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When did you first get published?


What genre do you write in?


What race/colour are the majority of your characters?

African-American, Afro-Caribbean

Where are your books generally shelved?

African-American section

Where would you prefer your books to be shelved?

African-American section and general romance or mainstream section

Have you been subjected to direct/indirect racism from editors, publishers etc in your publishing career.

Not sure – none of my other manuscripts have been picked up but it could just be my writing.;:)

How do you feel about Oprah Winfrey’s book club- Do you think she could do more to promote AA authors?

Yes, particularly since the big-name book clubs like Doubleday, don’t promote us in their general catalog but in a segregated – African-American interest cataloge for a separate African-American club. This means people in the larger book club – both black and white – don’t get exposed to black authors.

Do you believe that publishers are more ambivalent when it comes to marketing AA books?

Yes. I think they are more cautious. My historical romances won’t sell because they say blacks aren’t buying historicals, but a lot of readers say they want to read more of those, and contest judges I’ve sent the first few pages or the first chapter too say they’d like to read more too and they’re not black.

Publishers also appear to assume that while black readers will read books by whites about whites, that whites aren’t interested in reading about blacks. To the extent that that is true, I think it is because of the stereotypes about black authors – that the books they write will be urban/ghetto and feature bling and cuss-words.

Which race groups would you say bought the majority of your books?


What do you think needs to change in order for more white people to read African American books?

More marketing to the general readership. Placement among the general shelves not just in the ethnic sections.

Have you ever been snubbed by white readers/white authors during a signing?

Never did a signing.

Have you ever been overlooked by an editor in favour of a white author?

Not that I know of.

Have you ever been asked to tone down, or increase the ethnicity within your books?

No but my first and only romance was with a black publisher – Genesis. (And there have been problems enough with them!)

Are you familiar with Millennia Black’s lawsuit against Penguin? If so, what do you think her chances of winning are?

I’ve read about it. Even if she doesn’t win, she’s raised awareness about the issue which is a start.

How do you think her victory will affect the way AA authors are treated within the industry?

I think they’ll have to respect them more and allow them more lattitude. James Patterson writes a major black character and no-one has a problem why should there be a problem if a black author does that in reverse?

What are your thoughts on niche marketing? What do you think the limitations are if any?

I think it can help a beginning author launch her career but that she shouldn’t allow it to limit her in the long-run.

Have you been personally involved in trying to bring about changes within the publishing industry, with regards to how African American authors are treated? If so can you tell me about your efforts?

I sent an email to the President of the Doubleday Book Club since my aunt is a member of the Club and I always see her catalogues and I never saw any black authors featured in them. She never wrote back.

Do you think this will still be a controversial subject in five years time, or do you think major changes would have been made by then?

I think a lot more authors would have to make a lot more noise before things change. I think until they do, newbie authors, will continue to get scammed by smaller niche publishers who take advantage of the position of the bigger publishers with respect to not publishing as many books by black authors as they could or as varied as they could.

Thanks for taking the time out to participate in this survey Eugenia, much appreciated.

If you want to learn more about Eugenia’s writing, you can find her book, Just An Affair here.

Coming up tomorrow, Marcia King-Gamble.


  • katieM
    March 14
    10:43 pm

    I’m not a fan of Oprah, nor have I ever had any interest in her book club. She chooses to read a lot of realistic fiction and books about improving your life. I’ve always thought that she reads and promotes what she likes and that’s her perogative. However, her reading choices are really limited. She doesn’t seem to read Black authors. She doesn’t delve into other genres. In fact, her taste in books is so narrow and focused, I wonder how she can actually enjoy reading! It would be nice if she would read a book by a newbie Black author – say a romance or mystery or science fiction, etc – and promote in front of the whole world. But she won’t.


  • Camilla
    March 15
    12:31 am

    Do you authors out there feel silence may be due to a generation gap? That if aspiring women’s fiction authors were Gen Y’s there would be more of an uproar over this issue? In my experience it’s rare to meet a black author in their teens or 20s who is pursuing a career in women’s fiction, whereas when I visit a place like the Avon Ladies’ boards, many of the frequent posters/aspiring authors are in that age group.

    Granted this is my experience with the writing world and with my fellow college students who are quite active in speaking out their opinions, but I find myself observing the silence of AA authors in comparison with the silence of family members of older generations who don’t like stirring the pot now that everything is “settled”(racially).


  • Shiloh Walker
    March 15
    12:58 am

    She chooses to read a lot of realistic fiction and books about improving your life.

    I think Oprah promoting books by black authors would be wonderful. But if I ever saw her promote a romance, I think I’d have a heart attack. her reading choices are sooooo depressing.


  • Monica Jackson
    March 15
    1:04 am

    Maybe you have a point, Camilla.

    The older black authors (like myself) can remember when we couldn’t get published, period, in romance or genre unless we wrote white characters and kept a low profile. It was really not that long ago.

    In the eighties, VERY few black romances had been published and black Harlequin editor, Vivian Stephens, was struggling to get black romance authors in print. If you wanted to have a decent chance at writing romance and publishing, you had to carry on as if you were white.

    The younger, newer authors may be happy to be published at all.

    At least we’re getting in print. A few decades ago, our books wouldn’t be happening at all.

    We gotta sit at the back of the bus, but one viewpoint is now at least we’re getting to ride the bus instead of walking.


  • rozlips
    March 15
    2:19 am

    Great observation Camilla. I’ve wondered myself about the dearth of young authors, though not in relation to this issue. Most of the authors I’ve met have been around my age (42). Of course, most romance authors I’ve met period have been in that same age bracket. (Really not sure what they says about the genre). For most of the thirty years I’ve been reading romances there were absolutely not black characters, let alone black romances. I remember being in awe when Sandra Brown included a black woman in one of her books back in the 80s. (Of course she was involved in an adulterous affair with a politician and was quickly killed, but still she was THERE.) You know it must have been significant I still remember the author, though not the title 20 years later. Its probably one of my keepers for that reason. Given that paucity I can certainly understand that authors would be so grateful to be published that they’re leery about raising a ruckus. We know they can shut us out–its been done before.


  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    1:06 pm

    “She doesn’t seem to read Black authors. She doesn’t delve into other genres. ” ~ KaiteM

    Oprah Book List http://www.oprah.com/obc/pastbooks/obc_pb_print.jhtml

    (Black Authors in Bold 13 of 49 books)

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
    The Best Way To Play by Bill Cosby
    Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
    Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
    Cane River by Lalita Tademy

    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
    Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
    Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
    The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
    Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
    Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
    The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
    The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
    Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
    House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
    I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
    Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
    Jewel by Bret Lott
    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
    Light in August by William Faulkner
    A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
    The Meanest Thing To Say by Bill Cosby
    Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
    A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
    Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    Open House by Elizabeth Berg
    Paradise by Toni Morrison
    The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
    The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
    River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
    She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
    Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    Songs In Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
    Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
    Sula by Toni Morrison
    Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
    The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
    Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
    A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
    We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
    What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
    Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
    While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch


  • Shiloh Walker
    March 15
    5:32 pm

    okay, ferfe… here’s the hard part.

    how many of those won’t have me craving some Elavil after I read them?


    Although the Cosby ones might be worth reading.


  • Karen Scott
    March 15
    5:47 pm

    More to the point, how many of them are actually romance books?


  • rozlips
    March 15
    7:35 pm

    I think I read or heard Oprah say that she doesn’t read romances. I think she prefers ‘literature.’ I don’t care for her taste in books so if she recommended something I’d stay far, far away. Frankly, if she recommended my book it’d scare the hell out of me. But not so much I wouldn’t pocket the profits! 😀


  • Tate
    March 15
    8:08 pm

    I am not a fan of Oprah’s book club. Most of her choices are not to my liking but I have to point out a few things in her defense. Of the 49 choices that Ferfe listed there are 8 unique black authors which equals 16% of the entire list.

    The US Census Bureau says that there are 296,410,404 people in the US with 37,909,341 of them being black. So 13% of the population is black. It seems to me that Oprah is doing a fine job of fairly promoting black authors.

    Oprah read, promoted and starred in The Color Purple. Oprah read, promoted, produced and starred in Beloved.

    I honestly don’t understand the beef with Oprah.


  • Monica Jackson
    March 15
    8:34 pm

    To be frank, I don’t either. Oprah’s book tastes are Oprah’s book tastes. The name of it is Oprah’s Book Club. Believe me Monica’s Book Club would tout the books Monica likes, not what everybody else thinks I should like.

    Oprah’s always been sensitive to the black community and helpful, far more than some other black celebrities who are also rich.

    It was a joke when the rappers got on her for not being down with blacks because she wouldn’t support them and their music (lyrical pieces with booty, booty, booty all the time, rhapsodizing over hos, bitches, guns, and how they mind is on they money and they money is on they mind) because compared with Oprah, how many philanthropic causes are the big name rappers supporting?



  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    9:00 pm

    Just pointing out the fact that Oprah does, in fact, read books of different genres by black authors. On that list I have read and highly recommend:

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

    East of Eden by John Steinbeck

    The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

    A Light in August by William Faulkner

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez * The style of this novel is picked up in Like Water for Chocolate and The House on Mango Street.

    Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

    White Oleander by Janet Fitch

    The romance we write and read today can trace its roots through romantic writers like Ayn Rand and William Faulkner and to some degree Toni Morrison. Literature is not devoid of romance. And I have no doubt Oprah enjoys a well written romance novel now and then, she just never picks them for her club discussions.


  • rozlips
    March 15
    9:25 pm

    As I understand it, she specifically said she doesn’t read romances. I took that to mean that she doesn’t read romances.

    I have no beef with Oprah, and certainly don’t care one way or another if she has romances on her show. Nor do I believe she’s unsupportive of blacks. Personally I don’t think she’s under any obligation to be supportive of anyone, period. She’s a grown woman, and presumably picks books she likes for her book club. The fact that most of them are what I call ‘gloom, despair and agony on me books’ is neither here nor there. Its not the Roslyn Book Club.


  • Anonymous
    March 15
    9:49 pm

    Like Karen, I’m a reader, not an author. Never ever even THOUGHT of going there. I’m 43yrs and started reading romance books for the first time some 4-5yrs ago. My first read was Sandra Kitt’s The Color of Love. It got me hooked on the I/R genre which is what I exclusively read (ie, when it comes to romance books) sometimes wincing at the “mush”. So I can totally relate to Oprah, who in my opinion has done and is still doing so much to help (especially) ALL women.



  • Karen Scott
    March 15
    9:50 pm

    There are other influential black people out there, who don’t do nearly as much as Oprah does. She does an awful lot for the black community, and is often derided by other blacks, despite this.

    I never agree with her book choices though, they do suck arse.


  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    10:07 pm

    Maybe we are defining romance too narrowly but her own website ( http://www.oprah.com/obc_classic/obc_main.jhtml ~ Pan down to “A Little Russian Romance”) lists Anna Karenina as a romance and it is – by most definitions. It’s just not brain candy romance.

    “An extremely sexy and engrossing read, this book tells the tale of one of the most enthralling love affairs in the history of literature—but you’ll have to decide for yourself which couple is involved! Use Your Guide to the novel—discussion questions, quizzes, character journeys and plot points—to uncover the meaning of family and love in 19th-century Russia.”

    So. She DOES read romance. I don’t like everything she picks but some are excellent reads. I’m not saying this to be combative. Hate Oprahs’ taste in books all you want. If you goggle the club you’ll see that she’s spawned a lot of Romance Reading clubs as well. The entire point of the club was to get people to read and discuss books they like (and some they didn’t like). As a result, thousands have formed up groups that do just that and it’s benifiting the romance community. Nothing in this life is linear.


  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    10:08 pm

    google. Sigh. If you GOOGLE the club …


  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    10:12 pm

    The last book club I had time for picked The Bridges of Maddison County and we got into a HUGE debate over whether or not it was a romance. I came down on the side of NOT. I lost. Alcohol was involved. Had I had a little less I think I could have won.


  • katieM
    March 15
    10:44 pm

    Well, the Bill Cosby books were children’s books. How many of the other books were children’s books? Neither Toni Morrison nor Bill Cosby needed her approval to sell books; they were already bestsellers.

    As I said before, its her prerogative to read what she likes. Its mine to avoid her choices like the plague.


    I also wonder if the age of writers is due to the lenght of time it takes to become published.


  • rozlips
    March 15
    11:04 pm

    I’m not defining a darned thing. The woman said she doesn’t read romance. Far be it for me to tell her what she reads.


  • FerfeLaBat
    March 15
    11:24 pm

    Well her website says she read Anna Karenina and it describes it as a romance. So. If she said she doesn’t read romance then she’s a liar.


  • Merlin
    March 15
    11:40 pm


    The Bridges Of Maddison County is a romance.

    Take my word for it : I’m a man so I must be right.



  • Tate
    March 16
    2:22 am

    katieM said, “She doesn’t delve into other genres. In fact, her taste in books is so narrow and focused, I wonder how she can actually enjoy reading!”

    This has been bothering me. I know so many women that only read romance and one in particular only reads Harlequin but I can honestly testify that they enjoy reading immensely!

    I know a man that only reads Sci_Fi, nothing else but I personally know that reading is a pleasure for him.

    As far as Oprah not delving into other genres…well. Beloved cannot possibly be the same genre as A Lesson Before Dying and if I am not mistaken I see at least one autobiography in the above list.


  • Sam
    March 16
    3:54 pm

    Eugenia – I loved your short story, ‘The Prodigal Daughter’, and I’ll be looking for your novel!
    We were neighbors – I grew up in St. Thomas.
    Sure is nice “meeting” you here at Karen’s blog!


  • Eugenia O'Neal
    March 19
    1:22 pm

    Hello all, I tried posting a comment a couple times before but something went wrong.

    I have the greatest respect for Oprah and all that she’s done and is doing and I know it’s Oprah’s Book Club. If it were her own personal thing and didn’t have a national impact and an ability to move books I’d say fine, it’s hers, she doesn’t have any responsibility to open up the reading list. But it does have national impact and it does move books and that’s why I think she could do more to choose newer and younger authors and to choose books in other genres – fantasy, science fiction, horror even and yes romance, romance with a HEA. Now please don’t take that to mean I don’t think Oprah is a great person and a true philanthropist. She is.

    Sam – thanks for the support!


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