Message From The Author
Beverly Jenkins is an unassuming kind of lady. She and her husband, Mark, have been married for 29 yearsa true romanceand they have a daughter in college and a son just starting seventh grade. They had never owned a house (just condos and apartments) until about two years ago, when they moved into a middle-class, mostly blue-collar community in a small rural Michigan town.
Their modest four-bedroom brick home has a huge partially finished basement and verdant yard, but offers no hints that one of the most successful writers of African-American historical romances lives there. And thats the way Beverly likes it.
My husband and I didnt want a $200,000 home. We had no desire to have a mortgage that weighed us down like a cement block.
After viewing several high-priced subdivisions in town and noting the lack of yards and open spaces, Beverly and her husband chose a small neighborhood populated by many children, with lots of space to run and play. Their son, Jonathan, who they adopted as a young child, was a prime concern. Because of the awful hand hed been dealt during his early years, we wanted him to grow up in as idyllic a spot as we could find. When the realtor showed us [this house], I didnt care that the driveway had cracks or the windows would need to be replaced, all I cared about was the homey atmosphere of the neighborhood and that huge basement!
The basement, of course, would soon be turned into an office for Beverly. I envisioned being able to write in a space that had windows for the first time in my career! No more under the stairs with the furnace and the hot water heater for me. The room had a closet and a door, for heavens sake!
One could argue that its that kind of down-to-earth outlook that has made Beverlys books so successful. One of the few multicultural writers to tackle historicals, Beverly has been a favorite author of readers of all nationalities since her first novel Night Song was published by Avon in 1994. Again and again, fans cite her realistic characters and her ability to use such rich and vivid details to make them truly feel as though they are taking part in the story.
A former library worker, Beverly has a skilled background in research that is evidenced by her historically accurate books.
Its treasure hunting for me. Going into a library and holding that book in my lap and you turn the pages and there it is, the information youre looking foryour heart starts beating faster and you get that tingling feeling. Theres nothing like it.
Beverlys librarian roots are particularly evident in the bibliographies she includes in the back of each book. This unique trademark originated when she was working on Night Song. So many people who read it before it was publishedfriends, family, etceterawere fascinated by the history in it. It helps people looking for more on the topic to cut down their research time. And its my proof for when people ask me with disbelief, Did black folks really do this or that? Its authentication so they can go back and find out more. Everyones heard the phrase Knowledge is power. Well, I like to say, Shared knowledge is power.
Beverly enjoys sharing her knowledge with children especially, often touring schools in her local area. I do Shel Silverstein poems and the kids really get into it. My favorite is speaking to the fourth grade classes, because theyre not babies, but theyre not too old. They enjoy it and they remember. Theyre always asking when Im going to do a childrens book. Theres actually a childrens story in Vivid that I think might make a good book.
For now however, Beverlys sticking to romances. Her newest novel, THE TAMING OF JESSI ROSE, debuts this month. Set in 1880s Texas, this novel tells the story of Jessi Rose Clayton, who is struggling to keep the family ranch and must take on Griffin Blake, a rough-and-tumble outlaw, as her protector. This hero is a bad boy. Hes a train robber at the beginning of the book. Most of my men are a little mixture of both the good and the bad. I think that makes them more interesting and more human.
Shes currently working on her next book, a sequel to Topaz, due out in fall 2000. Its the story of Grace, who started the wagon train, and Jackson. Im having so much fun with the characters.
When shes not working, Beverly loves to read (especially female detective series by Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton and Barbara Neely,
author of a series featuring a black domestic sleuth) and loves to garden in her spare time. Lilies are my favorite. Ive two beds devoted
to them so far and I envision at least two or three more. In spring
and summer, when the leaves are full, its truly spectacular.
Maybe so, but not as spectacular as your books, Bev.
Readers can write to Beverly at P.O. Box 1893, Belleville,
MI 48112. Please include an SASE.
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