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Spelman Lecturer Publishes Ninth Novel

May 2016

Calaya ReidMay marks a milestone for Spelman College lecturer and novelist Calaya Michelle Reid, Ph.D., who joined the faculty in the Department of English in 2012.

Reid will publish her ninth full-length novel (she’s also published two novellas), "Under the Bali Moon," with noted romance publisher Harlequin Books. "Under the Bali Moon" is a compelling contemporary romance centered on the fractured relationship of Atlanta attorney Zena Shaw and her teenage love, Adan Peters. While Adan unexpectedly broke Zena’s heart to pursue his career after graduating from Morehouse College, Zena picked up the pieces and created a successful career and life for herself. Still, the sensitive and focused sister can’t seem to get over Adan and find true love. Readers will experience a reunion between the old lovers that takes the two on a journey to the exotic destination of Bali, Indonesia, where Zena must decide if holding an old grudge is truly worth it. 

Reid, who writes under the pseudonym Grace Octavia, shares that she enjoys creating contemporary womanist narratives featuring realistic heroines who are forced to face their frailties.

Four Questions With Calaya Michelle Reid

How did you come up with this story?
You know, I don’t consider myself a romance novelist. But many times, when stories come to me, they’re love stories. I think love is the most courageous act we offer the world. While it may be difficult to chase your career or develop a true sense of self, love, romantic love, requires true intimacy and vulnerability. That’s difficult for most people, particularly those of us who have been hurt in the past by family and friends and lovers. In this book, the main character has experienced all three. Like many Black women, she’s a person most people would see as successful and put together. But, intimacy and openness in love escapes her. She has to claim it for herself in order to really be whole. That’s what I wanted to write about. A woman, a black woman, experiencing herself turning toward love with open arms. 

Most of the main characters in this novel attend HBCUs (Zena attended Bethune Cookman University and Adan attended Morehouse College). Is this common in most of your novels?
Yes! These schools, places like Spelman and Morehouse and Bethune Cookman, are incubators for success within our communities. Many of the leaders, the intellectuals, the entrepreneurs, the mothers and fathers, artists we encounter in our lives were nurtured at HBCUs. When I imagine my characters, I see them as products of this great legacy. As real people whose self-hood comes from this nurturing space. Also, I enjoy the idea that my work celebrates and places this tradition at the center of a narrative. It’s important work. 

What made you set half of the novel in Bali, Indonesia?
I traveled to Bali two summers ago and simply fell in love with the air there. It’s steamy and like no other place I’ve visited in the world. I’ve traveled to Africa and Europe, South America, and other places in Asia, but Bali felt like the farthest I’d ever been from home and everything I’ve known. While there, I thought, someone could fall in love here. Anyone could fall in love here. The food, the people, the setting, the colors, the natural world, it’s like a kind of Eden. But it’s real. It’s not perfect. It calls into question the entire landscape of humanity. You have to write a love story set in a place like that.

What do you hope readers will take away from the novel?
I hope readers will first have fun. Enjoy the story. Love the story. Next, I want them to know it’s OK to turn back sometimes. Love isn’t always in the future. It’s not always under the stone you haven’t turned. Sometimes, it’s right in your past, and you simply need to adjust to the possibility. 

Calaya Reid Under the Bali MoonNovel Summary

Reunion in paradise  
Exotic Bali is the perfect place to stage a wedding. If ambitious attorney Zena Shaw has her way, it'll also be the perfect place to prevent one. Zena loves her younger sister too much to watch her rush into a marriage she'll later regret. But Zena's mission hits an obstacle in the form of gorgeous Adan Douglass, the groom-to-be's brother—and the man who once broke Zena's heart. 

Adan was just a college kid when he chose career ambition over love, but years later he regrets it. Now he's hoping to persuade the beautiful workaholic to join him at their siblings' union…and think about rekindling their own. From stunning beaches to magnificent temples, he'll show her everything this lush island has to offer—and hope these magical nights are only the beginning of forever…

For more information about Under the Bali Moon, visit http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=64427.

About the Author

Calaya Michelle Reid has published ten contemporary African American novels under the pen name Grace Octavia with Kensington and Harlequin publishing houses. Her witty, insightful fiction, which presents wicked humor and spunk has garnered her sparkling reviews in Essence, Publisher’s Weekly, The Romantic Times, Booklist, Rawsistaz, APOOO and the Urban Reviewers.

Her first novel, "Take Her Man," was a selection at the 2007 Zora Neale Hurston Literary Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma and she received a best new author’s award from the national Real Ladies Read Book Club. A frequent book club selection, it earned her invitations to speak to thousands of readers at the 2008 South Carolina Book Festival and the Delta Sigma Theta national convention.

Her second novel, "His First Wife," was the first reading selection for the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), a Black Expressions Book Club selection, May 2008 Essence Magazine bestseller and the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award for the Romantic Times in 2008. Of her fourth novel, "Playing Hard to Get," a review in Publisher’s Weekly proclaimed, “Octavia gives Sex and the City a smart Afrocentric update.”

Her 2011 release, "Should Have Known Better," was selected as a featured read for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System 2012 adult summer reading program and will be read by groups throughout the public library system. The noted novel was also nominated for the Romantic Times’ 2011 top multicultural fiction novel award.

Reid lives in Atlanta, GA where she teaches writing at Spelman College. For more information about Calaya Michelle Reid, visit http://www.calayamichellereid.com.

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