Do We Box Ourselves in as Readers and Writers?

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m very excited to have my first guest on this blog and she’s a up and coming HOT HOT HOT Rebel Ink Press author and I’ve gotten to know this lovely lady and she’s fast on the way of becoming a good friend. Please take a moment and enjoy her worlds…

ARETHA C SMITH

An interesting conversation came up yesterday on a popular writing forum I visit on a regular basis. The question posed was, are black romance novels and white romance novels the same? Now let me clear one thing up before I go any further, I hate labels with a passion. We as human beings have an incessant need to tag things with labels and it grates me to the core.  But the forum member who posed the honest question, identified herself as a black woman, and essentially stated she’d never read “white” romance novels since she imagined white readers didn’t read black romance novels. This made me wonder if this was a common theme across races. Do white readers mostly read white romance novels or novels that feature predominately white characters because they identify with them more so than they would a novel that features black characters?

As a black woman who grew up reading novels mostly written by white authors, the Danielle Steels’, the Nora Roberts’, the Barbara Delinksys, and as a now soon to be published author myself, I can honestly say the idea of restricting myself to reading novels written by black authors featuring black characters has never once crossed my mind. And probably just as well, since growing up in my neck of the woods one would have been hard-pressed to even find a black romance novel of the shelves of the local bookstores or borrow one from the library. Such options just didn’t exist in the town I grew up in. Even now, the chain bookstore in my area features a depressingly slim selection of black romance novels. Thank goodness for the Internet and the ability to order good books online. Novels from authors from all walks of life are now readily accessible to me, offering me a wealth of possibilities in terms of the books I read and by whom. But if anyone thinks this open accessibility to black romance novels means I gave up on reading novels written by non-black authors, they are sadly mistaken. My reasoning is simple: I’m a reader who loves to read good stories regardless of the race or colors of the characters.  A well-told story will always capture my interest. I don’t need to “relate” to the characters in terms of ethnicity to enjoy the story. I don’t need to relate to the “black experience”, of the characters I read about. I just need to relate to their human experience. That’s enough for me. Take for instance, one of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy – an Irish author who solely writes stories set in Irish towns featuring Irish characters, yet I as a black woman totally relate to the stories she tells.

I am a writer who treasures the gift of being able to write stories I can share with others. Whether they predominately feature black characters or not, I’d like to think these stories have broad appeal to all readers and not just a small segment of society. The very idea of boxing myself in as a writer to such a degree so that I’m writing stories that only black readers relate to, makes me cringe. What’s more, as a writer who writes novels about love – the universal language, no less, I would like to think that a good love story is just that—a  good love story.

I challenge readers out there who may feel as though as though identifying with the color of the characters’ skin is a prerequisite to enjoying a good book to step outside the box. Love is love no matter what color it comes in, and is a part of the human experience. And at the end of the day, the human experience is most common ground amongst us all.

I welcome you all to read my upcoming April 17th release, Hearts of Time!

Thank you so much for being a part of Dakotah’s worlds. I loved having you!

Ciao   xxx

Dakotah

 

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Comments
  1. After reading your post, I have a question. Is there a female black author your could recommend for me to read? I have never read a novel, to my knowledge, that was written by a black female author. I agree with everything you said in your post, but I feel that I’d like to expand my horizons.
    Patti

  2. Aretha says:

    Hi Patricia! Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Regarding black authors, I’m glad you asked. There are a few that come to mind, specifically Rochelle Alhers and Connie Briscoe. I usually enjoy anything written by these two. Connie Briscoe. A few more are Brenda Jackson, Gwynne Forster and Donna Hill. All of them are great writers who write nice, juicy stories that easily get you hooked. 🙂

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