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I Got the Call! Meet New Special Edition Author Darby Baham

Debut author Darby Baham is a writer and senior editor at a New York City non-profit, with personal blog posts that have appeared in the Washington Post Solo-ish column. She signed a three-book deal with Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book follows a group of college friends and where they land in work, friendship and love seven years later. This is her first novel–ever! Congratulations, Darby.

Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!

Darby Baham: I like to jokingly say I’m a New Orleans girl making her way through New York streets, but honestly, that tells you a lot about me. I have always loved writing, probably have a shoe addiction, and am a lover of big laughs; but at my core, I’m a woman who gets her passion from her birth city and her inspiration from the city she’s lived in for more than 4 years now.

H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?

DB: Honestly, I never saw myself as a romance writer. I just knew that I loved telling women’s stories, particularly those of women who look like me. But love is what drives everything—whether we are searching for it, reeling from a lost one, or happy in the relationship we’re in, or anything in between. So, when I write about romance and love, I see it as part of the revolutionary act of simply telling those stories. And it’s something I cherish having the opportunity to do.

H: What were the major steps in your journey to becoming a published author? Was this story the first manuscript you submitted?

DB: Wow, there were so many steps on this journey. I started writing a version of The Shoe Diaries more than a decade ago. Along the way, there were plenty of stops but also what I like to call God’s whispers that I was heading in the right direction. In 2008, I began featuring short, personal shoe stories on my blog that were a hit with my small but dedicated audience. Then, I met an editor at a blogger’s conference and had the opportunity to get his uncensored feedback on my manuscript at that point. I won’t lie; it was discouraging when he didn’t like it, but once I got over my disappointment, I took his advice to heart and reimagined what The Shoe Diaries could be. After that, I met Lisa Bonos of The Washington Post, and she gave me the opportunity to write for their relationships column, what was then called Solo-ish. My first piece was about a perfect date dress I’d had in my closet for years, worried that I’d wear it on a less-than-perfect date and sully it. I realized, as I often do when I write, that I’d been living my life like that dress, and that’s when I knew I had to incorporate this idea into The Shoe Diaries as well. From there, I rewrote and edited the manuscript for several years until some editor friends of mine reminded me that I could never get it published until I let it go. So, after months of pitching it to many agents, Latoya C. Smith changed my world when she said she was interested in representing me. I think I quite literally went outside of my office building so I could scream. It was Latoya who brought me to Harlequin and Gail Chasan.

All that to say, technically, yes, The Shoe Diaries is the first manuscript I’ve submitted to a publisher, but it’s probably gone through at least 10-12 full rewrites at this point.

H: What one piece of advice would you offer aspiring writers?

DB: Don’t sacrifice your dream for perfection. There were so many times I thought about quitting and figured maybe being a published author just wasn’t in the cards for me because I couldn’t get the story perfect. But each time I considered stopping, I couldn’t. Whether it was a close friend or family member reminding me of what I believed in, a conversation with a stranger telling me how much they needed to read a story like the one I was writing, or just that still, small voice encouraging me that perfection was not the goal—authenticity was—those moments kept me going. So, if you feel that being a writer is in your bones, don’t stop working on it because it’s not perfect yet. Keep at it. Put your whole self into it. And it’ll be just right.

H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?

DB: I’m pretty sure I stared at my phone in disbelief for several minutes! Then, I called my mom and told her the amazing news. And then, I cried (and let me be clear, I hate crying lol). But I got the call from Harlequin in the midst of very some troubling times for our country. Not only was New York still battling COVID-19, but the news had just come out about George Floyd’s death, and I didn’t know how to process such a beautiful personal moment and such collective pain at the same time. Thankfully, my mom was there (virtually) to remind me that my joy is an act of protest. And so, I celebrated as we do in 2020: with champagne and wine on Zoom with my friends and family.

Now let’s hear from the editor, Gail Chasan!

Darby’s voice spoke to me immediately with its fast-paced, friend-centric, and contemporary style. I found it reminiscent of Sex and the City and the Shopaholic series in the best possible way. Her stories are a lot of fun and yet she still tugs at your heartstrings. A line from her book stood out to me… “It’s high time those shoes get out of the closet, risk be damned!” That sort of told me all I needed to know….

Gail Chasan, Special Edition Editor

8 replies on “I Got the Call! Meet New Special Edition Author Darby Baham”

Congrats Darby! As a woman who looks like you, and who also craves seeing more representation in romance, thank you for seeing your stories through to the end! Can’t wait to pick up a copy of your debut. ♥

Thanks so much, Hana! I’m super excited for you to read the debut and more. My hope is there will be more and more writers who look like us succeeding in this industry so that all of our stories can be told.

Darbie – your ‘shoe series’ sounds wonderful! I love those kinds of stories. Can’t wait to read them all! Good luck and CONGRATS!! Great news in a horrible year otherwise. Also, I’m proud of you for not giving up. 🙂

Thanks, Chrissie!! I guess I had to turn my shoe addiction into something productive, so I hope you enjoy lol. And I appreciate the kudos — writing really can be a labor of love sometimes, but it is also often the best parts of my day when it comes together just how I envisioned it. That’s pretty hard to give up on when you think of it like that 🙂

Congratulations, Darby! Your book sounds interesting and I can’t wait to read it. I love reading about authors’ call stories and your words of encouragement were exactly what I needed to hear.

Do you know when your book is coming out?

Thank you, Maurine!! I’m glad my words were just what you needed today. I have been and still am often on the receiving end of the same kind of encouragement. It’s on us to always pay it forward, am I right?

On book timing, I believe the first one is scheduled for Spring/Summer 2022! That seems like forever until I think about how fast 2020 has gone by, and then it feels as if it’s tomorrow. Hopefully you’re still excited for it then!

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