Happy Friday, my lovelies! Can you believe we’re already one week into July? The year is flying by.
This week, I welcome the lovely Nia Forrester to Fox Friday. I’ve been wanting to interview Nia forever, and she graciously agreed. She’s brought her latest masterpiece, The Lover, with her and there’s an excerpt!
I’m a big fan of Nia’s writing, and I wish more people knew about her. I’ll be giving away a digital copy of The Lover at the end of the interview, so read on.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what else did you want to do?
I always wanted to be a revolutionary. A social activist. And I found a way to do that through my career as a lawyer, so that’s been very rewarding. But I really believe my core identity is being a writer. I could probably walk away from being a lawyer tomorrow (though not from the activism) but I can never walk away from being a writer. And I know this sounds like a stock answer, but I honestly can’t remember not being a writer. I started with poems and was terrible at that and didn’t find it particularly interesting. And then later, I adapted and mimicked stories I read, by writers like Enid Blyton, to my context, which was a small Caribbean nation. So instead of little mischievous children playing in a meadow in Britain, I wrote about kids who looked like me, in a country like mine. Later, I was doing the same with stories from the Sweet Valley High series, and the Nancy Drew series. And as I grew older, I stopped looking to other writers and honed my own voice.
And we’re so glad you did! Your voice is unique and amazing. How do you celebrate each book release?
Y’know, I actually don’t celebrate my releases. Not really. I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about what I did wrong with each book, and how I could do it better. And how I’ll improve with the next one. But, I do try to have a large glass of wine, do a lot of reading, and waste time on social media after a release. It always feels like I’ve been released from exile once a book is out there, because until it’s done, my body may be present in other places, but a significant part of my mind is always on the work in progress.
I know exactly what you mean. I may order takeaway from my favourite restaurant or something, but that’s about it, lol. I’m already thinking about what I did wrong, and how I can improve the next one. Is there a scene in this book you particularly loved writing?
Wow. That’s a great question! There is one scene in the book where the main characters reconcile after a fight. He comes to her, and she is sitting, trying not to react to his reappearance. They barely look at each other. He sits next to her and opens his palm, and wordlessly, she puts her hand atop his, and laces her fingers through his. Neither of them speak. Because they are not particularly sentimental people, they couldn’t speak their reconciliation—at least not in too many words. So I had to think of a way to do it that was organic to them.
The temptation when writing something like that is to make it very emotional and sappy. But the challenge was that the characters themselves are not emotional, sappy people. So I had to communicate tenderness, connectedness, and love without having them say the words. Those are always fun scenes to write. Everyone knows what the average person does when they reconcile with a lover, what they might say. But only you as the writer know what these people would do. And so the challenge is to make it true not only to life, but to the people you’ve created. Whenever I do that in a way that makes sense for the characters I feel satisfaction. The goal is to make the reader say, ‘Yeah, he would do that, wouldn’t he?’ or ‘That’s what I knew she would do.’ Not because you want your characters to be predictable, but because you want them to be ’knowable’.
Absolutely. And it is a beautiful scene. Do you have a one-click or must-buy author whose books you just have to have?
I most enjoy discovering new authors, and I read for enjoyment, but also to learn about writing, so I try not to cleave too closely to a single person, group or genre. But I do buy the books of just about all the indie authors I’m friendly with, or know, either IRL or in the virtual world. Some I read the very first day they’re out, others at my leisure or when I’m in the mood for their flavor of writing. Some have a mood that never gets old for me, like Jacinta Howard, and Kim Golden, who both have a very definite style and soul to their writing that I relate to. Both are writers I feel like I knew, even before we met, because their writing clearly isn’t a cloak they wear, or people playing dress-up, but clearly indicative of the people they are. Other writers I’m into right now are Martha Southgate, Yvvette Edwards, Sharon M. Draper, Angela Johnson, Kevin Kwan and Jason Reynolds. And then there are eternal favorites like Zadie Smith, Danzy Senna, Wally Lamb, Jonathan Franzen.
Wow, that’s a fantastic list. I love Kim Golden’s work. I haven’t read much of Jacinta Howard’s, but I’ve enjoyed what I have. Some new-to-me names there that I’ll have to check out. Okay, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I don’t care that much. I like the idea of moving fairly frequently because there’s so much to see out there. I can live almost anywhere As long as it’s got a balance of room to be quiet, reflect and write; and places to observe humans just going about their lives so I have something to write about.
Which TV show(s) can you absolutely not miss every week?
I don’t watch television with any regularity, so the answer to that would be ‘none’. I do, however, like to binge on Netflix occasionally, and when I do, tend to watch British crime and police procedurals. I also love a good drama, and dramedies about dysfunctional families and relationships. If someone recommends a good series, I wait until the season is over and then watch them all in a couple of sittings. I prefer not to lose hours regularly to television, but I’ll make plans and schedule time to to lose a weekend to television-watching if I have stuff stored up to watch.
Same. I prefer to binge-watch rather than watch a show weekly. Let’s learn more about The Lover!
Ryann Walker knows she’s a difficult woman; difficult enough that it would take a rare, and special breed of man to take her on permanently. Thankfully, she isn’t looking for that. What she does want is a baby. And after a rash decision made during a one-night stand, she just may be having one, with the very successful, good-looking, but completely wrong for her, Spencer Hall.
But once Spencer learns that he may become a father, Ryann just can’t shake him. He isn’t interested in being an absentee parent; and she isn’t interested in having a man hang around who is hell-bent on crawling into her heart, breaking down her defenses and unearthing all her secrets, including the ugliest one of all.
Sounds SO good, doesn’t it? Well, we promised you an excerpt. Here you go!
Ryann sat down heavily, grateful to be off her feet. Glancing toward the door for what felt like the hundredth time, she reached for the phone. She was sure she told Ivy twelve-thirty, and it wasn’t like her friend to be late. This appointment, she didn’t want to do on her own.
Lately, it seemed like all her backbone had dissolved. She was a mass of nerves and tears, weakness, and swollen feet. And to make matters worse, the babies weren’t as active as they used to be. Though she knew it wasn’t wise, she’d read a few things online; ominous things with phrases like “cord accident” and “fetal distress.” Phrases that kept her up at night, and made what little sleep she got, more fitful than it had already been. Between the bad dreams and the internet, she was beginning to look a mess.
Gone were all her illusions of being a radiant and glowing pregnant woman. Instead she had visible dark circles under her eyes, and most days was way too exhausted to bother with all the contouring necessary to make her look like something other than a zombie. At the office, she was useless. She forgot meetings, napped at her desk, and left early more days than not.
She fell heavily asleep every day when she got home, sometimes before she could muster up the energy to eat dinner, and then woke up panting and in a panic, her heart racing like someone being chased. And yet she couldn’t remember a single thing of substance that would explain her terror.
“Good afternoon, sir. May I …?”
Ryann looked up just as the receptionist greeted Spencer.
“I have an …” He looked around the waiting room until he spotted her, and stopped speaking mid-sentence.
They both froze, each with eyes locked on the other. One corner of his mouth lifted for a nanosecond. Ryann mentally took stock of how she looked—black pants, white button-down with black ballet flats. Very little makeup, and her hair held back with a headband because she had been too exhausted to fuss with it that morning.
“Sir?” the receptionist prompted.
“No. Thank you. I’m … I see her,” Spencer said, his eyes still on Ryann. He walked toward her, and the closer he got, the harder her heart hurt.
He looked so good. Darker from the sun, and wearing boots and work clothes. He was probably on a site today. Ryann had no way of knowing anymore what his daily schedule was like.
Sinking into the seat next to hers, he exhaled. Ryann stole a glance at him out of the corner of her eyes. Spencer was looking down at his lap. Wiping both hands on his thighs, he turned the one closest to her palm up. Ryann put her hand on top of it, and laced her fingers through his. Spencer’s curled his fingers around hers, and held them tightly.
“I don’t know how to say this gently,” Dr. Billingsley’s speech was slow, stern and deliberate. “You’re putting your health, and your pregnancy at risk. I don’t know of a single scenario that makes weight-loss at this stage of a pregnancy anything other than a full-blown crisis. Especially given your age. I’m going to have to insist that …”
Ryann tuned out the rest of what the doctor said, feeling herself grow smaller, like a child being chastised by a parent. Next to the examining table, where she sat, Spencer was paying rapt attention, nodding intermittently, his jaw set, and expression grim. His hands compulsively moved back and forth along his thighs for a few moments, then he seemed to will himself to stop. Instead, he rested a hand on her leg, lightly squeezing.
The rest of the appointment, after Ryann was dressed, was spent in Dr. Billingsley’s office while she shoved various prescriptions across the desk, giving explanations for each one that Ryann neither heard nor absorbed. Spencer took them, and Ryann followed his cue, standing when he did, and walking out of the office with him.
Outside the building, he paused and looked up and down the block, as though searching for something. Sighing deeply, he turned and looked down at her.
“Let’s go,” he said.
“I drove,” Ryann said. “My car is …”
“We’ll get it later. C’mon.” He put an arm around her shoulder then once he had, exhaled again and pulled her into his arms, holding her as closely as he could with the barrier of her distended stomach between them. “I’m sorry,” he said into her hair. “I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t leave you to do this on your own …”
Ryann looked up, surprised. “You didn’t. I never felt that you’d left me.”
His expression was quizzical, confused.
“I knew you were there. I didn’t see you, but I felt you. I know you never left me.”
Just like when he’d first spotted her in the waiting room, one corner of his mouth quirked upward. But again, he seemed unsure of whether it okay to smile.
Getting on her toes, Ryann shut her eyes. She only made it halfway, but knew without a doubt that Spencer would close the remaining distance between them.
The Lover is available exclusively on Amazon. Comment below for a chance to win a Kindle copy of the book.
Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.