Unapologetic & Rooted Characters | #LifeLike with Jadesola James

Episode Description

Nobody writes African characters like my friend, Jadesola James. In this episode, we dive into what experiences she brings to her characters, and redefine what HEAs look like when your characters are unapologetically them. It’s all about creating those experiences that call to a specific intended reader—if you know, you know.

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to the Path to Print podcast. 

This week, we have our second guest episode on a segment I knew I would have to have on the podcast and call life like. Life like episodes are all about looking at writing representation that actually matters. We’ll look at how our cultures define and influence us as creatives, but also show that culture or ethnicity and race is not a monolith. And that everybody has a different way of connecting to it and expressing it.

Me and my guest will talk about our core traditions, customs, and beliefs, as well as point to moments of being, and feeling seen in media and celebrating the things we love most about who we are.

Today, I’m joined by an amazing author and a friend, someone whose romances has given me all the old school woo and charm I’ve been yearning for. Someone who’s not afraid to quietly challenge the status quo on not really having already rooted African or African American characters in romance novels. She loves summer thunderstorms, Barbara Cartland novels, long train rides, hot buttered toast, and copious amounts of cake and tea. She writes glamorous escapist tales designed to sweep you away.

When she isn’t writing, she’s a reference librarian and a scholar of American romance publishing. Her hobbies include collecting vintage romance paperbacks, and fantasy shopping online for summer cottages in the north of England.

Welcome to the podcast, Jadesola James.

Read the rest of the transcript

Kate Marope (00:01:38):

So, for the people who don’t know you or haven’t read your books, you wanna introduce yourself?

Jadesola James (00:01:43):

Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Jadesola James. I am a writer for Carina Press and for Harlequin books. Um, specifically Harlequin Presents right now, which is, uh, one of the steamier lines, very dramatic, very sort of fairytale based, uh, lots of armchair travel. You know, you’re going from here to there, to everywhere people from different cultures and different experiences, so that’s a lot of fun to write. Um, I live in the UAE with my family, which you may hear at some point, you know, I have my fingers crossed that you won’t, but you know, little sounds might creep in, so excuse that if it does happen. And, um, I’m very excited to be here.

Kate Marope (00:02:33):

Yay. I’m so happy to have you here because I know we talk about this a lot. Like the other day, and Fortune [Whelan] was like, y’all should have just recorded this as the podcast episode and it would’ve been wrap. And I was like, she makes a good point, but it was too late. <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:02:50):


Kate Marope (00:02:51):

But you know, one of the things when I was doing my podcast was that I wanted to have a section where we can talk about how to make representation that matters. And one of the things I love about your books is that you have these African characters who are very rooted in their culture. So I was like, of course I have to invite her to the podcast as my first guest on this segment ’cause like you are slaying. And let tell you, I did a little sneak peek of your upcoming book in March.

Jadesola James (00:03:20):


Kate Marope (00:03:20):

So hyped.

Jadesola James (00:03:21):

<Laugh>, I’m excited for that one as well. I’m very excited for that one as well.

Kate Marope (00:03:29):

And the cover is stunning.

Jadesola James (00:03:31):

They really knocked it out the park with that cover. I have to give Mills & Boon and Harlequin, like all the props. They really did an awesome job with it. You know? Um, for those who aren’t as familiar with the process, when you get to a certain point in your manuscript and it looks good, you know, everything’s moving along relatively smoothly. Your editor will ask you to fill out an art fact sheet. So they’re asking you to give them examples of skin tone, hairstyles, backgrounds, you know, what you might want on your, on, on your dream cover. And they deliver as best they can. And you know, sometimes it doesn’t always work out the way you envision, but for basically every single one of my covers so far Harlequin has done an amazing job. So I was like, yes, this is them!

Kate Marope (00:04:22):

Listen. You’re giving me opulence, you’re giving me snatched. You’re giving me drama. I love it. It’s so good.

Jadesola James (00:04:31):

Thank you.

Kate Marope (00:04:32):

So let’s talk about culture, then, lady friend.

Jadesola James (00:04:35):

Let’s do it.

Kate Marope (00:04:37):

So one of the things I love in your books is that you’ll always have, have that like one scene where the character’s like, I’m Ghanian, I’m Nigerian, I’m this. Like straight up, there’s no messing around. It’s not like “I’m Black” and kinda weaving around the topic. She, they just say it. This is who I am, this is what I speak, this is what I eat, this is what I do. Choices were made clearly ma’am.

Jadesola James (00:05:00):

You know, I think it’s because I, I, I personally am of, an I’m Nigerian of Yoruba ethnicity. I have people in my family from Ghana, from Eritrea, from, you know, other countries on the continent all the way from the top to the bottom. And I just think it’s so important, and it’s just so special to realize that Africa is not a monolith, like even within a country. Even within the country of Nigeria, you have different ethnic groups that speak different languages, that eat different foods, that throw shade at each other in different ways. You know, they’re just all these little subtleties and nuances. And I think that sort of, um, traditionally in writing, when you had a character who was African or you had a character, you know, coming from the continent or coming from a different culture, it was their relation to Western culture that was most important.

But you know, I always find it fascinating when you have two characters who are from Africa, or who are both African American or who are, um, African Canadian or, you know, something that, something like that. And then you see the different nuances even between those two.

Um, my two characters in, um, uh, The Royal Baby He Must Claim, which is the one that’s upcoming next March from Harlequin Presents are from two different tribes or ethnic groups, you know, whatever term, uh, you would want to use. So they don’t speak the same language. They have slightly different customs. And while they understand each other’s customs, you know, they’re still navigating that scope a little bit. And, um, that’s just something that’s incredibly fun and incredibly interesting to write.

And, uh, in the case of, uh, another one of my books, The Sweetest Charade, which was from Carina Press and, and, and that came out last summer, we had an, Eritrean character, but who didn’t grow up in the west, you know, she grew up in the middle east. So that’s another, um, just acknowledgement of the diaspora and just how wide and how varied and how amazing it is. And, you know, you have these characters with this basis of culture, but even within itself, culture has layers. You know, you’re not going to meet three people from the same country, from the same region, even from the same town, with the, with the same experiences. And, you know, I try to capture those nuances in my books as, as, um, as much as I can in a, as much as makes sense for the story.

Kate Marope (00:08:02):

I love that. And you’re making it so hard not to talk about the new book, ’cause I’m the worst with spoilers. So let’s dial it back to your previous Harlequin Presents which we can talk about, cause it’s been out for some time. Y’all if you haven’t read it, that’s your fault, not mine. So go read it first, if you haven’t like yeah, so that no spoilers, but I’m warning you now. But one of the things I loved about that was that you had Kitty who is Ghanaian, but predominantly grew up in the US. Yes. And I completely related ’cause you know, born in Botswana, but like left there when I was five years old and we go and visit, but like it’s not the same.

Jadesola James (00:08:44):

It’s not.

Kate Marope (00:08:45):

So it not. It’s so not the same. The thing I wanted to ask you is that, do you ever have conversations with your parents who are like, oh, we’ve, we’ve raised white children or like we’ve raised like rich kids because like the whole point of them working hard was so that we can have opportunities and stuff that we don’t like, they didn’t get to have growing up. But then like we got raised in these other cultures and then sometimes they’re like what happened? Like where’s the dissonance?

Jadesola James (00:09:18):

You know, it’s funny, I call it almost a catch 22 because you know, they bring us to the United States. You know, they send us to schools that are depending on the area you live in like predominantly American or predominantly white.

Kate Marope (00:09:32):

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:09:32):

Um, I speak English to you at home because ’cause they don’t want any language confusion, you know? And I’m just saying this as my experience, I do realize that there are people that come from overseas that have a variety of different experiences. But then once you get older and you start expressing opinions that are of the culture that they have immersed you in, then you know, they’re, they’re calling you a fake Nigerian or making fun of your accent.

Kate Marope (00:10:00):

Full pearl-clutch moment.

Jadesola James (00:10:02):

Yes. Or assume, you know, you can’t cook, um, traditional food because you know, you grew up eating hot dogs and hamburgers and while it makes for really rich cultural experience growing up, sort of straddling the two, it can also make it really awkward.

Kate Marope (00:10:22):

And frustrating!

Jadesola James (00:10:23):

You know, you have those moments where they’re calling you to speak to, you know, some auntie in, in back home who you literally really haven’t laid eyes on since you were five years old and you know, they ask you how school is and what you’re doing and they make fun of your accent. And then there’s the awkward silence. And then you finally finally get to hand the phone back to mom and dad, you know, <laugh> and, and move on with your life.

And it it’s just little moments like that, um, that I enjoy exploring and enjoy capturing because I can say, you know, for myself I’m Nigerian, but what does Nigerian mean? Right? It’s very individualistic. Like looking at my parents and saying they’re Nigerian, their experiences, their mindset, um, their hopes and dreams, their backround is completely different from mine. And that’s fine that doesn’t make me any less Nigerian or any less Yoruba. It just means that I grew up under different circumstances. And therefore, while I am part of the culture, the culture has layers. The culture has degrees. The culture has different manifestations. So they are one manifestation. I am another.

And I think as a kid, uh, growing up, one of the things that I had to realize was my manifestation is not any less authentic because I grew up in the states or because, um, I dated someone out of, out of the culture or because when I speak my language, I sound a little bit different from someone, you know, who’s never left, who’s, who’s never left, um, who’s never left my father’s hometown. And that’s fine. It’s beautiful. And it just makes for some really cool interactions if they’re looked at and if they’re, and if you’re a able to portray them in your fiction.

Kate Marope (00:12:38):

I love all of that because that’s practically me. Um, particularly like growing up, you know, in our culture, it’s very matriarchal. So like as soon as my mom had kids, my grandma was like, I’m gonna take care of them. And so for me it was never mommy and daddy taking me to the bus stop or like whatever at school, it was my grandma and people like, why are you bothering your grandma? I’m like, listen, okay. We are not holding her hostage. This is how we do things. And like all those moments, it’s hilarious. But yes, definitely. I feel you on the whole learning to accept that your version of your culture is equally valid. Because like you said, you have those aunties and uncles who be like, ha ha ha, did you hear what she just said?

Jadesola James (00:13:24):


Kate Marope (00:13:26):

You didn’t conjugate that verb correctly. And I’m like, I literally speak this language for maybe, like an hour a day. Like I’m doing okay that I’m doing okay.

Jadesola James (00:13:35):

Yes, if that, if that, or they say something shady right in front of you. And you’re just like, <laugh>.

Kate Marope (00:13:41):

I understood that, thank you very much.

Jadesola James (00:13:44):

<laugh> Like, I understood that much. I may not be able to, you know, translate word for word, but I heard what you said. Ma’am.

Kate Marope (00:13:53):

I can summarize that tone. Thank you.

Jadesola James (00:13:57):

Yes. And you know, using it as a point of celebration that we’re all so different instead of a point of criticism, I think is something that’s really important and something that the next generation understands. You know, I have, um, there are people who are my age, my kids are quite young, but they’re people who are my age that have, uh, middle grade and teenage children. And the way they relate to them is completely different from the way, you know, my parents related to me or older relatives related to me, and I’m really glad to sort of see that trend and that, and that push towards acceptance of the fact that we’re all very different and, and that’s okay. That’s fine.

Kate Marope (00:14:41):

It’s that intergenerational shift because I think for our generation to culturally speaking, even if you are like still in Botswana or in Nigeria, there’s that generational divide <laugh> of like, oh, you young people are so outspoken. When my father told me this, I would never question the word why I did not exist in my vocabulary. OK. Like delete it. And I remember the first time I asked my grandma why it was all the aunties knew by the end of the day ’cause she picked up the phone. She’s like, you’ll never believe what this child just said to me. She’s said why <laugh> OK. But there’s like, so there’s the intergenerational stuff. And then there’s of course the intercultural stuff, which is, there’s also the context. So you go to school and they’re like critical thinking. So questions like, why are so normal, right? So you don’t even think about like, if I ask why, oh no, it’s gonna be,

Jadesola James (00:15:33):

Am I gonna get it? <laugh>.

Kate Marope (00:15:36):

Mmmmh-mmmm <negation>

Jadesola James (00:15:37):

You won’t like the answer you get. And it’s, and it’s funny, just sort of the, um, the self censorship that you do for yourself. And um, depending on who you’re talking to, you know. I, there are relatives that I’m freer with about my opinions, there are relatives that I’m just like, okay. Yes, ma’am what, yeah, sure. Whatever you say <laugh> and that just that level of relating to people is, is something that I think is very human. You know, it’s not even intrinsically African or intrinsically, you know, any one culture or any one on, on any one, um, anyone country it’s, it’s just something that’s incredibly human. And, uh, it gives you a chance to explore the psychology of your characters in really unique ways as well.

Kate Marope (00:16:27):

I love that. So one of the most relatable moments, speaking of people throwing epic shade, was in The Sweetest Charade. There’s that scene Delysia is in the car and the driver is running his mouth.

Jadesola James (00:16:41):

Oh yeah!

Kate Marope (00:16:44):

That scene that was like basically summarizing half my trips every time we go back to Botswana, and like, I don’t know what about me says you don’t belong here, but strangers at the gas station will be like, look at them white people. <laugh> those fake Africans, what are they doing here? What do you suspect they’re doing here? And I’m like, one, I’m not that interesting, but two, can you mind your own business?

Jadesola James (00:17:10):

Exactly. It happens. It happens. It happens. Oh, I have my own stories. I can tell. Definitely. And you sit there and you’re listening and you’re like, Hmm. Okay. And there’s, there’s always a question of, should I say something? Should I not say something? You know, should I, should I start some drama here? And then, you know, they kind of just jump and they’re like.

Like I, I, I have a, a cousin of mine. She was going to get her hair braided—

Kate Marope (00:17:37):

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:17:38):

—and the ladies braiding her hair were Yoruba ladies. And she, although she grew up in the United States, you know, she understands, Yoruba like very well. And they were basically talking about her and how big her head was and how long it was going to take to braid her hair. And, oh my goodness. I don’t know how this girl takes care of her hair at home, ’cause it’s just gonna take forever. And we’ve got to call somebody else to come and help us or we’re gonna be here till midnight. And she said, at one point she just busted out laughing because it was just so absurd. And that was how they found out that she could understand. And they all had a good laugh over it and she gave them a hefty tip, you know, in the end. But she was just like, come on. I’m,

Kate Marope (00:18:24):

To be fair. Let’s be honest. Nobody gives shade like Africans. And they probably would’ve still said it, even if they knew she understood them, like, let’s just be honest. They would’ve been like child why is you head so big?

Jadesola James (00:18:37):

<laugh>. That was why there was no embarrassment in getting caught. They’re like, well, you know, your head is big. Like what do you wanna?

Kate Marope (00:18:45):

She’s like it’s a fact! Where was the lie? <Laugh>

Jadesola James (00:18:51):

It’s true. It’s true. It’s true. And she just like, I mean, it is so <laugh> but yeah, that scene was definitely born out of some real life experiences, um, that I’ve had. And you know, one thing about, uh, us culturally is that we’re very opinionated. Um, at least in my country, you know, I always say I speak for myself and not others. And this is a huge generalization that is generally true, but again, huge generalization, but you know, very opinionated and not shy to share those opinions.

So, and you know, it’s so funny because people from another culture might read that as a lack of tact. And even I sometimes see it as a complete lack of tact, but culturally it’s considered forthrightness.

Kate Marope (00:19:52):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:19:53):

This is my daughter. I can tell my daughter anything. You know, this is my daughter by virtue of us being from the same country or the same place, or this is my sister or, you know, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s just that very familial relationship that you, um, immediately get with, um, someone from the same culture as you, same town, same ethnic group. And they automatically think they can, you know, give every opinion there is of, of your life. So I think part of, part of writing, part of good editing, you know, if, if, if that moment is integral to the story is exploring not only the fact that it happens and it’s funny, sometimes it’s just as simple as that, but also kind of like the mindset behind it, you know? So, uh, those who are more unfamiliar with it will not only see the action, but the motivation.

Kate Marope (00:20:58):

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:20:59):

So, you know, that’s, that’s an interesting thing to explore as well, if you have the time and the story allows for it.

Kate Marope (00:21:06):

I love that because Kemi and her sister react like interact on that level, that’s so very, like, I know you don’t wanna hear it, but I’m gonna say it anyway. And we’re just gonna like move past that at some point, I know you’re gonna be mad, we’re gonna move past it and then we will all be better for it.

Jadesola James (00:21:28):

Yes, exactly, exactly. But you know, it’s funny because when you have an editor that’s coming from a totally different culture, a totally different perspective, you’re just writing, you’re just pouring out the words, you’re creating authentic characters based on your own experiences, people, you know, maybe even yourself. But you know, then you get a note, like why would he say this, that’s so mean? Or why would she take that from him? Or, um, I don’t think, you know, readers are gonna react to this in a favorable way because of A, B, C, and D. And it’s just so important for me as a writer, I don’t invalidate the comments of the editor because you know, it’s coming from a place of I read this and this was the reaction that I had and that’s 100% valid, but it does make me more careful to not explain. I don’t need to explain or apologize for my culture or the way it is. Um, and it’s not an anthropology text, you know, I’m not gonna get into the bullet points of the wheres and the whys and the whats—

Kate Marope (00:22:46):

mm-hmm <affirmative>

Jadesola James (00:22:46):

—but just making sure that the reader is looking at this person, who’s doing this action, or who’s saying this thing, um, as gosh, how do I even, how do I even put it? Like, like making sure the motivation is clear, even if it’s not always agreed with. So

Kate Marope (00:23:16):

One of the things I always say is if you know, you know, right. And I think sometimes when we write books, we’re not necessarily writing for everybody. We’re writing for the people who will see themselves in that character. You know, the me and Kitty kind of dynamic where I’m just like, yes, or I feel you, like, I know what you, if you know, you know, right. Like, yes. And so, yeah, I think it is really important to balance that. Yes, okay yes. We want other readers to get the sense, but you don’t wanna water down for the person who knows either. Right. Because it’s like having your own culture be read back to you in like a filtered kind of way is equally annoying.

Jadesola James (00:23:59):

That, oooh, yes, definitely annoying. And you know, as, as a reader, when I read, you know, books with representation, from different cultures, different countries, and there’s a character that does something that I don’t understand, it’s also important for readers not to outrightly, condemn a character because the mindset doesn’t match theirs or because they don’t understand the motivations or because they have never experienced that or seen that themselves, you know, you’re, you’re there as a reader, you’re there to read to, to, to observe, to accept what the author, what the author is telling you. So, you know, know editors have to find, have to find that balance as well.

Kate Marope (00:24:49):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:24:50):

But, um, you know, I always think about you and your work, Kate, and you know, the fact that, I mean, let’s, let’s, let’s be honest, we’re all singing for our supper. You know, we’re, we’re writing for a market and especially in romance, that market has certain expectations.

Yeah. So, you know, just some of our conversations and some of the wonderful books that, uh, Carina Press and other publishers have, have come out with, uh, that show very multifaceted and very, uh, diverse character. You know, it, it does make me think of a sort of delicate juggling act. You must have as an editor when it comes to letting the characters be the characters, but also adhering to the expectations of the genre.

Kate Marope (00:25:42):

Yeah. And I know we have a lot of conversations about how to manage and, or change those expectations with time, right? Like one of the things, uh, you know, I’m always saying is like, it always feels like those expectations are a little outdated, you know, they’re getting better, but they’re still way further back than where, you know, we wanna write, we wanna see books come out and not have, and this is why I’m so excited for this like, book that you have coming out. Because I felt like you punched through a whole ass wall with that one, like right from page one. And I love it because I was noticing like your prior two books, you start the openings with sentences that’s always kind of like a contrary statement. You know, this is what it normally is like, but this is what, how today is different. Right? But with that book, you did not even play. She said, this is where we’re going and you just kept going forward. And I loved seeing that in your writing, because to me, it made me feel joyful that I’m like, I could tell she loved writing this so much.

Jadesola James (00:26:42):

I did. Um, and the book was a joy because I was writing a book set on the African continent. You know, they never left. They never go anywhere else. You know, they’re, they’re in Nigeria and they’re in, they’re in the Seychelles. And uh, just being able to write a story that is wholly African, but showing these characters still in the, still delivering the Presents promise, you know, as we call it, um, that, that was something that I truly enjoyed as well. And there are many, many, many, uh, Nigerian writers who write romance, who do it exceptionally well. They never leave the continent. In fact, some of them never leave the country of Nigeria. And there’s just these beautiful, complex, sexy, opulent stories that are just set in the heart of our culture and where we come from. So I took inspiration of a lot of those. I took inspiration from a lot of those writers from back home and giving myself permission just to write something that was true, that was authentic and that would not have to depend on whatever it is that’s happening in other books or in other experiences or other continents to, to tell my love story.

Kate Marope (00:28:16):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:28:17):

So that, that was something that I really enjoyed with this book.

Kate Marope (00:28:20):

I felt that joy, like just, it just sucked me in there. And I- ma’am and then you didn’t even tell me the book was coming. And I was like, that was rude, but still I’m like, you are forgiven because you have given me this gift.

Jadesola James (00:28:36):

Well, see you’re already on the inside. So you have all the hookups, you, you, you, the tea has already been spilled for y’all.

Kate Marope (00:28:45):

That does not get you a free pass. Ma’am <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:28:49):

I love it.

Kate Marope (00:28:50):

You’re cute. But you’re not that cute. Mm-hmm <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:28:56):

I love it.

Kate Marope (00:28:58):

Um, but one of the things I really love about how you write, particularly going back to finding that middle ground between writing your very culturally rooted characters and yet like still making sure that you show that motivation so that somebody who’s not from that culture can still understand where they’re coming from. And I love how there are like, it’s almost like you tell the story of your characters’ arcs from two points of view. There’s like their personal point of view, which gives you all that rationale. Like, this is why I’m doing this, and these are my motivations and this is why it’s so important to me. But then it’s like, when you get into the love interest’s point of view, that’s like, when you throw the biggest shade I’ve ever seen, like she, she thinks he’s hot. Like all of it, like, I I’m just like, OK, so ma’am said, I’m gonna give you the good, the bad and the ugly in these two POVs.

And like, and I love it because at first time, like, I’m sure for a lot of people, like the first time, they read they’re like, oh, that was rude. And she’s like, and I’m like, how are these people gonna get together? Cause she’s like looking at him with all the shady eyes and then over the course of the book, you’re like, you’re shady, but I still like you. And it happens in this sort of gentle way. And I think it’s important for two reasons: one, because your characters are very unapologetically them. But also two, there’s kind of like this, I don’t know. We’ve fallen in a pattern in romance where people kind of have to accept just the good.

Jadesola James (00:30:33):


Kate Marope (00:30:34):

And what I love about your books is that you like front load the bad so intensely that you can’t even forget that this person is human. They have a horrible past. They did some shady things. Um, Lawrence, sir, Lawrence, particularly, sir.

Jadesola James (00:30:51):

He’s a hot mess.

Kate Marope (00:30:53):

He was a hot mess. He’s still a hot mess, but he was worse when he was younger, and he’s like, yeah I admit it, but Kitty knows, there is no when she sees him and she’s like, oh, is that, is that who I think it’s, she already knew was like, I can’t stand his entitled ass no way <laugh>. Um, but like, what I love seeing them is that you kind of force them to grow more as characters because it’s like, I have to set aside that my, my initial dislike, my initial feelings for you, of all the things that you’ve been doing, but get to see my weaknesses and how, why am I offended by what you did too? Right. Like that balance. I love it.

Jadesola James (00:31:35):

Absolutely. I mean, you know, we talk a lot about emotional arc and transformation and change, but for me, I think it’s important to realize that I don’t wanna say people don’t change, ’cause that sounds very cynical, but people are who they, you know, who, who, who they are and they have backgrounds that have made them what they are. And those aren’t gonna go away because you meet someone and you know, you’re very attracted to them or, you know, you fall in love and the redemption can’t come from the other person it has to come from within.

Kate Marope (00:32:11):


Jadesola James (00:32:11):

You know? So that’s something that I try to bring into my fiction, you know, with the, with, with The Sweetest Charade, um, you have Delysia and Alexander and he’s kind of, you know, class comes into it a lot. Like he’s, he’s very sort of stuffy and stuck up and a bit snotty and he’s still kind of stuffy and stuck up in a bit snotty, you know, towards the end. But it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s their relationship that has changed. And he’s, um, he’s more sensitive to the needs of others and to the needs of people and, and, um, you know, to Delysia as well. And one thing that did not want to do in that book was to, um, make okay, because Delysia she’s a social media influencer, and normally in books like that, that I’ve read, the person becomes less quote unquote shallow. Um, but I wanted it to be that her job doesn’t change. In fact, she’s doing better by the end. And in fact, you know, Alexander who is the academic and the professor and everything, he’s the one who’s moved more in her direction because, you know, by the end, um, they become, they become more of a team. And I just think that’s a lot more organic and a lot more realistic.

Jadesola James (00:33:47):

You know, I love having characters who are proud of who they are, are proud of what they’re doing and you know, they, they may be searching for something and they may develop in a lot of different ways, but you know, they are still themselves because I think, I think that’s most realistic. And I think that ties, um, more with my own experiences in relationships and in witnessing relationships everywhere.

Kate Marope (00:34:15):

I love that because when I read Redeemed by His New York Cinderella, I was like, was he though? Was he redeemed by her, or did she just like, was she the catalyst for him to do all the hard work so that himself. Because I’m just like homeboy was looking for a chance to down here the whole entire time. He just had no like no reason to actually do that work or no effort.

Jadesola James (00:34:37):


Kate Marope (00:34:37):

And so like, that’s what Kitty was for him. He was, this is my chance and I have to do the hard work and I have to make sure that I’m not overbearing or like doing too much and doing all the things. And I have to come clean because he’s also been living with the guilt, like even guilt. We know.

Jadesola James (00:34:57):

He has, you know, and that guilt is part of what makes him human. You know, the fact that he feels guilty doesn’t make him any less arrogant or any less snarky or, um, it doesn’t make them fight any less. You know, it’s just that it’s there and people are just so delightfully complicated. You know, I, I love reading biographies and interviews of, you know, famous people who are either here or gone and just hearing what different people in their lives had to say about them. Like, okay, what would this person’s PA say about them? What would their mother say about them? What would their sisters say about them? What would their, you know, best friend in elementary school that they lost touch with after college say about them? Because you present a different version of yourself to different people in your life—

Kate Marope (00:35:51):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:35:51):

—and relate to different people differently, just, just based on different things. And, you know, I think that some of the best writers out there are able to show that so seamlessly and, um, are able just to bring it together so beautifully in the journey of that character. From the beginning to the end.

Kate Marope (00:36:14):

That was just, it was like one of my favorite parts about reading that book though, is like, he’s still an asshole, but he loves her. And he tries <laugh>.

Jadesola James (00:36:22):

He does, he does. Even assholes, deserve happy endings.

Kate Marope (00:36:26):

Exactly. You know, and sometimes we like, um, I was talking to Kayla the other day and she was like the whole mafia thing, the mafia romance thing that gets her is why do people not expect bad people to find love, right?

Jadesola James (00:36:42):


Kate Marope (00:36:43):

And we’re like, well, it’s not that they’re incapable. I mean, they’re still human. It’s still there. And I think that’s one of the things I love seeing about like the starchy or even the flat out asshole characters finding love is that it kind kind of shakes this notion of one, either the person who they’re married to, or like in a relationship who doesn’t know that they’re an asshole because there’s that, but also two that, yeah, well they’re an asshole, but they can still be in love and it doesn’t make them any less worthy of that. Love, you don’t have to earn love in that way. A lot of the time. And I that’s like what was like so magical with their relationship.

Jadesola James (00:37:23):

Exactly. You don’t have to earn love by, you know, starting out as an asshole and turning into a cinnamon roll. Like—

Kate Marope (00:37:31):


Jadesola James (00:37:31):

—to me, you know, to me that progression, isn’t always realistic, you know—.

Kate Marope (00:37:36):

Mm-hmm, <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (00:37:37):

I love, I love cinnamon roll romance. I will read it. I, I will devour it. You know, it’s like drinking a cup of hot cocoa, you know, like on a, on a winter’s day, it’s, it’s just lovely and it’s warming and it’s charming, but I don’t, you know, I don’t feel the need to redeem a character by turning them into the exact opposite of who they were in the beginning. You know, I, I think that I’ve succeeded if I can take this character with their flaws and, you know, with their problems and with their issues and give them layers and give them a journey that shows that, you know, almost anybody can be a, a noble and a deserving partner in the end without losing who, who they really are. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of hard to, it’s kind of hard to explain and sometimes it’s even harder to write, but we try <laugh> We try.

Kate Marope (00:38:43):

No, you do it. Don’t say you try, you do it. You’ve done it.

Jadesola James (00:38:49):

Exactly. Exactly. And even tying that up with the, with the happily ever after is an interesting concept to me in and of itself because you know, what is happily ever after? Happily ever after doesn’t mean no more disagreements or no more clashing or, um, a partner never saying something hurtful to you again, or you ever poking a sore spot, but it is to me, a melding of a union, you know, a melding of, of, of the two minds of understanding the mindset of the other person and of wanting the best for them, regardless of personality, regardless of, you know, character trait, regardless of, uh, background, regardless of origin story and, you know, just letting two imperfect people come together and love each other and navigate those bumpy bits because they feel that, you know, the, their love is worth it, you know?

Kate Marope (00:39:58):


Jadesola James (00:39:59):

To me that’s really special.

Kate Marope (00:40:01):

I think for me, I think happily ever after means commitment and trust, right. Committing to weathering all the bumps, all the arguments, all of the times when your ego gets like too big. And then you piss me off—all of that. Commitment to seeing past that and, you know, committing to building something together in a relationship, but also trusting that you’ll do the same. You’ll commit to me the way I’m committing to you. Right.

Jadesola James (00:40:29):


Kate Marope (00:40:30):

It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to get married or have kids or, you know, trappings, um, but really dedicating my emotional space to you as another person who I want to be in a relationship with. And therefore I will continue to try and make effort to maintaining that relationship. Even if it means sometimes I have to acknowledge that I’m not good at this, or I am very bad at this, or I could do a X better. It means that I will still try even on the days when you fail. <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:41:04):

No, you’re, you’re, you’re absolutely right. And, you know, just acknowledging that, um, the happy ending fantasy, you know, is not built on tangible things. I feel like, you know, like children or the big house, or, you know, going around the world together, being the world’s most ideal couple, you know, it’s, it’s based on things that are a bit more intangible, a bit harder to, a bit harder to express. And, um, it’s something that it’s, it, it can be a little subtler than hitting all of those check marks that, you know, you wanna see in a, in a, in a traditional, uh, HEA epilogue or, or, or end of story. So I always appreciate it when, you know, writers acknowledge that. And, um, sometimes the end looks a little bit different than what you were expecting and what you were hoping for. So the end doesn’t have to be perfect but I have to be convinced at the end that they are so together that they’ll be able to weather any storm that pops up in, in, in their path. And if I’m convinced of that, then to me, that’s a happy ending. Yeah.

Kate Marope (00:42:30):

I love that. That’s so amazing. So going back to culture and traditions, because I had to ask after Redeemed, which is best Ghanaian jollof rice or Nigerian jollof rice?

Jadesola James (00:42:48):

Ooooh! You gon make me start trouble on up on this. I mean, it obviously is Nigerian jollof. There’s no contest there. Um, however, I will say I do enjoy Ghanaian jollof quite a bit. I know how to make it. Um, you know, I’m sure it tastes better because my Nigerian hands are the ones doing the seasoning, but I do know how to make the original Ghanaian style jollof. Don’t come for me, y’all don’t come for me!

Kate Marope (00:43:18):

That was the most diplomatic answer. Like I love Ghanaian jollof rice made by a Nigerian. Thank you. <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:43:27):

Oh my goodness. The jollof wars, how did that even happen? <laugh> There was an actual competition in DC. I can’t even remember who won at this point. I can remember looking at it on IG and I’m like, it’s gotten ludacris at this point.

Kate Marope (00:43:44):

<laugh> Be like, can’t both of them be awesome?

Jadesola James (00:43:47):

The memes, the TikToks and then, you know, Senegal is back there going well, we invented it, so you’re both wrong. And everyone’s like, ain’t nobody listening to Senegal.

Kate Marope (00:43:58):

Forget you, Senegal <laugh> so be like, you might have invented it, but we own it now. Thank you.

Jadesola James (00:44:06):

And you know, it’s funny because like one of the first things anyone will say to me, you know, if there’s like, oh, you know, where are you from? And I’m like, oh, I’m Nigerian. They’re like jollof. And I’m like, yeah, it’s jollof<laugh>

Kate Marope (00:44:20):

Well, I mean, of course there’s so much more to Nigerian culture.

Jadesola James (00:44:24):

Of course, of course, but you know, jollof is a delightful legacy. We do it and we do it right. You know, nice smokey taste. Like, and then other countries whose names I will not mention, they put like meat, vegetables in there. I’m like, no, that is not jollof. That is jambalaya. Okay. Like, let’s, let’s get it together here. It’s all in good fun. <laugh>.

Kate Marope (00:44:53):

I love it.

Jadesola James (00:44:53):

Most of the time. <laugh>

Kate Marope (00:44:56):

So going from that to connecting and how you specifically connect to your culture, what would you say are like the three things that you love most about your culture or the things that you do that like made you feel like yeah, this is who, what being Nigerian means to me?

Jadesola James (00:45:14):

Absolutely. Um, let’s see. I would say family dynamics are, are hugely important. Um, family dynamics is really broad, you know, it covers a number of things, you know, it cover the way that, um, we relate to each other as family, the way, you know, um, you meet someone who was completely unknown to you before that point, but, you know, they automatically become like, you know, your sister, your, or your cousin, or your brother just by virtue you of you, a few of being from the same region or the same tribe, or, you know, even even the same country. Um, and just some of the expectations that are there, um, when it comes, when it comes to family and the way that family relate, uh, it can be a little overpowering at times. Doesn’t always work. There’s plenty of drama along with the good things, but all in all, you know, it’s, it’s very, it’s, it’s very, um, the, the sense of community, you know, I say family, but I also say community, the community is always there.

Um, a few years ago I moved to another, I moved to another state and I had my daughter there and I have a Nigerian coworker. Who’s Ibo, I’m Yoruba he’s Ibo. So two different tribes, two different languages, two different customs. And my mother was coming to stay with us for about six weeks to, you know, help with the new baby. And his main concern was that my mom wouldn’t have any Yoruba friends in the area since she was in the state. So he is like, you know, if y’all were Ibo, I could tell you exactly where to go. I could give you some numbers, but here, this is a number of the guy who runs like the Yoruba community group, you know, and organizes like all the parties. And then he’s like, you know, he’ll know a lot of people, your mom’s age that she can, you know, make friends with and talk to. And then he asked me, you know, what is she Muslim? Is she Christian? You know, because these are all, these are the churches and the mosques and the communities that, um, you’re gonna find your people.

And it’s just that expectation that no matter where you go, there will be a community there that will welcome you, you know, with open arms and introduce you to the ins and outs of that country or that at city or that culture. And it it’s been the same everywhere I’ve lived, you know, both overseas and in the states, you get there immediately meet another people, another person from Nigeria. And they automatically point you in the direction of community, whether it’s through a church, whether it’s through a group, whether it’s through a community center, um, whether it’s through like an official body that you can join, a listserv.

Um, oh, um, my sister does hair. Here’s her number? Let me hook you up, you know, until you, until you find a good hair dresser, or this is where you get, you know, all the Black hair products, or if you’re looking buy wigs, this is where you go. Or this is where the African market is, you know, where you can buy all the spices and all the food and all the, this, and all the that. And, you know, you run into people and they just give you that information immediately. So community is, is like a huge, a huge, huge thing for me. And it’s so multifaceted and I think it’s really beautiful.

Um, I think another aspect of culture, um, that I enjoy, I guess that can take the number two and the number three spots, just because they’re so fun are, um, uh, music and food. I mean, and with books and especially the types of books I write, there’s a lot of opportunity to get into detail about hairstyles and, um, music and food, you know, uh, Harlequin Presents in particular, they depend on a lot of sense, sense words and sensory images. And the books themselves are very sensual, not necessarily in a sexual way, but in just bringing the reader into the experience. So you get to explore the taste and the, and the textures and the smells and, you know, uh, the way someone’s hair looks or how, how they tie their head tie and how it sets off like the glow of skin and, you know, the way, uh, uh, music, uh, weaves in and out, you know, of a small space where people are dancing. There’s just such opportunities for such beautiful descriptive passages. And I think those are two things that I really enjoy a lot too, when it comes to, uh, my culture specifically and writing about it.

Kate Marope (00:50:14):

Oh my God, that nightclub scene <laugh>. And I was just like, girl, I was there. I was just like, that’s totally me, me at the nightclub. I’m like, nobody talk to me. Don’t interrupt. Can’t you see I’m dancing here?

Jadesola James (00:50:29):

I’m in a vibe. I just wanna dance. You know.

Kate Marope (00:50:31):

I’m vibing here just me and the music. Everybody else does not matter. <laugh>

Jadesola James (00:50:36):

Everyone else can step off, you know, but, and, and that was particularly fun to write. And, you know, I had to talk to a few older cousins for that, because when I was there, I was much too young to go clubbing. And you know, if mom and dad are listening to this, I would never go clubbing. No, no, not at all. So <laugh>, and now, like, I’m an old lady with little kids, you know, I I’d like have a drink and eat some jollof and go, go home at nine o’clock <laugh>

Kate Marope (00:51:11):

She’s like the jollof enough

Jadesola James (00:51:12):

Right?! It’s enough. It’s enough. It’s enough. And you know, my husband bless his part heart. He would probably drop me off and be like, just tell me when you want me to pick you up. I’m not staying here.

Kate Marope (00:51:28):

You just saying that reminds me of when I was younger. And that’s funny because when I was younger, I was like, I started college early, but for some reason I was doing college tings at a younger age. So I did go out dancing and my sister would do the same. She would just drop me off. And she was like, you know what, just call me like every hour, just so that I know you’re okay. And then just know when you’re ready, come home. Even if it’s at four o’clock in the morning. And like, by the time I turned 18, I felt so old, ’cause I was like, I had enough. I went to the, I listened to the music.

Jadesola James (00:52:09):

Exactly. And you know, I’ve been to enough parties, both there and here to, you know, have, have plenty of experience in that route. But, and you know, it’s also to show what I like to call it life outside the BBC reports looks a like, um, <laugh> because regardless of whatever is going on in the country, um, no matter how good or how messy it is, right. People are still going to buy groceries. They’re still going to school. They’re still going to party on the weekends. They’re still putting on their makeup. And you know, so just showing those slices of everyday life, um, is something that’s really important to me when it comes to representation as well. Um, you, I don’t want to use my country or my culture as a big dramatic plot point, unless the story calls for it. Like they’re there and they’re beautiful and they’re having fun.

Kate Marope (00:53:12):

Okay. Now I have two questions. You’re bringing me so much joy right now. But first of all, I was gonna say that, um, I love how you’re not afraid to show the darker side either, right. Especially because it’s like Harlequin Presents and it’s the glitz and the glamour and opulence and affluence as well.

Jadesola James (00:53:37):

Opulence and affluence. They got they got all of it.

Kate Marope (00:53:40):

They’ve got all of it. They got the money, and the gold. Um, but at the same time, I love how, especially in your upcoming book, that it’s very clear that that doesn’t always protect you, that doesn’t protect you from what’s actually going on outside of your house. And, you know, sometimes you can be too protected by that. And, and once like that curtain has been removed from your eyes, you know, you have to learn to find balance again, right? Like you still want to be like, oh yes, I like my opulence and my affluence.

Jadesola James (00:54:16):


Kate Marope (00:54:16):

That’s nice. But at the same time, you still want the freedom and the ability to do things, but you wanna do it in a safe way.

Jadesola James (00:54:24):


Kate Marope (00:54:24):

And I think opening scene really, again, brought back to me going out clubbing. And my sister’s like, I want to give you this freedom, but I don’t know what else happens because you know, it was Surfer’s Paradise. Okay. People were getting glassed and all kinds of weird shady shit.

Jadesola James (00:54:40):

You’re right. You have to be realistic about what the situation in the city, in the town, in the country you’re in is, and you also have to be aware. Um, if you know, you’re someone who sort of grew up outside, you know, my upcoming book, these are both like proper Nigerians grew up in Nigeria, but they’re, they’re like poor little rich girls, you know, they’re very sheltered. They’re princesses, you know, they up within the walls of a palace. So they’re not necessarily as street smart as, you know, a girl who might have grown up in the big city and goes partying every weekend. And they’re aware of that. And they’re aware of the dangers that, um, are particular to any big city. But then again, there’s some specific dangers that are, that are particular to, um, to Nigeria and big cities in Nigeria and to women, uh, who are there. And I didn’t want to shy away from, from, from those either. So it’s like live your life, but live it with the awareness that, okay, this can happen.

Kate Marope (00:55:48):

Exactly. And like, I think also to me, I loved it because it like really represented that like mindset switch of like me landing in South Africa being like, yeah, you can’t keep your handbag inside the like body of the car where someone can smash your window and grab it at a red light. You have to put it in the trunk of the car so that you still have cash to check into your hotel or whatever the heck you’re doing. Be like, you need money. And so you need to protect that wallet. <laugh>.

Jadesola James (00:56:15):

Exactly, exactly, exactly.

Kate Marope (00:56:18):

And you know, it’s, it’s weird because I don’t necessarily think of it like as a location specific thing either. But when you mentioned that, I was like, yeah, there are certain places I change how I operate because this is no longer a safe activity to do versus when I’m somewhere else. And I’m like, okay, I can just put the, leave the bag in the car. Nobody’s gonna take it.

Jadesola James (00:56:39):

It’s you’re, you’re, you’re absolutely right. I mean, even <affirmative>, let’s say even, even if I leave my own culture completely out of it, right. To be totally objective, there are some behaviors. Um, I live in the middle east currently, so there’s some behaviors that I carry on with in the middle east that I would never do in New York city. For example, like going out and leaving my door unlocked in New York city, or <laugh> like, are you okay? Are you kidding me? Whereas, you know, in, in, in the Gulf, you know, my husband could leave his wallet like out, out on, on, on the front seat of the car and the car unlocked and, and nobody nobody’s gonna touch it. Um, because it’s, it’s, it’s a completely different living experience. So just remembering those little nuances is, is interesting as well when it comes to atmosphere and when it comes to, um, how characters react to different things. And it’s, it’s just, it’s really cool this world we live in <laugh>

Kate Marope (00:57:46):

It’s so cool, and you never quite realize how many, like cultures you’re taking in when you’re living places until you get into habits that when you move to a new place, you’re like, oh yeah, I can’t do that anymore. Um, like I know for me, and it still gets me from time, even though we’ve been in France for quite some time, but like stores closing at like 4:30, 5 o’clock or like the two hour lunch break. So from between 12 to like 2:30, nothing’s open.

Jadesola James (00:58:22):

Can’t get nothing done?

Kate Marope (00:58:22):

And it, like, all it takes is for me to just like forget myself a little bit or be like, oh, I really wanna sleep in today. And I’m like, no, bitch, you can’t because a 12 they’re going to be closed and you don’t have time to go there this afternoon. Those are the things that like, you really like start to see, like, you know, I can’t just go to Walmart, that’s open 24 hours. Like this is not America. <laugh>,

Jadesola James (00:58:43):

It’s true. It’s true. Or, I mean, living here, here, you know, I can decide, I wanna start heading to the mall at 9:30 at night, and I know there’ll be one open. It’ll be open at night and I can wander around and shop and do and do whatever it is that I wanna do. So thinking about things like that is, um, it’s, it’s fun. It it’s what makes the books so such an experience and, you know, just lends that authenticity to it as well.

Kate Marope (00:59:14):

I love that. I love you. You’re so awesome. We could talk for about all of this stuff, but you know, we have to wrap it up, you know, <laugh> keep it professional. So I’m gonna ask a few questions and just answer as honestly as possible, ma’am. What’s a writing foible that you have that, you know, you do, and you know, you know, you do it, but some reason every time you get edits back, that thing is gonna be pointed out to you again?

Jadesola James (00:59:49):

<laugh> let me see emotional motivation.

Kate Marope (00:59:54):


Jadesola James (00:59:54):

And that is particularly important in category romance, you know, started out, I was an English lit major. And so I read American like 19th century American lit, right? So I’m coming off of, uh, books with long descriptive passages and these very esoteric sort of vague statements that you can interpret either way. And everything is a metaphor for something else and blah, blah, blah. Yeah. That doesn’t work in category romance. So <laugh>, so that’s an edit I always get back. Emotional motivation. My, um, my editor now she’s absolutely lovely. She’s like, you know, they can do whatever they want. Like I don’t care, but I need the emotional motivation for it. You know, I need to know why the readers need to know why or you, um, risk losing sympathy for the, for the character. So that’s something that I’ve, I’ve learned over the past, you know, year just writing more and, um, and getting better. Hopefully knocking on wood <laugh>

Kate Marope (01:01:13):

You do! Oh my God. Like, y’all I not tell you how excited for everybody else to read this book so I can talk about it because, you know, I try not to be the person who gives spoilers, but I also don’t care. Like I prefer them. So sometimes I’m just like, okay, I respect other people’s wishes. <laugh> to not know all the things, but I’m like, but it’s so good. And I’m like, I wanna hype it up. So just listen it out so that they can go get it so that I can talk about it.

Jadesola James (01:01:44):

The nice. Okay. The nice thing though, about a Harlequin Presents is, you know, they’re gonna end up together in the end, so that’s not a spoiler. <laugh>

Kate Marope (01:01:54):

Okay. But I feel like you’re like oversimplifying what happens in the book.

Jadesola James (01:01:59):

It’s it’s a lot.

Kate Marope (01:02:00):

To like and then they end up together, like, that’s the footnote, like, yes, you’re gonna get there, but that journey there.

Jadesola James (01:02:07):

You know what? I’m glad. I’m so glad you said that that was something, that’s something that’s like. So encouraging to me because the journey to me is the most important, you know, especially when you’re writing a book where it’s assumed there’s gonna be HEA you know, their journey there to me, that’s where all the complexity lies. That’s where all the, you know, that that’s where all the fun is. That’s where all the juicy things are. So

Kate Marope (01:02:29):

<laugh>, I’m just saying that meet cute and when they’re waiting outside, and I’m gonna stop talking. I was just like, and then I’m like, oh fuck, this is where the sneak peek ends? God damn.

Jadesola James (01:02:44):


Kate Marope (01:02:46):

God damn it, I can’t say anything.

Jadesola James (01:02:47):

I did. I did just get my ARCs. So, you know, bloggers anyone, if you wanna read, let me know. I’ll shoot one your way. So you can satify your curiosity.

Kate Marope (01:02:59):

Y’all do it, like sign up, do whatever she asked to do to, because you need to read this book. I cannot recommend it enough. Y’all like, mm-hmm okay. Let me shut up before I say something else. Okay. What was your moment where you’re like legit, I’m an author now?

Jadesola James (01:03:20):

Ooh, Ooh. You know what? I think it was holding the paperback version of Redeemed by His New York Cinderella in my hand.

Kate Marope (01:03:28):


Jadesola James (01:03:30):

Um, I was in Connecticut and I just sort of meander over to the, to romance. And I looked at Harlequin, uh, Presents and there, it was on the shelf and like, I pulled it out. Like I held it in my hand. There’s just something about the physi, you know, physicality of it that makes it feel so real. And there’s just something about seeing it in a bookstore as well, where you’re just like, wow, I did this <laugh>

Kate Marope (01:03:57):

I love that. Cause a lot of people it’s like, oh, when I got the cover or like—

Jadesola James (01:04:02):

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Kate Marope (01:04:03):

—once I like, once people could pre-order it like it’s in the world. Or like once ARCs went out, like, and people were reading it and get, they were getting feedback. But I love that. Yeah. I love that for you so much.

Jadesola James (01:04:15):

It’s it was a very material culture thing, you know, I’m a librarian, so we’re all about like the touching and the pages and the, you, you know, all that. So that, that was my moment. I, I welled up a little bit. I was like, <laugh> Okay. I’m just waiting for the day I see someone reading one of my books in public and now that I think will blow my mind. Yeah.

Kate Marope (01:04:39):

Yo, that would be amazing. Like, I mean, I still love seeing things like on Instagram and stuff, but like it’s not quite the same as, and then like, then you don’t wanna do the awkward thing. They’ll be like I wrote down that book or I wrote that book. <laugh>

Jadesola James (01:04:57):


Kate Marope (01:04:58):

Just be like, can I surreptitiously take a picture of you reading this so I can be like look ma! I made it!

Jadesola James (01:05:04):

Exactly! I wanna see someone going like on their way back home from work, like with the paperback in their hand or, you know, visit someone’s house and like, see it, you know, sitting on the table or something because they’re reading it and not because I gave it to them because they actually went out and bought it because it looked good. So one day, one day wishing and hoping, dreaming and praying.

Kate Marope (01:05:25):

It’s gonna happen and you’re gonna freak out and I’ll be like, that’s the book y’all. I’m gonna be that embarrassing perso who’s like, shh. That’s okay. You’ll forgive me. I promise. <laugh> Okay. So what’s one tool or resource. Um, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a book. Um, it could be like a piece of tech that like really enhances your writing process or has like made you a better writer?

Jadesola James (01:05:59):

Mm. You mean, um, like when it relates to craft?

Kate Marope (01:06:04):

Yeah. It could be craft. It could just be like a program you like using just because it makes your writing life easier or it works in your process. Anything, anything, it could be anything?

Jadesola James (01:06:14):

Absolutely. So, um, a tool that I really enjoyed, um, a lot of writers, a lot of writers have used this, um, Save the Cat, Writes a Novel—

Kate Marope (01:06:25):

mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Jadesola James (01:06:25):

—really broke down, you know, novel structure to me. Um, and there are a lot of category romance, um, beat sheets and, and, and, and books that a really helpful, um, Sophie Pembroke has a guide on outlining on her website that I found extremely helpful. And, um, also this might sound a little cheesy, but the authors that I totally fangirl, I read and devour their biographies and interviews like vicariously. Like, I, I, I can’t get enough. So, um, I’ll read it, I’ll read and then try to gain an understanding of their process, gain an understanding of how much they write every day, how they manage it, you know, their relationships with their editors, things like that. And, um, sometimes you find real nuggets of wisdom, um, in, in their, in, in their words and, and in their interviews. So yeah. All those things.

Kate Marope (01:07:35):

I love that. Watching interviews with, like, for people you like, or like somebody’s podcast that you really connected to ’cause like, I am the biggest fangirl for Ashley Graham. Not necessarily her pictures, but like her, her, the way she interacts with her podcast guests—

Jadesola James (01:07:52):


Kate Marope (01:07:52):

—was for me like, like, yeah, I wanna have an interview like that with people where it’s just like a casual conversation, but like you said, have nuggets in there that like the people who know will know, you know, <laugh>.

Jadesola James (01:08:04):

Exactly. Exactly. And they they’re really encouraging too. ‘Cause a lot of these authors are very candid about their struggles as well. Like, you know, um, what is difficult for them or uh, sort of road to publishing and you know, the bumps on the way before they became so and so the, you know, multi million, New York Times bestseller something or other. So I find that really encouraging as well.

Kate Marope (01:08:32):

Yeah. Okay. Going back to internal character arcs for a minute <laugh> I believe that we’re all works in progress. Cause well we’re all shady in some way.

Jadesola James (01:08:45):

We are.

Kate Marope (01:08:46):

What’s one thing that you feel like, yeah, I could work on that, it’s a struggle, but I’m working on it?

Jadesola James (01:08:53):

Ooh, that’s a good one. Mm. I am a cancer. So I do have a very petty side. I try to hide it. I’m you know what? I can’t even sa. I’m not proud of it cuz sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m like, you, you, you, you deserve this pettiness so I’m gonna just gonna throw it out there in the universe. But um, you know, reacting to things objectively instead of emotionally, I think is something that I’m learning and something that has been helped by working with an editor. So yeah. <laugh>

Kate Marope (01:09:33):

As another cancer, I can relate specifically and as ironic as it is for an editor to say that, but like my initial reaction to criticism is never calm, no matter how much, like you get used to it, right? Like I’ll be like, oh, what’s your opinion of this. But like the thing that makes me really annoying is that I crave criticism too. So like when somebody just says like something nice about it I’m like, that’s it like, that’s all you have to say? Couldn’t I improve it somewhere. Are you being mean, are you holding back on purpose? Look, my cancer brain just won’t stop. Yeah. And then they’ll say something and I’m like, I really don’t like you right now, but I’ll take it under advisement.

Jadesola James (01:10:15):

Oh no, I’m a feedback junkie. Yeah. Think on everything. Clothes, hair, skin, child, rearing, writing, whatever it is. Like I, I want it, I crave it. I need it. Ooh. I wonder if that is like a cancer trait or characteristic.

Kate Marope (01:10:33):

Well, Iet me tell you, I annoy all my family members, like I already gave you feedback, I’m like, I know you have more. <laugh>

Jadesola James (01:10:42):

I’ll be like, I don’t believe you. You’re not taking this seriously. I asked you for feedback and you’re not giving me.

Kate Marope (01:10:49):

Oh my God. So yeah. I, I feel you on the whole petty thing too, you know, I know ’cause on my blog I was like, oh my God, I love the concept of a spite house, ’cause Anna E. Collins has that new book out. Right. Love at First Spite. And I’m like, oh it never occurred to me to build somebody a spite house. And I’m like, that’s next level. And I’m like, OK, I should talk myself down because one day I will be tempted to actually do it.

Jadesola James (01:11:16):


Kate Marope (01:11:17):

And then I’ll have to like say someone talk me outta it. Talk out of it.

Jadesola James (01:11:23):

It’s so true. It’s so true.

Kate Marope (01:11:27):

All right. And what’s coming up next. I know we talked about it a lot and I fangirled, but what’s coming next and what’s coming after that. <laugh>

Jadesola James (01:11:37):

Absolutely. So there is a two book. Um, Harlequin Presents calls them duets, uh, and they are based on, uh, fairy tales. So I have two sisters. Uh, they are Yoruba princesses, contemporary times. Um, and one is Kemi. The other is Tobi. So Kemi’s story comes out in March next year. Um, it’s called The Royal Baby He Must Claim. So it is an, um, accidental pregnancy trope and it was just a lot of fun to write. It takes place in Nigeria and the Seychelles and her sister’s story, uh, comes out later in the year, I believe in June. And that is called The Princess He Must Marry. So she gets married off to a, um, north African prince, uh, in, in a, in a kingdom loosely based on Morocco. So it’s a royal romance. So, and um, you know, she, you, you, it takes place there in that kingdom and also partly in the United Arab Emirates. So you get a little bit of, uh, desert romance, north African, uh, north African setting as well. So that was equally fun to write.

The sisters are very, very different as you will see. And <laugh>, their stories are very different as well. So I thoroughly enjoyed writing both of them. Um, I do have other books that I’m working on, um, now as well once, once the royal sisters duet is, is done. Um, so I have several other books, you know, coming out, um, for Harlequin Presents, so I’m excited to share those stories as they come. Uh, the one I’m developing now, it takes place in Portugal and Angola. Um, so Angola another African country, um, it’s and it, you know, uh, Portugal was, its uh, colonial was the colonial country that, you know, that took it over until it got its independence, but there’s still like very much of a relationship between the two countries. So you see a bit of, of both countries in that book as well. So that is the one that I am actively working on and actively and actively drafting. And that one, you know, is a very spicy sort of, uh, revenge kinda enemies to lovers. And you know, it has once again, a very, very, um, sort of unconventional, uh, heroine. So I’m excited to put a lot of those elements in there and, and see where they go.

Kate Marope (01:14:32):

Oh my God, <laugh> thank you so much for coming to the podcast.

Jadesola James (01:14:36):

Thank you for having me!

Kate Marope (01:14:36):

Y’all need get those books and preorder them. I will put the links in the show notes and in the transcript, just cause I wanna be able to talk about it. Y’all so just do me a favor and read the damn thing. Thank you.

Jadesola James (01:14:51):

Exactly! And you know, I mean, I, I guess my last word would be never be afraid to reach out or ask questions, you know, as, as authors, as editors, as people in the business, especially, um, you know, folks of color who are so interested in conversations about representation and, and, and, you know, we could talk about it until we’re blue in the face. So please reach out questions, any comments, or wanna continue the conversation, you know, through the, through the DMS or through email or whatever. So thank you for having me.

Kate Marope (01:15:27):

Oh, thank you so much for coming.

Kate Marope (01:15:30):

If you enjoyed this guest episode. So make sure you subscribe to Path to Print on your podcast streamer of choice. Did you know you can watch all guest episodes on my YouTube channel? As always, I will make sure that there’s a transcript of this episode complete with the links to all the books and things mentioned and allow you to throw your 2 cents into the conversation by visiting the link in the show notes. If you’d like to be part of The Ribbon Marker community over on my website and join in on the conversation on the subject, please be sure to stop by my website at theribbonmarker.com. You can also join the convo on social media, using the hashtags #lifelike and #pathtoprintpod.

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Thank you so much for listening to Path to Print and be to check back in next week for a new blogisode. <music>

Books Mentioned in This Episode

About the Guest

Jadesola James loves summer thunderstorms, Barbara Cartland novels, long train rides, hot buttered toast, and copious amounts of cake and tea. She writes glamourous, escapist tales designed to sweep you away. When she isn’t writing, she’s a reference librarian and a scholar of American romance publishing. Her hobbies include collecting vintage romance paperbacks and fantasy shopping online for summer cottages in the north of England.

Find Jadesola and news about her upcoming books on Twitter!