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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to author D.L. White about avoiding the crutch of stereotypes, the perks of being petty, not being precious about virginity and using Pinterest to shape memorable characters.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Kenrya: Welcome, welcome, welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. This week, we are joined by D.L. White, pronouns she and her. Atlanta-based author D.L. White began seriously pursuing a writing career in 2011. She has a legendary love for coffee, fried chicken, and brunch, especially on the patio. Her true obsession though is water: lakes, rivers, oceans, waterfalls. You know what this just makes me think of? TLC. On the weekend-
Erica: Atlanta, waterfall.
Kenrya: On the weekend, you'll probably find her near water, and if she's lucky, on an ocean beach. While not writing books, she devours them. She blogs reviews and thoughts on writing and books at BooksbyDLWhite.com and Goodreads. Grab a book by D.L. White and put it in your face. I love that you have your hashtag. And, yes, put it in your face, always.
Erica: Put it in your face.
D.L. White: I do.
Kenrya: That's what she said.
D.L. White: I say that all the time. Your face wants books. Put it in your face.
Kenrya: And other things.
Erica: I do too.
Kenrya: Thank you so much for coming on.
D.L. White: Thank you for having me, I'm so excited to be here. When a podcast that I listen to a lot asks me to be on, I'm just fangirling and I'm just very excited.
Kenrya: Oh my gosh. It's so dope that you listen.
Erica: To who?
Kenrya: Thank you for listening and thank you more for coming on.
Erica: Yes, thank you for agreeing. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?
D.L. White: I wanted to be a teacher. And I got all the way to college, and I went to declare my major, and I went to those education classes, and I was like, "No. These look boring. What looks interesting?" So, I went through the course catalog until I found classes that looked fun, and I landed on communications. So, I have a degree in comm studies, and I do have a minor in teaching English as a second or foreign language, so I am kind of an English teacher, but I'm mostly in communications.
Kenrya: So how did you come to be a writer?
D.L. White: I think I just was always a writer. I'm an introvert, I'm not shy, but I'm very insular, I love being alone, I just sit in my room and read and read and read, and the stories just started building in my head. My earliest memory is when you would be in school and you'd have to do the spelling words, and the teacher says, "Use each word in a sentence" because they need to make sure that you understand what this word means, and I would take my sentences and write a whole story-
D.L. White: So, if it was 25 words, my story would be a 25-sentence story because the assignment was boring, so I was just trying to jazz it up. I was just entertaining me. And my teacher really liked it, and my mom was pleased with it that my teacher liked it. I was like, "You guys like that? Well, I'm going to keep doing it." And so I started doing it, and maybe I'm a people-pleaser, but I liked that I was doing something that other people seemed to really enjoy, and so I just kept doing it. And as I got older, I started writing longer stories and poetry and getting more involved. And then when I was in high school, our local college used to have an essay contest every year, and I would enter every year, and I won twice, I was like, "I think I might actually be good at this, so I should keep doing it." And so that's where it started.
Erica: Well, that's really dope. Who or what inspires you to write?
D.L. White: I don't know if I have one inspiration. A lot of times, I just hear something, and it clicks in my mind. Definitely, current events or the state of relationships between Black men and women are a definite inspiration. For me, there was a point in time where every news story was "Black women are unlovable," "48% of Black women will never marry," "Black men and Asian men are the most undesirable," and I just felt bombarded by that.
D.L. White: And to combat that, I needed to write something that was encouraging and uplifting and made me feel like I could love and be loved and I was lovable. In my stories, Black men love Black women; and in my stories, the Black women don't have to be thin and beautiful and Beyoncé-like; and in my stories, the men and the women, the couples, can't get enough of each other, they want more of each other. So, I think maybe my books are my way of talking back to whatever that stigma or that stereotype is that is still prevalent today; if you are anywhere on social media, you see it all day every day about how Black men hate Black women. And that just doesn't exist in my books.
Erica: When we talked about your book on the last episode, I clearly said, "They had lots of sex," but it's like good, delicious. You can tell, and now that you're saying that, it totally makes sense, but everyone's in good relationships, and-
Kenrya: They actually like each other.
Erica: It's a breath of fresh air. What'd you say, Kenrya?
Kenrya: And they actually like each other mostly.
D.L. White: Yes.
Erica: Yes. And it's just like ... it feels good.
D.L. White: Yeah. Enamored with each other. And I just feel like it's healthy for people to have good relationships with their parents. It's normal for Black people to be upwardly mobile, and upper to middle-class, and to have money. I think that it's easy to pile a bunch of struggle on top of people, and then write your way out of it. For me, it's more of a challenge to write your Black woman and your Black man, your mama's good and your daddy's good, but he's an asshole. Why? What's his story? What's his deal? What happened in his life? What made him that way? I want to write my way out of that because ... I don't mean that it's "easy," but I think it can be a little bit of a crutch to drop in some drama or something stereotypical and roll that into your story. And I just want normal, regular-ass Black people in love. That's what I want.
Kenrya: Yeah. And it gives you an opportunity to do something that I think you do really well, which is to go inside. Their struggles are so very internal in the ways that they react to the people around them and the ways that they navigate through their relationships are very much informed by the shit that they're dealing with inside, and that's just like all of us. That's the shit that makes it hard for us to be vulnerable. That's the shit that makes it hard for us to say what we really mean instead of what we think we're supposed to say.
D.L. White: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Kenrya: And that's hard to do. It's hard to do in real life.
D.L. White: And a lot of times, you'll see in the reviews, "I just don't understand why it took so long for her to say this and do that," and I'm like, "Because you're perfect? Because you've never been ..."
Erica: "Because it didn't take you six months?"
D.L. White: Listen, I am the pettiest, most immature person I know. I really am. I will do wrong for 12 years in order to avoid having to say, "I'm sorry," and if you want to read a book about perfect people, Disney has a whole line of books over here, but my books are about real people, and my people are petty, they're a little bit bitchy, they got stuff going on, they might have some other issues, and that all is all wrapped up in your relationships and how you relate to other people.
Kenrya: I know you got a day job. How do you balance writing with a day job?
D.L. White: I think that a lot of authors that have day jobs treat their writing like it's another job, and I can't do that. I call it a "lucrative side gig," and it pays for shiny things and vacations; on occasion, it can pay a bill and put some gas in the car. And I do okay. I'm not balling out of control over here, but I do okay. All my energy and my effort has to go to the day job because that's what makes it possible for me to write.
D.L. White: I could never write full-time because I would have an ulcer, worrying about how to pay these bills with this Amazon paycheck. I need security and stability, and that day job provides that. And then, typically, from Thursday night through Sunday is when I will spend time writing or reading or planning out stories. But if I'm not secure in my day job, I can't write. I can't. I just don't have that security and that stability for me to be able to dream. And for me to be able to step out of reality, I got to fix reality first before I can even start in the fictional world.
Kenrya: You writing somebody else's.
D.L. White: Yeah. I write "when I feel like it," and I just happen to "feel like it" a lot. So, a couple hours here or there, I'll start with 1k/one hour, one thousand words or one hour, whichever comes first. And once I get started, it's like a lawnmower, where it just goes until you shut it off, like sometimes I'm just literally falling asleep, typing, "One more word and we're done with this scene, and now we can go to sleep," otherwise, it'll wake me up at 3:00 a.m. So, it just sits in my head until I put it on paper.
D.L. White: I think really one of the other things that compels me to write is that the stories write themselves in my head, and they don't leave me alone until I write them down. And so I have to get to a point where I can concentrate on my writing, which means fixing my day job and fixing my day life so I can actually sit down and put time towards getting words on the page. But that typically comes on the weekends, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night's a good time for me to write, and then usually all-day Sunday I'm either reading or writing.
Kenrya: You have a system.
Erica: Yeah. And I think that's good because we do talk to a lot of people, and we're like, "Fuck the day job, let's ..." well, not "fuck the day job," but we're like, "I'm going to pour my energy into this passion." And my sister always says, "I'm not horny if my bills ain't paid." She's like, "I'm not a gold digger, but don't think you're going to come and try to make me feel good when my bills ain't paid."
D.L. White: Right, exactly.
Erica: And so you got to have everything in order before going to the next.
D.L. White: So much. And I used to know people that would be like, "My power is off" or "My gas bill is $400." What about that dude you're sleeping with?" "I can't ask him." Like, "Girl, he been all up and through you, and you can't ask him for $400? Child."
Erica: You have to push it.
Kenrya: I literally had to say that to somebody who called me and said their electricity was off. I was like, "But that nigga is up in your house. What are you talking about? How is it two grown folks in this house, including that one, and you all ain't got no damn electricity?"
Erica: You got to sell a kidney.
D.L. White: Eating your food, using your electricity, watching your TV, got his butt print your couch, but you can't ask him to go half on the electric? You're better than me because I would have been, "Hand me money now. If you want some of this, I need some of that." And I'm not a gold digger either, but you're not going to come up in here and use up all my stuff, and then leave me out in the cold.
Erica: Nope, not at all. So, tell us about your latest work, “The Never List”? I loved “A Thin Line.” When you said that they talk to you in your sleep, I found myself reading before bed, and then I'd wake up in the middle of the night, like, "Well, damn, I got to figure out, what's about to happen?" So, now I want to know about the next book.
D.L. White: “The Never List,” I started this book maybe 2016, and it's been so long that I do not know why I started writing this story. I think I just had an idea for something different. I can't write the same thing over and over. There are a lot of authors out there that are just writing the same book with different characters, their names are different and they live in a different city, but it's the same book over and over, and a lot of readers love that-
Kenrya: You are not lying.
D.L. White: I can't do it. I can't. I'm like, "I wrote this book already."
Kenrya: I space them out. If they're well-written, I'll still read them, I'm thinking of one particular series that I've been working my way through, and it's the same every time, but it's well-written and it's pleasurable, but I got to space them shits out because-
D.L. White: Those are the books that I save for the end of the year when I'm behind on my Goodreads challenge.
Kenrya: And you're trying to catch up.
D.L. White: Right. I'm like, "Let me read that" because I know it's going to be good, but I know it's like the previous 15 that this person has written. But it's good, I don't need to concentrate, it's not a new experience. So, I think I just had an idea for a different story, and I wanted to write a modern virgin heroine who wasn't shy and wasn't precious about her virginity, but she wanted it to be special. And the thing about this story was it was a little bit, a lot a bit, autobiographical in that I waited a long time to take that step because I wanted it to mean something to me.
D.L. White: And the longer that I held out, the easier it became to say no, until I was meeting men that were like, "When you going to let me hit that?" And I would be like, "No, that's just not going to work for me because I just feel like my vibrator's going to do a better job. I just don't feel like you're going to care if I cum. I feel like you're going to ... and then be like, "All right, I'm out," and that's just not going to get it from me. I want you to care about my experience, I want you to care about if I have a good time."
D.L. White: And so I think that in this book, Esme Whitaker is my heroine, she has really already had her glow-up. She's nearing 40, she went and got her MBA, she's got a new job, she's bought a house; life is great, except she's still a virgin. And it's not that she's precious about it, it's that she is waiting for that opportunity to meet someone great who's going to show her a good time and who's going to make sure that she has a good time. Because he's already had sex, so what's going to be important in this situation is that she has a good time, that she gets to explore, that it's a good experience for her.
D.L. White: When I was an older modern virgin, I would read a lot about first-time experiences and people would be like, "I wish I would have waited longer" or "I didn't even cum." I didn't want that, and so I didn't want that for Esme. And so this is just the story of her. The book opens with her meeting a guy that she met off of a dating website, and he ends up ghosting her, but she gets in a little snap fight with the dude at the table next door, and through the magic of fiction, ends up meeting up with him later, and they end up in a situation where they're on either side of a negotiation table, and they have to work together to bring this deal to a close.
D.L. White: And so he decides that in order to make this deal work, that he should help her satisfy items on her Never List. She ends up dropping her list, and he's reading it, and she's like, "Give me that" because she doesn't want to see that number one on the list is "have sex." And so he decides that he's going to help her satisfy items on her list, and for every item that he helps her cross off, she goes back to the dude who's trying to sell this company to say, "Okay, let's negotiate this item on the contract and that item on the contract" because they're in a little bit of a contract negotiation. I'm not explaining this very well.
Kenrya: You are. I just bought it.
Erica: No, this is great.
Kenrya: I literally just bought it.
Erica: I'm like, "Yo, this needs to be a movie." I mean a book, but you need to screen-write.
D.L. White: Awesome.
Kenrya: Yeah, totally just bought that shit, I'm going to read it.
D.L. White: So, the book is basically Esme and Trey working through her items on the Never List. Also, Esme and Trey working through this contract because Trey is trying to buy this little company. Trey is working through some things with his father, and his dad doesn't trust him and treats him like a little pup. The thing about this book is that, of course, she's a virgin, so the book is not going to open with them banging, so how do I create intimacy between these characters without writing sex?
D.L. White: And so that was the fun part. So, what can they do and how do they get closer? And how do you create intimacy with conversation and flirting and touching and oral sex and heavy petting? Until you get to the last quarter of the book and you're like, "All right, you're really going to do it" because they do, obviously, it's a romance, it's an adult romance, so they are obviously going to be having copious sex in the book, but that's not going to come until later, but I still want the reader to feel good and to get the good stuff while they're reading this book.
D.L. White: And I wanted it to be kind of funny and down-to-earth, and so there are some funny parts in this book. Trey and Esme really snap at each other. I'm a very sarcastic person, and so I can't write a book without a heroine that is ... I don't really write syrupy, sweet heroines; they're always a little bit snappy, a little bit sarcastic. She's always got something smart to say. And so they kind of bite at each other here and there, but it's not really mean, it's more lovingly. So, I had a lot of fun putting these characters together, putting them in rooms together, putting them in situations where you can tell that they really, really, really want to have sex.
D.L. White: But, first, they can't because there's a contract between them, it can't look like Esme slept with Trey to get concessions on this contract. Also, she's a virgin, and he don't know, so she got to figure out, first, how to tell him she's a virgin, and then convince him that he needs to be the one to take her over the rainbow, and then Trey has to agree that that's what he wants to do, and then they got to do it. And so that's “The Never List.” Totally, totally fun to write.
Erica: You sold me on this book.
D.L. White: I hope it's fun to read.
Kenrya: Listen, I'm going to read it. It's interesting, you were talking about she wants to make sure that she'll be able to cum, and you're saying you were reading and a lot of folks were talking about that, but I feel like most people probably don't come the first time they have sex no matter how old they are. I know I didn't. It was quite some time before I learned enough about my body to be able to direct somebody or take matters into my own hands in the middle of a couple situation to be able to cum. So, that's a high bar.
D.L. White: I know I didn't.
Erica: Yeah, I didn't.
D.L. White: And the dudes didn't care either.
Erica: And I think that it's great that you ... Because here's the thing, I feel like virginity, we have hang ups about it, and I like the way that you look at it, like it's not like it's this precious gem, it's that I want to make sure that the person I'm doing it with gives a damn and wants to make sure it's special for me, or not even want to make sure it's special, just make sure I cum.
D.L. White: It's supposed to be a fun, erotic, intimate experience, it's not supposed to be "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Can I have some water? I'm out." We are both supposed to have a good time. And, really, I feel like by the time you're in your mid to late 30s, you know what sex is about, and I would always tell the people, "I may have never milked a cow, but I know everything about the pasture. I know what I'm doing. I just need to go over that rainbow. Are you down or not?" And really by the time I had sex, I was like, "Let's just do it. I just don't even fucking care. Just go, do it. Do it!"
Kenrya: "Let's break the seal."
D.L. White: Because I just wanted to be able to say that I did it. I didn't cum, he didn't care, I didn't care, I was like, "Get out."
Erica: "Bring me some water on your way out."
D.L. White: "Bring me some water."
Kenrya: "I'm parched." Word. So, we know that you listen to podcasts like ours, but we also know that you sometimes produce your own bookcast that showcase your work. Can you tell us about that experience? Where'd the idea come from? What did you love about it? All of that.
D.L. White: So, I was listening to ... Christina C. Jones does what she calls Storytime. And she had a story that she wrote specifically for the podcast, and I was like, "That is such a good idea." And I had been thinking about doing it because I also write fan fiction, I'm a huge NSYNC fan, and I run an NSYNC fan site, and I was like, "I should record some of my stories and put them out in audio because I think people would really like to listen to them." But then I was like, "I can't make no money off of that." I was like, "Well, maybe I should write a book, and then release it via audio," because recording an audiobook is expensive when you're the author, like thousands of dollars.
D.L. White: But I could produce a bookcast and read it via podcast for little to no money. So, I decided to go ahead and do that. I had time and a microphone. This was right as COVID got started, and I just needed something to take my mind off of COVID and to keep me from looking at numbers and all of that, like let me just get real, real busy. So, I finished “A Thin Line,” and I put another book out in audio, and then I finished “The Never List.” And to practice, I took some of my holiday shorts, and because those are too short to be recorded in audio, I just recorded them for the bookcast so that I could practice reading out loud and being up and smile and awake and make this sound engaging and not like I am reading from a piece of paper.
D.L. White: I am really terrible about checking numbers and subscriptions, so I do not know how many people listened to it. I know I got one review from a person that reviews everything that I do. But I just don't ever check. I wanted to do it for the experience, just so that I could say it's out there. And I had the time. I do know that some people have listened to it, my cousin said that she listened to it; that's how she read the book, through the bookcast. It was fun. It was a lot of work.
Kenrya: Yeah, I was going to ask you, what was surprising about that process of reading?
D.L. White: I really thought it was going to be easier than it was. Just the editing ... After producing that bookcast, my sentences are going to be much simpler because reading the words that I write on the page out loud is a lot. I just would be reading like mess you, mess up, mess up, like, "Why can't I read this word?" Mess up, mess up. And then I would have to mark where my mistakes were so I could cut that out, and then download Audacity and then go back and just edit, and then find an opener and then close, and then find a really good way to open each episode and close each episode. It was a lot.
D.L. White: I think I probably will never do a full-length novel again on the bookcast, but I do want to do short fiction/fiction. My holiday shorts, I, of course, will probably always do on the bookcast. But this was 31 chapters. That book is 97,000 words. Probably never again. It was a lot. It was just a lot. I frustrated myself a lot. It was fun. It definitely took up the time that I wanted it to take. It was just a lot of work.
Kenrya: Yeah, makes sense.
Erica: So, thank you again for letting us read an excerpt from “A Thin Line.” I think I opened this, I was like, "I never not like a character," but Preston was irking my damn nerves. I was like, "You're an asshole."
D.L. White: Don't you want to punch him in the forehead?
Erica: Oh my God, he's such an asshole. I think you've heard, we talk about guys being mean because they like you. Preston's just an asshole, period. He's just a jerk all around. And one of the things that stood out to me in the book was your opening, where you were like, "Look, I wrote this a while back, I had to revisit it." So, tell me about that process and what pushed you to revisit it.
D.L. White: This book was originally a long fan fiction story, and after reading it, some of my readers said, "You should really un-fan fic this and publish it because it's good." And I was like-
Kenrya: What was it based on?
Erica: Yeah, what was it based on?
D.L. White: It was based on JC from NSYNC, and it's an AU, so alternate universe, so it's like this person, but if he was a lawyer. And I think that when I write JC, I write him as a sarcastic asshole, and I had been writing him so sweet and loving in previous stories that I was like, "You know what?" I called up my beta, I have a beta just for fan fiction, and we are huge, huge, huge fans, I said, "I really want to write JC as an ass, like a total ass." And she's like, "You should do that." She never tells me not to write a story.
Erica: Mission accomplished.
D.L. White: And so I started writing this, and I said, "So, the story should be that he's just this dude that is just pining after this woman, and they broke up a long time ago for a super, super petty reason, probably should have never broke up, and he's just been kind of trying to get her back, but kind of not, just really on her nerves. And I just want to work the situation to where they have to work together in order to accomplish a goal, and while working together, they just happen to realize that they still love each other." And the fan fic story turned out great. I don't think I ever finished it, actually. But I got that story to a point where I was like, "I think I'm ready to turn this into fiction." So, I made Preston Black and Angie Black and all their friends Black.
Erica: I was just about to say, it's amazing that you started with NSYNC and ended here-
Kenrya: Because it's such a Black-ass book."
Erica: It is a Blackity, Black-ass book.
D.L. White: It's Black.
Erica: Yeah. We keep saying we're going to visit fan fiction on this show, but that right there is just an example of how ... I mean, wow. I feel like you just made macaroni and cheese, like you took Velveeta and made it into some Black-ass, thick-ass-
D.L. White: Soul food.
Erica: With the crusty corner macaroni and cheese.
D.L. White: So, the original iteration of the story ended much earlier, when they're out at the banks of the river together on Christmas, that's where the original story ended. And I was just reading some authors, like Alexandria House. And for me, sometimes the story ends when they're like, "I love you," "I love you too," happily ever after, and the end. And when I read her stories, she goes all the way past that, to them together as a couple and ins and outs and day-to-day, and I was like, "You know what? I kind of want to take Preston and Angie past the "I love you" moment. Let's get real. Let's get down."
D.L. White: Because, really, they've been in love with each other since they were teenagers, so there's so much more to the story than they love each other, it's also that their friends can't know that they're back together, it's also that they have two separate lives that they have to bring back together, it's also that Angie's concerned about her dad because he has Parkinson's, and how Preston falls into the family, and how everybody in the friend group groups up together and they've left Preston and Angie out. I love big groups of couple friends, that kind of thing. So, it was just a meld of everything that I wanted in a story. And this is a long book, but it turned out exactly the way that I wanted it when I went back and redid it.
D.L. White: Originally, it didn't sell very well because there was so much build up, and then it ended at "I love you. Let's be together," and I just felt like the story should just go well past that. I took that story down, there were two books that I wrote that used to be fan fiction that just didn't sell well, and so I took them down. But this story just kept knocking at my door. It kept waking me up and thought, "You could do this and you could do that, and you could extend the story, and it could be about this, and you could add that," and I could not stop thinking about it. And so I started rewriting it in 2019, and then I finished it right as COVID hit, and I was like, "This is perfect. This is just perfect. Now I have a whole new book for you all to read. Go buy it and take your mind off of this infection thing that's going around." So, that really took me through, I think I re-released this the end of March 2020, right as COVID-
Erica: Just in time.
D.L. White: Yeah. And so I really needed that distraction. And then I went right from that into “The Never List,” and so it really helped me fill those hours because work sent us home early March and said, "Don't come back here," and so I just had so much time on my hands, I needed something to do. That was it.
Erica: Okay, so in the scene that we read, Angie refuses to tell Preston that she loves him, and he tried to persuade her to say it, that kind of thing, but it seemed like that, that little scene right there, perfectly summed up their whole relationship. If you had to just do a this-scene-is-the-root-of-the-book, this is what it is. How did you dream that up?
D.L. White: I am trying to think of where that came from. I haven't heard the episode that you're referring to. Is this when they're at the elevator at the hotel?
Kenrya: Mm-mmm (negative). It's when they're in the bed, and he's trying to make her ... they took a bath, and then he's trying to make her say it, and so he's edging too ... Yeah, yeah, yeah.
D.L. White: I mean I just really like writing sex. I mean I don't like writing sex, but I like writing sex where it's fun and it's banter and it's not all hot, sweaty porn utterings. And I do feel like that's their relationship, like they push and they pull. And Preston is really aggressive-
Erica: Can you tell Preston frustrates me?
Kenrya: She was so angry at him.
D.L. White: Preston, he's aggressive. But so is Angie. And Angie is very headstrong, she's going to do what she wants to do because she wants to do it, and not because Preston wants her to. But I think they also needed to come to a point where they give in to each other because it would make the other person happy. And I think that Angie, at a point, knows that it's going to make him happy to hear her say "I love you," but she also wants him to work for it.
D.L. White: I think the whole thing about this book was that it's one thing to have a character that has a redemption arc, where you know, at the end of this book, they're going to end up together, but how they get together is the story. I wanted Preston to work for it. I didn't want it to be easy. And a lot of people said, "Angie spent way too long being mad, and she was just so petty for so long."
D.L. White: And I was like, so, they broke up in high school, and he never went away. It's like just having something in your ear all the time for 15 years, never leaving you alone, he just never shut the fuck up, he just never went away. And after a while, that's annoying. "I don't want you around me. Go away." And she's there because her dad is sick, because she doesn't want to move away, but Preston never left. And so it's been so many years of this.
D.L. White: And after he's like, "Okay, fine, I love you," she's supposed to just lay down and spread her legs? It's been so many years of him just being a total ass to her, but she should just immediately go, "Okay, I love you too"? No. No. She knows how she feels, or she thinks she knows how she feels, and so I wanted Preston to have to work for it. I wanted Preston to have to win Angie back over. I wanted Preston to have to eat a little bit of crow. I wanted Preston-
Erica: And a little bit of puss.
D.L. White: And I really wanted Preston to have to work for it, and I wanted Angie to come to that realization that it wasn't all him, and that she played a huge part in, A, them breaking up, and, B, them being apart for so long because she could have just said, "You know what? You said what you said, and you lied, but it's a really dumb reason to break up, and let's just not break up," but she stood her ground because she's stubborn and she's petty, and now it's been 15 years and they're just now getting back together.
D.L. White: But I think that just is another situation where I wanted them to have to work for it, and I didn't want it to be a flowery, sweet, "I love you so much, my darling. I love you," I can't, I can't do that. That's not either one of them. They have those sweet moments, but that's not either one of them. They push and they pull each other, and they're abrasive and they're both very aggressive and headstrong people, and I wanted that to carry throughout the entire book.
Kenrya: I think that, ultimately, both Angie and Preston had a really hard time being vulnerable, from when they were teens to now, and it almost cost them what they wanted. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, where you had to force yourself to be vulnerable in a way that felt really uncomfortable?
D.L. White: All the time. I don't do vulnerability very easily. It's really hard for me-
Erica: Wow, Kenrya, look at your mirror.
Kenrya: Okay, first of all, bitch, I've gotten much better at it.
Erica: You have.
D.L. White: She called you out.
Kenrya: I worked at it. I worked on it really hard.
Erica: Yes, really hard. And I'm proud of you.
D.L. White: Yeah. I will admit to just not being very good at it. I'm not good at vulnerability because I feel like when I lower that wall, then people go, "Bam, you shouldn't have done that," and so I can't do it right now. Maybe I need therapy, I don't know, but I can't-
Kenrya: You know how we feel about therapy.
D.L. White: I can't do it. And so I feel like maybe that comes out in a lot of my characters, to where it takes them a while to come to the point where they really let all their defenses down, and they put their trust in this person that says, "I am going to take care of your heart, and I am not going to hurt you, at least on purpose, and we are going to have a happy life together." Sometimes, I look at relationships and I just look at these two people and I'm like, "How you know he's going to be there in 10 years? How do you know? How do you trust that?"
Kenrya: You don't.
D.L. White: When I date somebody, I'm like, "I might not know this dude in September." I just don't know that it's going to work out because I can't bring myself to that vulnerable place of hoping. It just takes a lot to wear down my walls, and I haven't met someone that's willing to do that work, and I haven't been willing to do that work for myself. So, I really can't remember the last time I was vulnerable. I mean I'm sure it's happened, but I don't remember the last time that I really put myself out there. It's probably been years.
Erica: So, that kind of leads into our next question. Which of the characters do you most identify with in the story?
D.L. White: In this story? (silence). I don't know that I identify with any of them. Jackie and Morgan are really happy-go-lucky people that just really lucked into great relationships, and Brandis and Keith found each other in college. But I don't think that I'm anything like Angie. Maybe Preston? And I really try not to write myself because that's very what they call "Mary Sue," but I really try not to write myself in stories, and I try not to put too many of my own characteristics into a story. Sometimes, some things do seep through and it does become a little bit of therapy while working my character through the situation, "This could be something that I could apply to my life," but I don't know that I identify with anybody. It would be Angie, if anybody, but I think she's stronger than I am. And I don't think that I would have ever given in to Preston, to be honest.
Kenrya: It would have been fucking forever.
Erica: And I think it's important that you note that that is strength, like being able to give in to Preston. Opening up can also be ...
D.L. White: Yeah, it is the ultimate. I do see vulnerability as a strength, and really being able to put your fear aside and put down all of your assumptions and your things that you're afraid of and just step out in faith. I don't have that. I don't have it.
Erica: Okay. Do you have a favorite line or passage from “A Thin Line” that you want to share?
D.L. White: One line that always makes me laugh, I don't know why, when she talks about, when Preston is talking, and she says, "I rolled my eyes so hard I could see yesterday." I don't know if you ever just rolled your eyes so hard at somebody because he's just such a blow-hard, like shut up. Oh my God. That line always cracks me up. Also, after Jackie has her baby and they're in the kitchen, and they're talking about how Preston has said, he's like, "I've never seen a fresh baby before." And she turns around and he's like, "Do you mean a newborn?"
D.L. White: Like, he is so smart and so accomplished, but he really just said "fresh baby." And then he's like, "Have you ever thought about having children?" And she's like, "I was never with a guy that made me think about having kids before." And he asks her, "Well, are you now with a man that makes you think about having kids?" She's like, "Well, your dick's in my ass," so ... I just love coming up with snappy little sayings like that.
Erica: Yeah, your dialogue is great.
Kenrya: Yes, always realistic.
D.L. White: I really love that. I love banter. I love writing a fight. I will write all of the fights before I will write any sweet nothings because I just love ... I don't know that I love conflict, but I love that tearing apart so that they can come back together. So, I'm sure there are others, but those are lines that make me laugh every time I read it.
Kenrya: Word. What are you reading right now?
D.L. White: Right now, I am reading a book called “Until Death,” it's by Delaney Diamond, who I think you had her on the show before.
Kenrya: Yes. We did “Queen of Barrakesch.”
D.L. White: Yes. Absolutely love her. Love her, love her, love her. So, I'm reading that because I just spent my weekend trying to catch up on everything that was coming out today. So, this weekend-
Kenrya: Tuesday. I love Tuesdays.
D.L. White: Okay. This weekend, I read “Mrs. Wiggins,” by Mary Monroe; and “Careless Whisper,” by Synithia Williams; and “Wild Women and the Blues,” by Denny S. Bryce. And all of them were absolutely fabulous. So, this one's not on any list that I have to read because I agreed to read it for a review or anything, I just love Delaney. I just started reading it, I'm at like 20% in. It's fabulous, it's absolutely fabulous.
Erica: Cool. Okay, so one of the themes in this book are young love, and so we like to have a few interesting questions, fun questions. So, describe your first crush.
Kenrya: My first crush? Let me think of who that was, besides Michael Jackson. I loved me some Michael Jackson.
Kenrya: Why your face look like ...
Erica: Because I like ...
Kenrya: Little Michael Jackson?
Erica: Yeah, I think of the Michael Jackson I knew, and I feel like we're about the same age, and so I'm like, "That Michael Jackson?"
D.L. White: Oh my gosh, like "Bad" Michael Jackson? I was into it.
Erica: I mean I would sing Jackson 5, but, okay, all right.
D.L. White: I think I was like junior high-ish when I was into Michael. I had posters and everything. I'm trying to remember my crushes. To be honest, I don't remember. I wasn't really all that into boys when I was younger. I was not a pretty child, so boys were kind of mean to me, so they weren't ever people that I would dream about.
Kenrya: Aww, fuck them.
Erica: Yeah, fuck them.
D.L. White: I think when I was in high school, I had a crush on a guy. He was Asian American. He sang, super smart. But I also, at one point, heard him talk some shit about me, and so then I was like, "Yeah, well, that's over."
Erica: "Well, there's that."
D.L. White: Yeah. I don't know that I really had a lot of crushes. I'm a very boring person.
Erica: Girl, honey-
D.L. White: The excitement in my life is in the books.
Erica: Look, whatever it takes to keep putting out those books, I'm fine with it.
D.L. White: Yeah, that's where it comes.
Erica: Okay, so tell us about your prom.
D.L. White: Prom? My mom's friend made my dress, it's a big pink, silky, satin thing. I went with a friend. It was fun. I remember we couldn't find a ride because our car broke down, so my dad couldn't drive us, so it was just a mad dash to find somebody to take us. And at the last minute, my friend, Alex, said, "Hey, we're riding right by your house, me and my date, we'll come pick you up." So, we went, we had a great time. It wasn't a romantic thing, we just went as friends. He ended up meeting the woman that he married, the next day.
D.L. White: I just had a really good time, went to prom, and then the tradition was to go to Shari's after prom. Shari's is like a Perkins, Denny's type of place. And so we went and, I don't know, had coffee and pancakes or something like that. It was so long ago. I just turned 47, so that's a lot of remembering. It was fun. I don't know that I would ever do it again, but I definitely am glad that I did it the one time.
Erica: Yeah. Okay, moving on, last fun question, not-so-fun, describe your first heartbreak.
D.L. White: Oh my goodness. I was older, I want to say in my 30s, and I had met a great guy off a dating website, and we just clicked. And I fell for him pretty early on, and he understood about the whole virginity thing and didn't really pressure me at all. We just instantly had a great time together. And I remember that I had decided I was going to tell him that I loved him. And it took a lot to work up the nerve. And I remember that we were laying there, and I was like, "I got something to tell you." And he's like, "Okay." And I said, "I love you." And he was like, "How do you know?" And I was like, "Because I know." And he's like, "Okay." Like, not at all-
Erica: "Well, shit, there goes that vulnerability thing."
D.L. White: Right. Like, not at all like I thought it would be.
Erica: "I tried." Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.
D.L. White: And I was like, "Well, this was a bad idea. Also, two, keep your mouth shut and don't ever say nothing ever again. Wait until he says it first." So, we broke up soon after that because I think he wasn't ready for that, he didn't want what I wanted, and I think he just wasn't ready for that, and I don't think that he expected to hear that. I think it was about maybe three-ish months in. But I was older and mature enough to know how I felt, and I wanted to say it. I don't think that I regret saying it, maybe it was too early or I didn't read his body language or whatnot, but that one was a lot.
D.L. White: It took me a long time to get over that, to get over him. And he did try to come back later. And I wanted to give another shot, but we just never made that same connection again. But that was my first real heartbreak. I had a really hard time getting over him. It was like my first love, really, my first time falling in love and just feeling that warm fuzzy feeling. Really, after that, I think is when I just had a hard time really letting down that wall and just feeling like I could put my heart in the hands of someone again. And I don't know that I have ever really truly felt that for another person.
Kenrya: Thank you for sharing that.
Erica: Thank you for sharing that.
D.L. White: Yeah.
Kenrya: What's turning you on today, if anything?
D.L. White: What's turning me on right now is I have a new job.
D.L. White: Stability and security, and so now I can turn my focus back to the two books I'm trying to write to get out before the end of the year. This book I'm reading by Delaney Diamond is fantastic. She writes some of the best sex that I have ever read, so that's turning me on. Candles are turning me on. And really just spring, being in love with life, feeling the winter doldrums lift. I got my first COVID vaccine shot, so that's making me feel good. So, it's all coming up roses over here.
Kenrya: That's awesome. I think my next question is where can people find you? We know your website is BooksByDLWhite.com, right?
D.L. White: Yes.
Kenrya: And where else are you?
D.L. White: I'm also on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook as @AuthorDLWhite. I'm also on Pinterest as @AuthorDLWhite. I don't use it much, but I do a lot of storyboarding, so I will create a board just for a book, and so I will use that board to give me an aesthetic. “A Thin Line” has a board, where there's a model that I used to give me a feel for Preston and for Angie, what do they read, what do they eat, what do they drive, where do they live, what's their style, what kind of perfume does she wear, what kind of suits does he like? A lot of times, I'll just collect information, and that's what informs my characters. And so I'll see something, like, "That is so Preston. Let me save that," and so I'll throw it into Pinterest. And then, while I'm writing, I will use that as a reference.
D.L. White: Like, if I'm writing Preston's house, I'm looking at the image of his house that I have saved, and so then I can see the patio and the fire pit and the lake and the house and the furniture, and I can see Angie's apartment, and I'm looking at the bar that they always meet at, and Angie's parents house. I need that visual in my mind, so that's what I use Pinterest for. So, if anybody is ever interested in getting a visual of what I see in my mind when I write my characters, you can always follow me on Pinterest. And I can't think of anything else. I'm also on TikTok as @AuthorDLWhite. I don't post very much. But if I'm anywhere, I'm @AuthorDLWhite, so you're welcome to follow me wherever you find me.
Kenrya: That's awesome. And I love that. And I think that the fact that you put that level of energy and specificity into those boards really comes through in the books. Like, I can see your characters, I can see the restaurant where they have the drinks all the time.
Erica: I saw the house.
Kenrya: Yes. The fire pit, the lake. I could see all of it. Legit.
D.L. White: That's the idea. I like to be vivid. And if I can't see it in my mind, if I can't hear that character saying those words, then it's not authentic to me, so I want the imagery to be vivid.
Kenrya: That's awesome.
Erica: Well, I just followed you on Pinterest because ...
D.L. White: Awesome.
Erica: I love it.
D.L. White: I'm building one for the couple of stories that I'm working on, so those are kind of in flux, so it'll be interesting to see how they turn out.
Kenrya: And you said you're aiming to release two more projects before the end of this year?
D.L. White: Yeah.
Kenrya: That's awesome. And if you all want to know more about those and find out when they come out, follow her on IG and Twitter, and head over to her website, BooksByDLWhite.com. And that brings us to the end of this week's episode. We made it.
D.L. White: Yay.
Kenrya: Thank you so much for coming on. It was our pleasure.
Erica: Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming on.
D.L. White: Thank you for having me, it was a pure joy.
Kenrya: Yay. Same. And thanks to all of you for listening, we appreciate you all for stopping by, and we'll see you all next week. Take care.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now in your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then, follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and you can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com.
Kenrya: And don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions.
Erica: And you can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.