"You have to believe in yourself in order to succeed. If you don't, no one else will."
Sounds simple, eh? Then why is it that too many of us find it so difficult to do?
Well, that's the mantra of Mr. R. L. Norman, arguably the quintessential Renaissance man. Mr. Norman is an African-American entrepreneur, videographer, performer, columnist, internet host and author of the popular series of novels entitled, "Honey Let Me Tell You." His fifth and very latest installment in that series is "Honey Hush; Don't Ask And I Won't Tell."
EVANS: R. L., thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.
NORMAN: It's my pleasure.
EVANS: Congrats on weaving an intricate tale chock-full of masculine romance, rich drama, intrigue--and twists and turns! What's the genre of your work?
NORMAN: Thank you so much, Wyatt! I really appreciate that. The genre is LGBTQ romance. My books are about love, and people expressing those feelings. It's all about the trials and tribulations of finding true love and romance.
EVANS: Now, give us the "411" of your "Honey Let Me Tell You" series.
NORMAN: The "Honey Let Me Tell You" series is the story of one man's struggle to find true love through the trials and tribulations of being misunderstood. "Norman," the main character, takes the reader on his journey of finding and losing love, to learning about being in love, to making love, and then to learning about himself. Norman is your average gay man who just wants to find love and be happy.
In "Honey Hush," the latest installment, he finds out that there are consequences
to finding true love. It's the story of secrets that we all have, and want or need to share. It's about the consequences of not telling the truth when it comes to love. The character of Norman shows us that sometimes you truly have to go with your heart instead of your mind to obtain real happiness.
EVANS: So, just how much of the Norman character is based on yourself?
NORMAN: His story is based on a part of my personal life, and on everyday events that I, my friends and family have gone through. As the story progresses, the reader realizes that Norman can be anybody. I wanted to make the series as real as possible.
EVANS: You include a CD with each sequel?
NORMAN: Yes. I find that most people like a little extra incentive to buy books. And secondly, I believe that there's always a song that describes how we are feeling--regardless of whether we're happy, mad, sad--or simply loving life!
EVANS: R.L., after quite a few years as a civil engineer, you made a career detour that put you on this path. What was the impetus for this?
NORMAN: Several years after college, I dated this man and we had a great love affair that unfortunately, ended badly. At that point, I started writing my thoughts down on paper as a way to cope with the break-up. I had always kept a personal journal, but I wrote even more when this particular relationship ended. I also began writing about different men I'd dated over the years. It was very therapeutic.
Then, one day, I had my four best friends read a few pages. And one of them suggested I write a book! Of course, I thought that was an absurd idea. I never thought about turning my personal thoughts into a book.
Anyway, I went on line and searched for different publishers. I submitted my manuscript to ten, and six responded that they were interested! That was the start of my writing career.
EVANS: How important is rich characterization?
NORMAN: It's critical. I believe the best works are the ones in which the
reader can truly relate to the characters. Walk a mile in those characters' shoes, so to speak.
EVANS: What do you believe separates R L Norman from other LGBTQ authors?
NORMAN: I make readers feel from the heart. Time and time again, readers tell me that my books remind them of something that has happened in their own lives, and that they're reliving their lives through Norman to an extent. I love that.
EVANS: It's my understanding that you're a diehard romantic?
NORMAN: Oh, yes. I love romance! I guess it started when I was a kid. I would dream of falling in love, getting married and having children. It may sound funny, but I dreamed of being like the characters in the Brady Bunch or the Cosby Show.
I adore the simple things that grab my heart: a simple kiss, a little note to say I was thinking about you, or a little smile as one looks lovingly in my eyes. It's the simple things that make love wonderful. I don't need someone to have money, cars, etc.; although, that would be nice. I just want someone to touch my heart.
EVANS: What's your take on both interracial and intergenerational dating?
NORMAN: I'm for both. I believe that we all fall in love with the inner person. It doesn't matter the age or what's on the outside; it's the inside that counts. People should date whom they want, and love whom they love.
EVANS: Especially for older men, is the "art of dating" dead?
NORMAN: Not necessarily. I just think most people don't act on it. I believe that as we get older, we look for more companionship. I think these days most people are conditioned to think that the physical aspect outweighs the emotional connection.
EVANS: Let's follow up on that. Being over 50, you and I...ahem, are "men of a certain age." At this point in your life, would you marry?
NORMAN: Well, I was married once years ago, and it was wonderful! We had a big wedding and reception, and honeymooned in London and Paris. It was the best time of my life because I was living my romantic dream. Even though it ended (amicably), I would get married again. I like the feeling of being wanted and needed, and of being in love and committed to someone. Age has nothing to do with it.
EVANS: Would you enter into a relationship with/marry a man who's poz? Why or why not?
NORMAN: First, I have no problem dating or marrying someone who is HIV-positive. To me, it's just another disease like cancer or lupus. Just like my partner would have to deal with my health issues, I would deal with his status. And, we'd support one another together.
NEXT: R. L.'s experience with Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), advice for aspiring authors, the evolution of LGBTQ lit...and more.
Connect with R. L. Norman at: http://rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; Twitter: rl_norman; Instagram: rlnorman.