Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lola Allen, Author of Rhonda's Revenge

rhonda's revenge, lola allen
Today we are interviewing Lola Allen, author of the urban fiction novel Rhonda's Revenge.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an English graduate and teacher; I completed an MA in Creative Writing in 2011. I have always been an avid reader and writer; this really began when I was a child - I realised that I could make up my own characters and my own reality. It was very liberating. My degree in English was what really prompted me to pursue writing properly. I studied African American women’s fiction, contemporary fiction and romantic fiction, which inspired me to be the writer that I am today. One of my lecturers (African American Women’s fiction) after reading my work, persuaded me to purse writing further. I took up her advice and several years later, have not looked back.

Rhonda’s Revenge was written before I completed my MA and I then came back to edit parts of it, using some of the knowledge that I gleaned from my course. My first proper novel and actual MA project, was my novel ‘The Heartless Game’, which also address the issues of infidelity, paranoia and cheating.

Describe Rhonda’s Revenge in a few sentences.

Rhonda’s Revenge is the story of a woman wronged, who would go to any lengths to get her own back. Rhonda’s pride would not permit her to understand or even begin to envisage the thought that her husband Joseph could ever fall out of love with her. The novel started out as a bit of joke really – me imagining a situation in which women were completely in control and could do anything with their powers, including meting out punishments of their choice to unappreciative, unfaithful men - I then decided to finish the story and turn it into a novella.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

On the surface I would say women that have been cheated on by their husbands or partners. However, there is also a satirical side to this novel, which cannot be taken too seriously and some parts that are like something out of a fantasy movie! My husband himself found parts of this novel funny, as did male friends of mine who read the novel. So men can get something out of reading this novel too…even if it’s just a warning about a woman scorned.

What inspired you to write about a woman’s plan for revenge on her cheating husband?

Probably because the breakdown of a marriage is a woman’s worst nightmare. That and being traded in for a younger model. I’d just like to add at this point, that I wrote this story before I was married, so it was not inspired by personal experience! Every woman likes to think that she’s special and has her man’s heart forever, especially when they’re married to each other. A woman’s wedding day is widely seen and marketed as the most important day of her life, however once the day is over and the dress is off, things can rapidly begin to go downhill. This is especially true of the first few years of marriage, as in Rhonda’s Reveng’, in which she and Joseph have only been married for five years before he begins his affairs. When writing my stories, I like to create the worst case scenario, so that I can focus on how my female characters respond to them – this was certainly the case for Rhonda’s Revenge.
I also wanted to show that no one was right in the novela; Joseph was wrong for cheating on Rhonda and Rhonda was wrong for trying to get him back in the way that she did. I tried to juxtapose the ideas of good and evil throughout Rhonda’s Revenge and the fact that no one is truly innocent. As such, although Rhonda was the injured party, the way in which she went about her revenge, absolved her of any of the purity, or ‘righteousness’ she might initially have had. She therefore becomes as bad as Joseph.

Tell us a bit about the relationship between the main character, Rhonda, and her cheating husband, Joseph.

Rhonda and Joseph have known each other since secondary (high) school. Joseph comes from a single parent household where money is hard to come by whilst Rhonda is an only child, with relatively wealthy parents and a silver spoon in her mouth. Whereas Joseph has had to work his way up from the bottom, Rhonda has many things handed to her on the plate, hence her ‘princess’ mentality. Their backgrounds have a huge bearing on how they treat each other in their marriage, as Joseph grows resentful of the fact that Rhonda thinks she can have anything she wants. He then seeks to prove otherwise.

Rhonda does love her husband, but she is very full-on. She wants to control her husband and the direction of their relationship. She doesn’t realise that the shy boy she knew in school is no more. Joseph has had to work very hard to get to where he is, and simply wants to be his own man. Rhonda’s need to control everything almost leads to an eating disorder and the loss of her ability to ever have children. As an only child, having her own family is very important to Rhonda; not so much to Joseph who hails from a large family, where he has seen struggle and pain on a daily basis.

What drives Rhonda to still want a relationship with Joseph despite all the ways he has wronged her?

 She wants to be in control. As a bit of a spoilt woman, Rhonda wants to always get her own way. She remembers that Joseph has always had a huge crush on her, and she enjoyed the attention. Now that they’re married, she doesn’t want this to change. She also wants to prove to Joseph that she is more desirable than the younger models that he’s chasing, because of their history and the fact that every boy had a crush on her in school. Not to forget of course that Rhonda is desperate for a family, and want this with Joseph, as she believes that becoming a father would be good for him and help him to escape the demons of his own inadequate father and his legacy. A child would provide Rhonda and Joseph with the opportunity to begin their own legacy.

How do you hope your book will impact people?

I hope it would help them to think about the effects that infidelity can have on people, especially mentally, as well as the implications of breaking up a marital home. A person who has cheated once, would do it again and again. No woman or man is immune to being cheated on (no matter how beautiful or handsome) and once a person realises that their partner is a serial cheat, they need to be willing to either accept that person as they are, or simply let them go and start their lives over. Some things can’t be forced, and you certainly can’t force a person to love you (at least, not the natural way)!

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

In terms of contemporary urban fiction, I’m a huge fan of Eric Jerome Dickey, I love the lyrical and effortless way in which he writes. He has inspired me to be less afraid to write about sex in my novels and novellas. As long as this is done tastefully, there is no need to be embarrassed or afraid. I also really admire the writing of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and fellow British writer, Alex Wheattle.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

My next project is a story about a woman who harbours a deep love for one of her close male friends (they grew up together), without ever telling him. It showcases the struggle she endures and the pain of seeing him with other women, knowing that she could never have that sort of relationship with him herself.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

Please read it, it’s good fun! It’s also very popular with other readers. When I first released it as a free ebook, it was ranked number 1 in African American women’s fiction and number 1 in African American romance (in the UK Amazon Kindle store). It’s now no longer free, but still a reasonable buy at just $2.99. As a novel/novella, Rhonda’s Revenge is short, but I intended it to be that way, as it’s just a fleeting glance into a troubled marriage and the drama that quickly unfolds as the result of this. I’m toying with the idea of creating sequels to Rhonda’s Revenge - at the moment I’m not completely sure, but watch this space!

A short excerpt from Rhonda's Revenge:
 As Joseph pulled away from his girlfriend, he was looking into her eyes, Rhonda recognised that look; it meant that Joseph was in love.  Joseph was in love with another woman!  The realisation suddenly hit Rhonda full in the face, like a jagged rock that had been thrown at her, scarring her face and making it bleed.  What had she been, blind?  Stupid?  No wonder Joseph had been neglecting her, he had been showering his affections on someone else.  And she was so beautiful, and fleshy.  Rhonda began to feel insanely jealous, she wanted to kill him.  She wanted to kill them both.  
“Why don’t we leave now?” Graham suggested pragmatically.
 But Rhonda was not having any of it, “What, without a drink?” she asked, with a dangerous edge to her voice, “Get me a triple vodka.”
“But Rhonda-” Graham began.
“Now.” Rhonda added.  
“Do as the girl says,” Elaine pushed, “can’t you see she needs it?” 
Without any further ado, Graham did as he was asked, turning around momentarily to ensure that Rhonda wouldn’t change her mind.  She didn’t.  
Samina, Peter and Delilah stood rooted to their seats in silence, they were still in shock.  Rhonda and Joseph had been married five years, how could he be cheating on her already?  Samina came forward to hug Rhonda, but she pushed her away.  
“Please don’t pity me,” she said, on the verge of tears, “I really don’t need it.” 

“Of course not,” Samina replied “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologise,” Rhonda ordered, downing the drink that was put before her in three seconds.  “Another,” she told Graham.  
“But-” he began. 
“Now!” Elaine said on Rhonda’s behalf; Rhonda smiled weakly in appreciation. 
“Okay, coming up,” he sighed, making another trip to the bar.
After about three triple vodkas, Rhonda made her way to the bar.  She was so fiercely angry; no one tried to stop her.  Head held high, back straight, she walked over to her husband and tapped him on the shoulder.  “Hello darling,” she said sarcastically.
 Joseph turned around, and his eyes came to meet his wife’s.  He didn’t even look like he cared. 
More Information
Buy Rhonda's Revenge on Amazon

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