A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
Favorite Food: French Fries
Favorite Movie: I have two: Pretty Woman and Love Jones.
Favorite Place to Travel: Europe. I’ve been three times so far: London/Paris/Amsterdam/Switzerland/Germany,
Favorite TV Show: Sex & the City
Favorite Artist: Whitney Houston. I’m so sad she’s gone because she got caught up in lifestyle
ABOUT YAHRAH ST. JOHN
What made you become a writer?
I grew up in a very religious household and segregated from other children. Writing gave me a way to create a world I might want to live in. My first story was written when I was 12 years old. A Wilde & Crazy Summer was about a 12-year-old girl going to summer camp, something I never got to do as a kid.
In which genre(s) do you write?
Contemporary romance, Women’s Fiction.
Which genre do you prefer and why?
I like contemporary stories because I can make them relevant to the current era we live in.
Describe a typical day for Yahrah, the writer?
Since I work a full-time day job, I’ll give you a typical weekend day. I get up in the morning and relax with my hubby over coffee, maybe watch the Food Network or HGTV. Around 10am, I’ll head to my office and write while I listen to slow jams. I have two computer screens. One screen is for research, the other is for writing. I’ll stop periodically to grab lunch or take an eye break. I’m pretty much done around 5pm. My goal is to usually write 25 pages. A great day is I’m really feeling the book and I write about 30-35 pages.
What do you like to do when you want to relax?
When I want to relax, I’ll usually head to Hand & Stone for a massage or facial. Or if I’m at home, cuddle with the hubby on the couch with a glass of Moscato and listen to some slow r & b jams. Or if I’m lucky, me and the hubby escape on a romantic getaway to a Caribbean island. We love staying at Sandals and usually I come back revived and with lots of material. Wink. Wink.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Tell us a about INSATIABLE HUNGER.
INSATIABLE HUNGER is Book 3 in Harlequin Desire’s Dynasties: Seven Sins series. The book is a part of 7-book continuity with other great Desire authors. The series takes place in Falling Brook, NJ with each of the books representing one of the Seven Sins: Pride, Lust, Gluttony (Hunger), Greed (Ambition), Envy, Wrath, Sloth. INSATIABLE HUNGER focuses on Hunger.
Financial analyst Ryan Hathaway grew up with corporate attorney Jessie Acosta as his next-door neighbor. They’ve been best friends for as long as Ryan can remember, but Jessie sees him as a nice guy and one of the lucky ones because his family didn’t entrust their life’s savings to Black Crescent because the Acosta’s lost everything. Ryan never admitted he’s carried a torch for Jessie all these years because Jessie was interested in Hugh O’ Malley whose family helped pay for Jessie’s education after her family lost its fortune. That changes at their ten-year high school reunion when Jessie suddenly sees Ryan with new eyes. Their relationship shifts from friends-to-lovers with an insatiable hunger they can no longer deny. But when the past creeps in threatening their newfound love, will they run from the drama or fight for love?
INSATIABLE HUNGER is your fifth book for the Harlequin Desire line. How does writing for Desire differ from writing for the Kimani Romance line.
Harlequin Desire books are smaller. Kimani’s word count was 55,000, though I usually pushed it to around 60,000 words. It has taken some adjustment to write a faster paced story. There’s not as much time to build up the tension, you have to get right to it when you write.
Desire likes a sweeping cast of characters in each book and since I write series, usually 3-4 books is the most for me, it works because these secondary characters usually get their own story.
Writing for Desire also gave me the opportunity to write my first inter-racial romance. In INSATIABLE HUNGER, Ryan is African American and Jessie is Cuban.
And I absolutely love my Desire editor, I actually feel like he really gets me as a writer and champions me and my career.
How have you changed as a writer since that first book?
Oh yes. First off, I write a lot faster. My 1st book took me nearly a year to complete. Now, I can usually finish a book in six weeks to 2 months. Second, I’ve grown as a writer. I think my characters and plots are more vibrant, exciting and relevant. For instance, in RED CARPET REDEMPTION, I used current topics like sperm donation, in-vitro fertilization and bone marrow transplants.
Which of your books would you recommend to readers not familiar with your work and why?
I love all my books! It’s so hard to choose. Okay, I’m not going to think too hard on this. My 1st book, ONE MAGIC MOMENT holds a special place in my heart because it was my first and the heroine Nia is the most similar to me.
My all-time favorite series was my Kimani Romance, Orphan Series. PLAYING FOR KEEPS, THIS TIME FOR REAL, IF YOU SO DESIRE and TWO TO TANGO. Why? Because these 4 orphans: Quentin, Malik, Sage & Dante were a family even though they weren’t blood relations. Harlequin’s sells all 4 in a box set now called Summer of Love Quartet.
A strong mention to my most recent Harlequin Desire: Stewart Heirs series with siblings Ayden, Fallon, Dane and Morgan. I think the story got better as each book went along.
What do you see as your greatest accomplishment as an author?
Longevity. I’m proud to say I’ve been a published author for 16 years and that my readers still enjoy and appreciate the romances I craft. I have 34 published books and 2 more completed books on the way with more to follow.
How do you feel about the state of the romance industry; in particular, the treatment of authors of color?
A hot button topic. I feel authors of color have been overlooked for many years by publishers, membership organizations and the industry as a whole. Our books have been considered less than rather than equal to our white counterparts. For instance, although many of authors have been members of RWA, the organization didn’t live up to its potential because of exclusionary past practices and biased award judging as evidenced by the lack of authors of colors winning a RITA award during it’s history.
Because of the BLM movement, suddenly publishers are willing to consider manuscripts from authors of color whether agented or unagented and RWA is seeking to revamp its image by transparency. I can only hope all of this effort continues, a year from now and this movement isn’t a blip on the radar for authors of color.
What’s next for Yahrah?
I have a new 4-book Harlequin Desire series featuring the Lockett family coming soon. The Lockett’s own a football franchise and the children: Roman, Julian, Giana and Xavier will take center stage. 3 of the 4 books will come out in 2021.
In the interim, I also have a military romance trilogy I’m going to self-publish later this year. Originally, I sold the concept to Kimani and after its closure, I finally decided to finish the first book along with some help from my hubby who is 20-year Army veteran. The first book, CLAIMED BY THE HERO, comes out in September 2020.
FOR THE READERS
If there was one thing you could tell your readers what would it be?
Thank you to my readers for all your support the last 16 years, I couldn’t continue creating beautiful romances year-after-year without you.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Read, read, read, the genre you want to write. Purchase books about the craft of writing: plotting and structure, pacing, character development. Research the business of publishing and understand the variations: traditional, self-pub, hybrid. I’m a hybrid because I self-pub and have a traditional publisher. Stay current on promotions. 16 years ago, I was surprised that I didn’t just have to write the book, I had to promote myself too. Write every day if you can, I find when I’m able to do so, I’m more focused and in touch with my characters and the plot.
How can readers reach you?