Chencia C. Higgins Talks with LJ about Writing Romance

Popular self-published romance novelist Chencia C. Higgins (“The Vow” and “Wolves of West Texas” series, among others) makes her trade debut with D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding (Carina Adores, Jan. 2022). LJ talks to Higgins about Texas, coming-out stories, reality television, and her research process.

Popular self-published romance novelist Chencia C. Higgins (“The Vow” and “Wolves of West Texas” series, among others) makes her trade debut with D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding (Carina Adores, Jan. 2022) in which the two titular women have six weeks to convince their friends and family that they’re getting married—and plan their dream wedding—without anyone guessing it’s all for a reality TV show called Instant I Do.

How did you come up with the idea for Instant I Do? Are you a big reality TV fan? What kind of research did you do about the production details?

The initial idea came to me in 2019 after sitting through a marathon of prank videos with my then 10-year-old daughter. After one particularly outrageous video, the premise came right to me. Currently, I don’t watch reality TV, but I grew up on the original MTV Real World and the shows that came after. For research, I drew on the memories of those earlier seasons and dug into the camera work that goes into the more unscripted shows.

At the beginning of the book, D’Vaughn hasn’t come out to most of her family. Why did you make that choice for the character?

I had the premise of the story before I knew who the characters would be. When D’Vaughn and Kris came to me, they were fully formed individuals who essentially entrusted me to tell their story. D’Vaughn was already closeted and I went with it because I wanted the opportunity to tell a coming-out story for a Black queer woman in her 30s that was received with love. There is such a huge emphasis on queer people coming out in their teens, and it was important for me to show another perspective because everyone’s experience is different and there is no right or wrong way to be queer. Also, it added another obstacle that could either hinder them or help them to achieve their goal. Admittedly, I was nervous about it in the earlier writing stages because I make a conscious effort not to incorporate hate into my writing. That decision had the potential to blow a hole in my efforts, but it ended up turning into something beautiful that I’m extremely proud of.

What are some of your favorite romance tropes? Do you have different favorites as a reader and a writer?

I write books that I would want to read, and my favorite tropes tend to show up on my reading lists as well as in my backlist. I love marriage of convenience, fake relationship, flings-to-lovers, and enemies-to-lovers. Also, if there is any sort of insta-love, you can count me in!

You’ve had a strong self-publishing career. Why did you decide to work with a traditional publisher for this book? Do you plan to be hybrid going forward?

This is my third queer project in nearly 30 titles and I wanted to be sure that this book would reach the audience that was looking for something exactly like this. I knew that my reach was limited, and I hoped that working with a traditional publisher would give me the spotlight that could achieve that. As far as the future, it’s not official, but I think that I may remain hybrid going forward. My experience with this book has been great and I can definitely see myself repeating this process.

Is there anything else you’d like librarians to know about you or your book?

D’Vaughn & Kris Plan a Wedding is a feel-good love story with an endearing cast of characters from several different walks of life. As in most of my work, there is a nod to my hometown of Houston, TX, and I hope that with this book people can see the city through my eyes and know that love can be found there and anywhere.

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