Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello Fiona, thank you for having me! My name is Denise N. Wheatley, and I’m in my early 40’s.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from Chicago, Illinois, home of the Chicago Bears, Bulls and Cubs, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and delicious deep dish pizza.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am a city girl at heart and graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I’m in a great relationship with a wonderful man who’s very supportive of my writing career, and I’m extremely close with my mother and older sister Rhonda (who’s a visual artist). Fun fact: My mom, sister and I live in the same condominium building. Luckily, we each have our own units!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m excited to announce that my latest contemporary romance novel THE ROAD TO BLISS (tagline: When the pursuit of happiness leads to an unexpected second chance at romance) was released by Red Sage Publishing in April. Red Sage also published my chick lit novel WHEN IT’S ALL SAID & DONE (tagline: Single until further notice! Heart currently under construction…) in March.
Next up, my romantic suspense novel WARDS OF THE WOMEN (tagline: They bought men from a prison to fulfill their every need. What could possibly go wrong with such a simple little purchase?) will be released this fall.
The third installment of my adult contemporary romance series THE HOLIDAY CHRONICLES, as well as the second installment of my adult paranormal romance series SHADOW OF A MAN, will be published later this year.
I’m currently working on a contemporary romance/chick lit novel titled SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS about a jilted midwestern woman who believes she can conquer Hollywood, so she does, and shopping a teleplay that I wrote based on my novel I WISH I NEVER MET YOU to television networks.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began seriously writing short stories during college, and one of them was eventually published in two of the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL series books. I’ve loved books since I was a very young child, and realized during elementary school that I also love the art of storytelling. So I like to think that writing is simply in my blood.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I truly considered myself a writer when I graduated from college and began writing my first novel. That book was titled EVERYBODY PLAYS THE FOOL. It wasn’t the first book of mine that was published (that was I WISH I NEVER MET YOU, which was released by Simon & Schuster in 2004). But over the years I continued honing the book, and it was finally released by Red Sage Publishing in March of this year (another fun fact: I renamed the book WHEN IT’S ALL SAID & DONE, and it’s the one I mentioned earlier!)
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Terry McMillan is one of my favorite authors, and after reading her novel DISAPPEARING ACTS, I realized that as an African-American woman, I too could write contemporary women’s fiction. So seeing her write the types of books I love reading inspired me to put pen to paper and begin working on my craft.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The main character in my novel THE ROAD TO BLISS is on a quest to find true happiness. She’s making drastic changes in her career, relationship, and overall state of mind/well-being. Throughout her journey of idyllic highs and tumultuous lows, she’s striving to reach the ultimate goal of joy and contentment, hence the title THE ROAD TO BLISS.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I enjoy telling fast-paced stories that are filled with witty, impactful dialogue and unexpected twists and turns. When I write, I always ask myself what a reader would want to see happen next in an effort to keep my books exciting and forward moving. So the challenge for me is to always make sure I’m not getting stuck in my own head and penning mundane details and descriptions. I want to deliver entertaining, edgy stories that readers will view as an exciting escape rather than a laborious task that’s a struggle to get through.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I do sometimes pull from my own experiences as well as my friends when writing. While my books are primarily purely fictional, I can’t help but draw some inspiration from certain incidents I’ve encountered or bits of knowledge I’ve learned along the way.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Several of my books are based in Los Angeles, which is one of my favorite cities. I do travel there often, so that’s very helpful when writing. Most of my main characters are city dwellers, and since I grew up in a big city, I’m able to build those worlds fairly easily. I oftentimes travel to small towns as well, so in books like THE ROAD TO BLISS and SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS, which both have small town elements, I’m able to incorporate much of what I’ve observed during my travels into the storylines.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My book covers were designed by the wonderful designers at my various publishing companies. They’re all excellent and never disappoint. Three of my novels are currently on book tours, and I have received so much positive feedback regarding the covers. I’m really happy with that because I’ve been allowed to play a major role in design ideas, and I do feel as though the book covers embody the subject matters quite well.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Regarding my novel THE ROAD TO BLISS, I hope readers will understand that people sometimes do deserve a second chance, and every situation isn’t just black and white. There are gray areas in relationships that should also be considered. That, along with the idea that compromising doesn’t always mean settling, are two of the main concepts I wanted to highlight in this book. I also address the “all that glitters isn’t gold” theory, and bring home the point that infatuation oftentimes leads to destruction.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Jules Asner isn’t necessarily a new author, but I’d consider her a bit of a neophyte since she’s only published one book. That novel title is WHACKED, and I just love it. Her writing is punchy and entertaining, and the book brilliantly combines chick lit with a thrilling aspect of suspense. I’m looking forward to her next novel. And as I mentioned earlier, Terry McMillan is my favorite author thanks to her trailblazing, realistic take on contemporary romance from an African-American woman’s point of view.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I am a member of a sorority called Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., and back when I began writing my first novel, several of my sorority sisters were extremely encouraging and pivotal in my efforts to get published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! I am a full-time writer now and love it. My days are filled with writing and promoting my novels, blogging, interacting with readers on social media and supporting fellow authors.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think the plot, conflict and resolution came together perfectly and love the ending of THE ROAD TO BLISS.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I did, actually. I learned (or was further convinced) that life is unpredictable. So instead of planning and plotting and organizing every single thing in your life, you sometimes have to let go and let flow. Oftentimes the universe knows what’s best for you.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Regina Hall. She is one of my favorite actresses. Regina has perfected the art of being funny, dramatic, beautiful and relatable onscreen, and I think she’d capture the essence of my main character Timber West perfectly.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I’d advise other writers to write first, and edit later. Doing both simultaneously can slow you down and cause confusion within the storyline. Also, when you’re hit with writer’s block, just fight through it and keep writing. It’ll eventually pass, but not unless you continue writing. As they say, you can edit a bad page but you can’t do anything with a blank page. Nine times out of ten, whatever you’ve writtenwon’t be nearly as badas you may think.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I want to tell my readers that I hope they’re pursuing their dreams and passions. I’ve always loved books and reading, and becoming a writer has enhanced my life and well-being in so many ways. I strive to encourage others to find their passion, and incorporate something they love doing into their daily lives. And of course my goal is to publish books that my readers enjoy just as much as I enjoy writing them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole. It’s a romance novel about a struggling grad school student who, unbeknownst to her, is dating a wealthy prince whom she’s mistaken for a pauper.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
There was a book that my mother would read to me as a child, and once I learned how to read myself, I’d constantly return to it. The book was about a poor, stingy old woman who loved to bake bread. She never had enough dough to make more than one loaf at a time, but the day she finally gave in and shared a loaf with a destitute, hungry old man, her loaves grew and grew until she had unlimited amounts of bread. The overall message was a lesson in kindness and generosity.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Live comedy shows, which I love, make me laugh. Katt Williams, Martin Lawrence and Mo’Nique are a few of my favorite comedians, and I’ve been lucky enough to see them all perform live. And I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that sad, sappy movies make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet Oprah Winfrey. Her journey has been amazing, and I truly admire her many achievements and life’s work. I’d love to pick her brain and ask what drives/motivates her, and what she thinks has been the secret to achieving such immense success.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
When I’m not writing or reading, I enjoy playing tennis, traveling to the west coast, playing Family Feud (I’m an at home champion lol) and watching true crime television.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
A few of my favorite television shows are Dateline, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insecure. As for films, I love comedies. School Daze, Boomerang, Hangover and Bridesmaids are some that I love. And when it comes to the classics, I enjoy It Happened One Night, All About Eve and Mildred Pierce.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love popcorn, French fries and chocolate chip cookies. Black is my favoritecolor, and hip hop is my favorite genre of music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would study to become a forensic scientist. That’s just the true crime lover in me. My dream job would be co-hosting Family Feud with Steve Harvey!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d gather the people I love and explore all the spots I’ve yet to hit in my favorite city of Los Angeles. Then I’d take some of that time to blow my savings at a casino in nearby Las Vegas!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She believed she could, so she did.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do! It’s www.denisenwheatley.com. I post about my current and upcoming books, events and giveaways, and also feature guest authors, offer up advice to aspiring writers on how to write, publish and promote their books, and so much more. I love interacting with readers and fellow authors, so I’d encourage everyone to stop by and visit!
Links to my books and social media:
Red Sage Publishing:
Simon & Schuster:
Social Media Links: