Roslyn Hardy Holcomb and Lisa G. Riley are two writers of steamy, smart, sophisticated interracial and multicultural romances. As a team, they write the ESHU CHRONICLES historical paranormal romances and RUMORS OF WARS, a dark, gritty urban fantasy. As a fan of both individual authors, I was pleased to find them working together. Both were gracious enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions and talk about upcoming projects.
RK: What was your path to writing and why did you choose romance?
Roslyn: I’ve been a writer for more or less my entire life, though primarily in nonfiction. I’ve also been a romance reader since I was nine years old. I started writing romances because I liked interracial romances, and at the time, 2002, they were very scarce on the ground.
Lisa: I’ve been writing since about the age of nine, but reading since long before that, and that’s what inspired me. I started out writing poetry and short stories. The first novel I ever wrote wasn’t a romance, but I read them constantly. I’d been laid off from my job with a dot com, and decided that I wouldn’t go back to work right away, but would try my hand at writing a romance.
RK: Both of you have been traditionally published, e-published, and indie. What have you learned from these experiences?
Roslyn: Being e-published, more than anything taught me how to write quickly but clean. Being traditionally published taught me patience, and to be very careful about contracts and your rights. Indie has taught me that even though you’re an artist publishing is a business and you have to value your product.
Lisa: In indie publishing because I’m the one in control, I’m the one that takes the glory (if there is any), and the hits (of which just one is plenty), so I am as meticulous as possible before releasing anything. Regarding being e-published, I was fortunate enough to be with a publisher that had really talented editors. I do miss that. Traditional publishing taught me that my best interests aren’t the same as the publisher’s.
RK: What was the inspiration for the ESHU CHRONICLES? (GIVEN and STOLEN)?
Lisa: First, you should know that Stolen was actually written before Given. We were brainstorming to write a book to enter a contest that an e-publisher was having. The publisher was looking for historical, paranormal romantica (quite the mouthful, I know) and Roz and I decided we’d go them one better and make it interracial. Roz knew way more about the Eshu myth than I did, but we bounced ideas between the two of us, eventually coming up with Stolen. The book didn’t win the contest, but our e-pub wanted something for Black History Month, so we submitted it. Our editor at the time thought an interracial romance wouldn’t work and that’s when we wrote Given.
RK: How do you write working as a team?
Roslyn: When we first started working on Stolen, neither of us had worked as a team before. So we drew up an outline and each of us decided which scenes we wanted to write. Then we put them together. We were both concerned about flow. We didn’t want our different writing styles to jump out at the reader, but fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Lisa has an effervescent style that I’ve always admired and a knack for narrative that I try my best to mimic. The action scenes are more my wheelhouse though we both try to carry the load equally. Sometimes a particular character will appeal more to one than the other. When that happens, that person does most of the characterization and the other just follows along. We’re both strong personalities, but we almost always agree about the stories. I can’t recall ever having a fight about one.
Lisa: I’d written for anthologies before, which is a bit similar in that another writer is depending on you so the book can be published. Your part becomes more crucial as a co-author. I enjoy the process. Working with someone pushes you beyond your usual boundaries because you do want the story to flow naturally, and you don’t want readers to notice a difference in styles that is jarring enough to take them out of the story. Roz has a smart, clever style that I love and we both, I think, do a really good job of keeping in mind the other’s strengths when working together.
RK: How did you develop RUMORS OF WARS? What made you decide to try urban fantasy?
Lisa: One day as I was grocery shopping, I had the thought that what if an Eshu and a Takathi, two natural enemies, had a child together, by fair means or foul? What would she be like? The idea for Perish was born. I didn’t have any idea about setting, I was really just focused on the idea of Perish, but likely just assumed we’d make it a contemporary setting. Ros brought up the idea of an urban fantasy and we discussed that in depth, decided to set in in the future and there you have it.
and some fun questions….
RK: If you could travel to a distant planet or a parallel universe, which would you choose and why?
Roslyn: I probably wouldn’t want to go to another planet. I’m a huge Jules Verne fan and I think I’d love to explore the depths of the ocean. The various sea creatures hold endless fascination for me. I’ve not yet given up on discovering Atlantis.
Lisa: I’ve always been interested in meeting the man on the moon, though I’m mostly an earthbound girl.
RK: If you could be a shape shifter, what would you shift into?
Roslyn: I’d probably be Eshu. I’m rather fond of the trickster nature of their orisha, and I think it would be fun to freak people the hell out.
Lisa: Eshu all the way. As an Eshu, you’re not just limited to shifting to just one animal. The choices alone are mind-boggling enough to make life interesting.