In my quest to reach out and connect with more authors I’ve come across some amazing writers with wonderful personalities. I recently had another opportunity and was able to ask Danielle Allen a few questions and discovered a mutual love for Maya Angelou and desire for more diversity in contemporary romance.
And without further delay here’s Danielle …
Danielle Allen is a lover of football, fashion, film and fiction. Married to the yin to her yang, Danielle spends most of her time with her husband, family and friends. From karaoke nights to vacationing and everything in between, she enjoys making the most out of the life in which she’s been blessed. Danielle spends her days teaching and event planning and her nights writing.
Danielle Allen is the author of the Back to Life Series (Back to Life, Back to Reality, Back to December*), Love Discovered in New York, Autumn & Summer, the Heartache Series (Heartache, Heartfelt, Heartless*) and Work Song.
- What inspired you to write your first novel?
My first novel was inspired by the fact that I was reading book after book that featured a marked lack of diversity. I love reading love stories—specifically, contemporary
romances—but I was finding it odd that so many stories lacked any kind of
diversity. So when I looked around, I noticed that there were hardly any contemporary romance novels that featured African-American women with natural hair as heroines. So I felt moved to tell stories to fill that void. Not all of my stories, but most of them feature women with naturally coiled hair, melanin in their skin, and generous hips. And when I get emails from people who reach out telling me that they saw themselves in my work or that for the first time, they read a contemporary romance and felt like it was a world that they belonged to and fit in, I am moved and motivated to keep telling my stories.
In my opinion, my stories are completely unique and different just based on storyline alone, but at the heart of it, it is a love stories that just so happens to feature people of color—the heroine, the hero, the friends, the world around them. Diversity is alive and well on the pages of Danielle Allen novels. But that isn’t really the focal point of the stories that I write. The focus is on the love story. I love what a love story brings to the table in its simplicity; however, I feel as though it is important that the stories that are written are representative of the fact that ALL people fall in love. Although stylistically, my first novels Back to Life and Back to Reality aren’t my strongest pieces of literature, the storyline will always remain one of my favorites because it is so different and so unique.
- What are your current projects?
My next release is The One. The One is a contemporary romance novel that is centered around a favorite reality TV dating show called The One. Zoe Jordan is an unwilling contestant who finds herself drawn to the bachelor, Julian Winters. The story is my current favorite and will be released on March 20, 2016 on Amazon.
** Update Since Interview **
Danielle’s latest book, The One
has broken through the top 1,000 on Amazon ! Congratulations!!!
My WIP has had a change in title so I am just going to describe it as a romantic suspense featuring a lover of Edgar Allen Poe
- If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I love the work of Maya Angelou. Right before she passed away last year, I was trying to figure out how to get her to come to speak at the school in which I teach. She would’ve been my all-time, hands down, must-have mentor.
- Name one entity that you feel has been a large part of supporting your writing, outside of family members.
I have a core group of author friends who have been influential in my life. They are not just people I reach out to with questions about publishing and marketing, these are people who I consider my friends. Without this small group of authors (that all happen to be women), I don’t think I would feel as supported in this unpredictable, unstable independent publishing world.
- Do you have any advice for aspiring new writers? (And also African-American women writers specifically?).
The best writing advice ever: write books you would want to read. When you are writing, don’t write for anyone other than yourself. Because at the end of the day, it’s more important to be able to look back over the course of your work and be proud of everything you’ve written. My advice specifically for African American women writers is simply be true to who you are and don’t let anyone—ANYONE—put you or your stories in a box