Gwyneth Bolton was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. She currently lives in Syracuse, New York with her husband Cedric. When she was 12-years-old, she became an avid reader of romance novels by sneaking her mother’s stash of Harlequin and Silhouette novels. In the 90s, she was introduced to African American and multicultural romance novels and her life hasn’t been the same since. She has a BA and an MA in English/Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English/Composition and Rhetoric. She teaches classes in writing and women’s studies at the university level. She has won several awards for her romance novels, including five Emma Awards and the Romance In Color Reviewer’s Choice award for new author of the year. She is the author of eight novels and a novella. When she is not teaching or working on her own African American romance novels, she is curled up with a cup of herbal tea, a warm quilt, and a good book.
Some like it hot…
Aisha has had enough of dominant men trying to control her life, and the gorgeous firefighter who visits her kindergarten class is alpha male through and through. Yet the gentler side Patrick shows, especially around her young son, gradually melts her reserve. As shadows from Aisha’s past resurface, she’ll discover just how far Patrick will go to prove she’s found her real-life hero.
SIZZLING SEDUCTION. Make us burn to read your latest work!
Patrick Hightower is used to putting out fires. However, a sweet and sexy kindergarten teacher breaks through his protective shield and makes him think it might be more fun starting a fire instead. Sizzling Seduction is a slow burning love story that steadily rises to an uncontrollable passionate heat. It’s a story about trust and learning to love again.
SIZZLING SEDUCTION is the final book in your four-part Hightower Honor series. How did the series/idea come about?
The series started with an image of a funeral/wake. I got a vision of Penny, the heroine of the first novel in the series, at the wake for her deceased grandmother and she was nervous about possibly running into her ex-boyfriend. Of course—evil writer that I am—I had to make her face that fear right away! That’s when the sweet but tortured Jason Hightower came into my vision. As I probed his character more, I found his fine-fine-fine older brothers and a family legacy of cops and firemen. Needless to say, I was very pleased and a series was born about men who protect and serve, but most of all love passionately and completely.
What type of writer are you? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a little of both actually. I used to write a novel about halfway through without plotting and then I would have to plot out the rest of it to finish it. That’s how I wrote my first three novels, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, If Only You Knew and Divine Destiny. Now that I’ve sold a few novels by proposal and the novel is technically plotted out already in the proposal, I have to give myself serious critical distance from the proposal after I write it and write as if I am still pantsing it. Then usually about halfway through the writing, I have to revisit my proposal to finish writing the novel. Strange… I know…
What’s your favorite thing about SIZZLING SEDUCTION?
My favorite thing about Sizzling Seduction is the overriding themes that even when you have given up on ever finding true love there is always a chance that true love will find you.
What three adjectives best describe SIZZLING SEDUCTION?
Hot, Hotter, Hottest
What three adjectives best describe YOU?
Funny, shy, crazy
What are your three guilty pleasures?
Food Network, General Hospital (I-mean-Sonny-shot-his-own-son-come-on), Lays Potato Chips
What three authors or books propelled you into wanting to write romance novels? Why?
There are really too many to name. Three authors whose down-to-earth, funny and sexy writing styles helped me to realize that there was a place in the genre for the kinds of love stories I wanted to tell were Leslie Esdaile, Adrianne Byrd and Niobia Bryant. Three authors who I admire and want to be when I grow up are Brenda Jackson, Jennifer Crusie and Beverly Jenkins.
What three things can you NOT live without?
Love, Books, Music
What are the three pieces of advice you would give to a black writer trying to break into the romance publishing world?
1- Never give up.
2- Keep honing your craft.
3- Find your voice and perfect it.
I’m a sucker for love. Seriously, love stories had me at “hello.” I don’t know why but I’ve always had a soft spot for a well-told love story and I hope that never changes. I’ve found some of the most satisfying reads ever in romance novels. And that’s saying a lot because I was an English major for my BA, MA and PhD. So, I have read a lot of books!
What do you hope readers come away with after reading one of your books?
I hope that readers come away from my novels having experienced a full range of emotions. I want them to laugh, cry and have an “oh-no-he-or-she-didn’t-moment.” I know this sounds bad… But when I get e-mail from readers and they tell me that a particular scene in one of my novels made them cry, I get elated. I also get elated when they say that they laughed out loud, or they were talking to the characters. But if they shed a tear, that’s golden. Because it means I did my job. I made them care. I want readers to walk away with a sigh, feeling like they had an emotionally satisfying reading experience.
Black Romance – how much recognition, status do black romance novels have today?
Not nearly enough in my opinion. I consider myself to be a hardcore devoted romance reader. I read romance across race. Not everyone does, however. There are some folks who won’t read a romance novel if it has black characters or was written by a black author. That’s really a shame because they are missing the wonderful novels of A. C. Arthur, Ann Christopher, Phyllis Bourne, Deatri King-Bey, Victoria Wells, Iris Bolling, Shelia Goss, Celeste Norfleet, Maureen Smith, Wayne Jordan, Dara Girard, Patricia Saergent, Michelle Monkou… So many talented African American writers crafting beautiful black love stories…
What stigma (if any) do you see from those who talk about black romance novels?
I think there are layers of stigma. There is the general romance stigma that all romance novels—no matter the race of the author or characters—experience. That stigma is one that belittles romance and derides it because it is genre fiction. This stigma usually goes hand-in-hand with either: Romance porn for women. Happily-ever-after is unrealistic. Romance is not real fiction… These are the general stigmas for romance in general. Since African American romance doesn’t exist in a social-cultural bubble, it has to deal with these stigmas too. But African American romance novels also have to deal with stigma from some readers who don’t want to read African American romances because of race. Some of these readers feel that African American romances won’t be as well written as mainstream romance or that they will have a lot of slang, preach about racial injustice, etc. Basically, it’s a stigma based in racial biases…
How can black romance novels break the stigma, rise to the significance that they deserve?
That’s the million-dollar question. If only I knew the answer to that one… But I would urge skeptics of romance in general to try reading a few. They’ll find some well-written, phenomenal stories, some of the best. And for people who are letting cultural biases stop them from reading African American romances, I would urge them to try a few. There are so many talented African American romance authors, so many gifted voices; it would be ashamed to miss out…
In addition to being a fabulous romance author, you are also a professor who examines gender, writing, race, and rhetoric. Do you often feel you are living two separate lives: the academic and the saucy romance novelist?
Not only do I feel like I am living two different lives, I really do feel like I am two very different people… and no I’m not crazy. I just think when I’m in Gwyneth Bolton mode, I really am very different than when I’m in Gwendolyn D. Pough. I really am living two different lives and I love them both! LOL.
How do your academic interests blend with your creative works? Do they?
I don’t think I do it consciously. That would be too didactic and not fun to read or write. But I do think some of my academic interests find their way in. For example, as a black feminist cultural critic, I have tendency to make some of my heroines black feminists or hip-hop feminists every now and then. As a rhetorician, issues of language also find their way into my novels on varying levels.
What do you do with ALL that spare time…after you’ve been the great writer, professor, and wife?
That’s a trick question, right? I think someone ran away with all my spare time, because I can’t find it anywhere. If found… please send my spare time back to me. LOL.
Sizzling Seduction: The Movie! Who would play firefighter Patrick Hightower and the smart, sexy teacher Aisha Miller in the movie?
That’s an easy one! Lamman Rucker has always been Patrick Hightower in my mind. And Lark Voorhies (the all grown-up Lark, not the teenage Save by the Bell Lark) would be the perfect Aisha Miller.
What can fans expect to see from you next?
My next novel is a part of Kimani Romance’s yearlong promotion where it’s all about the heroes, Kimani Hotties. The novel, Make It Last Forever, will be released in August 2010. It is a steamy contemporary romance with just a hint of magical realism thrown in. It is a novel about soul mates and a love that transcends time, space and place.
From Sizzling Seduction…
Some men just take up all the space and air in the room with their very presence. And given the fact that Aisha had purposely sworn off of such men until the end of time, she really had no business noticing how he stood out in a sea of people or the pronounced lack of oxygen that had her pursing her lips and swallowing.
Tall dark and handsome had nothing on this towering wall of muscles or the way he filled out that navy blue and white uniform. She didn’t think she had a thing for men in uniform. Who knew the sight of thick muscular thighs and strong pipes for arms all encased in those official and authoritative clothing could send a woman’s heart racing like this?
She tried to focus on other things in the firehouse.
The truck? Look at it all red and shiny and pretty. Nope that didn’t take my mind of him. The engine…
Just listen to the words. Focus on the words. Focus on my students. Ignore this man.
As if she could…
“Stay away from hot things that can hurt!” Her kindergarten students yelled the words at the top of their little lungs as they repeated after the young fireman who had just given them a tour of the fire station.
Their guide was in his early twenties and seemed to be having just as much fun as the kids. He didn’t look bad in his uniform either. Maybe she could try and focus on him.
Nope, even the cute little tender-roni fireman guide couldn’t distract her from him.
She glanced at Toni in her outrageous purple and orange get-up trying to catch the young firefighters eye by flirtingly repeating after him with the children. Surely Toni’s antics should have wrestled her attention from the sexy fire captain. Toni batted her eyes and Aisha’s eyes went right back to the fire captain.
Aisha couldn’t help it. She stared at the sexy, very hot fire captain who was standing there watching them all. Captain Hightower. He’d said his name was Captain Patrick Hightower. She wondered why he was still in the room. He wasn’t giving them the tour. Last year when she’d brought her students for a tour the highest ranking officer on duty introduced himself, gave them a welcome and hightailed it out of there leaving it up to the young rookie to do the grunt work. Captain Hightower seemed determined to stick around and check her out.
She wondered if the sexy fire captain counted as a hot thing that could hurt her.
She glanced at him. Tall. Rock-hard. Solid muscle and masculinity. Devil may care smile. Oh yeah. He was a hot thing that could hurt all right.
“Tell a grown-up when you find matches or lighters.” The students yelled.
“Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch on fire.” They added doing the funny little hand movements that went along with the actions they described.
“Cool a burn!” Their little voices piped through the huge hall.
“That’s right, if you happen to burn yourselves, you should immediately cover the spot in cold water.” The rookie firefighter whose name she still could not remember, as if she could remember another name with the name Patrick Hightower taking over every nook and crevice of her mind, coached the children with gems of fire safety.
Cold water would have been good at that moment. It might have helped with the sudden heat she was feeling. She could drink a glass and cool her dry as the desert mouth and throat. She could splash it all over herself to calm down the overwhelming body heat she felt when she looked at Patrick Hightower. The heat and the sweat popping out all over her was unbearable.
Early menopause? It could happen as early as thirty-five. She was thirty-five. But something told her it wasn’t early menopause causing the steam to roll up her neck and making her hand want to fan, fan, and fan away.
“Crawl low under smoke!” Her little darlings repeated.
“Know the sound of the smoke alarm.” They added.
The ringing of the alarm jolted her and she blinked.
Sound effects? Hmm… She certainly needed a warning if Captain Hightower’s heated stare meant what she thought it meant.
“Practice an escape plan.” The kindergarteners said with the same tone of authority that the young rookie had used.
You haven’t said anything but a word!
She needed an escape plan. She took a slow, calming, and deep breath and tried to appear natural about letting it out. No matter what, she wasn’t going to give the man the time of day. That was for certain. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t. So, there was really no need to get all nervous and hot and bothered.
“Recognize the fire fighter as a helper,” the children chanted after the rookie.
She glanced up stared at the fire captain again. He smiled, a sexy, sizzling, seductive smile. His eyes seemed to say ‘how may I help you?’ And his body language—the cool, confident, assured stance—offered a multitude of possibilities.
She continued to observe him, cautiously, and he continued to hold her gaze. Fire captain Hightower didn’t appear to know the meaning of the words back down.
Aisha shook her head with all the rejection she could muster lacing her stare and posture. She even put on her best, don’t-even-try-it-or-think-about-it-brother glare and placed her hand on her hip, blocking his sensual assault with everything she could. It might have helped if she didn’t find herself so incredibly attracted to him.
And what did the man have the nerve to do when met with her rejection? He saw her shaking head and smiled as he nodded! He even mouthed the word yes before winking at her and leaving the room.
The air seemed to return to the room with a gush. She gasped as she wondered who in the hell was going to save her from the fireman?