For this month’s All The Kissing author spotlight, we’re pleased to interview Charish Reid. Her novel, The Write Escape, is available now!
Introducing Charish Reid
Charish is a fan of sexy books and disaster films. When she’s not grading papers or prepping lessons for college freshmen, she enjoys writing romances that celebrate quirky black women who deserve HEAs. Charish currently lives in Sweden, with her husband, avoiding most forms of exercise.
Welcome Charish! I’ve just got to tell the ATK family how thrilled I am to sit down with you and talk about The Write Escape. I remember waaay back, when this book was a tweet in a pitch contest that I fell all over myself to talk to you about. Can you tell our readers about the premise?
Yaaasss, you were a fan from jump! “Leap Year for Black Girl” was the hook, but I think the book ended up being more complex than that. My main characters are meeting in the midst of respective existential crises. Antonia Harper has lost love and a profession, while Aiden Byrnes has lost the verve to continue teaching. They’re both supposed to seek R&R in West Ireland, but end up finding so much more: Themselves and love.
Such an intriguing concept, and set in Ireland which is my catnip for travel romance. What did you draw on for inspiration?
It was an actual month-long trip to Ireland that got things started. My husband and I were charged with a dozen students for a study abroad program. Our trip began in the village of Tully Cross, the same location in the novel, and ended in Limerick (where Aiden grew up). I originally wanted to write travel essays about my experience, but I only got three essays in before I decided that I might have an actual story on my hands.
When the plot bunnies hop, you’ve got to follow them down the rabbit hole. How long have you been writing? Do you have unfinished manuscripts hidden under your bed?
I’ve been writing since I was about 16 or 17. And yes, I’ve got piles of unfinished things! Before The Write Escape, I’d only finished two novels…out of 8 attempts. But when I wasn’t trying to finish a book, I was writing poetry and essays. If you search for poetry under my real name, you’ll find a handful of poems that found their way into magazines. The essay writing was something I did up until last year. My blog and YouTube channel, The Motley News, focused on politics, race, feminism, and some travel.
I think most writers have at least a couple of early manuscripts tucked under the bed. What did you struggle with most with as a fledgling writer ( i.e. editing issues, pacing, POV, dialogue tags, etc)?
Haha, fledgling writer? I still struggle with these things! I still need help with POV’s. I usually write 3rd person limited, between the two main characters. Sometimes, I have trouble keeping it straight on the page. Obviously the editor helps with this, but I’m learning to catch it myself. My other struggle, or problem, is probably, repetition, and comma usage.
Ugh. Commas are an issue for me, too. Having been through the publishing process now, what advice would you give to the burgeoning romance writer about the industry?
Read the genre inside and out. I mean, that’s the advice I would give any writer. With romance however, new writers need to understand expectations of pacing, beats, and ultimately Happily-Ever-Afters. The romance reader has expertise with these things and if you’re not hitting the marks, they’ll tell you about it. Read the novels from our legendary authors and read different sub-genres that you’re not familiar with. It all counts towards research. Also, reach out to people on Twitter. Romancelandia is a wonderful community where authors talk to one another about the industry. They’re patient and encouraging, so ask them questions!
So very true. Readers make the best writers, and the Romance Twitter is a priceless resource. In fact, without #DVPit—a Twitter pitch event for marginalized voices—we could both still be querying. Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication? Are there any resources you’d like to share with our community?
I’m still gobsmacked that I had a lucky #DVpit run. I didn’t know it at the time, but my now-editor, Kate Marope, already had her eye on me during the #Pitmad event, which happened a couple months before. It’s just that things in the publishing world move so slowly, lol. When I got the email about a contract, they asked if I was okay with some large-scale edits. I sprung on the chance, and the edits were well worth it. Each stage of the editing process definitely helped mold the book into something I could be proud of. The exciting parts, like title changes, cover concepts, and arc, took a long time, but still helped make the dream more real.
Truth. Publishing is all hurry up and wait. Our theme for the next couple of months is Diversity in Romance and your debut has all the goodness. How has your experience as an author of color shaped the story you decided to tell?
I’m so excited and honored to join the ranks of Black women authors who are showing up and showing out! With The Write Escape, I’m trying to tell the story of a Black woman who wants to see the world and figure out her life. When I was a younger woman, I was desperate to leave home and see everything and meet everyone. I want to share that with other Black women. We need an escape, too.
The next novel, Hearts on Hold, features a Black woman trying to navigate academia without losing her mind. I have a feeling that many women of color, regardless of which industry they work for, will find a way to connect with my protagonist. I wanted to highlight how difficult it is to be taken seriously at your job, when men don’t want you to have a seat at the table. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There’s a sexy librarian who helps her on her journey 😉
That sounds like a must read for me. Who are some of your favorite one-click authors?
- Tessa Dare
- Alyssa Cole
- Eva Leigh
- Naima Simone
- Melissa Blue
- Rebel Carter
Let’s talk book boyfriends. Gimme your top three and tell me why?
Ooh…okay, lemme see…
I just finished Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon, so Mason has been added to the rolodex! Colin, from Tessa Dare’s A Week to Be Wicked, because kissing lessons in an underwater cave. Lastly, Devil from Sarah MacLean’s Wicked and the Wallflower. He’s the perfect mix of mystery, broodiness, and charm. Are you sure I can only list 3? 🙁
Ah, I should have phrased that better. I meant to say at least three. My bad. Can you tell us what’s up next for you?
Hearts on Hold is coming out (Carina Press) on February 3rd! Here are the bullet points:
- A hot male librarian
- A no nonsense lady professor
- A spunky 12yo niece who’s giving the librarian gray hair
- Kissing in the stacks!
- An overdue paperback romance!
- Phone sex!
- Sex in a greenhouse!
Excuse the exclamation points, I’m just excited.