When romance novelist Devyn Bakewell released her second novel Greater Life last May, she was on a mission to continue the work that she started in her first novel, Greater Love – to spread a message and spread her love in a way that only she could. In a culture where love and all expectations and demands are defined by the people giving and receiving it, Bakewell gives a voice to young and older adults. Her message to the masses is that love is for everybody, and everybody deserves the love they want and believe is for them.
“And that goes beyond just romantic and physical love; I think that’s especially true for Black women,” Bakewell tells Sheen. “You deserve the kind of love that you want and that you would appreciate from yourself, your family, your friends, your community, and the world around you. As a writer, I want people to know that love is beyond the perfect couple; it is whatever fills you with fulfillment and purpose and makes you happy and hopeful.”
“When you have love, you want to give love, and you want everyone to feel that way. You want everyone to be filled with the love they want,” she added.
In her latest novel, Bakewell tells the story of Ryan McKnight and Devyn Baker, two HBCU first-year students facing the end of their semester at Truth University who have no idea what to do with their summer vacations. When Ryan is offered an internship of a lifetime, Devyn is left to return to her home in Garden Heights and come face-to-face with her mother, who was absent for years due to drug addiction – the two must succeed on their own navigating intense, highly stressful situations.
As the question of whether their love will stand the test of time and distance remains to be read about, one thing is for sure, Bakewell challenges readers to love themselves first before they dive into relationships and try to love others.
Bakewell recently sat down with SHEEN to discuss her latest novel Greater Life, a sequel to her first novel, Greater Love. The writer talked about how her love for writing romance novels began, her definition of love, the power of vulnerability, and everything in between.
Q: Tell me about how your love for writing romance novels began?
A: I’ve always been a very big hopeless romantic, even at a young age. My favorite movie was The Wedding Planner. I always loved romance movies, which turned into a love for romance books, but I could never find myself in these romance books. There was always something missing from every book I was reading, so I started writing my own. It fueled me, and I just had to get my stories on paper. It was something that I loved, something that fueled me.
Q: You believe that greater love can lead to greater life; what does this mean to you?
A: Greater love means that when you let love in, your world changes. Your world gets better when you see the world through a pink love lens.
Q: What is your definition of love?
A: Love is an intense, deep affection for another person. Love also means to feel this passionate affection for someone. Love can also refer to a strong liking for something or liking something a lot.
Q: In your latest novel, one of the core messages is loving yourself first and letting others in. Talk about the power of vulnerability.
A: In my latest novel, I wanted to lead the conversation on letting love in and learning how to love in general. The core message is about loving yourself and loving yourself before you dive into loving someone else.
My first book Greater Love was about a girl who didn’t have a lot of love in her life. She found someone who was a part of her life; she was alone and needed to find love. I just wanted her to stand on her own two feet because her life was more centered around his. She had a life of independence that wasn’t tapped into, and I wanted her to tap into that independence.
Then here comes Greater Life which is more about her and her boyfriend finding their way and finding what makes them strong. They needed to see themselves in the light they saw each other in. Greater life is about really loving yourself and having a strong sense of life within yourself before you can give yourself to someone else. In my opinion, you can’t love anyone until you love yourself; you don’t even know how to do it if it’s not in that order.
The Power of Vulnerability is in letting people know the most real version of you. In terms of the book, the main character Ryan has a dark past, and being vulnerable is not something she doesn’t know how to do because she’s been ignored by everyone. It took Devyn saying “I did see you” for her to open up, and in opening up, she finds that even in the darkest parts of you – people will still love and accept you. Once she had that experience, her relationship with Devyn changed because she learned that no matter what happens to her in this world, somebody can still love her for what has happened to her.
For more information on Devyn Bakewell, follow her on IG @devynbakewellauthor
Photo by: Alan Coates – A Mychal Prod.