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This blog was featured on 07/10/2019
Jasmine Guillory on Diversity, Female Friendship and Romance
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She Writes
8 days ago
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
8 days ago

The Proposal hit the New York Times best-seller list when it was released last fall, following author Jasmine Guillory’s debut novel, The Wedding Date (February 2018). Guillory is now a rising star in the romance genre, and just released her latest book, The Wedding Party.

On Diversity

She told EW that one of the most gratifying things about her first two books has been seeing a wide audience exposed to different kinds of female characters, particularly black women.

According to The Ripped Bodice bookstore's annual State of Racial Diversity In Romance Publishing report, "for every 100 books published by the leading romance publishers in 2017, only 6.2 were written by people of color." (The study did not specify how many were written by Black authors.) The data is grim — but many authors have made it their mission to write black love in all its beauty and complexity.

"One of the reasons that I wanted to write romances with black women at the center was because I didn’t grow up reading books where I could see myself experiencing joy. So many of the books I read as a kid and teen about other black girls and women were about struggle, and I wanted books about black girls having fun and falling in love, just like the books about white girls I read."

This excerpt was originally published in Bustle. Read the full interview here.

“I’ve had other black women tell me they have seen themselves in these books, that they love the celebration of black women’s joy and them as a whole person, as someone who loves their job and their family and finds love.”

“It’s made me so happy to get those comments from readers. And to hear from other black women who have said that my books have made them start writing, that they weren’t sure that anyone wanted to hear their story and now they want to tell their story. I’m so happy about that, and I hope more stories like this are always out there in the world.”

This excerpt was originally published on EW. Read the full interview here.

On Strong Female Characters 

“I just love the idea of women creating things for themselves,” she says, drawing inspiration from women who express confidence in their relationships as well as in their careers.

“It did make me happy to have women [characters] out there figuring out how to do something that made them happy and that they want to do, and then succeeding at it,” she told EW.

On Inspiration

Guillory’s three novels share characters, along with the common theme of weddings. 

“I’ve always loved weddings,” she says. “You’re bringing together all these people to announce this is the person you want for the rest of your life. I just feel like weddings have so much natural drama and hilarity and fun in them that it was just entertaining for me to think about all of that.”

This excerpt was originally published in EW. Read the full interview here.

But the stories don’t stop at the alter. Each book has a powerful presence of female friendship – and when it comes to female friendship, it’s her own friends by whom she is most inspired, Guillory writes on Hello Sunshine.

“The three of us met in college,” she writes about her own best friends. “On paper, we couldn’t be more different – a black woman from California who wanted to be a lawyer, an Indian woman from Philadelphia who was a political science major, and a white woman from a small town in Tennessee headed for a Ph.D. in biology. But something clicked between the three of us. It didn’t happen right away, as a matter of fact, it was so gradual that none of us can remember exactly when we all became best friends. But I can’t imagine my life without them.”

On Process

Guillory says that she begins her process with a situation, each time asking herself, “What would happen if…”

“For The Wedding Date, it was ‘What would happen if a woman and a man got stuck in an elevator together and ended up as wedding dates?’ For The Proposal it was ‘What would happen if someone got proposed to over a Jumbotron and said no?’ And then from there I think of characters who would make the situation the most fun and interesting to write about.”

She’s also an outliner and finds the method a great way to stay organized and focused.

“I always outline, though my outlines are often sketchy when I start out, and I keep filling them and rounding them out as I write. I invariably divert from my outline as I discover more about my characters and figure out what they would and wouldn’t do so I tend to check back in with my outline periodically. I write pretty messy first drafts, but by the time I’m done with my first draft I usually understand how to fix a lot of the mess. And when I’m working on a first draft, I try to write every day, even for a little while, because it keeps the characters and their problems and their worries in my head.”

This excerpt was originally posted on Bustle. Read the full interview here.

On Advice

Like most authors, Guillory is a voracious reader and recommends a diverse reading list as the ideal starting place for aspiring writers. The more you read, the more you learn how to write, she advises.  

“My advice is to read as much as you can, and ignore anyone who tries to judge what you’re reading. Read what interests you, read books other people recommend to see if you like them, read books other people say are bad to see if you like those! The more you read, the more you learn about how to write and how to craft a story."

And when it comes to rejection, she says, don’t let it get you down.

“It happens to all of us!” she says. “Take breaks if you need to, read craft books to improve your writing if they help you (they don’t help everyone!), but keep writing, keep submitting your work, keep trying. It took me years to get published, and I almost gave up more than once in that time, and I’m so glad I didn’t.”

This excerpt was originally posted on Bustle. Read the full interview here.

 

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Comments
  • Vivienne Diane Neal

    Excellent article. I have only written one romance story. The rest of my books are fictional crime stories. In most cases, I don't make direct references to the characters' color or ethnicity. I leave that to the readers since my stories have a universal appeal.