Sylvia Hubbard, Detroit Romance Novelist, Talks Love In The City

Detroit Romance Novelist Talks Love In The City

Who better to consult on Valentine's Day than a woman whose imagination and life experience have led her to discover the ins and outs of the steamiest romances?

Detroit romance novelist Sylvia Hubbard has authored six published novels and 10 e-books, including "Boom! Boom! Boom!" and "Cabin Fever," and she pens a blog called "How to Love a Black Woman."

Hubbard is also the founder of the Motown Writer's Network, CEO of HubBooks Literary Services and hosts a radio show for the Michigan Literary Network -- all while still finding time to work her day job for the city of Detroit and raise three children on her own.

Hubbard's newest book "Hope is Love," comes out Feb. 29. As a special Valentine's Day treat, Hubbard talked with HuffPost about love in Detroit, really horrible men and the art of putting romance into words.

I've heard you're referred to as the "Cliffhanger Queen." How did you get the nickname?

Readers started calling me that back in 2006, when I took a step into erotica.

When I was 13, my brother would make people pay a nickel to come on our porch and hear me tell a story. To get them to come back the next day I would leave them with a cliffhanger, so they'd come back for another nickel. In 2006, I started utilizing that method in my storytelling where readers were dying to know the next part of the story.

I started doing live storytelling. They'd watch me write a story live on a blog; everyday I would leave them a cliffhanger. It was to a point where people were threatening to fly to Detroit, calling me in the middle of the night, telling me I had to finish the story or they'd kill me! So a lot of readers have always crowned me the "Cliffhanger Queen," because I always keep them turning those pages.

Tell me a little about the "Heart of Detroit series." What links those novels together?

They're [the characters] all cousins of a very dangerous family. They're the Heart family, and that's why they're called the "Heart of Detroit." They're just cousins -- men who are slightly insane. Very hard knocks. They really don't treat women well. But they happen to find love out of these extraordinary women or women who show them power -- even though [they're] odd or unusual or hard and distant, love is still out there.

Our readers like them, because these men are really horrible men. They're the men in the stories that you really hate and who are really cold and ruthless towards women, but love changes it. Because really no matter who you are or how you are, there is always love in there. So when a Heart shows up in a story, it's going to be awful.

What goes into writing a great Detroit romance?

Things that can only be done in Detroit, whether it's the late night eating at Coney Island or the wonderful flavor of the music that goes on. A lot of people look at Detroit and see a gritty, grimy area. I see places where lovers can have trysts in the middle of the night or a midnight ice skating out in Campus Martius by a wealthy gentleman, a riverfront walk whenever you feel like it. We just kind of have to open up our eyes, and that's my job as a romance writer in Detroit.

Guys are sometimes surprised by how steamy Romance novels can be. How far do you think a writer should go when it comes to love scenes?

It's really all up to the "comfortability" of the writer. I'm a detailed person. I write as if you are there. I want you to be out of breath when you read the scenes, or I want you to be able not to breathe because the protagonist has walked into the room. But it's really about how comfortable you feel with writing a love scene. It's all how you feel as you go through the journey between the two protagonists.

You have created quite a body of work in the past few years. I'm curious how you get it all done. Tell me about your writing process.

That's funny because I don't know how I do it. I don't wait until the mood hits me. A lot of writers just say: "I have to sit down in a quiet room and all the lights gotta be low. I gotta have a glass of champagne." I work well with chaos. So since chaos is always around me, I'm always working.

I use quiet time driving in the car back and forth to work to build a story in my head. So when I do get to a computer I can rack out two to 10 pages of stories. Because I'm so trained at it, and because I have been writing cardinal novels since I was twelve, I'm usually a 10,000-word-a-day author, and that's where all the books and stories come from. Because one begets the other, begets the other.

How much do you draw from your own life in your work?

You know I always say I'm bad on paper, so I can be good in life. I lead a very boring quiet life raising three kids by myself and running an organization and working full-time for the city. I really don't do a lot of things. So I put my fantasies and what I'd love to happen or what I'd love for someone to say to me on paper and readers just love it. They agree with me. They want that, too. So it's nice to know that I'm not crazy by myself when readers say to me, "Oh my God, I really love that scene or I love that character." Because it was just my fantasy that I decided to voice to the world.

It seems like you mix a lot of suspense and topical issues about the city in your work. What do you think about the lines that separate romance from other genres?

Romance is in everything. A really great story always has a basis of a love story. But what separates real romance from other genres is that there is a structure to it. And women love when rules are adhered to: The characters meet at this certain time, and they're going to fall in love, and they're going to fall out of love, and then they're going fall back in love and it will always, always, always have a happy ending. That's the hard, must-do rule. And that's what makes romance so appealing to everybody, because you know you will always be satisfied at the end.

Tell me a little about your "How to Love a Black Woman" blog.

My "How to Love a Black Woman" blog came to fruition after I got separated from my husband, going through the divorce and going through the dating scene again. I thought things had changed in the four to five years since I actually dated someone. I saw that the environment for dating had changed.

So when I got back to the dating scene, it seemed like everybody was a little bit looser and not caring. It was nasty. I kind of threw my frustrations about how people had lost sight of romance and intimacy in terms of relationships, where it was always about the quick or the now when you did it-- the immediate. They didn't know anything about intimacy or real romance and friendship between two people. And that's what "How to Love a Black Woman" was all about. Kind of like my love letter to the person who, if I desired to marry again, this is what I needed to be loved and this how I wanted to be loved, and this is how I did not want to be loved or respected.

It seemed like guys started coming to you with questions.

They actually did. I was raised by my dad. There are a lot of issues I do understand. I see both sides of the battle. With my dad's insight, I'm able to see what frustrations men go through when it comes to women, and I'm able to really explain it.

So a lot of guys started asking me questions: "So my girlfriend's doing this? How do I respond to this? I don't want to do this anymore and she wants to go this way." I would always tell them I am not a professional, but this is my opinion. And, you know, give them my sense of how I saw it.

And a lot of people liked it and agreed with it. It really took off where people were asking me really nice questions -- well, really crazy questions. It's just my own opinions from writing romance, and dealing with relationships and studying relationships in my books and out of books that I'm able to give this advice.

Tell me about your latest book.

It's called "Hope is Love" and it's about a woman who feels there's really nothing else to wish or hope for in her life. Her name just happens to be Hope. She's just kind of a shell of a person waiting to die all alone and she's homeless. She happens to witness an attempted murder of a guy named James, who in a previous book was the evil brother who stole his own brother's wife. And she saves his life. He loses his memories and through the both of them being together, they realize that there's more to life than just being there -- also living and loving.

It's a fantastic book and it's actually a stand-alone book, [and] a sequel to a previous book called "Love Like This."

Any final thoughts on romance in Detroit?

There is romance in the city. We count Detroit out, but I think there's real love here in the city and people can always find it, if they're seeing with their right eyes.

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