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Novel Act

Gilmore darkens the romance genre

By Nicky Baxter

WHEN SHE was a kid, novelist Monique Gilmore couldn't be bothered with the fluff-stuffed romance genre; she found the largely color-free world imagined by the likes of Barbara Cartland irrelevant. Flaxen-haired heroines in a state of perpetual distress were not a common sight in the predominately black New Jersey neighborhood Gilmore called home until four years ago. Along with a growing number of women of African descent, Gilmore herself is providing an alternative for readers with novels depicting black romance.

Novelist Terry MacMillan is the heroine whose fiction rescued Gilmore from the perils of a 9-to-5 grind. "It was Disappearing Acts that made me really stop and think, 'I can do that!' Gilmore says. "I'd been dabbling [in writing] since I was 17, but I didn't get serious until about three years ago."

Gilmore has written three books, with two more on the way. Like many writers, she has her system. "I like to write in the evening; I have my computer in the living room. I listen to music to put me in the mood for certain scenes--everyone from [rapper] Dr. Dre to [pop jazz artist] Joe Sample."

Speaking of the " 'bad' doctor," how does the novelist deal with male/female relations? "One of my goals," she says, "is not to 'dog' black men. I let my brother read [manuscripts] for a black man's perspective. Now, that's not to say there are no bad people in my books; of course there are. And some of them happen to be men, just as some of them are women. But there are good men and women in there, too."

Her new book, The Grass Ain't Greener (Pinnacle Books), is the tale of an ambitious career woman whose plans have been thrown off track by marriage and its attendant demands--kids, carpooling and cooking. All work and no play has made her hubby, Madrid, self-absorbed; that and his tendency to think he's married to a Nubian superwoman has sent her right up the wall. What she needs is a vacation--from which she may never return, in true romance style.

Monique Gilmore will appear on Saturday (Oct. 19) at Post Street Gallery, 1064 The Alameda, San Jose. (408/297-6734)

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From the October 17-23, 1996 issue of Metro

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