Black Love - Kiru Taye's His Treasure (Historical Romance)
My guest author today is Kiru Taye. Kiru is a founding member of the Romance Writers of West Africa and her Trilogy, Men of Valor, is published bu Breathless Press. Kiru Taye writes steamy contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. Her debut historical romance novella His Treasure is a Love Romances Cafe Best Book of 2011 award-winner and an All Romance eBooks bestseller in Historical Ancient romance category. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, hanging out with family or travelling. She lives in the UK with her husband and two young children. You can reach her via her blog,Facebook,Twitter, and Goodreads.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for His Treasure?
Life. I got my inspiration from the people around me. There is nothing more endearing than a patient husband especially with headstrong women like me. lol. I love a man who isn’t a pushover but who is confident enough in himself that he won’t demand the woman’s submission. It’s such a turn-on.
Q: Why did you decide to write this as a historical romance?
When I made the decision to write fiction, I also decided I wanted to write stories that showcased African heritage and culture positively. There are several misconceptions about Africans before colonisation. One of such is that love and romance didn’t exist in Africa until the colonials dropped by and taught us. That is totally wrong. Love and romance have always existed in Africa, although expressed in different ways.
The reasons Africans buy this misconception is because they only read about blonde-haired and blue-eyed characters falling in love. If they read more stories with kinky, braided-haired brown-eyed Africans in them, then perhaps they will dispense of such silly misconceptions. So I wanted to write stories that showed Africans falling in love in a historical context while still dealing with other cultural issues that might impact relationships.
In His Treasure (Men of Valor, #1), I touch on how polygamy and arranged marriages affects relationships and families.
In His Strength (Men of Valor, #2), I touch on how widows and non-indigenes (non nwaala) are treated.
In His Princess (Men of Valor, #3), I touch on the impact of slavery and rape.
But the single thread running across all these stories despite the issues is the love and romance. All my lead characters have happy-ever-afters in store for them.
Q: This interview is part of my posts on the black history month. Do you think African history counts as that or should it be limited to African-Americans only?
If you classify Africans as ‘black’ then of course African history should be part of the month long celebrations.
But then again I’m one of those people who don’t like being referred to as ‘black’ because I’m African not black. I’d rather be classified for my heritage rather than my skin colour. And by the way, my skin colour is not black. It’s brown. Rant over. Lol
So yes, black history month is African and African-American history month.
Q: Did you have to do a lot of research to situate your book in the appropriate place and time?
Yes, I did. I used history books and online references as guide. Ultimately though, my stories are fiction.
Q: What was your publishing journey like, from idea to holding the book in your hands?
For His Treasure, the journey was relatively simple. One of my RWoWA colleagues had shared a link to our group for a publisher interested in novella length stories. There was also another publisher with a call for submission for stories under 15K words. At that time I was writing another story The Warrior’s Healer, but this was a much longer length story and didn’t fit the requirements. So I decided to write another story.
The first scene that came into my head was of this young woman on her way to the market early in the morning in ancient Africa. I didn’t quite know who she was or what her conflict was. But she was walking along chatting with her friend who happened to be pregnant. From there the story developed.
So after I’d polished the story, I sent it out to several publishers hoping one would bite and Breathless Press came back to me in a matter of weeks with an offer of a publishing contract. Three months later the book was published in ebook format. It’ll be out in print along with His Strength and His Princess in mid-2012.
Q: His Treasure is the first of a Trilogy named Men of Valor. What is it about these men?
African men take a lot of flak for being arrogant and domineering. Yes, I agree. But they are also loyal, honourable and full of integrity. They are men who serve and protect the ones they love. They are Men of Valor. J
I also have to add that the Men of Valor series is no longer just a trilogy. There’ll be other titles in the series. The 4th book is titled Her Warrior.
Q: I was almost halfway into the book before I realized the heroine's name could have been the basis for the book title. Is this the case and which one came first?
Lol. You’ve got me there. For the first 2 books in the series, the names of the characters played a role in the title of the books. The names came before the titles.
In His Treasure, Adaku is Obinna’s treasure—a play on her name.
In His Strength, Nneka is Ikem’s strength—a play on his name.
Q: Do tell us more about Adaku, from your blurb, it doesn't seem she's the run-off-the-mill girl for her times.
Adaku is the daughter of a titled man in Igbo nobility (in English nobility, her father would’ve been ranked as a Duke or similar) so she was raised with privileges in a polygamous household. There was a lot of competition within the household especially amongst the wives. Special privileges are accorded the women who give birth to the first son or daughter. So Adaku’s mother was in a privileged position.
Ezes (kings) in ancient Igboland were figureheads as they still maintained a ruling council of elders (much like a parliament, although not elected). Emeka is the king’s son, and Adaku had a huge crush on him growing up. She thinks he’s going to marry her. One day she’s found with him at night without a chaperone and her parents think the worst, that she might be pregnant. Since the prince hasn’t offered to marry her, they marry her off to the next suitor that comes along which happens to be Obinna.
Of course this annoys Adaku and she takes her anger out on her new husband hoping if she behaves very badly he would send her back home. But to her chagrin, he doesn’t.
Q: What about Obinna? Who is he and what kind of man is he that makes him a worthy hero for Adaku?
Obinna is a man on the opposite end of the status scale. While he’s not poor, he’s had to work for everything he owns. He is quite entrepreneurial, expanding on the wealth and land left to him by his parents. His father died while he was young so he had to grow up quickly to take up the lead role in a household full of women. He has three older sisters who are all married.
When he sees Adaku dancing at a coming of age festival, he falls in love with her on sight. He thinks she is out of his league because his father wasn’t titled. He also overhears rumours about her relationship with the prince. But his sister encourages him to make a formal proposal to Adaku’s father. It’s accepted and he feels on top of the world. Until he brings his wife home and she shuns him, testing his patience.
While some other men would have beaten their wives or even forced them into their bed, he didn’t. Despite Adaku’s attitude he never lost faith that she would become his in time. That’s what makes him a worthy hero.
Q: Why do you think the two characters are suitable for each other?
Adaku is a woman who wants to be able to make the right choices in her life and Obinna is a man patient enough to let her learn and grow and ultimately make those choices positively. Obinna loves her and in the end she understands the value of that love and loves him back. She even defies her parents to show that love. A perfect match.
Q: Some readers are fixated on the sex scenes but I'm used to those. What do you think is the most romantic scene in the book?
There are several romantic scenes. One of my favourites is the bedroom scene where Obinna is watching Adaku sleep. There’s just something about a man putting the love of his wife above his own physical need that gets me all the time. And then she wakes up and tortures him even more. J Here’s a snippet.
He turned around and his heart caught in his throat. She looked even more beautiful when she was awake. Her eyes, with a befuddled look, were still filled with the last fog of dreamland... He turned and walked out. If he stayed any longer, he would be climbing into her bed.
Q: Your hero and heroine had their trust issues which they had to overcome to get to their happy ending. Do you think this is common in relationships?
I think trust is a big issue in some relationships especially where there are exes looming large. Partners who’ve met on the ‘rebound’ tend to feel threatened by the ex syndrome. There’s always the nagging doubt that if the ex makes an appearance, the spouse would leave. Those issues need to be worked through. It’s important that your partner understands he/she is the most important person to you.
Q: I read a reviewer that was not sure about your sex scenes because he felt Africans didn't engage in such acts in historical times. What do you say to that?
Yes, that was in reference to the oral sex scene. My comeback is that oral sex is not a ‘modern’ or ‘western’ invention. Parts of some African cultural women’s rites of passage included being taught different sexual acts by older women in the community so they could please their husbands. Most of these cultural rites of passage were abolished with the introduction of ‘Christianity’ that classified anything outside ‘missionary position’ as immoral.
Q: What's up next for you?
Oh, I’ve got a To-Write list to keep me busy for the next year. But here are the main things on the list:
· Write books 2 & 3 of the Challenge Series. Book 1, A Valentine Challenge is out now.
· Write book 2 of the Essien trilogy. Book 1 is currently with a publisher.
· Edit book 3 of Men of Valor, His Princess. Publication, mid-2012.
· Write book 4 of Men of Valor, Her Warrior. Publication, late-2012.
· Finish The Warrior’s Healer. I put it on hold last year when I wrote His Treasure.
· Finish Her Weekend Bodyguard. I also put it on hold last year.
Q: Please tell us where we can find the book for purchase.
A Valentine Challenge is available now on eBook formats for $1.99 via Amazon US, Amazon UK, and All Romance eBooks. His Treasure can be found on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and All Romance eBooks