Rochelle Alers

Rochelle Alers photo

Rochelle Alers is Currently #10 in Voting for Favorite Author of the 21st Century

Rochelle Alers has been hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today’s most prolific African American authors of romance and women’s fiction.

With more than sixty titles and nearly two million copies of her novels in print, Ms. Alers has also been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Emma Award, Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.

She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Iota Theta Zeta chapter. Her interests include gourmet cooking and traveling. A full-time writer, Ms. Alers lives in a charming hamlet on Long Island.

Q&A with Rochelle Alers

Rochelle Alers
Rochelle Alers, 1999
Photo Credit - Troy Johnson
Q. How did you decide to become a romance writer?
I decided to become a romance writer after reading more than 2,000 novels over a ten-year period. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but after reading The Flame and the Flower and Sweet Savage Love I found myself addicted to the romance genre. But what I did not realize was how difficult it was to write to formulaic rhythm of the category romance novel. It took several rejections before I finally got it right.

I began writing my first novel in 1984, took a year to complete it and although I was published for the first time in 1988 it was another seven years before my first attempt became a reality. That novel is now the very popular and best-selling Hideaway.

Q. You’ve set your books in some very exotic locations. How do you come up with these locations?
When I plotted the first book of the Hideaway legacy I wanted it set in Florida to acknowledge my Southern roots and to deploy characters who claimed not only their African heritage, but other ethnic groups who are a microcosm of what makes an African-American unique. The characters are not only multi-cultural, but also bilingual. Each character was assigned a location based upon their ethnic background. Their ability to speak a language other than English added to the authenticity and believability of the plot. The five books in the series have two overlapping plots with settings in: Florida, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil.

Q. What was your favorite locale for a romance and why?
Anyplace tropical because it has all of the elements for romance: an abundance of color with sandy beaches, warm breezes, palm trees, lush tropical flowers, fruits, brilliant sunrises, and sensual sunsets. And as a sensualist I utilize all of my five senses to set the stage for a perfect backdrop for romance. I clothe my characters in lightweight, airy fabrics in brilliant colors of yellow, orange, soft pale peach shades, and startling white over bared expanses of flesh in hues ranging from a satiny-sable to a sun-browned palomino-gold.

 Q. How do you balance a full-time career and a writing career?
With a lot of discipline and determination. I get up at 5:00 and write for two hours before readying myself to go into the office. I discovered writing at this hour is preferable because my mind is usually fresh after a night of sleep. I write on weekends if the creative juices are really flowing, and/or at night only if I’m on a deadline. Thus far I’ve been quite successful with this routine. I celebrated my tenth year as a published writer this past December with twelve books in print as of July 1998 (ten within the past four years).

Q. What are your favorite hobbies and how do you incorporate them into your romance writing?
My hobbies are traveling, art, meditation, music and cooking gourmet foods, and these interests always appear in every book I write. The foreign locales are apparent in the Hideaway legacy, art in the novellas First Fruits from the Holiday Cheer anthology and Hearts of Gold from the Love Letters anthology, gourmet cooking in Home Sweet Home, and music in Heaven Sent. I utilize Feng Shui whenever I create the furnishings for a room/or spaces, and scented candles, soothing music, bath oils or crystals to relieve a character’s stress. Music plays a major role in my creative process because I always write to music. I favor soundtracks that at times will convey the mood of the characters or their dilemma. My taste in music runs the gamut from Mozart, Babyface, Manhattan Transfer to Boys II Men. I create love scenes while playing vintage Isaac Hayes and Barry White. My music library is extensive and I’ve written and completed novels while playing certain scores repeatedly. The original motion picture soundtrack for Hamlet was used for Heaven Sent, The Mission for Hidden Agenda, The Last of the Mohicans for Vows, Marc Anthony’s Todo A Su Tiempo also for Heaven Sent, and Madonna’s Live To Tell for Hideaway.

Q&A Courtesy of BET Books Arabesque Romance News - May 1999

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25 Books by Rochelle Alers