Bunkley, Anita Richmond 1944–
Bunkley, Anita Richmond 1944–
Born 1944, in Columbus, OH; married; husband's name Crawford; children: two daughters. Education: Mt. Union College, B.A.
Writer and public speaker. Also worked as a language teacher in middle schools and adult education programs and as a director of nonprofit organizations. Workshops include "Steppin" out with Attitude."
River Oaks Business Women's Exchange Club; Circle-Let's, Inc.; Between the Lines Book Club; Houston Writers' Council; Top Ladies of Distinction; First United Methodist Church.
Excellence in Achievement Award, United Negro College Fund; Wild Embers was cited by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best romances of 1995; elected to Texas Institute of Letters, 2004; career achievement award in African American fiction, Romantic Times Online, 2007.
Emily, the Yellow Rose, privately printed, then Rinard Publishing (Houston, TX), 1989.
Black Gold, Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.
Wild Embers, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Starlight Passage, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
Balancing Act, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Mirrored Life, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Relative Interest, Dafina Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Silent Wager, Kensington Publishing Corporation (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Connie Briscoe and Lolita Files) You Only Get Better: Three Brilliant New Novellas, Kimani Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Between Goodbyes, Dafina Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Suite Embrace, Kimani Press (New York, NY), 2008.
Suite Temptation, Kimani Press (New York, NY), 2008.
Steppin' out with Attitude: Sister, Sell Your Dream!, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1998.
Work represented in anthologies, including Girlfriends, Rinard.
Anita Richmond Bunkley has won acclaim for romance novels that feature well-drawn African American women characters. Her debut book, Emily, the Yellow Rose, is a historical novel based on the life of a Texas woman about whom the song The Yellow Rose of Texas was written. Black Gold, another historical novel, is also set in Texas. The story focuses on the struggles of African Americans to make a living there in the difficult economic climate of the early 1900s. Leela Brannon Alexander, an orphan from Fort Worth, marries a prosperous but mean-spirited farmer, T.J. Wilder. Leela soon falls for her husband's handsome half-brother, Carey, and T.J. furiously runs him out of town. When Carey returns eight years later, Leela is a widow and oil has just been discovered on her ranch. The plot includes arson, killing, and a murder trial for Leela. While faulting the novel for excessive melodrama, a writer for Publishers Weekly appreciated Bunkley's careful research and concluded that the novelist "has done a service by chronicling black contributions to a turbulent era in Texas history."
Wild Embers is set in World War II-era Georgia and Alabama. Janelle Taylor, a young nurse, enlists in the newly integrated army to escape scandal that has implicated her in the wrongful death of a wealthy white patient. She has intense relationships with several men, including her brother, her lawyer, and the man who becomes her intimate soulmate. A contributor to Publishers Weekly admired the characters' "refreshing ambivalence about interracial relationships and civil rights protests," but found the book's "frothy ending" a weakness. Expressing more unqualified praise, Booklist reviewer Lillian Lewis hailed the novel as "a story about the quicksilver nature of emotions, memories, and responses of a life evolving."
In her contemporary novels Bunkley often tackles serious and timely themes, such as reparation for historically exploited black artisans in Starlight Passage, interracial adoption in Relative Interest, and corporate environmental abuse of African American neighborhoods in Balancing Act, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer described as a "sharp and absorbing page-turner." Mirrored Life, the rags-to-riches story of a young ex-con who finds unexpected fame, is a more lighthearted story whose main charm, according to a Publishers Weekly writer, is its protagonist's "spunky brand of tenacity."
Silent Wager, which Booklist reviewer Lillian Lewis described as an "entertaining" novel, focuses on the high-stakes world of investment and gambling. Maxwell Granville and his wife Camille need an infusion of cash to keep their Houston supper club afloat; this circumstance introduces them to Davis Kepler, an ex-con and compulsive gambler whose spectacular losses threaten to undo all of Maxwell and Camille's hard work.
Niya Londres, the protagonist in Between Goodbyes, comes to Florida as a refugee from Cuba. In Miami she meets a succession of charming men. Tremont Hender- son, a dazzling musician, proposes to Niya but soon afterward lands in prison for tax evasion. Niya then falls for Astin Spence, owner of a Nevada resort. At the same time, though, she is drawn to Granger Cooper, a suave Londoner. She loves all three and cannot decide which man to marry. Remarking on the enjoyable characters and engaging plot, Insight News contributor Terri Schlichenmeyer commented that Between Goodbyes "has everything you want in a novel."
In Suite Embrace Skylar Webster makes a new life for herself after receiving a substantial financial settlement following an accident. Opting not to return to her career, Skylar moves to Colorado to help her sister run a ski lodge and school. There she meets Mark Jorgen, a former Olympic skier who now teaches at the school and becomes her romantic interest.
In addition to her acclaimed fiction, which earned her a career achievement award in African American fiction from Romantic Times Online in 2007, Bunkley has written the motivational book Steppin' out with Attitude: Sister, Sell Your Dream. As she explains in the book, she received thirty-two rejections before a publisher agreed to take her first book. Perseverance, hard work, self-promotion, and networking, she writes, were important strategies to achieving success. She encourages her readers to practice these habits to become more proactive about their lives.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Scholar, winter, 1995, review of Wild Embers, p. 65.
Booklist, February 15, 1995, Lillian Lewis, review of Wild Embers, p. 1059; July 1, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of Balancing Act, p. 1794; September 15, 1998, Lillian Lewis, review of Steppin' out with Attitude: Sister, Sell Your Dream, p. 178; October 15, 2002, Shelley Mosley, review of Mirrored Life, p. 393; December 1, 2003, Lillian Lewis, review of Relative Interest, p. 653; April 15, 2006, Lillian Lewis, review of Silent Wager, p. 26.
Bookwatch, July, 1994, review of Black Gold, p. 11.
Emerge, July-August, 1997, Ervin Dyer, review of Balancing Act, p. 88.
Essence, February, 1994, review of Black Gold, p. 56; February, 1995, review of Wild Embers, p. 54.
Kirkus Reviews, November, 15, 1993, review of Black Gold, p. 1405; December 1, 1994, review of Wild Embers, p. 1556; April 1, 1996, review of Starlight Passage, p. 464; May 15, 1997, review of Balancing Act, p. 735; September 15, 2002, review of Mirrored Life, p. 1331.
Kliatt, July, 1997, review of Starlight Passage, p. 6.
Library Journal, November 1, 1993, review of Black Gold, p. 120; December 1, 1993, review of Black Gold, p. 169; April 15, 1996, Kathy Piehl, review of Starlight Passage, p. 120; April 15, 1997, review of Balancing Act, p. 116.
Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1993, review of Black Gold, p. 64; December 19, 1994, review of Wild Embers, p. 46; April 8, 1996, review of Starlight Passage, p. 56; June 9, 1997, review of Balancing Act, p. 37; August 10, 1998, review of Steppin' out with Attitude, p. 375; June 7, 1999, review of Girlfriends, p. 80; October 14, 2002, review of Mirrored Life, p. 65.
School Library Journal, November, 1994, Linda Vretos, review of Black Gold, p. 140.
Southern Living, April, 1994, Asley M. Arthur, review of Black Gold, p. 154.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 27, 1994, review of Black Gold, p. 4.
Washington Post Book World, March 20, 1994, review of Black Gold, p. 10; February 26, 1995, review of Wild Embers, p. 11; July 14, 1996, review of Starlight Passage, p. 6.
Anita Bunkley Home Page,http://www.anitabunkley.com (May 20, 2008).
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (May 20, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of Relative Interest.
Connie Briscoe Web site,http://conniebriscoe.com/ (May 20, 2008), interview with Anita Bunkley.
Insight News,http://www.insightnews.com/ (May 20, 2008), Terri Schlichenmeyer, review of Between Goodbyes.
Nia Virtual Book Tours,http://www.niavirtualbooktours.com/ (May 20, 2008), Anita Bunkley profile.
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (May 20, 2008), Gwendolyn Osborne, review of Girlfriends.
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 20, 2008), Kathe Robin, review of Wild Embers; Eleanor S. Shields, review of Between Goodbyes; Belinda Williams, review of Silent Wager; Debbie R. Sims, review of Suite Embrace.