Rolonda Watts is a novelist! The popular journalist, talk show host, actress and voice over artist has been working on her debut novel for ten years and now it’s all over the place including at the recent Essence Festival in New Orleans where Rolonda was one of their featured writers. She stopped by our studios to talk about the new book “Destiny Lingers” and a whole lot more.
Rolonda has been writing for a long time but most of the time as a journalist. Many people know her as a news reporter and anchor and for her popular talk show, “Rolonda”. She explained why they didn’t use her last name for the TV show. Interesting story. Writing was a hobby for her at first until she was encouraged by famous writer friends like BeBe Moore Campbell and Dr. Maya Angelou. It has been ten years since she started writing “Destiny Lingers”’ and she is excited to finally be able to see it online and in book stores.
We talked about the difference between writing as a journalist and writing as a novelist. Even though her book is being marketed as a contemporary romance novel, it’s actually a new genre of writing called creative non-fiction, centered on fictitious stories based on real life. The book is set on Topsail island in North Carolina, where Rolonda spent her summers as a child.
We had a discussion about how things have changed in the south. We both grew up in the South during the civil rights Movement and have a lot of experiences in common. She wanted the book to present a snapshot of that period of time when things were changing in the South. One of the characters in the book isn’t a character at all; it’s a hurricane. Rolonda drew on her own personal experience of sitting out a storm to tell the story for her novel.
I think there needs to be a sequel because I see trouble ahead for Destiny and Chase, the two main characters. I’m in good company; Rolonda says Dr. Maya Angelou had the same question. She says that one of the interesting things about writing this book is that eventually the characters starting telling her what to write. Rolonda wants to be a triple threat: a journalist, novelist and screenplay writer.
“Destiny Lingers” is unique in that it focuses on middle class Black America, instead of slavery or crime and drugs. Race is part of the story but Rolonda doesn’t allow it to take over the story. She says 15% of America is now in interracial relationships so the situation is relatable to a lot of people.
Finally, we talked about her popular podcast “Rolonda On Demand”. She loves talking to people and getting them to tell their stories so she can share them with others. Her podcast is on hiatus right now while she does a national book tour but you can hear archived segments at www.RolondaOnDemand.com.