The air was filled with excitement on Saturday afternoon at the McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood branch of the Houston Public Library. Fans were there to see 2012 NAACP Image Award winner ReShonda Tate Billingsley, author of more than 35 books, for a short talk and book signing in association with the release of her latest novel, Mama's Boy. Set in Jasper, Texas, it’s the story of a mother’s dilemma when she has to decide between turning her son in to the police or helping him run.
As a child, Billingsley was an avid storyteller and managed to channel that energy into her first published work at age 15 in True Confessions magazine. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she had a brief stint at the National Enquirer, before moving on as an associate news producer with Channel 13 in Houston. Her poise, humor and charm are apparent, so it’s no wonder that she ended up in Beaumont, Port Arthur and eventually Oklahoma City as an anchor.
Her first book, My Brother’s Keeper, was self-published in 1999. She has since signed on with Simon and Schuster, published 37 books, and is the co-founder of Brown Girls Books, a boutique publishing company with over 20 authors.
Billingsley, a Christian who writes fiction, has a knack for writing great titles: What’s Done in the Dark, A Family Affair and A Good Man Is Hard to Find are among them. The common thread in her books is good characterization, trademark humor and lots of layers.
BET purchased the movie rights for four of her books; the first one, Let the Church Say Amen, was produced by Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit, Royal Ties Productions and Bobcat Films and will debut on August 30 on BET.
Two other books, The Secret She Kept, about bipolar disorder, and The Devil Is A Lie, about the down side to winning the lottery, also will be turned into movies, set to air on TV One in the third quarter of 2016.
Billingsley is the proud mother of three children. One of those children, Morgan Billingsley, has always been a willing helper at her mother's book signings, and she is following in her mother's footsteps with her own published titles. The Perfect Present, co-written with Jackie Lee and Gabrielle Simone, is about a journey to find the meaning of Christmas. The Perfect Summer, also written by the trio, is about what happens when suburban kids are asked to spend a summer in the country.
Brown Girls Publishing’s division for teens and children, Brown Girls Teens and Brown Girls Kids, is always looking for new young authors. For more information, about ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Morgan Billingsley or Brown Girls Publishing, visit browngirlspublishing.com.