This month, PassionScape catches up with Xpress Yourself Publishing’s romance author, Victoria Wells, to discuss her bestselling contemporary romance novel, A Special Summer. I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria in May during Afr’Am Festival held in Norfolk, Virginia. She is a remarkable woman who is very passionate about her work. Victoria is not shy when it comes to talking about her latest release or about sharing her experiences in the publishing industry.
VICTORIA WELLS is a Philadelphia native. In 1991 she graduated from Community College of Philadelphia under her legal name Gaye Riddick-Burden with an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences majoring in Nursing. She furthered her education and went on to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nursing from LaSalle University.
Wells (Riddick-Burden) is employed as an adult nurse practitioner at a center city hospital. She has dedicated her fifteen year career as a nurse to taking care of patients with sickle cell disease.
In 2005, Wells was nominated for the Nursing Spectrum’s Nursing Excellence Award in the category of Clinical Care for her work with sickle cell patients. On May 10, 2005 Wells became the regional winner of the 2005 Nursing Excellence Award in Clinical Care. On October 24, 2005, Wells was awarded the Nursing Spectrum’s National title, “Nurse of the Year” in Clinical Care at the Chicago Ritz-Carlton. Nursing Spectrum wrote, “Riddick-Burden is a strong advocate for patients with sickle cell disease. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the outpatient Sickle Cell Day Treatment Unit for these often underserved patients. The program is driven by Riddick-Burden’s desire to provide timely and effective care to patients with sickle cell crisis, decreasing long waits in the ED and avoiding inpatient stays that separates patients from their families.”
On March 19, 2006, Wells was awarded the Movers and Shakers Award presented by the American Women’s Heritage Society, National Association of University Women, National Association of Phi Delta Kappa, Top Ladies of Distinction and Two Thousand African American Women. This recognition was bestowed upon Wells because of her dedication to the nursing profession and community outreach.
Wells has been a lover of books since childhood. As a child she would spend hours reading. To this day reading remains a favorite pastime. Wells’ favorite genre is African American romance.
While taking a creative writing course in college, Wells became interested in writing. The final assignment for the course was to rewrite the last chapter of The Color Purple. Wells received not only an A for the assignment, but for the course as well. Professionally, Wells has written and lectured extensively on sickle cell disease. However, in 2005 after being encouraged by family and friends, she decided to pick up her pen and write her first romance novel.
A Special Summeris Wells’ first novel which she self-published and will be re-released by XYP in 2008. Wells is married with three children, she and her family live in the Philadelphia area.
HM: I have just finished reading your book, A Special Summer and it is wonderful. Tell us a little about the book.
VW: A Special Summer is a romance about a love that is all consuming. It’s also truly a story of redemption and forgiveness. The heroine of the story Summer is experiencing her first encounter of being in love with Nick who happens to be a much older, powerful, successful businessman. Because of demons and unresolved family issues from Nick’s past life, Summer is literally flung into a world of pandemonium when he believes she’s betrayed him. When he finally sees things as they really are, Nick is in jeopardy of losing the only woman who has ever truly loved him unconditionally.
HM: What inspired you to write A Special Summer?
VW: I loooove African American romance novels. After reading so many great stories over the years I wanted to write my own story about us being in love. With so many negative stereotypes floating out there I wanted to create African American characters that were strong, positive and self-sufficient. My desire was also to be another voice in this genre that let it be known we are capable of loving and respecting each other. We do work through our relationship issues and take our responsibilities seriously. Speaking from the perspective of an African American woman it was important for me to say loud and proud that our men do know how to cherish us and love us. In addition, we as women do love and support our men when all isn’t perfect in our relationships.
HM: How long was the journey from concept to publication?
VW: The process took me about a year and a half. Initially, I toyed with the idea of writing a romance novel. I got up the courage after numerous friends and family told me. “Girl, you go can do it.” After writing my story I decided to self-publish it. After receiving overwhelming positive feedback I submitted my manuscript to three publishing houses, two were interested. In August of 2007 I accepted an offer from Xpress Yourself Publishing.
HM: Who are a few of your favorite authors?
VW: I have several! LOL My all time favorites are Francis Ray, Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Leslie Esdaile, J.D. Mason, Rochelle Alers, and AlTonya Washington. Gwyneth Bolton and LaConnie Taylor-Jones are also authors that I’ve recently begun reading this year that’s pretty good.
HM: What three pieces of advice would you give an aspiring author?
VW: First, I would tell them not to let anyone steal their dreams. There will be a lot of folks who may pretend to be happy for you one minute and then the next discourage you in every way possible. Second, I would advise them to do research on the genre they wish to write. Finally, stay true to who you are as a person and as an author.
HM: What can we expect in the future from Victoria Wells?
VW: By God’s grace a ton of exciting romance novels! I’ve just recently completed my second manuscript, When Love Comes Around which is due for release early 2009 by Xpress Yourself Publishing.
Ten Victoria Wells Quick Facts
1. Hometown: Philadelphia
2. Favorite Color: Black
3. One item you can’t live without and why: My bible. I need God’s strength everyday of my life. God speaks to me through His word.
4. Last CD you purchased: Robin Thick
5. Favorite department store: Macy’s
6. Best childhood memory: Spending time with my grandmother.
7. Teen celebrity crush: Michael Jackson
8. Favorite snack: Pepperidge Farm Cookies
9. Favorite holiday: Christmas
10. Favorite thing to do on a rainy day: Stay in bed alternating every few hours between reading and watching Lifetime .
Visit Victoria Wells online at www.victoria-wells.com
Victoria Wells has set a new standard for contemporary romance with “A Special Summer”. I was drawn instantaneously into the lives of the two main characters, Nick and Summer. The storyline is dramatic and captures the essence of the joys and pains of love. I laughed and I cried with each turn of the page. This book is not the usual “cute” romance novel. Wells has artistically sculpted a very realistic view of relationships. I eagerly await her next creation. Hazel Mills, author