Net Galley Reviewer

Professional Reader

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Conversation with Nina Foxx

Today, I have the honor and privilege to interview the one and only Nina Foxx. Nina, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview you. Welcome to The Reading Life with Yolanda. My home here on the internet is very laid back. So, what’s your drink of choice? 
Nina is an award winning author, film maker and self-described fa-SHOE-nista. Her alter ego is Cynnamon Foster. Cynnamon has been begging to be let out for quite a while. She tied Nina up and put her in a closet and has been writing ever since.

1.    Cynnamon, I absolutely loved Book One in your Eastern Spice series. Will you tell the readers more about Eastern Spice and what they can expect? How did you come up with the title? 

Actually, Book One was Southern Comfort, but the publisher changed so ES is labelled book one.  So, make sure you start reading there.  ;-)  First, I wanted to write some material with the elements of true erotica but always with a strong story line.  My story had to be sexy and it had to make sense.  So I did a few short stories first to try it out. As Cynnamon, I had a piece published in an anthology edited by Lori Bryant Woolridge.  That was called “IN the Shadow of the Midnight Train”.  Anyway, I decided on a good, sexy espionage story, or sexpionage. In my real-life, I travel  a lot, for my job or otherwise, and I decided to incorporate some of the places I’d experienced and things I’d learned about the various cultures and places I visited into the story.  So after Southern Comfort, The two main characters take off to save the world (!).  
In Eastern Spice, they travel to India to solve a case there.  One day, my husband was on a business trip in India (without me), and a woman was found dead floating in the hotel pool where he was staying.  He saved the newspaper story and the idea was born for Eastern Spice.  We got married at the Taj Mahal (the first time…we renew our vows every year), and during that trip I fell in love with India and the richness and nuances of the culture, so the characters for the book visit there. 

The next Book is Northern Passions, and it takes place in Paris and Northern France.  Again, I did some consulting there.  Paris has long been one of my favorite cities (followed closely by Tokyo), so the characters gallivant throughout France in this adventure.  
Western Fusion is the fourth book, and this one takes place in Istanbul. I did some research there as well as was really fascinated by the melding of East and West and Istanbul’s history as the crossroads of the world. There will probably be a few short stories in between because you might have noticed that Seria disappears.  I don’t think I am done with her yet but I haven’t decided where she went to with her mysterious older lover. There is something intriguing about a man with one blue eye and one brown eye.
 2.    How did you decided to write under the pseudonym, Cynnamon Foster? You’re also writing under the name Beryl Jennings, when should readers expect something from Beryl? How do you balance writing in multiple genres? 
When I decided to write erotica, my (then) agent (now deceased) suggested I use a different name to separate the genres for my readers.  I’m still mixed on it, but I’m a few books in as Cynnamon so I will go with it.  Beryl Jennings may become Nina Foxx Jennings and that will be more literary.  (Jennings is really my last name).  There is a book being shopped now.  I read everything and write what I feel like, and it comes out the way it does.  The Foxx/Jennings book, if I had more courage, would have been written as a memoir, but as it stands, its creative non-fiction or a true story told in novel format. I changed some things (the actuality of them, not the essence) to make it flow like a novel.  But to confuse things, Nina Foxx has edited a creative non-fiction anthology that will be published by Strebor/Simon and Schuster next year.
 3.    Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I read all the time. Growing up I read my father’s books, which meant science fiction most of the time.  I cut my teeth on the Lord of The Rings, Stephen King and Greek Mythology.  Now I have very eclectic reading tastes. I read Sci Fi and Horror all the time.  I read erotica classics like Anais Nin and The Story Of O. I love books that teachyou tidbits about other cultures.  For instance, I’m reading Americanah now. I also enjoy Percival Everett.  I think he is my favorite author ever. I actually asked him to supply a blurb for my literary book since he was on the selection committee for the Doctorow Award for Experimental Fiction and it was short listed…. 
4.    Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? 
The biggest challenge was learning about the industry.  I self-pubbed my first book because no one told me that was hard, then accidentally bumped into an agent who had to convince me to go to a major house. She sold it pretty quickly, so I skipped all the rejection letters, etc.  A major challenge was that I found that so many black authors are forced into a hole.  I write a lot of things for a lot of people, but she only wanted to sell the “chic lit” style books because that was what was hot then.  The literary book that I mentioned—I had that ten years ago and she told me that it was phenomenal writing, but she didn’t feel as if the market was ready for this type of story from a black female.  I mean, really??!!  (I fired her.) Now, it’s interesting how the tides have turned. Self-publishing has changed so much.  You know that for sure when your agent says things like “I’m not sure this publisher is doing anything for you that you can’t do yourself.”  Now major houses have to convince establish authors that they can offer something that they can’t get by going it alone. 
5.    If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I think you would change every novel a little after it was done if you could.  Time and the process changes you. You are absolutely a different person when you finish than when you started.  That means when you end, you would have written a different book that when you started. 
6.    What are your current projects? 
Lots.  Finishing the next Cynnamon Books and the anthology.  Getting the literary book out there. A few shorts stories in the hopper.  I also have an unsold YA and a children’s book.  I’m going to be voicing the audio for one of my books in audio format, plus I produced a few films. I just had one at Sundance and now I have one at the Toronto Film Festival in the Fall. The rights to my play (on DVD) have been sold in several African Countries so I’m even considering mounting another play.  
7.    What do you think most characterizes your writing? 
I think that the locations are often as much a character as the characters are.  
8.    What advice do you have for up and coming authors? 
Read and learn everything you can about the business first. 
9.    I always throw in a wacky question…Have you ever gone out in public with your shirt on backwards, or your slippers on, and when realizing it, just said, the heck with it? 
Absolutely. I drove to work in my slippers once and forgot my shoes.  I wore slippers all day long.  Fortunately, I work in tech and you are allowed to be quirky.  It’s almost encouraged. 
10. How can readers contact you? Facebook.  Blog.  Tumblr. Twitter. Vine. Email. 
Once again, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. I appreciate it so much.
My Eastern Spice Review
I was so happy when I found out that Cynnamon Foster had a new book. Eastern Spice is Book One in the 69 Degree series. When I found out that it was a series, I did a Snoopy dance. I love Cynnamon Foster. She's never disappointed me. Eastern Spice was a story that I didn't want to end. At one point, I began reading slower, savoring each word. Main characters Desiree & Sam have so much chemistry. Not only are they co-workers/partners, but lovers as well. They have to learn how to keep their emotions at bay while working on a case in India. Cynnamon writes with so much detail that I felt I was working alongside them. Anyone can write a book filled with sex. But, it takes a great author to be able to have not only page after page of sex but a great storyline filled with drama and suspense. While reading, a Cynnamon Foster novel, I'm always taking notes. I can't wait to read Book Two. I wonder what will the tag team of Sam & Desiree get into next. If you're looking for a page turner filled with drama and intrigue, I highly recommend this book!

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