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Debut Print Book: LESSON IN ROMANCE by Harmony Evans

I’ve had some concerns by readers who are primarily print readers that the coverage at Dear Author has been too focused on ebooks. When I asked the readers what they were interested in seeing, they responded that they would like to know more about print debut authors. We developed a little questionnaire and every Wednesday at 10:00 AM CST (as long as we have content) we’ll post the questionnaire answers along with links to the author’s site and a buy link to her book. I hope this helps people discovery new books. Now, on to the answers.

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Name of debut release: LESSON IN ROMANCE

Release date: 09/18/2012

Publisher: Harlequin Kimani Romance

2 sentence summary: LESSON IN ROMANCE tells the story of a famous jazz saxophonist who can’t read and the literacy teacher who has to teach him how in 3 days. If she fails, she could lose a substantial donation that will prevent the Harlem literacy center she owns from shutting its doors forever.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Characters: My heroine is Cara Williams, a Harlem literacy teacher who has a deep love for her community. She owns a community-based literacy center that she has cultivated from the ground-up, but now, she faces losing the center due to lack of funds, and she’ll do anything to save it.

Alex Dovington, the hero, is a famous jazz saxophonist with a terrible secret: he’s illiterate. He’s been able to hide it for years, but now, he’s been booked on a reading tour for Harlem elementary schools. His manager hires Cara to teach him how to read a basic children’s book, but because of the dates of the tour, the time limit is short: 3 days.

What makes this story different: The premise of LESSON IN ROMANCE is built around illiteracy — a serious real-life issue. As I was doing research, I was amazed at the number of stories I found of professional people who were successful at hiding the fact that they were functional illiterates for years. When I combined the illiteracy factor + secrecy + a famous person, I discovered that I had an idea for a book that I could really delve into…and the story flowed from there.

Is this a series?:

Why you wrote this book: The idea for writing this particular book came during a time when I was very dissatisfied with my life, and not really knowing where I fit in or what I wanted to do. I was talented in a lot of different areas but still wasn’t happy. I was actually at work, on a break, and reading a book and it was a very stressful day. And the following thoughts came to me suddenly: “what if I couldn’t read? what would I do then? how would I find an escape from whatever troubles me at the moment?” And I really began to feel grateful for the ability to read because for me, books DO provide an escape from reality and oftentimes when I’m done reading, I come away with a renewed sense of HOPE about life.

So that’s really why I wrote this book: to open eyes about the issue of illiteracy, to give readers a sense hope about life, love and overcoming tragedy, and because I am simply grateful that I can read (and write!).

Why is this your first published book? How many did you write before? Yes. This is my first published book, and the first book I actually wrote. I worked on LESSON IN ROMANCE for about 10 years prior to submitting it to agents and publishers.

What’s your writing process? I typically write in the evenings, after my daughter goes to sleep, and into the early morning. Sometimes I write in silence, other times I will listen to music. It could be classical, jazz, house or R&B, depending on my mood (and sometimes the scene in the book!)

Your next published book. My second contemporary romance for Harlequin Kimani Romance will be released in Fall 2013.

The last book you read that you loved. I recently finished reading PRAYERS & LIES by Sherri Wood-Emmons. It centered around a question that I struggle with daily which is “does God answer prayers?” I didn’t get the answer, but I loved the book anyway!

The romance book character you most identify with. Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind. I love this book and read it about once a year. Like myself, Scarlett is adamantly independent, yet emotional and vulnerable at the same time. She goes for what she wants and stops at nothing until she gets it. She also loves hard and has a difficult time letting go. I share all of these traits with this timeliness heroine!!

You can check out more about Harmony Evans and her books at http://www.harmonyevans.com

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Guest Reviewer

4 Comments

  1. Sunita
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 10:37:18

    Great interview, thanks! I have this book in my TBR but haven’t read it yet. I really liked the premise.

  2. Janine
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:18:24

    I enjoyed the interview too. The premise sounds interesting and different.

  3. JenM
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 12:14:38

    What a great premise for a story. Illiteracy a problem that is completely hidden for the most part in this country. It’s such an important skill that we tend to take for granted. I can’t imagine not being able to read. I’ll be looking forward to reading this.

  4. hapax
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 18:43:38

    I love the premise of “literacy tutor and student fall in love” but…

    I’ve been a literacy tutor. The idea of “learning to read in three days” not only boggles the mind, but if it is actually accomplished, it SERIOUSLY trivializes what is a difficult and even heroic process.

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