Shewanda Pugh, Michael Charton-
Writing interracial romance doesn’t have to be intimidating. This workshop will focus on best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and tips for researching and writing in this increasingly popular subgenre.
How did I end up writing an Interracial love story?
It began with my friend Alica McKenna Johnson in Saguaro Romance Writers. She decided I should change my heroine to an African-American woman. This never occurred to me, but ok, I will try anything once. It ended up working quite well and may become a second book. So as much as Alica denies it, it’s all her fault, but I am glad I took a risk. ☺
I make jokes about being an old guy; I’m fifty-seven. I became cognizant of things in the 1960’s. Interracial relationships in my world meant Italian and Jewish and that was rare.
I just saw one of the episodes of the PBS series, Pioneers of Television. It was about African-Americans in television and I remember Diahann Carroll and Nichelle Nichols speaking about their roles as Julia and Lt. Uhura from Star Trek. It was the era in which the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner came out. It was a very different time.
Why am I telling you this, other than to show how old I am? Would my parents have approved of an interracial romance? For a perspective, I asked my Mom during a recent telephone conversation. I asked would have thought, if I brought home an African-American girl in high school or college, which would have been the 1970’s?
My point? It would never have occurred to them. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was a movie, not something for the Charton dining room table.
I never thought much about interracial relationships, having no feeling one way or the other. Then Alica struck.
What did I learn when writing An Affair of the Heart.
Let’s start with a definition: What do I mean by race here? In this case the visible skin color difference. Ancient Romans, would not have seen the color difference but Roman vs. Greek for example they would be considered, interratial.. Now, with our growing knowledge of the human genome, there may be other definitions. In this talk, we mean skin color, but with our knowledge of the human genome, Africans, have the most variation in the genome, because it’s the place where mankind began. Maybe, someone can write a futuristic where people know their genome differences.
Think of a Regency. Probably skin color would not have occurred to them. Can you imagine the Duke’s daughter falling in love with an Irish rake or say an unapproved French or German girl. In the Nineteenth Century, people spoke of an Irish race, or a German race. It was class first, then race.
The first thing is love. Sienna Mynx has her blog The Diva’s Pen, and she had one blogpost saying it’s not about race, but love. http://thedivaspen.com/2014/02/interracial-romance-isnt-about-race-but-love/
Don’t make your characters racial stereotypes. There are things that need to be overcome to make the story work, conflicts to resolve. Don’t add another hurdle with stereotypes. Also make sure the relationship possible as well as probable.
No matter what your skin color; all human beings have the same emotions, needs, desires.
When Alica suggested I created an African-American character, I already had my male character. I had him be from my wife’s home neighborhood in Boston. Plus I couldn’t resist playing around. I named him James Joyce, like the Irish writer.
I placed the stereotypes among people connected with the couple. My hero’s mother and heroines sorority sisters. The couple just fall in love, it is up to the people around them to deal with their OWN issues.
Another important matter came up during the workshop. Interracial means different things in different places. In Texas, black and white may matter less than black and Mexican. In Slovakia, an African-American may be a novelty, a gypsy would be a no no.
I had no idea where this was going, when I made my story interracial, but I’m glad I listened to Alica. We are already trying different things, just by being writers. I enjoyed the ride. Maybe I will work on the futuristic where interracial means internal genetic differences.
Links to look at:
Ehow even got in on it:
The Wikipedia definition of race. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_classification)
Author Latrivia Nelson.
My friend, Delaney Diamond.
Sandweiss, Martha: Passing Strange. This was at the time, a secret marriage between a prominent white man and an African-American woman in the late Nineteenth Century.
Michael's blog is http://iamanauthorimustauth.wordpress.com/