The Art of Perfecting Your Writing Tools: Regina A. Black
Updated: May 23, 2022
Talent vs. practice.
The neverending argument of all things creative. If one is talented, do they need to practice? If one practices, do they become talented?
Yes? No? Maybe so?
One thing is for sure though, none of us are perfect. Nor should we aim to be.
But you know what you should aim for?
Upping your craft and confidence!
Keep on reading to learn more about author Regina A. Black's writing journey.
1. Welp, the first question is the one I’m sure you’ve answered many times but
everyone loves to know. Please tell us all about your writing journey (querying-
I’ve been writing for over twenty years, but never seriously pursued publishing until
2019. I’d taken a long break from it when I got married and had my daughter. My plan
was to ease myself back into writing with something I had started years ago and never
finished, just to remind myself how to write a book. After I’d finished the draft, I started
researching the querying process and seeking opportunities to connect with other
writers. I learned about Pitch Wars and applied to that program with the goal of getting
feedback from published authors. I never expected to be chosen by Denise Williams
and Charish Reid as their first Pitch Wars mentee! That was such an amazing surprise!
They helped me revise the book and develop a pitch for the agent showcase, which is
how I met my agent, Sharon Pelletier. I did another revision round with Sharon, and we
went on submission in May 2021. I received an offer from Grand Central to publish my
debut about a month later.
2. While Pitchwars has ended, would you share the role mentorship played in
developing your craft and navigating traditional publishing? As new writing
programs, groups, and other mentorships crop up, what advice would you give to
writers seeking a sense of community or looking for a mentor?
Mentorship has taught me to trust my voice while also challenging myself to improve. It
opened my writing process in a way that I’d never done before. Writing has always been
very solitary and private for me. Even now, those habits are hard to break, but through
Pitch Wars and other programs, I’ve learned the value of letting others in critical
partners and how it can take your writing to a different level.
My advice to writers seeking a sense of community is to do so intentionally and
thoughtfully, with the goal of becoming a better writer. A flashy agent showcase may
shine a spotlight on your pitch, but the work you do with critical partners or with a
mentor is what will ultimately get you signed and published.
3. Your debut THE ART OF SCANDAL follows a Black trophy wife as she navigates
her crumbling marriage amidst her husband’s affair. While some may think
infidelity is a cliche, it always seems to create interesting storylines for readers
and viewing audiences (a la headknocker Maddy vs. hiding-in-the-bathtub Cassie
lol). Why do you think cheating is an evergreen theme or conflict in romance
(and other genres)?
I think infidelity compromises a lot of universal needs: security, affirmation, acceptance,
and love. A good story begins with a life-altering inciting incident, that forces a character
out of their status quo. For many people, marriage is about safety and security, and
having that suddenly ripped away by someone you trust is one the most painful, life-altering experiences there is.
4. While your main character’s husband can’t keep his pants zipped, she certainly
doesn’t seem to be wallowing in sadness. The blurb of THE ART OF SCANDAL
suggests that your main character will find a new love interest…a younger
love interest! Was this age gap intentional or something that came along later? When creating relationships with age gaps, what tensions or conflicts must you consider for the dynamic to come off as authentic and nuanced rather than more thrown in for the “shock factor”?
The age gap was always going to be a part of this story. I knew I wanted to write about
a woman who had sacrificed huge parts of herself to become the perfect wife for a man
who ultimately betrays her. Once I decided her husband was a public figure, developing
her younger love interest naturally flowed from her goal to avoid a scandal. From my
main character, Rachel’s, point of view, this is the worst person for her to fall in love
with: a much younger man who doesn’t care about image or status and with the same
reckless streak she has.
When writing their age difference, I tried to balance creating a character that feels like a
twenty-six-year-old still figuring himself out, but is also someone this thirty-seven-year-
old woman could love as an equal. I didn’t want to write a character with the maturity of
a of someone older and just say he’s in his twenties. But the reasons Rachel ultimately
falls for him also needed to be believable. The way I do that is to identify something the
character is passionate about or a personality trait that often makes them feel isolated,
and then I put that same passion or trait in the other person. The book is about their
commonalities them knitting together.
5. There has been some chatter of late from readers about books being labeled as
genre romance or rom-coms. However, some readers have spoken out about
such labels being misleading. As a romance writer, what genre elements do you
see as non-negotiable if one is writing in the genre? What’s the difference
between a romance book vs. a book that features romance in addition to other
I think the only real rule for romance is that the book needs to end with the couple
together in a happily ever after or happy for now situation. Trying to distinguish a
romance book versus a book with a romantic subplot can be tricky because the
difference is subjective. In a romance, the central plot is the romance. But centrality is
hard to define. Is it 50% of the plot? 60%? It’s hard to say.
My book has often been described as a romance/women’s fiction hybrid, but it’s a dual
POV with a plot centered on the relationship between two main characters, who both
have their own growth arcs during the book. To me, that’s a contemporary romance. So,
I think the perception of whether a book is fiction with a romantic subplot versus a
contemporary romance or rom-com is sometimes based on the individual expectations
of the reader.
6. How does it feel to write a Black woman as the object of desire and also pursuing
It feels like I’m writing messages to my younger self, telling her it’s okay to stand out,
make mistakes, and be imperfect because there’s someone out there who will love
every painfully human part of you.
7. Do you know when you’re at risk of burnout? What’s your form of self-care?
When the thought of opening my computer and writing feels exhausting, I know I’m
risking burnout and need to take a step back and refill my creative well. I like to read
books outside the genre I write, like epic fantasy or memoirs. Or I’ll watch a television
show that’s nothing like anything I’m working on so that I can enjoy media as a
consumer instead of as a creator. Anything that creates breathing room between me
Ok, now it’s time for the ‘fun’ questions!
8. The top 5 most scandalous cheating scandals to date are?
I don’t know if I can think of 5! Anything involving a politician, probably. A big part of that
job is earning and keeping the trust of their constituents. So when that falls apart in a
very sudden and public way, I find it very compelling.
9. Unpopular book or writing opinion?
There’s no right or wrong way to tell a story. If something works, keep it in. If it doesn’t,
cut it out.
10. The best “New look, new me” hairstyle is…
a.) The multi-colored pixie cut
b.) The flowing and wavy Brazilian Remi
c.) The cool-girl Senegalese twists
I love the pixie but I’m going with the Senegalese twists because protective styles
are gorgeous and liberating.
REGINA BLACK is a law school administrator and former civil litigator who now writes diverse love stories with big emotions and passionate connections. Her debut novel, THE ART OF SCANDAL, is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing. She currently resides in the southeastern United States with her husband and daughter.
ART OF SCANDAL Goodreads Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58505444-the-art-of-scandal