Aside from trying to get published, writer’s block is a common challenge among writers. An issue that often prevents people from even writing at all is self-doubt, something romance novelist Devyn Bakewell has noticed through her visits and work with younger writers. “The advice that I’ve really been asked a lot for is this belief in your own voice,” the Greater Love and Greater Life (New Degree Press) author tells SBC. “And I feel like that’s really a big thing that I’ve been pushing. A lot of people say that they can’t write a book, and I think the strong thing in writing a book is believing that you have a good story to tell. I think once you get rid of that fear, I mean, I think it really just flows out of you, honestly.”
While she is finding her voice as a writer, Bakewell has been one since third grade. She already had a love for literature, and once she received a laptop, she wrote stories every chance she got. She would later study and earn her Bachelors degree in English and minor in African American Studies at Howard University. Her fiction of choice was typically teen romance, in which she often used her imagination to feel represented. The lack of representation prompted her to write the kinds of stories she wanted to read. It was during her freshman year that she developed Greater Love and accomplished her goal of releasing it before she graduated.
In Greater Life, the sequel to Greater Love, Ryan McKnight and Devyn Baker return as they navigate their lives as a couple and individually during their summer break from Truth University. Ryan is completing an internship back on the east coast, which includes repairing the image of a famous and difficult DJ while Devyn is trying to repair his relationship with his mother who previously battled addiction. The novel is a meditation on loving oneself before loving someone else, a lesson that Bakewell learned.
“Devyn and Ryan have this really powerful relationship, but they have goals,” the romance novelist says. “And they have this love that they both need within themselves… And I want to show that you don’t have to lose yourself. You can be in a relationship and find power from it and grow with somebody, and be the best version of yourself.”
Although the Greater Love series is over, Bakewell is just getting started. The journalist will be releasing another series. While she is mum on the details, she shares that readers can expect that she will continue to center Black female characters.
“The conversations I want to bring about is just the best way that Black women can grow, and how our voice matters, and how we matter, and just different elements that Black women are going through today, and highlight that,” the women’s activist says. “I mean, there’s so much that Black women are doing in politics, in publishing, and in entertainment.”
Check out the interview to learn what it was like for Bakewell writing book number two, her thoughts on whether there are rules to writing romance, writing dialogue and the details of doing so, her favorite novels, writing about the Historically Black Colleges and Universities experience, how people have responded to her literature so far, manifestation, how she gets inspired, whether she would venture outside of romance, and more! For more information, visit Bakewell’s author Instagram.