Author Cheryl Robinson has penned her latest novel about a forty-three year old woman falling in love with a twenty-five year old man. In Love with A Younger Man (NAL Trade, January 2009)is more than a new twist on the hot topic and growing trend of relationships between older women and younger men. It is about the sacrifice that some women make in their personal life in exchange for a lucrative career. Often forgoing family, friendships, and the work life balance needed. Moreover it is about redefining self and rediscovering love.
A bestselling author and native Detroiter, Cheryl Robinson has been known for writing novels with a twist, portraying women who face the odds and succeed. Cheryl began her literary journey in 2002 as a self-published author of two novels; Memories of Yesterday and When I Get Free. Memories of Yesterday, the story of Winona Fairchild, a single mother of two concealing her HIV status, and Porter Washington, the man who falls in love with Winona before learning of her status. Memories of Yesterday appeared on the Essence Bestseller list in July 2004, which was a major accomplishment for an independent author. It was later re-released in January 2005 by NAL Trade a division of The Penguin Group under the title, If It Ain’t One Thing in a two book deal that included the sequel, It’s Like That. If It Ain’t One Thing, now in its third printing, also appeared on the Essence Bestseller list in September 2006 and numerous other best seller lists including The Dallas Morning News.
In addition, Cheryl signed two more book deals with NAL Trade; Sweet Georgia Brown (January 2008) is the story of Georgia Brown, a humble housewife determined to become a household name and her obnoxious husband Marvelous Marvin, a popular syndicated morning radio host who readers love to hate, and In Love With A Younger Man (January 2009), the story of a very successful female corporate professional who falls in love with a man eighteen years her junior while on a one-year paid sabbatical, and although fictional, the story does at times mirror Cheryl’s current relationship. She also contributed to the anthology These Are My Confessions with her novella entitled Strapped. It was the first African-American erotica collection released by AVON Red, a division of HarperCollins Publishing.
Currently, Cheryl resides in central Florida and spends most weekends in Atlanta, Georgia, which is quickly becoming her home away from home. She is writing her next novel, which is the second book in a series that revolves around Olena Day.
With your current book, a lot has been made about your reality inspiring your fiction. Tell us about your writing experiences with this book as opposed to your earlier books.
Every book I have written have revolved around a woman who was broken in some way, but who finds the courage to move on from her past and live again. With In Love With A Younger Man, I put a little bit of my college experiences from Howard University into this book, but very little. For instance, there is a scene where Olena is reflecting about being a part of the fashion show at Howard and what she experienced at the after-party that was held in one of the row houses. None of that was fiction. I was one of the models in the fashion show my second year at Howard and yes, I did have a big crush on the fashion show director who happened to be gay, but I at the time I didn’t know.
Aside from that, Olena is the first character I have written about who was single with no children and from that standpoint I can really relate to her.
How do you go about creating your characters and your plots? What inspires you?
Often I’m inspired by the people I meet and the conversations that I overhear. I don’t consider myself to be nosey, but I must say I’m a great listener even when I’m not the one being spoken to.
Is writing easy for you? Or, do you have to enforce a discipline to write, to review, to re-write?
Writing is a process that is becoming easier for me. I used to never enjoy the revision process, but now it is one of my favorite parts in the process. My favorite part is the beginning. I love beginnings.
Another slant on the previous question: Is writing getting easier for you, now that you are a published author? How much input do you get from your fans and critics?
For me, being a published author does not make the process any easier. As far as input from fans and critics I get a fair share, but because I love hearing from those who have read my books I don’t think I could ever get enough.
How much effort does it take for you to get a book published now as opposed to when you were getting started?
I believe that getting my next book published depends on the success of my previous book combined with the belief my editor and publisher have in me as a writer. Publishing is not an easy business by any means. Now that I am published I have to pitch my ideas first to my agent and from that point my agent pitches the idea to my editor. However, my perception prior to getting picked up by a major publisher was that once I got picked up the process would be easy. Even distribution isn’t easier. Just because an author is published doesn’t mean you will see their book everywhere books are sold. However, you can order the book from any place books are sold because so many major distributors will carry the book.
What are you doing to market and promote In Love with a Younger Man?
I am connecting with book clubs across the country, marketing on various web sites that attract readers, doing blogtalk radio interviews. I have a web site, which is www.cherylrobinson.com and www.myspace.com/cherylrobinson
Any plans for a next project? Will we see the same characters again?
My next project will be released in April 2010. It is the story of Alicia Day and her two half sisters. Alicia Day was one of the supporting characters from In Love with a Younger Man. She is Olena Day’s niece. Aside from Alicia all of the characters are new. And the story has nothing to do with Olena’s story. But Olena may make a cameo.