself and her career. Listen to the interview here:

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