Author and bookstore owner Carl Weber says the idea for his latest book, Something on the Side, came from watching an episode of HBO's Sex and the City.
"I decided to write a plus-sized version of the show," says Weber, 41, who recently appeared at a book signing at the Catonsville Wal-Mart. His primary readership of black women enjoys his humorous drama-filled spins on everyday life.
Released in January, Something on the Side reached The New York Times best-sellers list. Weber also has had other works appear on that list, including The First Lady and So You Call Yourself a Man.
Weber's latest book revolves around the adventurous lives of six women from the Big Girls Book Club, a group for plus-sized women, who are at least a size 14.
Weber says this is a demographic that gravitates to his books.
The book "is kind of an appreciation for my fans," the Queens, N.Y., native says. "I do have a huge amount of plus-sized fans. They're always praising me because all of my characters aren't size 4 or size 6. Over the years, I've had several requests from fans to write a book about plus-sized women."
Weber prides himself on staying in tune with what readers want.
"I try to write books that please people," he says. "I pick subjects that everyone deals with but also try to be as diversified as I can in everything that I write."
So far, Weber, the author of 10 books, has tackled topics such as church politics, romance, friendship, infidelity and homosexuality.
While his books have featured such colorful characters as a church matriarch, slick-talking player and bodacious book-club member, Weber says his formula for success is in crafting characters whom readers can see themselves in.
"Whenever I write a book, I always try to go back to Waiting to Exhale," he says of the Terry McMillan best-seller. "When that book first came out, women said that it didn't matter who the characters were, whether they were black, white, purple or green, because anybody could relate. So I always want to make sure that my characters are ones who everyone can relate to."
Weber was all smiles the night of the book signing, chatting and laughing with fans like they were old friends.
The Baltimore-based book club Eat, Drink, and Be Literary has read two of Weber's books.
"I am intrigued by his broad range of topics involving the African-American community from a 360[-degree] perspective," says co-founder Kecia Rome, who was at the signing with other book-club members. "I have both laughed and become quite emotional on his topics related to the church, true friendship and real love. His writing gives me an opportunity to reflect on my life."
He and his family live on Long Island, N.Y.
Undergraduate degree from Virginia State University, Petersburg; MBA in marketing from University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Author, publisher since 2002 of Urban Books, which focuses on everything from street literature to Christian titles; runs Urban Knowledge, a chain of bookstores in New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland, with locations in Mondawmin (Baltimore) and Eastpoint (Baltimore County) malls.
His latest book:
Something on the Side (Kensington, 2008)
"It's very hard as a bookseller to push what you like. It's not about what you like; it's what the customer wants. If you don't listen to your customers, you're not going to have a successful business."