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The Things that Hurt

by on January 27, 2014
photo free from freedigitalphoto.net

photo free from freedigitalphoto.net

As a writer of interracial romance I knew there would be backlash. Anyone that steps away from what is considered normal faces this issue. It can pay off big or cost you your career.

There was a time when I was under the delusion race didn’t matter. My parents are those stupid ones that raised me to see the person not the race. Damn fools that they are. As my husband says, I can do that, I’m white. I can choose to be with the minority or majority, he cannot. Yep, I’m married to a black man. What can I say, I write what I know.

People tell me its 2014 there’s no racism. They told me that lie in 1998 when I married my husband. I have a feeling they’ll tell me the same thing in 2029. Yes the world is more accepting of others now, maybe not mixing, but with people of other races. It does get better every year. As people break stereotypes and show that they are just that, a blanket assumption about people we move forward.

I try to do that with my writing, but at the same time I hear things both hateful and insulting even if it’s not the person’s intention. Things like “I never thought of a black man as a hero.”  Really? “I understand this is your fetish, but I don’t think it’s right.” Really??? A fetish…

Let’s go back to the first one. Why couldn’t a black man be a hero in a book? Why does the hero have to be white, tuggable hair, built, six-two, a little bit of a five o’clock shadow and piercing eyes? Did I just describe the hero in the last ten books your read? Oh wait I forgot the treasure trail from his belly button to his pants.

We all like the well-built, well hung hero (statically ladies we all know which race wins that contest). I’m not much of a hair puller (I’m more of a pull my hair please and thank you type) so most of my heroes have shaved head… hmm where would I get that idea from? Let me shoo my husband out of the room.

But does a black man on the cover make you scroll past? I’m going to tell you it’s hard to find black men in stock art that could even make me look twice, but on the off chance a hot one shows up, shirt off, glistening from a magical photoshop job, would you stop? Or would it look wrong? What is it that makes us think a black man can’t be a hero? Could it be a stereotype?  I don’t like those for anyone, especially not my heroes.  Why? Because I write what I know and I know a black man can be a hero.

Now to the second comment, I know the basics when it comes to fetish, but I went to the experts at dictionary.com. The first two definitions were about objects that people regard as a talisman, so I skipped to the third definition; any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

Let’s break this definition down. A fetish involves an object or non genital part of the body. I’m not into toes, knees, or noses, then again if a man knows what he’s doing he can turn any part of the body into a spot that causes an erotic response. (Why is it again you don’t read my books?) What about eyes? Who hasn’t fallen into a set of eyes that got you hot, wet and well… aroused?  Does that make it a fetish?

Do black men turn me on? Yes, but so do white, Hispanic and Asian. I like men. If they are shirtless, flexed, killer smile or has a smoldering dark stare, I’m gonna look. I might look twice. I may even like a picture or two.

Every author wants their book to be read. That’s why we write, it’s kind of our thing. If we do a bad job on the story with plot holes so big characters and editors have fallen in and never been heard from again I understand you running away. But if you never try it because you think “I can’t find a black man attractive…” You’re just cutting out a huge population.  Why limit your heroes? I love vampires, aliens, a werewolf or two, heck and angel and demon have both made their way into my fantasies.

You may be wondering why the title of this blog is the things that hurt. If you love curling (its almost the Olympics, play along), to the point you join a league. You could curl every day if time permitted. It becomes part of your life. Since it’s an Olympic year you try out for the Olympic team and make it only to have everyone you encounter tell you ‘that’s not a real sport’. How would you feel? You can earn a medal. You can represent you country. You put in hours just like the ice skaters, skiers, and bobsledders, but still you’re treated like something you’re passionate about is wrong. “It shouldn’t be an Olympic event, it’s just for drunk people in Minnesota and Wisconsin.” Would that hurt? Did you know curlers have to weight train? They have special clothes? They have to train to get that accurate.

Sure you have friends that curl and people tell you to your face that you’re an Olympian, that’s cool, but you can feel that they don’t approve in some way.

Now imagine it wasn’t a sport, but the man or woman you’ve pledged your undying love too. The person you’ve spent over half your life with, had a child with and who supported every dream you’ve had. You were then told that he wasn’t good enough, he was a passing phase or fetish, that your love isn’t “real love”. How would that make you feel?

I get rave reviews (and no they’re not from friends or relatives) from large review sites. I currently have a book up for Book of the Year, yet and still I can’t give away my books to most people. What hurts is I don’t think it’s my book that’s the issue, it’s my hero, it’s my love and it’s my passion. It’s my lifestyle and who I am as a person that’s what’s being told is wrong. And let me tell you, that hurts.

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17 Comments
  1. I understand your pain. I’m married to an Indian man who’s from Trinidad. I write inter-racial stories too, and most of them are, by far, not my best sellers. I even had someone tell me “people don’t want to read about an Indian heroine”. Shrug. I write these stories because I believe in them, believe that every person deserves a happy ending and is worthy of love, I write them because there are a lot of people who make up the world. How boring it would be if everyone was the same. My point with this rambling comment? Ignore the haters. Write for you. Write what you love because of who you love. Nothing else matters 🙂

  2. belindaegreen permalink

    The court of personal opinion Is just that…their opinion. I wouldn’t let it deter me from doing or writing what I love. I’m a great fan of books and have never let what others say make a decision for me. I may ask for feedback but in the end I’m going to read what I like or do what’s best for me.

    Yep, I have heard that same old saying for awhile now, “racism is over”! As a black woman who has experienced bygone behavior and also living in this day and age, I’m here to tell ya, it aint’ so! You would think by now people would have taken off their stupid hats and moved forward by not judging people by the color of their skin. People are people!

    Yes it hurts but you learn to ignore the naysayers and after while their behavior and/or words will have no impact.

    You picked the perfect example…curling. I hear that all the time! LOL

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing a great job!

    Belinda G

  3. Reblogged this on Rawiya Erotica and commented:
    Great blog about interracial books and why people still have issues with reading them.

  4. I loved your post. I think it shows what all interracial romance writers face – convincing the audience that we write what all romance writers write about. That Love that is greater than current circumstances and current situations and overcomes all else. I’m hopeful that it will only take more great stories and more great writers to make the general romance reading public take notice that they can connect with heroes and heroines who are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and White.

  5. My favorite books are the interracial books…it’s been that way since I was a child.

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it. Fantastic post.

  6. I’m 63 years. I’m white. I grew up in Mississippi. No, don’t stop reading. I was part of the Civil Rights movement. I’ve been on an historically black campus the only white face on *that* side of the line of MS Highway Patrolmen shotguns leveled at us because we were protecting the evidence of their opening fire into one of the women’s dorms during an “incident”. My husband and I fostered black children. We actively sought a mixed race child to adopt. We faced intolerance and hatred from within our own families (his more than mine). We stood our ground. Stand yours. Why? Because you are, as I was then and am now, an activist. Though the issue is different, see my blog post here – http://suzanawylie.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/yes-erin-you-are-an-activist/ – for why I say that and what I mean.

    Brava! I am heading to buy your books. (And I don’t generally read MF – I write MM.)

    • michelprince permalink

      Thank you Suzana I hope you enjoy them and as someone who is writing her first FF book I commend you because let me tell you the love story isn’t the issue, it’s those stinking pronouns. It’s really hard to write same sex pieces from a grammar standpoint not the love. The love is the easy part, it’s life that’s hard.

  7. You are a hero for this piece. My very first ebook was Their First Night Together, an interracial erotica. I had always been a fan of interracial erotica, and continue to do so. If the readers were my real fans, they wouldn’t give a damn about my character’s race or ethnicity. So regardless of how uncomfortable they might feel about my male/female characters being a different race than the typical, I’m writing it. If I won’t gain new fans because they disapprove interracial relationships, then so be it. I’ve written erotic romance and sex stories where the hero is other than white. I am also in an interracial relationship, for over 9 years; she one of a kind! Hell, on happy to know that I’m not alone with other authors who write interracial erotic romance, or interracial romance. I wish there was a group page for it on Facebook, even on Google.

  8. I came across this post after someone shared it on Facebook. Thanks for speaking up 🙂
    The idea of the stereotypical romance hero is so ingrained, it’s not just about race either and it sometimes feels like a lost cause to try and rebel against it. I’m white and I married an Indian; no doubt that’ll come up in things I write about. Currently I’m fighting the idea that all heroes need to be buff & alpha, because that’s so not my type. I don’t think I could ever find a suitable photo for the cover, and even if I did I think readers will absolutely scroll right past my book if the hero isn’t ripped or at least athletic looking in some way. Just keep going until the world gets used to the idea I guess.

    • michelprince permalink

      I agree. In my book coming out in March the hero is Hispanic and doesn’t have the long wavy hair and tight body. Instead he’s got a nice hair cut and a little paunch to his belly. He still is sexy, still takes care of his women, but best of all he lets them take care of themselves. When my heroine takes a stand and someone tries to stop her he stops them so she can finish what she started.

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