A reader recently said to me, “Your book [Heart of the Matter: Queens of Kings: Book 1] didn’t read like a black book at all.” This reader meant this as a compliment. But as you can imagine, it felt more like an insult. My response to this comment was, “My book isn’t black, neither is the story, only my characters are.”
My desire to write romance was born out of a need to see positive representations of women of color in romantic situations. I basically wanted to see myself fall in love in a book. But even though I wanted to see myself in a book, I never thought that would somehow make the story itself black. What this reader was attempting to convey was that although some of the characters in my book were African-American, she felt the story overall was one she could personally relate to even though she wasn’t African-American. There’s a reason for that…I wrote it that way…on purpose even.
I believe that romance novels that feature persons of color in leading roles are not different, they are not other, they are the same as any mainstream romance novel; the only place the difference should rest is in the characterization. In essence, people are people, and love is love.
As human beings we all experience emotional highs and lows. That ability to feel and experience emotion is not a quality relegated to one race or another. It’s not a black thing it’s a human thing. Our race, culture, religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic status informs us how to perceive emotional and life experiences. However, our ability to experience these things at all is simply a matter of being born human.
If you want to write a gripping love story, do that. Focus on things such as inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Those elements combined with the goals, motivations, and conflicts of the characters will provide the meat and potatoes of your story. Use characterization to convey things such as race, religion, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Direct and indirect characterization will help your reader carve out whatever social constructs and idiosyncrasies reflective of particular groups of people you wish to convey. In other words, your characters’ backgrounds will be evident in the things they say and do, and the way they say and do them. Your story however, will not be assigned a race. Why? Because African American is not a genre, it’s a character description.
LaQuette is an erotic, multicultural romance author of M/F and M/M love stories. Her writing style brings intellect to the drama. She often crafts emotionally epic, fantastical tales that are deeply pigmented by reality's paintbrush. Her novels are filled with a unique mixture of savvy, sarcastic, brazen, and unapologetically sexy characters who are confident in their right to appear on the page.
LaQuette is the 2016 Author of the Year Golden Apple Award Winner, 2016 Write Touch Award Winner for Best Contemporary Mid-length Novel, 2016 Swirl Awards 1st Place Winner in Romantic Suspense, and 2016 Aspen Gold Award Finalist in Erotic Romance
Contact her on Facebook.com/LaQuetteTheAuthor, Twitter: @LaQuetteLikes, her website, www.NovelsbyLaQuette.com, via Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/laquette, and via email at LaQuette@NovelsbyLaQuette.com.