Lutishia Lovely will be appearing at the Leimert Park Village Book Fair on Saturday, June 25.
Lutishia Lovely is the bestselling author of the popular Hallelujah Love Series which includes Sex In The Sanctuary, Reverend Feelgood and Heaven Forbid. A professional writer for more than a decade, she made the leap from stage and screenplays with a children’s book before writing her first full-length novel of contemporary fiction.
The first book in her new series, All Up In My Business, is out now and she’s just completed her fourteenth work. Six are romances penned by her alter-ego, Zuri Day. Lutishia resides in wine country, between LA and San Diego, and in her spare time loves to create delicious, vegetarian cuisine for family and friends. She also enjoys sports, the arts, travel, and most of all hearing from readers. Contact her at www.LutishiaLovely.com.
(1) How does it feel to be a full-time writer? Are you living the dream?
Every day I get to wake up and do what I love! I set my own schedule, work from the comforts of my home office, and basically have only due lines as my taskmasters. I work hard, but then I get to play hard. Which means that while I’m working today, Sunday, and will be working through all weekends in July and most of August, I’ll also be taking a month off at the end of the year and heading to Costa Rica! Add to that a fabulous team that includes editor Selena James and agent Natasha Kern and what you get is a woman who doesn’t take any of this for granted and who feels blessed to be living the dream!
(2) What have you learned since your first novel was published? How about after you had your first taste of success?
I’ve learned so many things and the lessons continue! Like many industries, publishing is continually changing and one has to absorb as much information as possible to stay at the top of their game. But specifically since publishing my first novel I’ve learned that the “high class hustle” continues; that just because you’ve got five, ten, fifteen books out there doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. You’ve got to network, promote, and interact with fans to stay visible in a sea swimming with thousands of authors. Most importantly, you’ve got to keep putting out great product. You can’t depend on last year’s well-reviewed book for tomorrow’s sales. When people ask me what’s my favorite book I always answer, “my next one!”
For me, I felt successful from the time I held my first novel, Sex In The Sanctuary, in my hands. I published it independently and as anyone in this biz will tell you, self-publishing is hard work…not for the faint of heart! But all of the blood, sweat and tears was well worth it, especially when publishing that novel led to a book deal the following year.
(3) How have your readers supported your works, especially when you cross church and romance together?
From the beginning, I knew that mixing spirituality and sexuality would be controversial, but I also knew it would be “real talk.” I’m a PK (preacher’s kid), grew up in church, and for many years was intimately involved in various denominations and congregations – from the small town, 50-member church to mega-churches boasting 15,000 members. While these novels are works of fiction, most of the storylines are pulled from real life situations that I’ve witnessed first-hand. That said, I didn’t write this series to make any type of statement. I just want to tell great stories about relationships that involve real characters and real situations. And that’s what I’ve done.
Fortunately, I am blessed to have a large, strong core of readers for the Hallelujah Love series; it’s one of the reasons I’m still a major part of this game. Many of these supporters are pastors, elders, first ladies, and leaders of women’s fellowships, and many don’t go to church at all. The readership is a mix: Black, White, gay, straight, Christian, other. They’ve all kept reading this somewhat controversial combo and that has allowed me to keep writing about these fabulously flawed characters and congregations. So much so that book number seven, Divine Intervention, drops next year with plans for more to follow!
An unexpected blessing has come from this series also. Women and men are feeling free to talk about topics in a more real, less religious way – to discuss in church settings what we’re talking about on the phone! The outline from the Sanctity of Sisterhood (SOS) Summit, a conference that’s put on by the ladies of SITS (Sex In The Sanctuary) has been used by several women’s groups throughout the country and I just found out that several SOS Conferences have sprung up as well!
(4) New novels, new themes? Tell us about your latest book series, and your short stories.
I’m very excited about the Business Trilogy: three books about a hard-working, close-knit soul food dynasty where sizzling scandal and delicious loving is always on the menu. Again, I’m writing what I know, having come from a line of southern cooks whose meals make you want to slap somebody! All Up In My Business is the first novel and is available now. The second, Mind Your Own Business, drops in September and book three, Taking Care Of Business, comes out in the spring of next year. My first novella, Wanted: You, appeared in the anthology CRUSH, with Michele Grant and Cydney Rax. I love writing short stories and networking with other authors. It’s a fantastic way to cross-promote and gain new readers.
My romance writing alter-ego, Zuri Day, is busy as well. Her first novella, Too Hot To Handle, dropped last month alongside veteran writers Donna Hill and Niobia Bryant in a book called Heat Wave. Her newest release, Lovin’ Blue, is out now. It’s about a tree-hugging, peace-loving vegan who falls for a meat-and-potatoes badass cop. Her last release of the year, Love In Play, drops in December.
(5) Of the characters that you have given us, are there any favorites?
I must say that I’m in love with several of my male leads, yes, even the married ones! I love Derrick Montgomery’s love and loyalty, King Brooks’ swagger, everything about heartthrob Cy Taylor and about the fantastically flawed but utterly lovable Reverend Feelgood, otherwise known as Nate Thicke. We don’t read much about “seasoned” citizens and I’ve really enjoyed writing in the voice of 70-something Mama Max, her husband, Obadiah Brook, and their long-time nemesis, Dorothea Bates. Old folks need love too, and often have drama to go along with it!
(6) How can readers contact you, and get more information about your work?
I LOVE hearing from readers and respond personally to every email. Hit me up at LutishiaLovely.com and check Zuri out at ZuriDay.com. Please, and thank you! And Eric, thanks so much for the chat. I really enjoyed it.
(Interview posted, July 2011.)