October 10, 2009

Interracial Romance

Update 5/29/2011: Since I first wrote this blog post, I have sold an interracial romance to Presents titled The Highest Price to Pay, you can see the cover and description here. It releases July 15th, 2011 in the UK and is available for preorder on Book Depository and Amazon UK.

Yes, it’s true, that technically more than half of all Harlequin romances are interracial. The men are typically dark skinned, Italian, Arabic, Greek, and most recently, Indian, while the heroine is usually the pale, English rose type. Not only do the hero and heroine have different skin colors, they are also typically from different cultures and backgrounds.

There is, however, only one from category romance that I know of where there was an interracial relationship between a white and African American hero and heroine. (Taking Care of Business, by Brenda Jackson) The focus of the book was largely on the heroine, who was black, dealing with dating a white man.

This is a point of interest to me because, for those of you who don’t know, I myself am married to a very handsome African/Italian/Czech man. ๐Ÿ™‚ And while I can, and do, enjoy a romance with people of any ethnic background at the center of it, sometimes I want to read one that ‘represents’ my relationship.

So here’s the thing though, what I really want is to read a romance with an interracial relationship where the races of the hero and heroine aren’t at the center of it. Why? Because it’s not at the center of my relationship. My husband and I do not have the same skin color, but that’s not the sum total of our marriage, or even any part of it at all.

Not that we’ve never experienced discrimination based on the fact that he’s black and I’m white, but it’s been very rare, and when we met and fell in love, race never came into it for the two of us.

I have written an MS, aimed at Presents, but not submitted yet, where the hero is based off of my husband and is half African American. It is not an issue in their relationship.
So here’s a question: Are people ready for that? Can it really be presented as a non-issue in a book? What are your thoughts on an interracial couple in a romance?

Maisey

(yes, that is a picture from my wedding)


Comments

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  1. I read a Presents once where the heroine was half-Japanese. It didn't strike me as "different" because race was absolutely not an issue and played no role in their relationship. I think there are two ways to go about it – mention it as part of the "getting to know the characters" and drop it, or make an issue of it but do so sensitively. Penny Jordan's Virgin For The Billionaire's Taking also features, I believe, the first Indian hero. Have you read it yet?

    Maya

  2. have read it. I referenced it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    With my MS, which is very unedited at this point and who knows when I'll get back to it, I mentioned it in passing as a part of the hero's description, and gave a brief background on his parents, for whom it was an issue, as my hero is biracial. As for him and the heroine, it was never an issue.

    Which Presents had the Japanese heroine?

    Maisey

  3. Maisey,

    The best interracial romance I've read, maybe ever, is Zora & Nicky: a novel in Black and White, by Claudia Mair Burney. I highly recommend it as a excellent book on so many levels, not just how she portrayed the protagonist (a black woman and white man). Awesome.

    Lori

  4. I do like books with the interracial theme at the center, not saying I don't, so I maye have to check it out. I read one called Forbidden about a Japanese American soldier and an Amish woman and it was illegal for them to even marry. It was during the time the US was putting the Japanese in concentration camps. It was a great book.

    I would just also like to see it portrayed as a non-issue, with skin color as a part of characteristics.

    Maisey

  5. Maisey,

    I agree. I'd like to see that too. And if I run into one I'll let you know. Reckon the last time I saw that, an interracial romance where race was a non-issue, was in Harry Potter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. LOL. So true, Lori! Ginny and Dean. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Oh, and Harry and Cho. Wow. Progressive! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I think that most ir books featuring bw/wm SEEM as if the racial differences are the KEY element, b/c people are so unused to the novelty of it. IF one were to solely seek out and read stories like this (i myself do) the he is white she is black, doesn’t seem so prominent.
    Most good bw/wm play on that them and market that them to help readers find them. You can’t walk into walmart/kmart/target or heck b&n or borders or hastings and find a book geared to people who want to read bw/wm stories. Stories that reflect them or their lifestyle. (if you can and do so with out digging or having to ask a really confused clerk, let me know where they do that at so i can pack up me and all my friends and move there).
    I also think readers ignore ir books when the literally can be transposed one over the other and you’ve go the same story. The characters lack any real distinction. You could be talking about any female any where with any male from anywhere.
    Readers want that personality, that OH MY GOD THATS MY NEIGHBOR OR SISTER, that zip that zing. weather its a white couple or and black couple or a mixed couple. We want the drama, the rush. We want an HEA but we want to feel like there is some passion, some originality some OOMMMPH to the story.

    ok i think i’m off track. back to the topic ha ha sorry.
    Most people who are new to reading IR/multicultural particularly those stories that feature black characters mistakingly think the stories is all about race.But they do take a great amount of time and energy to define the characters. Loyal readers of such books, want to see themselve or similarities of themselves in these stories. We want to read about a black woman who has thick lips and thick hips and nappy hair and dark/yellow/mocha/coffee colored skin. And why. Because we don’t have a ready supply of that. Not in romance or well hell not in any books. we are 1 out of millions if you find it on the shelves at all. But in the end of it all the story isn’t just about the black chic got a white man…its about the black woman who got the hea, which so very often isn’t a reality. and for some readers like me..its about the woman who feel in love and got he hea. and the bonus, she looks like me. has personality like my sister mom neighbor, best friends.

    Is the mainstream ready for that. No, if they were more of these stories would be in print on shelves. The indie world and e book trade…yeah they see the wave rolling in. and so the marketing might be a lil more *BAM BW/WM WW/BM* stars/flashy lights/super hot voice over guy with bombing voice/ live,live, live tonight only* but its a marque to let readers KNOW hey over here, we got what you want.
    Looking for books to get into
    let me know, there are literally hundreds of authors out there who write IR/multicultural and specifically bw/wm. and the more you read..hopefully the more you see the stories aren’t about race any more than the over 50% of the Harlequin are… just like Harlequin the books are just geared to the folks who want to read them. Harlequin sells mostly to a white female, the books are written about white females and by white females…
    BW/WM IR books are purchased mostly by black females, the books are written about black female and written by black females…

  9. Drea, I appreciate your outlook on it. I like the books that have it as conflict too, but I guess sometimes I want something else, does that make sense?

    And it’s true, a lot of the books are written by white women. I’m a white woman, so the IR that I’ve just done for Presents has a white woman and a biracial man, because that was comfortable for me. I wasn’t worried about misrepresenting someone. This was something I was comfortable with, and comfortable doing justice to.

    Happy reading!

  10. ps.
    beautiful wedding pic btw! and was that cake delish…IT LOOKED AMAZING.* digging through my candy stash for some chocolate*

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