Valerie Belgrave

Read more about Valerie Belgrave.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: December 17, 2007

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Hello Val,

The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview

We would love to get to know you

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi Tammie,

I'm happy to answer a few questions for you. I live on the island of Trinidad in the southern Caribbean. I went to college in Canada, I have traveled widely and been to the United States many times. I am also a full time artist who has had many one-woman shows and done many covers including this one for Ti Marie. I have written a play and 4 novels, Ti Marie was my first. This release is the first American edition of the novel which is well known in my county. Being initially a British publication targeted at the small Caribbean population, it was never promoted in the USA before and this is the country with real lovers of romance.

Please tell us a little bit about Ti Marie. This novel explores a multi-cultural struggle for love and ideals amidst slavery and conquest on the island of Trinidad in the years 1777-1803. Naturally, heartbreak and high adventure result from the struggle of the mixed race lovers to break taboos and challenge slavery and racism on both sides of the war-torn Atlantic.

What I tried to do was to prioritize humanistic and black concerns and to explore a variety of themes including that of freedom and idealism during slavery. So Ti Marie is a mixed-race love story in which I treat both whites and blacks equally sympathetically."

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

I am really ALL of my characters - not the villains, but my villains are usually the political figures, the status quo keepers, those sorts - If I were forced to pick a favorite character it would probably be my hero/s. I think women have so much scope for excellence that I put a lot into writing satisfying male characters. I love a hero who could enhance the life of the heroine and perhaps, even give her a helping hand up to become more of herself.

Who or what influences you when you write?

I am usually guided by a complex set of ideas that I want to examine or develop in the story. I don't always know the story but I always know the ideas that will guide the plot. Even though it is "only" a romance, I still give serious thought to the philosophical base of the story. It is not important for the reader to identify these ideas of course, unless they are students, for it is there to make the story sound. I write firstly for entertainment.

So Ti Marie is also used at schools and universities?

Yes, Interestingly. In 2007 it was used at Seneca College in Toronto and in 2008 it will be in use at Columbia College in Chicago, before that at Michigan State, at UIC etc.

What do you do on a typical writing day?

Ti Maire was a very inspired work and I was working without a plan, so I used to keep writing as long as the inspiration lasted, all day and wherever I was. If I was in the waiting room at the dentist, I was writing in a little note book. My writing day ended when I ran out of ideas for that day. I would go to sleep and wake up the next morning with all the solutions and new ideas for the continuation of the story. It was a fantastic experience. Of course, because it is a historical novel and the history did happen, I had to stop every now and then and do real research.

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?

Writers have to know what they are talking about, have to have an excess of information about their topic and setting. We have to go to libraries or on location to do research. In writing a historical novel one has to have MORE than mere knowledge of the history, all sorts of tiny details, perhaps about little domestic things of the period, have to be at your fingertips. You may not use all the knowledge you have but having it allows you to write with confidence. Of course, sometimes acquiring the necessary knowledge comes AFTER you have started writing, when you know the right questions to ask. And yes, I do enjoy it because there is nothing more exciting that finding some information that fits in perfectly with an idea that's been nagging at you.

When you have writer's block how do you break free?

Once I fall in love with my characters, and I have the philosophical goal of the novel as my steering point, I usually can keep writing. I may have to re-write many times, of course.

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

In this excerpt from my latest "Dance The Water" the hero is being introduced.

In a flash he rose to his feet and was gliding in, balancing himself on the board, moving with the grace of a dancer this way and that, using studied, briefly frozen gestures that were at once as beautiful as art, and as arresting as all true mastery. This was pure emotive drama. Ayana spontaneously rose to her feet, hypnotized. For a long minute, he was like some child of the sea, a golden sea god, outlined against an aqueous world of rolling water and sky and unrelenting kinetic form, his dread locks a golden/bronze halo about his head. When the wave rose higher, he deftly turned the board with amazingly sure footwork and bested it.riding in.gliding in.cutting through the long crystal green wall.suspended on the curl of the wave. The haunting image of a half-remembered painting from art class at Wellesley flashed in her mind. Walter Crane's "The Horses of Naptune." In that evocative work, Neptune was the Charioteer, his reigns on the spirited horses that were the waves, but Justin wasn't controlling the horses but outracing them, teasing them daring them to dismount him as he matched their grandeur with his own. He as like them, a creature of the elements, playful and proud.and "magnificent," she murmured to herself.

What do you do for inspiration?

I get inspiration from anything and everything. When you're writing a novel one has to capture the sense of reality so one has to be prepared to use any little thing, an object even, as a starting point for the development of an idea. The trick is not to dwell too long on irrelevances, to move quickly to the point, not to keep the focus on unnecessary details and to move the story along efficiently.

When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

With Ti Marie, the first person who read an almost finished first draft (not just the odd chapter) was a famous West Indian Historian and she very generously contacted her publishers in England who eventually purchased the MS from me. This I re-acquired for this current Edition.

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?

No, not to a group but I do have an email friend who lives in Kansas and for some of my novels I exchange the daily pages with her and get her critique. We argue a lot but it's a great friendship because we trust each other to be always sincere.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

Please check out my website or write to me at

Thank you for this opportunity!