07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sports, History Collide in New Boxing Romance

By Koko Brown 

Koko Brown
A couple of weeks ago I released my second sports-themed romance, Jezebel. The story revolves  
around a complacent exhibition boxer and a functioning alcoholic dancer during the Great Depression. Sound like a downer? It’s not I just chose to write characters who weren’t so darn perfect they make your teeth ache.

So how did Jezebel come about from a ten year old manuscript? Last, summer I wanted to publish a story right away. As anyone knows in this business, your next book is the best publicity. Unfortunately, my muse had a different plan. After I pulled Heart of Harlem (the original name of the story) out of an archived file folder, I realized how much fun I had writing my soccer romance, Players’ Ultimatum.   

The setting and the plot remained somewhat the same, but the character development received a major overhaul. And I enjoyed every minute of it.  Not only am I a sports fanatic, I’m also a huge history buff.  For this manuscript, I delved into everything from the Harlem Renaissance, social manners/etiquette, period clothing, Broadway musicals, Naval brigs, race movies, the first independent film companies, and about three dozen personal histories of boxers’ who fought between 1899-1950.  

I loved every single minute of it! I discovered Young Stribling, one of the first boxers to become a millionaire. He never fought in a title match, but made his money traveling across America during the Great Depression fighting exhibition matches. I ran across one of the coolest maps detailing “the fun to be had” in Harlem’s nightlife scene during the 1930s.  From this map alone, I was able find the names of lesser known nightclubs, what dances were popular during the time and how important the daily number was for many of the community’s inhabitants. Practically the whole city, considering the money to be made from the racket caused one of the biggest gangland wars in history. Dutch Shultz ring any bells? 

As a writer of a sports-themed romance, I also wanted to make sure that readers got a taste of the sport.  I hate reading a story about a professional athlete who never gets on the field or inside the ring.  In my opinion, that’s not poor character development. On the other hand, because I write romance I also keep the action to a minimum. I always have to remind myself that the hero isn’t romancing the other team or his opponent, his eyes should remain firmly on the prize, which is the heroine.  

All in all, I feel Jezebel really captures the essence of New York City during the 1930s. Hopefully, my readers will get the same enjoyment out of reading it as I did writing it. 

Want to learn more about me and my books?  Visit my official website: www.kokobrown.net.  For more about Jezebel or to read an excerpt, visit: www.kokobrown.net/taginterracialeroticromance/jezebel


Judith Ashley said...

Hi Koko, Welcome to RTG! While I never got into the sport of boxing, my parents were. I'm not sure if they went to a match in person, but they listened to them on the radio and when we got a television (in the mid-1950's)watched matches.

I do remember watching Casius Clay boxing at the Olympics but didn't see him box as Mohammad Aly.

And, good for you for breathing new life into a story!

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Koko,

A Historical Boxing Romance - I love it! Can't wait to read your book, as I am also a history buff and your characters sound interesting. I love stories set in a past I know little about.


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Koko,
Welcome to the RTG blog.
That was a great post. Being a history writer, I love stories that are set in the past. Your novle sounds fascinating.



Shannon said...

What a great post. I hadn't really known that boxing was so popular back then. Love to learn something new.
The map was fantastic! Thanks for the link.

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post! I like that period in history. Not many people write stories set in that time frame. Good luck on sales!