Author Darby Baham’s circle of friends just keeps getting bigger, thanks to a character introduced in her Friendship Chronicles series. I recently spoke with her about her latest release, Her New York Minute.
Tell me about your latest release.
My latest release is Her New York Minute, coming out January 23, 2024. It features Olivia Robinson as the main character, a Black British woman who was introduced in my third book as one of the newbies in the friend circle that is the foundation of my Friendship Chronicles series with Harlequin. Olivia starts the book with two things in mind as she travels across the pond for a yearlong opportunity with her company’s U.S. office: take New York by storm and get the promotion she’s been wanting. Dating? Love? Romance? Nowhere on her bingo card. But what starts off as an embarrassing encounter on her flight eventually turns into a roller coaster ride of a romance that ends with them both falling madly, deeply, inescapably in love.
In the process, Olivia learns to embrace the unexpected and finds someone who shows her what it’s like to be loved as she is—wholly, completely, and unabashedly.
Why did you decide to write it?
I pitched the idea for this book back in 2022 as a follow-up to London Calling, and initially, I just thought it would be interesting to write a reluctant romance that was kind of the foil to that book. In London Calling, Robin Johnson moves to the UK because she got the promotion she’d always wanted, and she goes there with every expectation that she will finally meet the love of her life. So, I thought, well, what would it be like to bring Liv to New York for a finite period of time, with the exact opposite of Robin’s expectations for her journey? I also figured it would be fun to write a story where the main character is forced to give up what feels comfortable and learns to embrace life’s surprises. From there, the story just evolved, and weirdly enough, I found myself going through similar feelings as I was writing this book, questioning whether there were things about me that were too much for someone to truly love and then starting to date someone who completely changed all my plans. In that way, the book ended up being far more personal than I ever expected it to in the beginning, and it became this really cathartic experience to complete it.
What was your most memorable experience writing this book?
My last month writing the book, I had a pretty regimented schedule in order to meet my deadline. But the great part about it was that I was writing in the springtime, so one of the things I would do every day before I’d start writing was go walking in my favorite park in the city. On weekdays, that often meant getting the chance to see the beauty of the sun setting on the Hudson River right before I went back home to write for several hours. Every time that happened, it felt like I was getting another nod from God and the universe to keep telling this story even when it felt too personal at times or when I was so tired and wanted to quit. And honestly, it was just so gorgeous. I must have 50-plus photos of the just the sun setting in the park from that time period.
Which character in the book would you like to have as a best friend and why?
Definitely Reagan! She was the main character in my first book, and often stands as one of the backbones of the friend group that carries across all the titles in the series. With this book, I had the opportunity to really bring her back to the forefront kind of because she has also moved to New York by the time Olivia gets there. So, Reagan is able to not only be Olivia’s guide to the city, but she also serves as the person who quietly convinces Olivia to face her fears and give Thomas a chance. All of the women have their places and purposes in the friend group, but Reagan, to me, is the one who often says and does the things I would want someone to say or do in my personal moment of need. She’s not pushy, but she says just enough that you know she’s rooting you on while challenging you and looking forward to seeing all the good things coming to you. She’s even the one who sort of says the title of the book early on. In a conversation where Olivia is telling her all the things she doubts can happen in her life, Reagan quietly and gleefully says to her, “You know, dear Olivia, everything can change here in a New York minute… That’s part of what makes this city so magical. Just you wait and see.”
What’s something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I genuinely used to hate the idea of being called a hopeless romantic. I guess I thought it seemed too naïve or like it meant you believed life was like a Disney fairytale or something, right? That it wasn’t grounded in anything real. Which is kind of wild to say as a romance author! But I recently looked up the actual definition and saw that it referred to a person who continues to believe in love despite whatever struggles they have experienced in the past. And what?! That’s totally me lol. I love the idea that love can still find you even if you’ve been disappointed in the past or you have fears around receiving it or you think you don’t deserve it. That love can be just that powerful to break through all the reasons you might have for not engaging in it. I’ve even started saying that my mission as a storyteller is to make women like me feel seen and believe that love is possible for them—yes, them. So, anyway, I don’t know if readers would be surprised to learn this about me, but I’m pretty surprised to now identify as a hopeless romantic. Who knew?!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I so enjoy traveling and spending quality time with the people in my life who bring me joy. Basically, if I’m somewhere with at least one other person, laughing so hard that my eyes are watering and a snort or two comes out, I’m in my happy place. I also really like shopping for new shoes, although my bank account isn’t as much of a fan of that particular hobby haha.
What’s the most difficult part of being an author?
I don’t know if other authors experience this, but when I’m deep on deadline, it can be a bit of a lonely experience. I have to often turn down things I would normally want to participate in, and I can feel like I’m missing out on important moments, etc. To be fair, I’m sort of an extroverted introvert, so I am actually completely fine spending time by myself (sometimes I even need that time to replenish my energy), but the problem is that it usually gets to an extreme for me in the last month or so before my deadline where there’s just no time to do much else but my day job and writing. My friends have come to call this period of time my “writing hole,” so you know, that’s not great. But then when I crawl out of my writing hole with a book that I totally believe in, it feels like it’s all worth it. And I get the pleasure of reconnecting with everyone. Like, I’ve literally been known to send “I’m outsiiiiiide” texts, and they just know, it’s time to start inviting me to things again lol.
Who are some of your favorite authors, and what are some of their books you love?
Tia Williams has been and continues to be a major inspiration for me. Accidental Diva was the first book I read as an adult that not only made me feel seen but also that made me believe I could become an author myself. That was 20-plus years ago, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her most recent books, too: The Perfect Find and Seven Days in June. Farrah Rochon was someone I recently started reading just a couple years ago, but I can’t get enough of the way she paints stories that are so fun and real. I just love her Boyfriend Project series. Outside of romance, some of my favorite authors are Nikki Giovanni, Octavia Butler, and TaNehisi Coates. All different genres, but the through line is the greatness of their storytelling. Whenever I read anything from either of these authors, I can just completely immerse myself into the universe they have built. I think Nikki’s Love Poems is required reading for any writer. Octavia’s Wild Seed will absolutely capture and keep your attention in a way that feels almost unreal. And TaNehisi’s Between the World and Me is the perfect example of vulnerable truth telling.
What’s next for you?
For the next couple months, I’ll be promoting and doing a bunch of in-person and virtual appearances for Her New York Minute. But after then, it’s onto writing book #6 for me! I recently turned in book #5 for The Friendship Chronicles, so I’m excited for that release to come later in the year. It’s set in New York again, but this time, it will follow one of Reagan’s best friend’s from high school, Keisha Edwards. Readers will have a chance to meet Keisha in Her New York Minute and then get her full story soon after.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I’m so excited for this new release. It’s my first time writing a book set in New York, so it’s almost like a dual love story for me: one for my current home and one for Olivia and Thomas. And I’m hopeful that readers will enjoy their journey, as non-linear as it is, to their happy ever after.
Use the Black Fiction Addiction affiliate link to purchase your copy of Her New York Minute.
To learn more about Darby Baham, author of The Friendship Chronicles series with Harlequin Special Edition, visit her website or connect with her on social media.
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