“You have to believe in yourself in order to succeed. If you don’t, no one else will.”
Sounds simple, eh?
Then, why is it that too many of us find it so difficult to do?
That’s the mantra of Mr. R. L. Norman, arguably the quintessential Renaissance man. Mr. Norman is an African American entrepreneur, videographer, performer, columnist, internet host and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”
Last year, Mr. Norman experienced devastating personal challenges that would have taken a much lesser individual out of the game completely.
But Mr. Norman didn’t buckle; he didn’t crumble. Instead, he soldiered on, decimating the odds.
You see, Mr. Norman is a study in perseverance.
It appears that 2020 is already shaping up to be a banner year for this extraordinary and sublime talent: he’s releasing a new installment in his “Honey Let Me Tell You” series; relaunching The R L Norman Show podcast; and, he’s getting ready to hit the road with his one-man show, Norman’s One Night Stand.
Yo, Mr. Norman is freakin’ B-U-S-Y! Recently, he took a chunk of time out of his jam-packed schedule to have an in-depth conversation with Wyattevans.com.
So now, “let’s git ‘er done.”
WYATT: R. L., thanks so much for spending some time with Wyattevans.com!
R L: My pleasure!
WYATT: Regarding your “Honey Let Me Tell You” novels, kudos to weaving an intricate tale chock-full of masculine romance, rich drama, intrigue—and twists and turns! Precisely, what’s the genre of your work?
R L: Thank you so much, Wyatt! I really appreciate that. The genre is LGBTQ romance. My books are about love, and people expressing those feelings. It’s all about the trials and tribulations of finding true love and romance.
WYATT: You know I’m a proponent of romance, particularly masculine romance—because, well…you know, I’m gay! SGL (same gender loving), if you will. (I’m LMAO… And so’s R L!) Now my brotha, give us the “411” on your “Honey Let Me Tell You” series.
R L: Well, the “Honey Let Me Tell You” series is the story of one man’s struggle to find true love through the trials and tribulations of being misunderstood. “Norman,” the main character, takes the reader on his journey of finding and losing love, to learning about being in love, to making love, and then to learning about himself. Norman is your average gay man who just wants to find love and be happy.
WYATT: R L, before we do a deep dive into your much-anticipated new work, let’s explore the origins of R L Norman, the author. Now, it’s my understanding that after quite a few years as a civil engineer, you made a career detour that put you on this path. What was the impetus for this?
R L: Several years after college, I dated this man and we had a great love affair that, unfortunately, ended badly. At that point, I started writing my thoughts down on paper as a way to cope with the break-up. I had always kept a personal journal, but I wrote, even more, when this particular relationship ended. I also began writing about different men I’d dated over the years. It was very therapeutic.
Then, one day, I had my four best friends read a few pages. And one of them suggested I write a book! Of course, I thought that was an absurd idea. I never thought about turning my personal thoughts into a book.
Anyway, I went on-line and searched for different publishers. I submitted my manuscript to ten, and six responded that they were interested! That was the start of my writing career.
WYATT: Okay, let’s pivot back to the new installment in the series. I take that back: actually, there will be two new titles.
R L: Very true! The first is “Honey, I Can’t Stand the Rain: The Story of Survival.” The second is “Honey, Love Is a Rollercoaster: 2 1/2 Kids, a White Picket Fence and a Dog.” Now, “Rain” is semi-autobiographical, while “Rollercoaster” is a romantic comedy.
WYATT: Nice! I like the diversity.
R L: Thanks! In “Honey, I Can’t Stand the Rain,” I introduce a new character, Austin Lamar Johnson. And “Honey, Love Is a Rollercoaster” is the continuing story of Norman.
WYATT. My, my, my! Rather tasty. Now, let’s talk storylines…
R L: “Honey, I Can’t Stand the Rain” is the story of a man who is enjoying life. He has a great job, new home, lots of friends and family. Then one day, death knocks on his door and he refuses to answer it. It’s the story of one man’s journey to survive his health issues and live his life.
R L: “Honey, Love Is a Rollercoaster” is the continuing story of Norman, who’s been living in London for the past two years on an extended honeymoon.
Now he’s back in the states and suddenly finds himself not only married but married with children. In the 60’s that was the American dream; married, 2 ½ kids, white picket fence and a dog.
It’s Norman’s funny poignant story of how he suddenly has to grow up and learn how to be married with children.
WYATT: Let’s drill down on how both are different from the previous installments in the series.
R L: “Honey, I Can’t Sand the Rain” is a drama. It’s different from my other stories because it tackles serious health issues. Hopefully, it will encourage people to realize that they can live their life the best they can through life’s issues that we must tackle every day.
R L: “Love Is a Rollercoaster” is different because it shows how Norman has matured. He’s not that guy who is dreaming about love and life. He IS living love and life! He is living all that he dreamed of: happiness.
WYATT: What type of growth, change is in store for “Norman?”
R L: He has to grow up faster than he anticipated. He was single one moment, then he got married. And now he is married with children! The thing that he dreamed about all his life is now true.
We are going to find out just how Norman suddenly has to be like his parents were: responsible. Not just for himself, but for others. You will read the funny and serious moments of Norman’s new life. He is no longer that single lonely guy looking for love in all the wrong places. But he is living his dream.
WYATT: Norman is based on you. How so?
R L: Norman is loosely based on me as to the fact that I have been through ups and downs when it comes to love and relationships. Norman’s issues are what we all have been through at one level or another.
So, I can relate to Norman as most of us can. His life is also based on situations that my family and friends have experienced. So, I write the stories so that everyone can relate to Norman in one situation or another.
WYATT: How is Norman different from you?
R L: Norman is not really that different from me. All my life I have dreamed of love and being happy. But one difference is that he has never given up on love! He put himself out there over and over again trying to find love. I am too shy to meet all those different men. I am different in that, I would have just lived my life and let love happen. I didn’t give up on love. I believe life is full of surprises and love will find me again.
WYATT: How long will you continue the series? And, how will you keep it fresh, lively and compelling?
R L: After “Rollercoaster,” I see one more book in the series. I see Norman on the front porch in a rocking chair enjoying his old age with the love of his life. I think it will be fresh because of his new experiences as he gets older. I think people who have read his story from the beginning will appreciate his life and learn to grow along with him.
WYATT: Give us the release dates of both novels. How and where can we grab copies?
R L: Certainly! “Rain’s” release date is April 1, 2020.
WYATT: Freakin’ YOWZA! That’s right around the corner.
R L: “Rollercoaster” will go on sale next year.
R L: Both can be purchased at www.rlnorman1.wixsite.com/honeyletmetellyou. They come with an autographed copy and a music CD–just like all my books do. And when released, I’ll send an email to all my followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
WYATT: Your moniker is “Old School Romantic.” Tell us: exactly what does that mean…and why?
R L: I am an Old School Romantic and always will be. When I was growing up, I fantasized about how my life would be. Or how I wanted my life to be. I dreamed of the romantic things in life. I am in love with love. And certain music I hear takes me to another world! A world of happiness. I love the little simple things in life, like a simple “just because” gift or a simple “I love you” text. The simple things that show love from the heart without saying a word. I think love makes the world a better place.
I adore the simple things that grab my heart: a simple kiss, a little note to say I was thinking about you, or a little smile as one looks lovingly in my eyes. It’s the simple things that make love wonderful. I don’t need someone to have money, cars, etc.; although, that would be nice.
I just want someone to touch my heart.
WYATT: What’s your take on both interracial and intergenerational dating?
R L: I’m for both. I believe that we all fall in love with the inner person. It doesn’t matter the age or what’s on the outside; it’s the inside that counts. People should date whom they want, and love whom they love.
WYATT: Especially for older men, is the “art of dating” dead and gone?
R L: Not necessarily. I just think most people don’t act on it. I believe that as we get older, we look for more companionship. I think these days most people are conditioned to think that the physical aspect outweighs the emotional connection.
WYATT: Let’s follow up on that. Being over 50, you and I…ahem, are “men of a certain age.” At this point in your life, would you marry?
R L: Well, I was married once years ago, and it was wonderful! We had a big wedding and reception and honeymooned in London and Paris. It was the best time of my life because I was living my romantic dream! Even though it ended (amicably), I would get married again. I like the feeling of being wanted and needed, and of being in love and committed to someone.
WYATT: What’s your “recipe” for a fulfilling, satisfying and enduring relationship?
R L: My recipe is communication and compromise. I believe in all relationships, we have to be open to talk–and most important, listen.
WYATT: What are the specific ingredients, if you will? What can each partner do to keep the “FI-YAH” burnin’ hawt?
R L: In a relationship, you have to keep it fresh and exciting! Don’t fall into a rut. Try new things; in and out of the bedroom.
WYATT: Lawd, have “mer-say!” (I’m grinning.) I know dat’s right.
WYATT: R L, let’s shift gears somewhat. You’re a survivor of domestic violence and abuse, which is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) within the LGBTQ community. I can relate because I’m a survivor; and because of my experience, I’m an IPV/A SME (Subject Matter Expert) and advocate. Please share your story for our readers.
R L: Well, at the time of that particular relationship, I needed to feel and be wanted. My self-esteem was low, which made me very vulnerable. Thinking back, I realize that I was aggressively pursuing him; I was really the one pushing the relationship.
It was only when we moved in together that the abuse started. The first few times he hit me, I was thinking it was my fault; or should I say, I let him make me think it was my fault.
Slowly, I started losing my inner self. I found myself living to please him; and at the same time, trying to make him love me. I didn’t want to lose him because I didn’t want to be alone. It doesn’t matter what issues you have, if you have someone by your side, it makes everything better.
So, while he abused me, I tried to hang onto him as best I could. And as time went on, I became afraid to leave him. And afraid someone would find out. I lived in my private hell for years while I was being physically and mentally abused. Meanwhile, I tried to hide it from everyone.
WYATT: R L, stigma pushed you to keep the abuse and violence a secret. Far too many times in our (LGBTQ) community, stigma is that driving force that keeps IPV/A swept under the rug. It leads to this demoralizing, horrific—and potentially life-threatening—behavior to be dramatically under-reported.
R L: I wish I had told someone, but I didn’t. I gave so many excuses about my bruises–and for my partner. Fortunately, though, to use your phrase, I made my “Great Escape.”
I’m lucky though. I survived without getting seriously hurt…or ending up dead! I encourage victims to tell. DO SOMETHING! There are so many people out here who can help. But no one will help unless you tell! I didn’t tell because I was ashamed that I was allowing it to happen. Therefore, you need to put your pride aside to get help. You have to make that first move.
I’ve felt freer since I’ve shared my entire experience. Wyatt, I hope that I’ve helped another victim realize that he/she can be a survivor–just like you and me.
WYATT: R L, you certainly have! And again readers, the most potent, the most powerful weapon in the abuser’s arsenal is SILENCE.
WYATT: How has your experience with Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse shaped you?
R L: It has truly made me a better and stronger person! And, I will never go through it again.
R L: I remember the first day I’d finally gotten away from my abuser and moved into my new apartment. Once the movers left, the first thing I did was to lie on my living room floor and exhale–and cry as I was purging all of that private hell from my heart and soul. As Whitney Houston sang, I exhaled [“Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”]. (As I’ve stated, there’s always a song to reflect one’s feelings.) After that, I felt like I was reborn! I started a whole new life of love. I changed because I realized that I’m a person who deserves the best. The experience truly made me more confident about taking control of my life.
WYATT: My friend, last year was a very challenging one for you on the medical front. Would you mind sharing your story with our readers?
R L: Certainly. I have five health issues that I have to deal with every day. Five issues and the unpredictable side effects of them. I never know from day to day what may happen when it comes to my health. But if you think about it, we all have unpredictable health issues. My issues were, on the most part, a surprise to me. There really were no warning signs for them. It just happened.
For example, I have cancer in my foot that comes and goes. Two weeks ago, I was shaking my butt on the dance floor and today I can hardly stand up because the cancer came back. This is the unpredictability of my issues.
But I take it all in stride and trust God. A lot of people would be surprised if they knew I was sick because I do not show that side of me out in the world. I don’t show sickness in public.
R L (He emphasizes the following:) And I will continue to live my life with positivity and hope that I will survive. I wholeheartedly and fervently believe that “Struggles are required in life. Because in order to stand up, we have to know what falling down is.”
WYATT: Well put! So, just how do you soldier on? What inspires and motivates you to do just that?
R L: I live my life the best I can. There are so many things I can do and so many things that I want to do …and that motivates me. I think about positive things in my life. And I always think that life could be worse. And I think about the fact that there are so many other people worse off than me. And those are the people that I say a special prayer for.
I believe a positive attitude helps me with my health. And I try to live like that every day.
WYATT: What’s your mantra, your code to live by?
R L: Outside I show the brightest smile in the middle of total darkness. I see sunshine in my life in the midst of a rainstorm; hence the title of my next book. And, I live my life with a positive attitude and hopefully, that attitude will rub off on others.
WYATT: R L, you truly are an inspiration! Now, let’s swing back to the literary universe. Tell us: what authors do you find innovative and compelling? Why?
R L: Well, I love your books! I find them intriguing. I also love E. Lynn Harris’s earlier books. I like reading books that I can relate to and imagine living in the character’s shoes. Even though I do love to read books by gay authors, I don’t necessarily have a favorite one. My favorite authors are actual Sidney Sheldon and Steven King. I love mysteries and books full of surprises.
WYATT: What do you believe separates R L Norman from other LGBTQ authors?
R L: I make readers feel from the heart. Time and time again, readers tell me that my books remind them of something that has happened in their own lives and that they’re reliving their lives through Norman to an extent. I love that.
WYATT: What particular advice do you have for aspiring authors? When I do seminars and book signings, I get asked all the time, “Just how do I become a successful author?
R L: Well, for aspiring authors I say, “Never give up on a dream and have patience.” It takes a lot to write. And always jot things down. During the day, things pop in my head and I jot them down so I won’t forget. I sit down and write later.
And promotion is the biggest key to success! No one will buy anything that they know nothing about. Wyatt, I commend you for your promotional ideas. I suggest authors do the same.
WYATT: Hey, thanks for saying that!
R L: Also, when I do book signings, I make it a point to read a snippet from one of my books so the future reader will know something about it.
WYATT: R L, what are the three most important qualities aspiring authors must have to effectuate their goals?
R L: Patience. Explore all ideas. Never give up.
WYATT: Bro, you just might be one of the hardest workin’ multihyphenate out there! You’re more than an author. You’re also entrepreneur, videographer, performer, radio personality, performer, and speaker.
R L: (Grinning.) Well, you know…we try, we try…
WYATT: Ha! Well then, clue us in on your one-man show, “Norman’s One Night Stand.”
R L: Sure! “Norman’s One Night Stand” is a one-man show where I become the main character Norman, and I tell his story through old school music. Mind you, it’s not a musical because I don’t sing. I play snippets of different songs to make the audience feel what Norman feels about his life. And hopefully, people in the audience will feel the music and sing along.
WYATT: Delightful! When will you start touring? Venues?
R L: I’m planning on doing it three times this year, in New York, DC, and Atlanta. I’m working on the details now. Hopefully, the first show will be this summer.
WYATT: And there’s also your podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else–The R. L. Norman Show,” which you are relaunching.
R L: Well I love the podcast! It gives me a chance to connect with my fans and give a more personal touch as to who R. L. Norman is. I plan on talking more about life issues of living gay in 2020. And of course, bring back my sidekicks: “LaQuesha Renee” and “Kool-Aid Dre Bushee.” And, I plan to interview people who are making a different in the LGBTQ literary community.
WYATT: When and where can we hear it?
R L: I plan to relaunch it in June 2020, two months after the release of “Honey, I Can’t Stand the Rain.” The podcast can be heard on youtube, podomatic and iTunes.
WYATT: You’ll be returning to Wyattevans.com in March. Yaasssssss! So what’s on tap? Surprises? Ya know, inquiring minds wanna know…
R L: I’m excited about returning to Wyattevans.com next month! It gives me a chance to get my thoughts about everyday life out and communicate with the world. It’s a chance to show my fans another side of me.
WYATT: R L, my readers and I truly appreciate you, and your treasure trove of talents! So, how can we all connect/follow you?
R L: Here we go: email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook: RL Norman; Instagram: rlnorman; Twitter: rl_norman.
WYATT: Well, Y’all—there you have it! Mr. R L Norman, thanks for spending some time at Wyattevans.com!
R L: And Wyatt, thanks for having me!
If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).
I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims. Visit: https://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/
The time is NOW to break the cycle!