PERSONAL: Children: Ashleigh, Christopher. Ethnicity: "African-American." Education: Howard University, B.S.; Fairleigh Dickinson University, M.B.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 513, Plainsboro, NJ 08536.
CAREER: Writer. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, adjunct professor of accounting; Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ, instructor in novel writing. Also worked as a manager at a pharmaceutical company.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America (president, 2002–03), Women Writers of Color (officer), New Jersey Romance Writers (past president).
AWARDS, HONORS: Holt Medallion, Virginia Romance Writers, 1995, for Whispers of Love; cited in "Fall in Love Again" list, Glamour, 1997; Career Achievement Awards, Romantic Times, 1997, 1998; cited among "100 Greatest Romances of the 20th Century" list, Florida Romance Writers, 1999, for Legacy; Clara Award, romance category, 2001, for Opposites Attract; Affaire de Coeur Awards, best hero or heroine of color, 2001, for More than Gold, and 2004, for A Father's Fortune, and for outstanding achievement, 2002, 2003, 2004; Golden Quill Award, 2001, Barclay Gold Award, Lake County Romance Writers of America, 2002, and Venus Award, 2002, all for More than Gold.
Whispers of Love, Kensington (New York, NY), 1994.
Clara's Promise, Kensington (New York, NY), 1995.
Arabesque: White Diamonds, Kensington (New York, NY), 1996.
Arabesque: Legacy, Kensington (New York, NY), 1997.
Mirror Image, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998.
Opposites Attract, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.
More than Gold, BET Books (Washington, DC), 2000.
His 1-800 Wife, BET Books (Washington, DC), 2001.
A Family Affair, BET Books (Washington, DC), 2002.
A Father's Fortune, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Love on Call, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 2004.
You Made Me Love You, Kensington (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to anthologies, including Holiday Cheer, Kensington (New York, NY), 1995; I Do!, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998; Winter Nights, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998; Island Magic, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000; and Where There's a Will, Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Author Shirley Hailstock and other writers have broken new ground by creating multicultural romance stories. On her Internet Home Page, Hailstock compares her experiences in this new field with the excitement and pioneering spirit of the United States space program.
In an interview published on the Laurie Likes Books Web site, Hailstock admitted how she originally wrote stories with Caucasian characters. Early in her career, she joined an organization called Women Writers of Color. This group, founded by Vivian Stephens, promotes the production of romance novels featuring African-American characters. Although Hailstock had feared that readers would not buy her multicultural romances and that critics would give the books bad reviews, she was wrong on both counts. Her first novel, Whispers of Love, went through a number of printings and remained popular years after its original publication.
Hailstock appreciates the choices in reading material that multicultural romances give readers, and hopes that these romances will become even more popular, paving the way for more novels about different cultural and ethnic groups. But the author is quick to point out that romance, rather than ethnicity, is the first goal of multicultural romance writers. In Hailstock's view, a good African-American romance novel features "a wonderful story that presents a positive image of black people, giving background and cultural events that are important to the story."
Hailstock's novel Whispers of Love features protagonist Robyn Richards. Richards, a former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), enters the Witness Protection Program after capturing a ring of assassins. To protect her husband Grant, the FBI stages Robyn's death and arranges for Robyn to have plastic surgery and a new identity, so Grant and many others believe that his wife is dead. But years later, Robyn must reconnect with her former husband when a medical necessity requires her to find a donor compatible with her daughter's rare blood type. While Robyn struggles with her love for her former husband, a vengeful assassin stalks Robyn and her daughter. Booklist contributor Melanie Duncan observed that Whispers of Love is "well plotted" and contains "exceptional characterizations" as well as subtle and intelligent depictions of the characters' races.
The novel Opposites Attract is the story of Nefertiti (Never) Kincaid, who worries that her job may be in danger from a corporate merger due to the decisions of management specialist Averal Ballentine. At the same time, she finds herself drawn unwillingly toward a romantic attraction with him. More than Gold is a suspense novel about Morgan Kirkwood, a former gymnast who has lived with the ever-present threat of danger since assisting intelligence agent Jack Temple in his prison escape several years earlier. Her fears are realized when Temple reenters her life at the same time that someone else seems determined to kill her. You Made Me Love You is the story of another former member of the witness protection program who, like Robyn Richards of Whispers of Love, has to reinvent her life when she returns to the potential dangers of the real world. Rachel Wells has longed for a return to her normal life, but when she arrives there, she finds more danger than safety and more fear than comfort. She wonders if she can trust the police, even if the chief is her best friend's brother who is falling in love with her.
Not all of Hailstock's novels are thrillers. A Family Affair tells of Brenda Johnson's encounter with love under the watchful eyes of her family, who want only the best for her. The astronomy professor meets geneticist Wes Cooper at her university in California, and he follows her to a family reunion in Florida but his intentions are questionable.
Hailstock's short story "Kwanzaa Angel" appears in the anthology Winter Nights. The story centers around Erin, who purchases a department store in her hometown after graduating from college. While a Publishers Weekly contributor found the story itself difficult to believe, the critic noted that the collection as a whole may appeal to "readers willing to indulge in fairy tale endings, relentless holiday goodwill, and romance as mushy as Gramma's cornbread stuffing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Scholar, fall, 1994, review of Whispers of Love, p. 60.
Booklist, August, 1994, Melanie Duncan, review of Whispers of Love, p. 2022; September 15, 1998, Catherine Sias, review of Winter Nights, p. 213; August, 2002, Patty Engelmann, review of A Family Affair, p. 1934; March 15, 2005, Patty Engelmann, review of You Made Me Love You, p. 1272.
Essence, June, 2002, "You Go! Shirley Hailstock," p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1998, review of Winter Nights, p. 45; February 1, 1999, review of Opposites Attract, p. 82; September 18, 2000, review of More than Gold, p. 92.
Woman's Day, May 11, 1999, Paula Spencer, "Romance Queens," p. 77.
Laurie Likes Books, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (February 8, 1999).
Shirley Hailstock Home Page, http://www.geocities.com/shailstock (October 11, 2005).