They Call Me Mello will be my second self-published novel and my 15th self-published story!! What started off as me not knowing anything about self-publishing evolved into a journey in understanding the process which has resulted in a catalogue of stories I love and am very proud to offer to readers. For Mello’s story, I wanted to think outside of the box. I love the genre of romance, urban and erotic romance, so I wanted to stay in that lane but veer off a little, and I did that while writing They Call Me Mello.
Like all my other books, I needed to research before writing They Call Me Mello. I researched for Mello’s story longer than I did any other story. I began researching in February 2017 right before I released the final book for the No Fraternizing series… well, researching on and off.
Because I was working on other projects, I had to split my attention making the research last longer than it probably needed to. But the lengthy research was necessary to understand the character and the motivations behind his actions in the story. I wrote the first draft in three weeks using my usual Scrivener app and did the self-editing using Word.
Mello’s story is told in first person which is always a challenge for me. I prefer to write stories in third because I can maintain my voice. As a narrator, I can speak with the reader directly in the tone I prefer and as an extension of my characters. Writing in first person requires in-depth knowledge of a character and everything that makes them tick. That means, little injection of self in a manuscript. Especially when he’s a man who is street and considers himself to be a street scholar.
Mello’s vernacular is unique to him. Profanity and slang flows as easy as wine when he speaks and the n-word applies to everyone if you let him tell it. Grammar rules don’t apply to him but because I am writing a book, I had to bend the rules to accommodate his voice, stay true to his story, while respecting the code of storytelling. I procrastinated with writing his story because it was intimidating, he’s intimidating lol. So I forced myself to get in the groove of things when I added his short story to my Forbidden anthology. I needed to get comfortable writing in his voice before writing an entire novel.
The motivation behind writing this story were my readers. They loved him and they weren’t supposed to lol. But I knew after adding him in part 2 of the No Fraternizing series that he would get a book. He was a standout, kind of outshined the main character in her own book.
The idea for his story all started with the thought of what would happen if a drug dealer got out of the game in time. You always hear these stories about drug dealers making all this money and staying instead of leaving before getting caught or killed. So I wanted to explore that. Create a scenario where that actually happens and what that would look like.
What To Expect
They Call Me Mello is for the grown and sexy. It definitely is for readers who are mature not only in age but the mind too. It offers a different take on a romance with a theme of “love is a verb.” In the No Fraternizing series, readers knew Mello as being the smooth-talking money man. Any and everything could be bought if the price was right. In most novels, gift giving is the love language that gets the most attention and admiration in matters of love. So, I wanted to leave that out a little and focus on acts of service and of course physical touch.
In No Fraternizing, Mello was a fan of gift giving because the women he gave the gifts to valued that. But with his story and a new love interest, Rayelle Bell, he offers more than that. He has to actually be himself and be naked, emotionally. In fact, she encourages him to tap into the ugly that he prefers to keep hidden. And this can be like death to most men.
The overall question is if Rayelle is worth him dredging that up? Is she is worth him tapping into a side of himself that he’d much rather not deal with? And through the scenarios in They Call Me Mello, I allow readers to come to that conclusion on their own. The way I write this story, readers will get to know Mello better than he knows himself even though he is the one telling the story. Through his actions, thoughts and decisions, readers will discover things about him that even he wouldn’t be able to identify.
This is also the first book where the protagonist is the antagonist, the villain… or at least the antagonist is his mind instead of an actual person.
We got a glimpse of Mello in No Fraternizing, but because it wasn’t his story, we never had time to dive in deep into his character. Now we will. I want readers to finish this story knowing Mello. And if someone asks them about his character, it will be no trouble for them to say who he is.
I’ll be honest, the leisurely pace throughout the book might bother a few people. This isn’t a fast pace read but then again none of my books are. But this book takes its time and for good reason. And although I was concerned about it during the editing process, I find the pacing to be necessary to effectively tell this story. I do everything in my power to avoid rushing a book. I go through every chapter with a fine-tooth comb making sure my characters and their love evolves organically.
I need to be in love with a book before I release it or I won’t. And this story I love!
This is probably the most realistic fiction you’ll read this year. The characters are walk-off-the-page relatable and so are the scenarios.
Get to know the man behind the name when They Call Me Mello drops on 8/1/18. I choose this date because it’s like a mirror reflection of numbers, which is another theme in this story; self-reflection.