Sunday, March 9, 2014

Multicultural Fiction Is Not a Monolith

As I follow publishing trends for both my day job and my budding career as a romance writer, I'm always fascinated by reader/reviewer/publisher response to genre fiction written by writers of color — primarily women of color, but men as well. Nowhere else, except perhaps in LGBT fiction, will you find that we are all judged together. Someone reads one bad book by an author of color and, all of a sudden, you don't know if you can read another one. Or, one book by an author of color didn't hit, so we're not going to publish someone else.

Did that happen with Fifty Shades of Grey? No. With the plethora of lackluster New Adult novels that followed Easy? The motorcycle club books that hit the shelves after Kristen Ashley hit it big? I can't recall seeing people fear that the next book might suck. No, if anything, the subsequent titles were snapped up like Chex Mix at a Super Bowl party. And even if some titles are less than thrilling, people keep buying. Publishers keep publishing.





So, wherefore the trepidation, the fear, the "IDK" for multicultural and interracial romance written by women of color? I am not Nalini Singh who is not Brenda Jackson who is not Shelly Ellis who is not Jeannie Lin. And just because Nalini and Brenda are superstars doesn't mean the POC Author Quota has been filled. You're allowed to read more. I promise. The book police aren't going to charge you with suddenly not reading enough white people.

Can you imagine saying, "Welp, I hated this historical romance by Newbie Author X, so I won't read Eloisa James"? Or "I didn't like one urban fantasy book, so I'm afraid they all might suck"? Or, more to the point, "This book by a white person about white people didn't work for me, so I'm not going to read books by white people anymore"?

It sounds ridiculous, right? So why isn't it ridiculous to paint authors of color and their works with the same brush? You might not like my stories, so pick up Alisha Rai's. If you don't like Alisha's stuff, try Farrah Rochon. If she doesn't work for you, check out Rebekah Weatherspoon. Etc. Multicultural/Interracial romance is not a zero-sum game. It's a treasure map. And sooner or later, you will strike gold.



Note: This post didn't generate in a vacuum. It's the product of several discussions with author friends, especially Alyssa Cole.

 

5 comments:

Alyssa Cole said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to this! Thanks for getting to the heart of this problem so perfectly, as usual.

Shelly Ellis said...

Suleikha, this stuff should totally be on a panel at RT convention. I would love to sit on on a discussion like this one.

Suleikha said...

Shelly: I'm right there with you ... which is why a panel IS happening at RT:

https://www.rtconvention.com/event/across-color-lines-multicultural-romance-past-present-and-future

Shelly Ellis said...

(*Screaming expletives)Damn! And I'm missing RT this year. OK, will be voice shouting from the back maybe next year LOL

j.h.Evans said...

TRUTH!