I love love. Specifically, I, like countless others, have always loved that first rush of romance; that flushed, overwhelming, intoxicating feeling that often signals the start of a passionate love affair. No matter how much your love may deepen and grow into something far deeper, more precious and fulfilling, it’s a feeling you never fully recapture.
This is the rush writer Tia Williams expertly captures in her latest book, Seven Days in June as she explores another elusive aspect of great romance: second chances. After experiencing a connection as teens that has literally imprinted themselves on each other, her protagonists Eva and Shane have an opportunity to explore each other again as adults—adults with even more complicated lives than during their troubled childhoods. As Williams explains on this week’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!, writing about both first love and enduring attraction also gave her the opportunity to write about Black pain in a new context.
“I just wanted to explore how tough it can get for teens,” she says, adding: “And also, if you do see any sort of content—TV, film, books—about traumatized teenagers...it’s like if Black people are struggling with anything, it’s race-related. Our trauma is only oppression trauma, like Black girls can’t have an eating disorder; Black kids don’t self-harm. That seems to be like a suburban white problem, if you believe media. So I wanted to get into some of those areas because our kids go through the same things.”
It’s one of many layers Williams teases out of the characters of her latest book—her sixth (thought I mistakenly refer to it as her fifth during our discussion). The novel has already been optioned by Will Packer Productions for development as a television series, while a prior release, The Perfect Find will soon find new life as a Netflix film starring and co-produced by Gabrielle Union. Aside from watching how Williams’ nuanced characters translate to the screen, it fair to also be excited to see how her surprisingly thoughtful sex scenes translate, as well.
“I love writing sex scenes. It’s very cathartic to me. It’s self care. It is my meditation. I used to do it like in high school—like, if I was bored in class, I would just like write in my Trapper Keeper, like, a kissing scene,” Williams says with a smile during our discussion, later explaining: “I just thought they were so interesting...how could these words take you to the same place that visuals would? Like, they give you porny feelings, you know? But deeper, because if you’re writing them, a sex scene shouldn’t exist in a book like in a vacuum. You’re bringing characters into them that you’re emotionally invested in; their characteristics, their personalities. It should propel the plot forward, so it should reveal something about the character; make you feel closer to the character; surprise you about the characters. And so the takeaway isn’t just the sex, it’s also finding out more about these people that you’re really invested in. And so, that heightens it completely. And that’s what makes it a little different than erotica, because erotica is just the sex. So, yeah, I just I really enjoy it.”
Hear more from the intoxicating Tia Williams in Episode 46 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: Rekindling Romance and Writing Sex, With Tia Williams, available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, TuneIn, and Radio Public.