Moonlight and Magnolias 2014 Talk Writing Interracial Romance
This is the blurb. I had a lot of interest a couple of days ago so figured I would post this.
Also click on Roni Loren for her article in Huffington Post.
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 sub-genre.
How did I end up writing an Interracial 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 this when I called her for Mother’s Day, what she and Dad would have thought, if I brought home an African-American girl in high school or college, which would have been the 1970’s? Mom told me she and Dad discussed what to say to me about it and the issues involved. My mother said for her it was more about social class. Yes, it was admitted bringing home a Chinese girl would have brought a different reaction. Lots has changed in forty years.
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.
Well enough of the introduction, let me provide you with what I found by 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. 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.
- 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.
- No matter what you 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, South Boston, because the story is set in Paris and we flew from Boston to Paris. Plus I couldn’t resist playing around. I named him James Joyce, like the Irish writer. (My wife’s mother’s maiden name was Joyce).
I placed the stereotypes among people connected with the couple. My heroes mother and heroines sorority friends. The couple just fall in love, it is up to the people around them to deal with their OWN issues.
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:
Author Latrivia Nelson.
My friend, the hometeam here, Delaney Diamond.