Welcome to April’s edition of Couch Convos! Today we welcome Ronyea Thompson, author of the popular novel “The Circle”. Let’s get started.
LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos. Tell us, how did you get the idea to write “The Circle”?
RT: I have a circle of friends in real life (who are way more conservative than the characters LOL) and since I love to write and play around with characters, I thought it would be cool to draw inspiration from my friends.
LWT: Well, in this book you do have a unique group of friends. Can you take us through the process you went through to develop each character?
RT: Yes…as stated above, the characters were inspired by my circle of friends. And when I say inspired, I mean VERY LOOSELY inspired LOL. All of it is fiction, none of it is real…for example Chantal is inspired by a dear friend of mine. The ONLY similarities they share are that they both live in California and both are dancers. However, my friend in real life is a praise dance and worship leader at her church, and spends days teaching young girls the art of dance via Ballet and Jazz at the Chon Renee Dance Academy in the Bay Area. She has never stripped nor done drugs…but it was fun to play with her character, because there are women who strip, and I wanted to change the stigma a bit.
LWT: When I read the book, I felt as if each one of the main characters struggled with their moral compass. Why was this such an important element in the story line?
RT: Its important to me as a woman to express the struggles we may have in our everyday lives. No one is perfect and we often battle with right and wrong intentions and decisions. I wanted to reference issues like drug use as well as abortions, because those are touchy topics and many people tend to be on one side of the fence when it comes to that. However, no one situation is the same. Just because in real life my “inspired friends” don’t deal with these situations, doesn’t mean others aren’t out there dealing with it, I know a few.
Also, my book is a bit different from a lot of “Urban” novels in the since, I wanted to tell a story with a spiritual undertone. God can use you right where you are. I hope readers walk away with that as well. Being relatable was also very important to me…who can’t deal with feeling stuck in a “job” like Keisha, but really wanting more. Dealing with debt and marital issues are common…also who hasn’t been affected by cancer, be it themselves or a close friend or family member?
LWT: When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for the girls?
RT: My real friends…I took some of their physical similarities, and incorporated them into the characters.
LWT: What about the men? I know the readers are just salivating to find out who inspired each love interest.
RT: Honestly, the men were just made up, if you can believe that. Again, with the characters of Harvey and LD being not as good, I wanted to show good men too like John, Derrick, and even Big Cody who is a good father.
LWT: I have to know, do you identify with one character, more than the others in the book?
RT: Yes, Robin is loosely based on me, with her love of books and being married. However, I’ve never been with a woman.
LWT: How did you do your research for the characters, especially CC?
RT: For CC, believe it or not, I asked some of my men friends what happens in strip clubs, and just used my imagination from there.
LWT: The book focuses on a group of women who, in my opinion ride hard for each other. They may have a tiff or two, but in the end they know they can depend on each other. Why do you feel it is important, especially for black women to read about these types of relationships?
RT: The ultimate goal for this book is to show a strong, sincere bond of female friends. I believe in today’s world, so much attention is focused on women, especially black women, fighting one another. If you look at reality TV there is a strong presence of black women tearing each other down. We’re not always sleeping with each others man, or jealous, or gossiping about one another. Call me blessed, but I have some awesome friends in my life, that I have had for a very long time. Our friendships are healthy, positive, and supportive, and I feel there are a lot more out there…its just not often told.
LWT: Who are some of your favorite writers and why?
RT: It took me a few years (6 to be exact) to write and finalize The Circle. During that time I stopped reading other authors, just so my story would be true to me. I am excited to read some new authors, but I have also enjoyed Terry McMillan, Terri Woods, Mary Monroe, and Rashonda Tate Billingsley to name a few.
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
RT: I knew I wanted sketch drawings. I searched for awhile, before I found @Nataliamadej on Instagram. I reached out to her to do the drawing, and the rest is history. I absolutely love my cover!
LWT: So do I. Speaking of Instagram,do you use social media for marketing and does it help with sales?
RT: Yes, I have Facebook and Instagram and I believe it has helped tremendously to get my name and the cover “out there”.
LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence, or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Inquiring minds want to know.
RT: LOL…no I don’t drink when writing. Sometimes I write with the TV or radio going, and sometimes quiet. Usually, in the evenings though is when I find my groove.
LWT: What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?
RT: Oh… where to start? LOL No, ummmm…I haven’t had any MAJOR challenges, other than trying to get the word out that I’m a new author, and receive reviews (hopefully positive ones).
LWT: Have you or do you plan to attend any book fairs, conventions or signings? If so, which ones?
RT: Yes, this is all very new for me. But I definitely plan to attend some fairs and conventions in the fall of 2017. I had my first book signing in Oklahoma City in January 2017 and it was a success.
LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips you’ve learned, that help you to be successful?
- Stay focused on what you’re doing. What took 6 years for me should have taken 1 (if that) but I wasn’t focused.
- Be true to yourself. I don’t curse, so I didn’t want profanity in my book. Some people have said they wanted it or missed it when reading, but I had to be true for me. Not everyone will like your work and that okay.
- All you have to do is start, and the rest will work itself out. Its ok if you don’t know EVERYTHING you need to know about publishing a book. You will learn as you go. I am still learning.
LWT: Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?
RT: I have done giveaways and book signings. But that’s not so unique…I’ll take ideas if you have any LOL
LWT: Keep reading our Couch Convos interviews. I’m sure you’ll learn some great tricks. Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
RT: My phone! I NEED it, because I can jot down a quick thought, or take a picture of something that might inspire me. I can also Google something real quick if needed.
LWT: Smart phones can be great sources of information. What does success look like for you?
RT: For me, success would be having more people reading and liking (and even taking something away) my writings, and one day being able to write as a full-time job.
LWT: What’s up next for you? A sequel perhaps?
RT: I have been toying with the idea of a sequel, but I am currently working on a book about 2 sisters. Its been really fun playing with it too.
We look forward to reading it too. Well, that’s it another Couch Convos in the can. ‘The Circle’ is available on Amazon and Kindle. Click here to purchase. You’ll be glad you did.
Ronyea Thompson currently lives in Southaven, Mississippi with her husband and two
children. Originally from Oklahoma City, she attended Langston University. While there she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education. She has always had a love for reading and storytelling, and shortly after graduation she drew inspiration from her own circle of friends who loosely inspired The Circle, her debut novel.
To connect with her please click the links below to her Social Media sites.