When author Victoria Christopher Murray received her first NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction, in 2001, she was beyond surprised. The nod was for her debut novel Temptation, and she was up against stiff competition in the likes of bestseller list mainstays Terry McMillan and Eric Jerome Dickey.
“It was huge,” Murray said. “I was literally standing at the door shaking, waiting on my husband to come home so I could tell him.”
She didn’t take home the prize that year, but following an official announcement by the NAACP on December 11, Murray now has a second nomination for her book Destiny’s Divas – albeit in a literary landscape that hardly resembles the one she first encountered 11 years ago. The presentation of the NAACP Image Awards will air on NBC on Friday, February 1 at 8pm, the first day of Black History Month.
The bankruptcy and subsequent closing of Borders bookstores, plus the growing popularity of e-books, and the ease with which self-published authors can take to the web and sell their writing to the masses (often for as little as $.99) has had a tsunami-like impact on the industry. Reports lamenting the death of traditional book publishing are likely false – or severely premature, at least – but make no mistake: the game ain’t the same.
Murray has certainly noticed the strain on her books’ sales, but regardless, she has exhibited a level of sustainability that is rare in any corner of the entertainment world. She’s been continuously signed to a major publishing house since Temptation, with a total of 16 novels under her belt – even as many of her contemporaries have failed to receive new contracts.
“I believe I was put on this earth to do this,” said Murray of her writing career. “It gets very hard, but I know that God has it all under control.”
She may be confident and secure in her career choice now, but Murray’s road to literary success was a long and winding one. She worked in financial services for ten years before deciding to focus on her writing full-time in 1997, a luxury she was afforded through a sizeable bank account. Together, she and her husband invested $50,000 of their own cash to publish Temptation, a contemporary tale of love and friendship, complete with sex, scandal and, notably, Jesus.