Introduction: Ms.Rhonda M. Lawson author of Cheating In The Next Room is determined to stay in publishing, She has been writing since she was a teenager.
1. Where did you get the idea for the book?
When I was married, my husband wanted us to write a book together about a man who was caught having an affair. I thought it would be fun. Soon, however, I think he lost interest in the story, but I rolled with it. It started as a project that I wanted to finish, but soon I began to feel the characters and would sit up at night thinking of what they would do and start writing again. I would study TV shows and movies about married couples with infidelity problems and figure how to apply them to my story.
2. Is this your first book?
I actually wrote two novelettes when I was a teenager, but I never did anything with them. I just enjoyed writing them and would pass them around to my friends for their enjoyment. Cheatin' in the Next Room is the first book I've actually had published, although I have had many articles published in both military and civilian publications.
3. What kind of novels do you write?
I write contemporary fiction. I like to write believable stories with characters that the reader can relate to. To me, this makes the story more realistic.
4. How long did it take for you to come up with the title?
It didn't take long at all for me to come up with the title, although I did wrestle with the idea of changing the title. I didn't want people to prejudge the book by its title, but a lot of people told me the title was catchy and I should keep it, so I did.
5. Are you married? Do you have any children?
I've been divorced for two years and am not currently in a serious relationship. However, I do have a gorgeous five-year-old daughter named Beautiful Lawson. She's my true inspiration.
6. What age do you feel should be reading your material?
I don't think my book is for young teenagers, but I do encourage parents to gauge their teens' maturity level. Cheatin' in the Next Room deals with adult subject matter, but if the parents feel that their teens are mature enough to handle it, then by all means, let them read it. However, I do know that young adults and older would appreciate and enjoy my story.
7. Have you ever wanted to just give up?
I did think of giving up at one time. It didn't seem as if writing was working for me, and I had gotten really busy with my main career, which is a full-time Soldier. I had gone on deployment after deployment, including Afghanistan, and had stopped writing. But when the writing bug truly bites you, it never leaves. Now, my biggest issue is keeping my writer's integrity. I want to be picked up by a major publisher, but I don't want my characters to suffer by reshaping them into what someone else wants them to be. I have gotten great feedback from my readers who like my characters the way they are, and I think I would do them a big disservice by changing my characters just to make a buck.
8. Are you employed as a full-time author or do you have another job?
I wish writing were my full-time job! As said above, I'm a full-time Soldier. I've been in the Army 11 years. Currently, I teach basic journalism at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, MD. I plan to retire from the Army, and if God blesses me to stay in this business that long, I will be a full-time writer once I retire.
9. Who has been your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from a number of sources. First, my grandmother, the late Helen Randall, who's strength has always inspired me. Also, my daughter, who I want to make proud. There are also my writers groups. I've learned a lot from such groups as Readincolor and Essentially Woman. I've also received so much encouragement from them that I feel that I would be letting them down if I didn't strive to do my best at all times.
10. What do you do in your free time?
I still enjoy reading, and try to fill my spare time with losing myself in a good book. I love African American authors and support them every chance I get. I also enjoy stageplays, both Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as Gospel. I enjoy going to church, and once I find a church home again, I will be joining the choir. I love music, especially Gospel music. It's where I receive my comfort and inspiration.
What advice would you offer someone that want to write?
The best advice I could offer anyone just starting out in this business is to believe in yourself. As a new author, you will get a lot of rejection letters and well-meaning (and sometimes not well-meaning) criticism. If you don't believe that you've written the best work you possibly could, you will let this negativity get to you. Never do that! Keep striving for the top, always looking to better yourself. Let your work speak for itself, and soon good things will happen for you.
Once you've broken into the business, find people who can and will give you a hand up. This is a large industry and there will always be some competition, but there are still some great authors out there who don't mind helping beginners. Just don't make the mistake of gauging your success against theirs by saying things like "well 'so-and-so' made it in six months. What's wrong with me?" Thinking that way will only make you doubt yourself. Your time will come!
I have had the chance to view your site, how long has it been up in running and what is your objective for the site?
My objective is simple--to let more people who I can't reach on a daily basis know the treasure in Cheatin' in the Next Room! I have had people who I've never met go to my site and order Cheatin', which tells me that slowly but surely, the word is getting out there. Technology is a wonderful thing. My site has allowed me to introduce myself and my work to the world and show them that I am a legitimate force in this business and with God's help, I'm here to stay!
Rhonda M. Lawson Author, Cheatin' in the Next Room