In The Perfect Find by Tia Williams, Jenna Jones was a “fashion It-girl editor.” After being dumped by her fiancé and fired from her job, Jenna goes to work for her nemesis, Darcy Vale. With the new era of social media and Millennial culture, Jenna realizes that she is in over her head. To make matters worse, Jenna has to work with Eric Combs, with who she has an awkward meeting, on a video series her job depends on. The closer they work together, the hotter the flames burn.
There is a dance between Jenna and Eric that rebukes the enemies to lovers trope that drones in romance novels. Through the course of the novel, Jenna also has a romance with learning about herself, encouraging herself as she begins anew. If you are looking for a steamy, empowering, wonderfully shady novel, The Perfect Find is that read.
I asked Tia a variety of questions about the characters she developed, using humor as a storyteller, and relationships among generations.
What is your definition of feminism?
Tia Williams: Most generally, it’s the idea that we should live in a fair, equal society that doesn’t oppress, degrade, silence, ignore, or disempower women. Nobody is free until everybody is free. Most importantly, any true feminism theory must be intersectional.
There is so much shade thrown among the characters I thought the novel was written in a forest. What does humor mean to you as a storyteller?
Tia Williams: Humor is so important! Life is absurd. It truly is. And in The Perfect Find, the characters find themselves in some dramatic situations that call for some levity – a quip, a witticism, a bit of banter. It’s very much a Black thing to use humor to cope with outrageous circumstances!
Darcy Vale is an esteemed CEO of a prominent media company. How does that contribute to Darcy’s arc and her space for power and prestige, especially as she is a Black woman?
Tia Williams: Darcy is definitely a villain, but I always think the one-note bad guy is boring! Why are they bad? Is it a relatable reason? I find that when you can sympathize or empathize a bit with the villain, it makes for a much more compelling read. Darcy is a raging narcissist and no one’s mother of the year, but she’s also battling childhood trauma, and trying to hang out to a career and life she carved out for herself, all on her own. She has a chip on her shoulder. And it’s an understandable chip!
Eric Combs was a joy to read. He’s driven, wise, and learning. What did you want to convey with his character and sense of Black Boy Joy?
Tia Williams: I love Eric. He was a young guy, super-smart, ultra-talented, but faced with that post-economic crash, Millennial malaise where you do everything “right,” work hard, get the degree – and then there are no jobs. No money, no career. It sucks, but at the same time, Eric loves to have a good time, be young, go out, do nothing with his friends. I wanted him to seem real, conflicting impulses and all.
The sex scenes are sensual. Why was it important for Jenna to rediscover herself and open herself to new experiences through dating and sex?
Tia Williams: Jenna had always felt stifled, sexually. She’d spent twenty years trying to be the dream girl for her ex. And now, for the first time, she’s realizing who she is and what she wants, when it comes to love and sex. And it’s totally liberating for her!
The generational differences are evident throughout the novel. How are generations more similar to each other than not?
Tia Williams: We all want a few basic things – love, safety, a fulfilling career, enough money to live. But, depending on the era you were born into, your approach to these basic wants differ.
Jenna pivots in her fashion choices to accommodate her new circumstances by shopping at Target, for example. What is your advice for looking good on a budget?
Tia Williams: I’m generally of the belief that a great bag and/or shoe can elevate any outfit. You could be wearing a $12 jumpsuit, but paired with a statement bag, you’re killing it.
“Tyler on Perry Street” would be a brilliant miniseries. That is all.
Tia Williams: Ha! I think so, too!