Black love, for better or worse, is just love, and love isn’t limited to color, ethnicity, or race. Bringing relationships between black heroes and heroines to life in the pages of romance novels to life has been Cheris Hodges’ passion. Like many authors, she got bit by the writing bug and found her calling to write early in life. As is true for many diverse authors, the road to becoming a published author wasn’t easy, but she persisted through a career in independent publishing and full time nine to five gigs to find homes with some of the biggest publishers of diverse romance, like Genesis, Kensington’s Dafina, and Harlequin’s Kimani. Now, she’s built a passionate, committed following that loves her innate capability to weave fun characters, page-turning drama, sizzling sexy romantic scenes and–in her widely acclaimed latest release, Strategic Seduction–even some suspense. Cheris took time out of her busy writing schedule to tell Diverse Romance a little bit about her journey, her challenges, her inspiration–and her new release.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.

I started writing when I was in middle school and I knew that I wanted to write a book one day. So, when I was 16 and had just finished reading Waiting To Exhale, I decided that I was going to send my manuscript to Terry McMillan’s publisher. Wrong move. I got a lovely rejection letter that I still have. Then I started looking at what I needed to do to get published. And in the early 2000s, iUniverse.com came along. Then in 2002, I wrote my first romance novel. My sister, who always reads my stuff before any one, told me that I wrote romance. At the time when she said it, I didn’t believe her. But she introduced me to Brenda Jackson and Rochelle Alers, and I saw black love in books. And I was hooked on reading and writing romance.

Waiting to Exhale sparked the writing journey of so many black women, including mine. Tell us about your latest romance release.

My latest release, Strategic Seduction, which is the last book in the Goings Family and Friends series, is about Alicia Michaels, who’s looking for a new start in Atlanta. What she doesn’t expect to find love in the arms of her client, Richmond Crawford. See, Richmond is newly divorced and her best friend’s brother in law. Alicia doesn’t normally mix business with pleasure, but the sizzling reaction between the two of them is off the charts. However, when and ex comes back into the picture, could this be the final deal breaker?

Sounds wonderfully complicated. What’s love without complication? I don’t know about you, but in every book I’ve written I can usually pick out a couple of lines that speak to the chemistry between my characters. Give us one or two of your favorite lines from Strategic Seduction.

Richmond closed the space between him and Alicia.

“You know, you’re a beautiful woman, and I can’t believe I never noticed that before.”

“Well, at least you’re paying attention now.” She flashed him a smile and walked a step ahead of him. “Make sure you get a good look.”

It sounds like you’re giving readers more of what they love about your characters. Speaking of your readers, you’ve amassed a very devoted following over your career. What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

Nothing is more impactful than when you get an email from a reader telling you how they enjoy your writing. Those emails always seem to come when you’re doubting yourself or your work.

Yes, indeed. A writer’s life is filled with doubts and struggles. What would you say has been one of your biggest struggles as a writer? 

My biggest struggle is trying to get some people to see that love comes in all shapes and colors. Hey, if you can fall in love with a vampire, you can fall in love with a black person.

You’ve said a mouthful. I don’t know a diverse romance author who doesn’t struggle with this challenge.  What would you say has been the high point of your career, so far?

Being a featured author at the Bluffton Book Festival in sunny South Carolina had to be a high point. It was a great event, and people were excited to see me. That always gets me because I still feel like the kid in English class passing around a notebook filled with stories.

Along with the highs that we get from readers and recognition, being author comes with a lot of lows, too. What was a low point in your career?

The lowest point in my career happened last year when I had a PR person from my publishing company tell me that they weren’t promoting my book. I was floored and considered quitting. This is why you need writer friends to talk to. And if it wasn’t for my readers telling my how much they enjoyed my work, I may have pulled the plug. It’s sad when the people who are supposed to help you be successful in the industry actually don’t really give a damn about your work or it selling because you’re not the white—I mean right— color.

Well, you’re still standing and writing and your readers are happy for that. Switching gears, give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Beverly Jenkins! I’ve never enjoyed history until I picked up my first Ms. Bev novel and it opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t learn anything in high school!

Couldn’t agree more. Diverse Romance will be featuring an interview with Ms. Beverly next month! What’s next on your writing journey?

I have three independent projects on the horizon. One is a project close to my heart, based on my nephews. They have been after me for years to write about them, all I can say is be careful what you ask for. LOL!

As a seasoned author, you’ve probably got loads of advice for aspiring authors. What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

My favorite book on the craft of writing has to be Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell. It’s a book on writing characters that is amazing.

Sounds amazing! That’s all we’ve got for today. Thank you so much for joining Diverse Romance for our launch. Come back anytime!

To find Cheris online, visit:

Website: www.thecherishodges.com

Twitter: @cherishodges

Facebook: facebook.com/authorcherishodges/,

Blog: cherishodges.blogspot.com

Please check out and pick up a copy of Cheris’s latest and upcoming releases right here on Diverse Romance in the African American Contemporary Romance sections!