She wants to fly with her own wings, and still be recognized as one of the better writers in the industry despite some of the pitfalls that writers are prone to fall into. Time and place oftentimes are apropos for settings to fuel what’s needed to put the pieces back in the puzzle for legitimacy. The Fountainbleu area of West Miami was the perfect setting for author Rosalyn McMillan and I to see what has been missing in our lives both as platonic friends, and authors who have been away awhile and to get back to now! Our chats talking about the business and the craft of writing took place at Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop on several occasions. How often is it when you can get one-on-one exposure with one of your favorite authors? Well, after being away for ten years I welcomed her as I hope you will. I had a chance to really talk to Rosalyn and she shared tidbits of information that sheds light on her persona for you to truly take her serious this time around. Here’s what she had to say:
ACR: Rosalyn, I want to thank you for making yourself available for this interview. We've played e-mail and phone tag, which suggested that you've been toiling away at getting your new book out to the public. Tell the reading audience about yourself...who is Rosalyn McMillan and why should she be taken again seriously as a writer of fiction?
RM: I'm a very passionate writer. I work hard and try to do the best job I can. I take my job seriously. I love writing fiction. I have dozens of stories that I want to tell. I have a good work ethic and only read good fiction. I stay on task, and will work fourteen hour days if I'm behind schedule.
ACR: It’s been awhile since the last Rosalyn McMillan book was on bookstore shelves, what have you been doing since?
RM: I've been selling cars, bridal dresses, furniture and Jenny Craig.
ACR: Doing the time of your hiatus, how do you view the current industry on whole and what do you perceive as your greatest challenge?
RM: The industry has changed tremendously. There aren't as many African American writers out there and few are getting new contracts. My greatest challenge is to make the New York Times best-seller list.
ACR: The name McMillan is somewhat revered in African American literary lore. What are the pros and cons being the sister of Terry McMillan?
RM: I'm proud of our last name. The name, McMillan, is really respected in the publishing industry. Some of Terry's fans think that I'm trying to ride on her coat tails. That is so untrue.
ACR: Let’s talk about your new project, ‘We Ain’t the Brontes’. Why are so excited about the book and where did the title come from?
RM: I'm excited because no one has written about two African American literary sisters before. I have another sister that's written a book, so it's really three of us like the Bronte sisters. The title came from the Bronte sisters, but we're nothing like them. When we get mad at each other, we cuss each other out. But we always make up.
ACR: I love the premise of the book centering around aspects of sibling rivalry... is this story loosely based on any personal or real time antics between Terry and yourself? If so, to what effect. If not, then explain further.
RM: This book is not based on any real time antics between Terry and myself. It's totally fictional. However, Terry did want me to hyphenate my last name with my married name. I refused. I promised my mother before she died in 1993 that I would use my maiden name. I'm keeping that promise.
ACR: What was the journey life for you writing the new book, including convincing Urban Books that they should consider giving you a chance?
RM: It was invigorating writing a new book. I already have nine more completed that aren't published you. I hope to turn some of them into e-books. Carl was okay with the first book that my agent gave him, but he really wanted something a little juicier. That's when I thought of the Brontes. He loved the concept and wanted to buy the book.
ACR: Would you please give The Romer Review, and the reading public a sneak peek into your writing process.
RM: I rise at six. Drink two cups of coffee. Exercise, eat breakfast, and am on my computer working by eight. I work until five or six. I try to write a chapter a day. If I finish early, I edit, edit, edit.
ACR: Assuming that you're not ready to quit your day job, or lie dormant, what will change first and foremost about you and how you approach the literary industry?
RM: I'm medically retired from Ford Motor Company after nineteen years of service, and I get a pension, so I don't have to work a day job anymore. I'm hoping to get a bigger contract with my next book, it's a black man's love story.
ACR: At this point getting back into the mainstream of the industry, what would you like to tell your fans relative to future projects, your reemergence, and basically any other tidbits that would further accentuate your previous brand?
RM: I have an e-book coming out in February. It's a psychological thriller about a female serial killer. I'm planning on writing this book as the first of a series, like John Sanford's Prey series. The Memphis Police Department has opened the doors for me to glean information from their department. I went on crime scenes and look forward to going on many more. I want to do two e-books a year and one published book. I've been away a long time, and now I've got a lot to say. I hope my readers are receptive to it.
THE BOOK REVIEW: 'We Ain't The Brontes'
The questions has been asked many times -- “when will Rosalyn McMillan write another book, or where is Rosalyn McMillan?” The reading public knows that for she’s been missing for quite awhile with nothing to show for it, and she has been sorely missed. Well, the book everybody has been waiting for is here. ‘We Ain’t The Brontes’ is no way near any of the previous books written by this author, in my opinion but the vestiges of her storytelling prowess is still there to a certain extent. The story starts out slow, a bit tedious and doesn’t do a credible job in giving the characters more depth to bolster the storyline. The middle passage intensified a little, and allowed her themes to justify how jealousy, greed, and selfishness can fuel drama in sibling rivalry. Given the gist of the aforementioned, one would readily look for the characters to drive the story, especially for denouement in defining sound structural analysis for basic conflict and contrasting balance. The exposition of the story was good as it should have been with such a long introduction to the premise.
To wit: Charity Evans and Lynzee Lavender are sisters who happen to be writers, but their relationship runs hot and cold depending on what colors the author uses to shade the moods that usually accompany the angst of different brush strokes. Lynzee, who can be depicted as a prima donna is living with a perceived silver spoon in her mouth due to previous writing success in the profession, while Charity is bubbling below the surface striving for legitimacy as a writer herself. The rising action which is the basic internal conflict, is complicated by the introduction of trivial secondary conflicts, including various obstacles that frustrate the protagonist's attempt to reach her goal. Key to this is Charity’s struggle to land another publishing contract that acceptable by both Lynzee and any publisher willing to give her a chance. It threatens Charity’s marriage and things get more convoluted when Lynzee reveals that she and Charity's husband had a love child that was given up for adoption years ago. Can Charity's handle this bomb without imploding the whole structure of her sanity and sanctity in lieu of concentrating on all of her other problems? Alas, the title. I'm sure ‘We Ain't the Brontes’ may mislead a few people who will want to go beyond the symbolism to assert it as a thinly disguised autobiographical sketch. But somewhere along the line, other parts of the canvas wasn’t given enough hue for the final picture to resonate on par with her other books.
Vestiges of Rosalyn McMillan’s prowess as a venerable storyteller in parts are here, but not enough. The secondary characters, including Charity's sons adds fodder to the shallow plot. I would have liked to have seen a subplot, or the type of backstory that would make the turning point meaningful and worth waiting for. The two strong messages in this book are reminiscent of blood being thicker than water, and that the covenant of marriage is not fleeting as it should embody serious overtones. As predictable as the ending was, it at least gave reference to both characters as sisters the ability to finally forge familial order. I rated this book three stars out of five, and feel that the legion of fans that believe that Ms McMillan is due acclaim with her peers may have to wait for the next offering.