Suburban mom Latrivia S. Nelson spends time in a fictional place where the Russian Mafia has a Memphis branch.
Nelson’s world has given her a growing fan base as a romance novel writer. She says she has sold more than 7,000 copies of her latest book, “Dmitry’s Closet,” released in early 2010.
Nelson’s novels are books of interracial suspense and romance, involving black women and white men. They’re books she wrote when she couldn’t find interracial romance novels that made race a secondary concern.
“All the interracial romance novels were so based on race,” she said. “Once they got past that one (character) was black and the other was white, it was over.”
While a student at LeMoyne-Owen College, Nelson wrote stories for her friends.
After a short, unsuccessful marriage to her college sweetheart, Nelson met her husband, Adam Nelson, a retired U.S. Marine. The Cordova couple have two children, Jordan, 7, from her first marriage, and Tierra, 4.
The Nelsons married in 2005, and he encouraged her to write. Her first novel, the self-published “Ivy’s Twisted Vine,” came out in 2008.
Other books followed and while he was in Iraq, Adam Nelson’s fellow Marines were curious.
“They said, ‘Is this really about you and her?’ I said, ‘No, it’s not. We don’t have any Russian Mafia friends,'” he said laughing.
Nelson said she tried and failed to find an agent for her first novel. “It just wasn’t happening for me,” she said.
“Our diversity allows us to explore new frontiers in writing and focus on cutting-edge situational relationships that speak to the inner desires of many fiction readers,” the RiverHouse description says.
“I wanted to be able to give people a voice to be able to get what they feel is important to them out there,” she said.
La-Tessa Montgomery, vice president of the River City Romance Writers Association, knows Nelson’s frustrations.
A publisher Montgomery met with liked the storyline in her interracial romance novel, but passed on the book because she didn’t know how to sell it.
“Meaning she didn’t know how to sell a book by an African-American or with African-American characters,” Montgomery said. “And to further segment that, she didn’t know how to sell a book with an African-American heroine and a Caucasian (male) lead.”
Interracial contemporary romance is a sub-genre in the romance novel world, and big publishers shy away from sub-genres, said Debra Dixon, head of publisher Belle Books, dedicated to “Southern Fried Fiction,” and a co-founder of River City Romance Writers.
Publishers look for broad markets, limiting the opportunities for the “cowboy interracial Christmas time-travel romance,” she joked. But those books still will have fans.
“We have companies that publish black romance, Latino romance, Asian romance,” said Dixon. “So there’s something out there for everybody. You need to find a publisher who can sell that.”
— Linda A. Moore: 529-2702