I feel a special connection to writers who are not only committed to writing entertaining stories, but ones that tackle tough subjects. Dei Araujo is one of those special writers. Moreover, she has terrific advice for aspiring writers, and I’m so delighted to welcome her to my blog. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and buy links for her works.
First off, congratulations on the release this year of two novels, The Chaebol’s Wife and Love Me Now. Can you tell us about them?
Thank you so much. The Chaebol’s Wife is an Asian Male/Black Woman multicultural romance that takes place in Miami, Florida and Seoul, South Korea. Camille and Seung-ju are married but mysterious incidents threatened Camille’s life and the life of her unborn child, forcing her to flee back to the states. She meets her husband four years later when her skincare company is in need of a supplier and is surprised to discover that her feelings for him, which she had thought were dead and buried, were still painfully present. Remembering what she went through when she lived in Seoul, she’s not ready to return. However, Seung-ju makes an offer she can’t resist. He’s unaware of the reasons behind her disappearance, but now that he’s found her, he’s willing to do everything in his power to keep her.
I really love Camille and Seung-ju’s story. Back in 2016, after a devastating event in my life, I started watching Korean Dramas and other Asian Dramas. I would binge watch these shows like nobody’s business and I watch them to this day. Camille and Seung-ju’s story came to me right before the pandemic and this afforded me the time to sit down and tell their story.
I have to say that I’m so thankful and appreciative for all the great reviews I’ve received for The Chaebol’s Wife. Although it is a romance, it deals with a lot of hot topic issues like racism, colorism, and classism. A lot of my readers appreciated that these issues were addressed and have shown me nothing but love. I need to get on the ball and finish book three.
My latest novel, Love Me Now, is the sequel to my first novel, Need You Now. I came out in August. This book deals with recovering from abuse. When I first started writing the sequel, a few people didn’t want to read about a woman going through the type of depression that my main character was experiencing. They wanted her to be a strong heroine. She gets there eventually, but I wanted to show the struggle it takes for her to get to a place of love and peace. As a Black woman, people expect us to be strong and sometimes, we’re not. We are fragile, happy, angry, sad, passionate, sexy, beautiful, successful and human. That’s how I wanted to show Loelle.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What books/authors inspired you?
I knew at the age of 11 that I wanted to be a writer. In elementary school, a friend and I had this little write off to see who could write the best story. When I finished writing a comedic piece, I shared it with my dad who laughed so hard – he had tears in his eyes. I knew then if I could get a reaction, any reaction, out of my reader, I would write for the rest of my life.
My mom worked at a book company. Believe it or not, the company would rip the covers off the book, save the covers and then toss the books away. My mom would gather these books and bring them home. They were always romance and I fell in love with this genre. Some of my favorite authors are Julie Garwood, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Rochelle Alers and Judith McNaught. My high school friend and I loved Something Wonderful so much, we would spend our time after school writing it into a screenplay. I wish back then we had online streaming like Netflix because I would’ve loved to have seen Judith McNaught’s work on TV. I’m happy that we have the Bridgertons.
As an author, you’ve been strongly committed to multicultural romance. What led you to want to write not just romance but multicultural stories?
Growing up as young Black girl, there wasn’t a lot of representation either through books or television. I’d watch Dynasty and put a towel over my head, pretending I had a head full of long, flowing hair as I told Alexis Carrington off. So, my first books that I would pen by hand always included a white heroine. I couldn’t see myself in those stories. I wanted to write historical romance, especially Regency, because that’s where my heart was. However, at the time, I had a hard time seeing romance in the lives of African Americans pre-Civil War, knowing our history. Thanks to Beverly Jenkins who paved the way for African-American historical romance, I can see myself finally writing a historical romance. I’m actually playing around with a time travel romance and hope to work out the kinks for that one. But, it wasn’t until I went to college and started appreciating who I was as a Black woman that I started writing more books featuring African-American heroines.
I also want my book covers to represent the spectrum of beauty you can find in Black women. For my second book, The Chaebol’s Wife, a dear friend was the cover model. When I saw her photo, I was like, “Gosh, you’re beautiful! You have to be on my cover.” She agreed and I’ve received so many compliments for that cover. I also grew up in the military and it’s such a melting pot. I didn’t experience racism, so it wasn’t uncommon for people to date outside their race. This factored into my desire to write books that show love outside any one demographic.
You are an alum of the MFA Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University. Was the program important to your growth and development as a writer?
A resounding yes. In our heads we often think we’re great and doing the things we need to do. And this is how I was before Seton Hill. I thought I was a good writer. However, when I enrolled in the Writing Popular Fiction program, I realized that there was so much I didn’t know about writing. In high school and college, I stayed away from creative writing courses because I wasn’t ready for criticism of my work. By the time I got to Seton Hill, I was tired of wanting to be an author and not doing anything to make it happen. The program was life-giving. The staff, mentors, and my critique partners helped me become a stronger writer. To this day, I still keep in contact with my critique partners and my graduating class. We became a family and I thank God for each of them.
Additionally, the skills and techniques I learned helped me to start my own editing business, Literary MD. Not only do I love to write, but I also love helping other authors get their manuscript to a market-ready product.
Has your background as a retired Air Force officer been a part of your fiction?
To some extent yes. My characters are either retired Air Force or have some type of connection to the military. I haven’t, however, wanted to write a military romance, which is weird.
I am so impressed that you’re not just a professional writer but a mom of four rambunctious boys! How do you manage to find time to write?
I ask myself this question all the time. How, Lord! But He always makes a way. My oldest son is 23 and living on his own. I have a special needs son who has a terminal illness. Caring for him is such a joy, but it does take a lot of time and patience. But somehow, I’m able to sit down when I need to and write. Having the remaining boys in school is a godsend. So, I’m able to write when there’s no one in the house but me.
What advice would you give aspiring romance writers?
Write what makes you happy. So many times we get caught up in wanting to be a bestselling author. That’s great and all, but don’t let that take away from what makes you happy. I love vampires, werewolves, Asian dramas, paranormal, and interracial love stories. We’re not a monolith and we can’t expect people to have similar tastes and thoughts. It’s great that I’m getting fans/readers and I want to give them what they want, but not at the expense of what I want to tell.
When you’re not writing, I know you must be very busy with your boys! Anything else you enjoy doing?
Watching Korean and Chinese Dramas. I’m also learning the Korean language and have taught myself hangul, the Korean alphabet. One day, I hope to take a trip and visit South Korea, specifically Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your novels—or questions I didn’t ask that you wish I had?
Thanks so much again for this opportunity. I would also like to add for the aspiring writer: Just do it. At the end of Rocky Horror Picture Show, they sing “Be It, Don’t Dream It.” You never know what you can do until you get up and do it. Don’t worry about what anyone else has to say. For some many years, I worried about judgment and what other people would say or think. Who cares! This is your life. You only get one. Fulfill it by doing what makes you happy. Work at your craft, improve and get your manuscript out there. Take advantage of NaNoWriMo. Go back to school if you need to. Join a writing association and hook up with some like-minded people to help offer critique. With Amazon and other publishing platforms available, there’s no reason why you can’t be an author. Find an editor that you trust, one who is skilled and compassionate and get the book completed. Shout out to my amazing editor, Gina Casto with Killing It Write. That woman keeps me sane and on point. Take that leap and write that story burning in your soul. I believe in my heart of hearts someone out there will like your style.
Great advice, Dei! Thanks so much for visiting today.
Dei Araujo is a multicultural romance author who enjoys reading and writing stories of love where color has no boundaries. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge-watching Korean and Chinese dramas and anime. She received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/News Editorial from the University of Southern Mississippi and later a MFA in Popular Fiction Writing from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Dei is a retired Air Force officer and comes from a proud military family. An adjunct professor at Barry University, she’s living out her real-life love story in beautiful Miami, Florida with her soulmate and their boys.
You can find her on these social platforms:
deiaraujo73 | Instagram
@dei_araujo | Twitter
@mystibleu73 | Pinterest
LOVE ME NOW E-book
THE CHAEBOL’S WIFE E-book
NEED YOU NOW E-book