If you haven’t heard the name Xyla Turner in these literary streets, you must be hiding under a rock! Or you ain’t friends with the right people…I love this woman ’cause she is a natural-born hustler, and I don’t mean swindler. I mean, this woman works hard for her coins yet still manages to stay humble. Another thing that I love about Xyla Turner is she is a true Renaissance writer. You cannot put her in a box. I don’t think she’d stay put even if you tried.
Xyla was kind enough to chat with me, and she keeps it real! Check it out!
Musings Romance Junkie: You are what I refer to as a renaissance author. You write across genres with such ease, and your library of work has just about something for everyone. Does the story idea dictate the genre or do you say “My next story will be xyz…” and you write it from there?
Xyla Turner: Good question! I think in some cases, the story dictates the genre as I’ve tried to get polar opposites to unite in my books. Whether that is by race, culture, proximity, or even personality. In other cases, I know my next story’s central issue might be a universal one, then you’ll probably see my books in series. Nine times out of ten, my series will have a mix of folks, since I write across the genres and that is usually more purposeful.
Musings: How has the fan reception been in terms of you actually spanning multiple genres? Some are very loyal to one genre, and when an author deviates, they see as a personal betrayal so to speak.
XT: Honestly, I have not seen it or it is not as blatant as I expected. Meaning, no one has said it to me. 🙂 That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened, but I will say this. My first two books starred two African-Americans H/h, the third, fourth and fifth were Interracial. Somewhere between those releases, I started to tell my readers. Stick it out with me, because I’m going to ‘switch the style up’. I’ve put out short stories to test the waters, I even had a poll or two asking readers what they preferred and ultimately, I listen. I listen to them, but I also follow my heart. When I started this, I did not say, I’m going to write just this sort of romance. My tag line says Romance Author and that is what Xyla Turner will always be. I have written other work under my given and other pen names, but those were academic, self-help and religious books. I’ve even entertained the idea of writing under another name, but then a wise person said to me, ‘why make the change when you’ve worked so hard to build this one.’ She was right, so my theme for months has been “Switch the Style Up”.
One of my readers noted in her latest review, Xyla always switches it up and it is always good. Yes, that’s one person’s opinion, but that is what I’ve set out to do. Above all else, write compelling, sexy stories that anyone can read and relate or empathize with and enjoy.
Musings: Is there one genre that you haven’t written that you’d like to?
XT: Paranormal and Mystery. I’ve read both and enjoyed the complexities of the writing and the twist from a reader’s perspective. However, it seems a bit intimidating to me, which only fuels my fire to try it one day. I’m sure before the year is out, I’ll pen a short story; at least and see how it goes.
Musings: One thing I admire about you as a writer is you are not afraid to write about “uncomfortable” subjects like STD’s, police brutality, and the social stigmas of interracial relationships. Have you ever been told by a reader that romance is supposed to be about fantasy and not “heavy” or “real”; and if so, what is your response to that?
XT: No, readers haven’t said that to me outright. Of course, I have seen posts, memes, blog articles, and other things that discuss this. There was one recent article from Romance Novels in Color that addressed this sort of ‘racial’ issue recently. I thought it hit the nail on the head. I’m a reader first, and one of the central reasons why I started to write was because I didn’t hear my thoughts about other things that I faced daily. Not just about race, but how I fit into the world, my culture, and this society. I’ve read about many sorts of women of every color, and I could identify with many of those characters, but what I didn’t read was how it felt to love someone of a different race when that was not the popular opinion. I didn’t read about the one disease that impacts one-third of the world and how no one addresses that. There were some readers that voiced their dislike for my choice to have a woman with an STD having unprotected sex with a man that would take her as she was, but that little tidbit was based off a real story. A friend of mine with herpes married a man who took her just as she was. Now, that’s a love story. I want to write about that. I want to write about the boy in a Bronx Tale who, despite what society said about interracial dating, made the leap, because it was about the ‘keeper or the great one’ and not trying to act like it doesn’t exist.
I work at a high school, and I’m for fantasy to get away from the craziness I see every day, but that hope to overcome some of those realities is what I want to read. I want to read about people who have insecurities like a Lisa in Across the Tracks or Samantha in BOMBSHELL; and the strong and not always rich men come that remind them that they are worth it.
Musings: What is your most popular story or series to date, and where did the inspiration from the story originate?
XT: Thus far, I think it’s a toss-up between 10-80 and The Chase. 10-80 literally came about because I was getting out of the shower and heard the police knocking on one of my neighbor’s door asking where this lady was. When I actually left for work, they were still there and one happened to be cute. He asked me no questions because I would have provided no answers, but my mind started to wander from there. What if he did?
That is how 10-80 was born. I caught the train to work and started to outline what would happen if she lived in the projects. Where I live, nobody would blink, but a black woman dating a white man or a white cop in the projects near my job? That would not fly well; and by the time I arrived home, the story was brewing within me so deeply, I had to start writing.
Musings: If you could turn one of your stories into a movie, which would it be, and whom would you cast?
XT: Honestly, with the current climate of society today, I’d have to say 10-80. I would love for Zac Efron to play Ryan and Zoe Saldana to play D’asia. Taraji and Idris could play her neighbors, and Ryan’s mom could be Bette Midler.
Musings: Let’s talk about the Women: Withstanding All anthology (Available now BTW). Where did the idea or inspiration from this collection come from?
XT: I was talking with another author about something personal and it reminded me of a teen book that I’m in the process of writing. More importantly some of the feelings and thoughts behind what we as women go through. With or without the significant others in our lives that either adds or takes away from us. As I reflected on that, I thought about the many stages that women go through and realized as I get older that some of my behavior or rationale when I was young is still the same. That could be because of trauma or certain events from my teenage years, which were not all rosy. In many cases, it is our internal defense mechanism or our way of coping.
Whatever it may be, women of all ages, no matter what nationality or creed. We have more in common than we would like to admit. It may look different for some of us, but those same core feelings are there and they manifest themselves differently according to the individual. So, I wanted to bring some of those feelings to the forefront. This project may be extended or continued in another capacity but I think it is important and relevant that we share our stories or other stories because we need to know, that we aren’t alone. Someone else has been through this too.
Musings: You have a very diverse group of contributors to the collection. How did you go about selecting them?
XT: Honestly, I asked all of these women to contribute because they are in my most immediate circle of authors whom I respect and have worked with in various capacities. I had the awesome opportunity to meet and share the stage with Nia Forrester at a Wine with the Authors event in DC. I also met Lily Java at this same event. I’m friends with Patti Doss and I am a part of her anthology, A Hood Summer Night’s Dream. Angelia V. Menchan has served as a sage of sorts for me. She read some of my first work, provided constructive feedback and gave me her support. Amarie Avant helped to coach me through a tough time and helped me get over a hump that I was facing. Heather Rae and I had talked earlier on about doing something together and she has always been available, open and a major support. Jessica Wren has been a very real supporter and has the realest post that cut straight to the point.
I had the great privilege to attend Yara Kaleemah’s book event last year, and her drive and wealth of knowledge is inspiring. Nako is an author whom I have admired from afar, and she was definitely someone whose drive I admire. Ni’Kay Rountree, Renee Eddy, Treanna Neufville and I share educational stories, experiences, and seemed to connect right away. N. Saba is a new author, and she and I have had several conversations about the expansion to Young Adult and Teen books. #Hint
Musings: What kind of stories can the reader expect from Women: Withstanding All?
XT: This anthology was created for women, by women. It shall encompass stories that range from the various stages of life including teenagers, young adults, single, married, divorced to the older, more mature woman. Since there are fourteen different authors, you’ll also see various styles and genres, including Women’s Fiction, Romance, Urban, and a few Non-Fiction stories. I believe there is something for everybody, and I really want to challenge readers to read all of the stories and really look at the similarities . We are all women, and despite our age, preferences, and upbringings, there are major similarities that I believe we should use to unite and uplift instead of degrade and tear down.
Musings: What more can we expect from the Xyla Turner brand in 2016?
XT: In 2016, I plan to continue my expansion into different sub-genres in Romance. That could include paranormal to mystery or young adult to contemporary. There will be some collaborations, maybe some more anthologies, but more importantly, not the same ole’ things. I like what I have done thus far and will continue all of my series but I like to spread my wings and soar as high as I can.
Thank ya Xyla! Connect with author Xyla Turner today! She errwhere…