GUEST BLOG: FIONA McGIER

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Recently I participated in a discussion about the fact that romance novels with black characters always seem to be relegated to the inter-racial section of any book outlet, instead of just with other romance books. While some readers feel this is an advantage because they know where exactly to look to find what they want to read, others feel that this unfairly limits the exposure that authors of color or writers whose characters are not white, will get. And some feel that having a black character on the cover will limit sales.

My opinion is that I will read a good book no matter the color of the author or the characters. If the story is good I become a part of it no matter how dis-similar I might be to the heroine. I won’t ever participate in a ménage in real life because I’ve been happily-married to the man of my dreams for almost 30 years! But I do enjoy reading ménage scenes if they are well-written and a part of the storyline, not just tossed in for titillation. I won’t ever be a vampire either, nor hopefully will I ever be bitten by one. But I do like to read hot vamp-romance no matter if the heroine or the hero or both are differently-animated. (A phrase that the heroine in my upcoming book about Mayan vampires prefers once she is turned, as being more PC than undead.)

What I am saying is that I don’t feel that inter-racial romances need to be ghetto-ized by being placed in separate sections of the book selections, whether in the increasingly hard-to-find brick and mortar stores, or in on-line outlets. I think we can allow that love comes in all colors and flavors…how else can you explain the popularity of M/M romances written by hetero-women? If a straight woman can write a convincing love story about two men, why can’t I, as a white woman, write characters of all colors? And a writer of color can write characters of any color also. We are all people, and feelings like the search for acceptance, falling in love, being hurt, etc, all of these are parts of the human experience. Not just a white people thing.

I’ve written M/F romance stories with all kinds of combinations including white heroine/Hispanic hero, Hispanic heroine/white hero, black heroine/Hispanic hero, white heroine/Roma hero, white heroine/Native American hero, Arabic heroine/white hero, black heroine/white hero, and white heroine/black hero. In all of my books two independent adults meet, sparks fly, and lust ensues. No one is really looking to fall in love, but it happens. And usually the male is the first to realize that it is up to him to convince the female that she won’t ever need another man because he can be everything she will ever desire. In other words, the kinds of stories I like to read!

And when I fantasize or dream, imagining my characters, I don’t limit them to my own color. I have friends of all colors, nationalities and religions. So do the people who live in my books. As I have one heroine say to the hero, “I don’t fall in love with the color of the person…I fall in love with the person.”

If you’ve never read an inter-racial romance, or if you have but not one of mine, please leave a comment here and I’ll pick two winners who can have their choice of any of my eBooks. I’m always thrilled to hear from readers! You can find out more about my books at:www.fionamcgier.com.

Comments

  1. If the book is good, I will read it. I do not care what they are.
    great post!
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. I agree with Debbie. If it is a good story it makes no difference.

  3. I agree! Thanks for reading and commenting. Remember, I’ll pick 2 winners who can each choose an eBook from my back-list.

  4. On our Web site, I list them as both. For those who are looking for interracial, they will find them in the interracial section, but they will also be listed in say contemporary/historical/sci-fi/etc.

    I don’t really care either. A good story is a good story. 🙂

    Marci

  5. I’ve edited inter-racial romances by an author who writes mostly black heroine/white hero, but sometimes black man/Latina woman or dark-skinned alien/white human. She writes them erotic and sells enough to be able to write fulltime although she only sells ebooks and self-publishes. If a story is good, the racial makeup of the characters is immaterial as long as they are believable within the story context.

  6. Several years ago I pitched an historical romance to an editor and was told they liked the story but I would have to change my main characters. White heroine/mixed hero would not be published…period…no exceptions. I had been shocked that it was still considered taboo at that time. Happy that folks are finally seeing love is just plain old love no matter whose arms are wrapped around you!

  7. As a black woman I’ll read any romance if it’s good. I also like to write interracial romances too. But it’s unfortunate that romances with two black people on the cover are automatically relegated to a the special section of AA romances. Love is love no matter what!

  8. I like the double-listing, Marci! Good idea.
    Alyssa, I’d love to know how she promotes to be able to write full-time. I work 2 other jobs besides writing, but the kids’ college tuitions won’t wait until I write a best-seller! Someday…

  9. A good love story is a good love story, no matter the color of the protagonists. I love interracial stories and read them all the time.
    Marci has the best idea on how to arrange books. Just as we find a mix of genres in some sections, there’s usually another section for just a specific one.

  10. I’ll read any combination of characters in a well-constructed story. Love is love.

    At the same time, I think it’s a pathetic sign of the times that this is even an issue. I think it’s wrong that readers have any expectation of the skin color of the participants in a book. I think it’s horrific that non-white same-color romances are shunted into “interracial,” where part of the plot point (by definition, I’ve been told) is the culture clash between (not necessarily people of two races but at least) people from two disparate cultures; a non-white same-color romance doesn’t promise that angst at all.

    From my chair, what you are seeing are a couple of things. One is people that really do want to find that angst. Maybe the person herself is IN such a culture clash relationship and wants to see others succeeding in it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Neither is someone that already fantasizes of someone of another race choosing an interracial romance that difficult to appreciate. Naturally, one wants to read a romance that appeals to her sensibilities and likes…to some extent anyway. If you aren’t a fan of whips and chains (even in your fantasies), hard core BDSM may not be for you either.

    The last reason is much less complimentary and, I fear, much more indicative of the core issue here. There IS an expectation of many white readers that the characters in any book they read WILL be white. So much so that when I didn’t describe one of my secondary characters for five chapters (for that long, the only person interacting with him was his best friend…another guy)… Five chapters in, he’s described in detail by woman he’s just met (the heroine, who has primarily been interacting with the hero thus far). I got hate mail…yes hate mail for “allowing” readers to think the secondary character was white for four chapters. Since the hero was white, they naturally assumed his best friend was too. Why? Much as I hate to assume it, it’s probably true. Bigotry. I won’t go into that mindset, because I don’t appreciate it much.

    So, my two cents? Should non-white romances be separated? No. I don’t mind true interracial being separated, just as I don’t mind fantasy romance being separated. Heck, separate out ALL the major romance subgenres into sections like SF/F/H/P romance, suspense/mystery romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, and interracial romance (which admittedly can overlap with the others). Why? Each type makes a promise the others don’t. THEN put realistic cover art on that gives a picture of the race (and hair color/description in general) of the main characters. If indie press can manage to get characters on the cover that look like the description inside the book, conglomerate press certainly can! No more putting a white woman on the cover of a book where the heroine is not white. That alone is rank stupidity, IMO. Let the readers see what to expect up front. No bait and switch. No making it difficult on readers to find what they want. Problem solved, for the most part. May be a minor blow for white cover models, but there are other models out there who will benefit.

  11. Indies do double list. It’s easy enough to do online. You can make whatever separations you want and place books in multiple categories. I had one I listed the other day that had five subcategories on the site. No big deal. It allows readers to find it from five different searches. That’s good for the book.

    In a bookstore, it’s not as easy as that. It WOULD be if we had a way to search what was on the shelves on a computer customers use (like Borders used to have vs. what B&N now has in the stores, that is only accessible by the employees). But they haven’t caught up with that idea yet. And they wonder why so many readers shop online? I don’t.

  12. Winners are Debby and Moundsbar. I will send an email to Debby, but Moundsbar, I need an e-mail address from you, or you need to contact me to let me know which of my backlist of eBooks you want to read!
    fiona.mcgier@gmail.com

  13. Chiming in late, but I still wanted to add my 2 cents worth. I think Marci and others have the best idea to make books available through a number of special sub-genre ID’s. This is the beauty of online shopping, but even brick-n-mortar stores can have a terminal to help folks browse more effectively. Preferences can be driven by a whole lot of factors: including curiosity, fantasy, self-identification, a hot recommendation… and more. I hope we can all just read MORE!

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