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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Maybe I didn't make her black enough...

When I come across a so-so review of one of my books, I usually just grin and bear it because not everyone is going to like what I write and everyone has a right to her (or his) opinion. But even so, something about this line in a review of my story "The Invitation" in Bad Boys with Red Roses just kept nagging at me:

"...this one's got a rather out of the blue mention of Jerri and Adrian being an interracial couple, but not much evidence in the story to support that. A little odd, I thought."

Now, it could just be me being too sensitive, but what evidence was I supposed to use to support the fact that Jerri and Adrian were interracial? I did give some physical descriptions (Her hair was longer, straighter. Before it had been a wild, lustrous cloud of tangled curls, soft to his fingers. It had haloed around her face, emphasizing angel eyes, full lips, smooth coffee skin - maybe I should have said 'kinky curls' instead?), but I didn't dwell on those descriptions because of the limited word counts given to a novella, which is what the stories in an anthology are. So, was I supposed to provide some cultural idioms to indicate that Jerri was black? Was she supposed to be listening to a certain type of music, walk a certain way? Because basically I presented Jerri as a woman facing a dangerous situation and her race was not pivotal to the romance nor to her not getting her behind killed.

The review reminded me of a recommendation I received from one of the editors who worked on the book. She suggested that I make it known that Jerri was black and that the coupling was interracial at the very beginning of the story (I mentioned it in passing a few chapters in). I ignored the recommendation because, again, I didn't believe Jerri's race was crucial to the plot nor the romance. I do understand that physical descriptions are part and parcel of love stories, especially love scenes, and, again, I think I gave enough descriptions to pull the reader in. Whether I did so successfully or not is up to the individual reader. Now, if the reader has a problem with Jerri's race or the fact that she's part of an interracial couple, then I find that "a little odd."

Rule of thumb: romance stories featuring interracial couples are not always going to be about the racial differences. Sometimes the story is just about the plot and the romance. So a hand traveling along a silky thigh should feel good no matter the color of the hand or the thigh.

Unless someone knows something I don't.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 5/20/2007 12:27:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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