Love is so multifaceted that I think we sometimes take for granted the many identities it has. There is often an urge to one size fits all what romance looks like despite the variances in the people who look to fall in love. There is no safety in limiting the way romance or love in general is glorified and we should work collectively to expand its reach to everyone.
My contribution to this is by writing Shifter romances with people of color driving the plot. primarily, my characters are African-American like me. However, I keep having characters of all nationalities pop up wanting their stories written. Some of them biracial, some of them Native American, Hispanic, and so on and so forth. They are all there, demanding acknowledgement of their existence. I want to acknowledge them all.
It feels like such a small thing. I’ve even been called petty because of it. Maybe it truly is petty. I’m not sure. What I am certain of is that representation in art and all forms of life is critical in adding to the richness of our lives.
Shifter Romances are not true stories. They are not reality meets romance as Urban fiction and other African-American Romances usually are for most of us. You’ll likely never walk out of your house and fall helplessly in love with a man who is half werewolf and occasionally shifts to his beasts form. I know that. I also know the power of whimsical thinking.
What drew me to Shifter romances wasn’t the idea that it could happen. It was how fun it felt to imagine. That though these heroes definitely had some very human flaws, they also had an exception that set them apart. It was the idea that of lifetime love that was so engrained in their DNA that despite their best efforts, they would find and forever hold on to the one.
That is powerful.
That is a night’s vivid sweet dream.
I wanted to hold on to that feeling forever.
As I continue to work on my characters I am find myself questioning if the only reason I think it is important to have heroes and heroines of color in these works is because I’m black. Somehow, it feels like my desire to see them should be validated by something else. I could write all night about validation, but that is something else. The truth is that I write my characters to look like me and people I love and that doesn’t need validating.
I look out of the landscape of self-publishers and other authors and I see that many others are taking the same leaps. They are also looking for a place that feels representative and often carving one out when they don’t find it. It is a tricky thing to create a space when you feel like there should already be one. Yet, someone must be a pioneer and go boldly forth.
My hope is that more and more of us will take the reins into our hands and push forward to create the diversity that we seek. It is worth it for ourselves and our children to fall in love with a myriad of love stories. Let there be countless romances. Let us them up and create a rainbow of writings about love in all races then let us consume them like sweet candy.
There will come a time where the hashtag #diversityinromance will be a throwback to an era long passed. Until then, I will write endlessly and hope that you will join me in reshaping the landscape so that it is more inclusive of those we reach for and who reach for us.