Monday, May 3, 2010

Beyond Gender—Writing Romance

I enjoying reading romantic suspense and always have. However, I haven’t read many male authors who write it. Attending the Romance Times Convention this past week introduced me to several suspense and thriller (with elements of romance) authors who were men.

Today, my guest is, Keith Thomas Walker, who isn’t at all shy about admitting he writes romantic suspense (Fixin’ Tyrone) and suspense with strong romantic elements (How To Kill Your Husband). He shares with us how he came to be writing romance and how rejections effected him.

According to my website I’m the Master of Romantic Suspense and Urban Fiction. I know that’s a mouthful. It’s also a lot to live up to considering I’ve only been a published author since November of last year. But if I don’t believe in myself, I certainly can’t ask anyone else to.

I’ve always loved to write, and I sometimes long for the good old days; back when I was in the fifth grade and it was all about the craft. That was before the deadlines and the revisions – before I had to perform well for thousands of people rather than my one English teacher who loved anything I put on paper.

I still remember when I turned in a poem one day called “Man of the House.” It was about a boy who had to attend his father’s funeral. When he got home, he discovered that he finally caught a mouse in one of the traps he set that morning. Looking back on it now, it sounds kind of cheesy, but that experience, plus the funeral, helped the boy accept his new role of man of the house.

Mrs. Hymel (my grade school teacher back then) held me after class one day to console me for what had to be a very hard chapter of my life. She was surprised when I told her I hadn’t been to any funerals, caught any mice or lost my father for that matter, and she was the first professional to seriously encourage my writing. It’s been more than two decades since “Man of the House,” and I’m still writing avidly. I still like to hear from people like Mrs. Hymel who are surprised by my insight and eager for me to produce more fiction they can get lost in for a little while.

I suppose I always knew I would publish books one day, but as any writer can tell you rejection makes you doubt your craft, your abilities and maybe even your self worth if it lingers long enough. It’s hard to sit behind a keyboard everyday when every publisher in your genre has either rejected your manuscript or they won’t consider it because you don’t have an agent.

I had to learn to think outside of the box and reevaluate what my true purpose was. Growing up, I was constantly exposed to poverty and depression. A lot of people in my circle got into gangs or drugs (both using and selling), and a lot more of them decided it was a good idea to murder one another. I wanted to use my talent to speak against these evils. I wanted to educate and promote education, but it’s hard to do that if your book never makes it past your hard drive.

To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of writing romance – initially. I saw the books in the stores with bare-chested men posing in front of mountainous backdrops and decided I would never go that route. How could I talk about how drugs have ravished my community in a book like that? How could I talk about the high percentage of incarcerated black men? But then I wrote my first romance novel titled Fixin’ Tyrone, and I realized I could get my message across regardless of the genre.

Fixin’ Tyrone is about a single mother named Mia who made a good life for herself despite the two children she had in college. Mia vowed to never again date the thuggish men she was once attracted to, but when one of her children’s father gets out of prison, Mia has to make tough decisions about love, family and the possible rehabilitation of a former drug dealer named Tyrone. Fixin’ Tyrone received excellent reviews, and I’m hoping for similar success with my second novel, How to Kill Your Husband.

The average day for me includes working a full time job and trying to find a good balance in my “free time.” It’s important that I spend time with my family, so I have to put my writing on the back burner sometimes. And then there are days when I simply must finish a book or send in revisions for a different manuscript, and I have to sacrifice an afternoon my children would like for me to take them to the park. If you want to be a successful writer, you have to make tough decisions all the time. But if you don’t take time to smell the roses, none of your success will matter in the long run.

I encourage anyone reading this to visit my website ( and read excerpts from my novels as well as reviews I’ve collected from various sources. I don’t have all of the answers, but I will share what I know with anyone who would like advice on the trials and tribulations of getting published. Send an email to

Thank you for your time. Much love and God bless.

Blurb for How to Kill Your Husband:

Claire is a happily married mother of three. Her life seems picture perfect until she suspects her husband of sixteen years is having an affair. With the help of her quirky friends Becky and Melanie, Claire gets to the bottom of it, but they uncover much more than she bargained for. When she believes she has sufficient proof, Claire decides on the most obvious course of action: She must kill her husband.


Keith Thomas Walker is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys writing and reading, poetry, and music of all genres. Keith currently works in administration at one of the city’s largest hospitals. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two children.
You can find Keith: Website