Playing fast and loose with time again! I must be somehow trying to actuate my desire to be Hermione/have her hourglass by changing things around in ALBTALBS world. Today we have Eve Vaughn as a visitor, and she takes an entirely [in my opinion] different approach to our overarching topic, and I really enjoyed it. I hope you’ll share your thoughts as well! (And give Ms. Vaughn – an ALBTALBS first timer and unaware by how fluidly I treat blog time – a very warm welcome.) 🙂 I’m sorry but XD I also can’t resist adding that Eve’s site is blocked by the network administrator, so maybe you especially want to check it out now. 😉
Reading has always been my passion since as early as I can remember. I used to look forward to RIF Day (Reading is Fundamental) at school because we would get a free book. I was fortunate to have a mom who had passed along her love for reading to me. We’d spend hours in the library browsing through books and trying to decide which ones to take home for the week.
My love for the written word soon manifested into me creating my own stories. I was eight years old when I completed my first work of fiction. It was about an alien who comes to Earth and befriends a little girl and they become best friends. Can you tell I was a huge E.T. fan? There have been a number of things I’ve wanted to be when I grew up. An astronaut, a dancer, a ninja, a doctor and Wonder Woman were among the many professions I dreamed of pursing. When I began writing stories for my own pleasure, I realized, I can be all these things through my characters.
Writing to me was like breathing. I’d spend hours in my room while New Edition and New Kids on the Block alternately played in the background. Writing was my therapy when I happy, sad or just experiencing teenage angst. As I grew older, I realized this was what I wanted to do for a living. Romance was one of my absolute favorite genres but I noticed among the books I read, there weren’t many heroines who looked like me. There were of course books that were geared toward African-American women but in areas I grew up, finding those books were few and far between.
Another conundrum of mine was finding books with the level of spice I preferred. I like sweet romance just fine, but the spicy stuff was what really caught my interest. One day while surfing the internet, I stumbled upon an online publisher that produced nothing but erotic romance. I purchased as many books as I could afford. This was awesome and I couldn’t get enough of them. There were even a few books with women of color. Unfortunately, I could probably count on one hand how many books that actually had some sort of diversity.
I’m the type of reader who reads the back of the cereal box for the sake of having something to read so a good book to me is a good book no matter the race of the characters. However, it is nice to read books that reflect the diversity of the world we live in or at the very least the one I did. Growing up I had friends of all races and backgrounds and I think I’m richer for having met such a variety of people.
By the time I began writing professionally, I had recently gotten married to a great guy who happened to be a different race. Our world is changing and interracial marriage is not the taboo thing it used to be fifty years ago. According to the 2010 census there was a 28% jump from the 2000 census in interracial marriages. That means one in ten marriages in the US are interracial and that’s not counting domestic partnerships. I wanted to write the types of books that reflected my relationship and many others like mine.
At the beginning of my writing career, most of the published interracial books were frustrating for me to read because the conflict was almost always about race, i.e. can this couple get past their racial differences to have their happy ever after. I use the word frustrating because that wasn’t my life. I didn’t suffer through a lot of racial strife in order to be with the man I loved. I’ve been blessed with a fantastic pair of in-laws and parents who have always been supportive of me. Our biggest issues were him leaving the toilet seat up, or us trying to find a restaurant we could both agree on for date night. We were just like other couples, so why did the interracial books relay so heavily on race as a plot device? Sure there are mixed-race couples who don’t have as easy a time as I had but I was willing to be there were other couples like me and my husband as well.
By no means am I disparaging interracial themed book that do focus heavily on race. There are lots of readers who love them. I myself had liked quite a few of them, but after reading nothing but those types of books, that’s when my frustration set in. As the saying goes, there are different strokes for different folks. That’s why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors, because we don’t all enjoy the same them.
Just to be clear, I’m talking strictly romance novels. I wanted to read a story where the plot device didn’t revolve around race. Stories like an intergalactic fighter and space pirate falling in love, a vampire finding his mate after hundreds of years, or the community activist taking on the big bad CEO were the types of books I wished for. So I started writing the stories I wanted to read, spicy love stories featuring woman of all races in various situation. From time to time I do touch upon race but it’s never the central theme.
I’ve written professionally for about nine years and in that time I’ve featured women of all races in my books. Most of my heroines are women of color, particularly African-American because I want to show that we are not a monolith as we are unfortunately, portrayed in the media at times. We are mothers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and soldiers to name a few occupations. We come from all walks of life, from the grimiest corners of the hood to the most posh neighborhoods in the world. We run the gambit from being meek to very bold. Quite to loud. Skinny to voluptuous. But at the end of the day we’re all just women.
Every woman deserves to have her voice heard and story told. And I want to be that author who brings their stories to life. No matter the race, all women have one thing in common: we all want and deserve to be loved.
Today, the interracial genre is a thriving niche market that enjoys one of the most loyal fan bases in the world. I’m living my dream. I wake up every day and get to do what I love best. Write.