Today, I wanted to speak about a topic I love which is interracial romance. I write them all, M/F, M/M, and ménage but I’ll focus on m/m mostly.
A while back, I did two articles about interracial m/m romances. One appeared on IRM and another one on Sizzling Hot Books. The response on the IRM was greater with many writers chiming in talking about being intimidated to write a multi cultural romance because they’d get the characters wrong.
In the case of m/m and m/f and really any writing for that matter, I don’t believe you can necessarily get it wrong unless you’re doing a non-fiction or historical book where your facts should be correct.
Now by no means am I saying that you should just jump into it blindly. You can do a little research about the characters if you as the writer are of a different race than them but really, can you get it “wrong?”
When I think of people mentioning getting something wrong in this instance, I immediately think of the racial stereotypes. You know them because of the way the media portrays characters on sitcoms or even dramas. This media could also include books that might make their characters a certain way. However, in my estimation, this shouldn’t be the focus of any story, romance or not. It should be the characters and how their story develops throughout.
Since I wrote the blog posts I have found many more m/m IR romances and enjoyed quite a few. I fully intend to read more m/f in the future but for now, I’ll let you know what I’ve figured out while reading a few m/m stories.
In truth, most writers I’ve read didn’t bring any stereotypes into their tales at all unless it was part of the plot. What a welcome surprise too since the couple of books I’d read at first did exactly the opposite. I gathered that they did their stories and made the characters relatable to anyone who read them instead of focusing on the racial differences. This allowed me to enjoy the stories even further and not wince when I came across the style of dress or the way the character talked. All the characters in the books were presented as intelligent and weren’t drawn up from what the writer might have seen on TV or even on the street. Thank goodness! Nothing would be worse for me to read a story that made me cringe.
So in regards to m/m, m/f, or ménage interracial romance the focus should be on the love between them and not the differences in their nationalities. As far as the Triad is concerned, we do exactly that. BL of course has My Lieutenant where the black character is a retired officer in the Navy and talks less slang than his white counterpart. Michael’s first m/m IR romance is contracted through No Boundaries Press called Under the Gun. His character, Malik Day has been discharged under DADT but there is no mention of the differences between him or his potential lover, Camdyn Hardy.
Me? Well my first novella in the Something New on the Menu series, Time to Make the Donuts, my supporting character Andre’ is a smooth talker but doesn’t fit into the stereotypical black man. It’s true it might be easier for me to write from the “black” perspective since I am black but what of other ethnicities? I have a story on the docket with an Asian man as my main character. In this instance, I do intend to find stories about Asian or rather, Korean men just to learn something about the culture not any stereotypes. This won’t be easy but necessary so I can write the tale effectively and true we should do the same just so we give our readers reality but you can’t really get it wrong.
You’re writing about two living, breathing human beings and that, all of us can relate to.
Andre, a customer, comes in and pays Christopher a visit. The two lock eyes and immediately connect on a personal level. The intensity of this deep, instant connection convinces Christopher to pursue a potential interest – to find out just what might happen between them – when Andre passes him his card and phone numbers. He wonders what the young man does for a living however, he’s so smitten by him, Chris doesn’t give it much further thought.
Little does the shop owner know, Andre actually works for his biggest competitor as a secret shopper and has been told to use any method necessary to find out the secrets of the shop. Andre is ordered to convince Christopher to sell his shop and become part of the national chain.
When Christopher finds out, he has a surprise for Andre and deals with him in a rather humorous way. Will he trust Andre once he finds out this fact? Will he give up his shop under the pressure the well-known franchise? Will this newly found romance beat the odds and move past this bump in the road to happiness for both Andre and Christopher?
With the song Manic Monday by the Bangles playing on the overhead, Jesse stood behind the cashier Wanda, getting orders for customers while Christopher finished putting the third batch of donuts in the oven. The owner always felt better when the store officially opened for business making him forget about the lack of sleep he got from the night prior or the fact he’d been in the restaurant since two a.m.
He pushed the double doors open as he came from the kitchen, watching the customers lining up in front of the register. They were ready to give their morning rush orders of coffee and donuts or bagels. Others who had time sat at the long laminate counter waiting for one of the waitresses to take their requests. Bigger groups of people or those who liked to take in the atmosphere sat in booths to sample the diner’s finest delicacies. Part of the charm of Christopher’s place was it catered to everyone in some form or fashion while offering great service. Something he knew that other place could provide.
While waving at a couple of regulars, Christopher started to help Jesse bag a few orders. Unlike most owners, he always chipped in to help on the front lines regardless if it were busy or not.
Jesse smacked him on the shoulder. “Yo dude, you look like you haven’t sleep in weeks.” The husky redheaded woman poured a cup of coffee for a lady in front of her.
“Well thanks,” he frowned. “I’m still being bombarded by calls from that place to get me to sell. They won’t quit. Don’t they get the message?”
“Apparently not. They been callin’ ya at home?”
“No on the cell and all because that one girl that used to work here got employed by them. They thought by doing that, they’d be able to pick up some secrets or learn something new about me, or the restaurant. Didn’t they know I brainwash my former workers,” he laughed.
“You wish. You just don’t share anything important which is smart, now me on the other hand,” She cocked an eyebrow. “I could be an asset to someone if they swayed me to leave.”
Christopher stopped immediately and glared at her. “You’d never.”
She drew up her lips. Within seconds she guffawed and smacked him on the back pretty hard. “Babe, no, never. I’m just messin’ wicha. I’d never leave your side. I told you the day Jayson died I’d help you run the place till we couldn’t do it anymore and I meant it. You know I’m a rebel at heart. I couldn’t go anywhere and work for “the man” and feel comfortable. I ain’t wearin’ no suit and tie for nobody.”
Christopher choked a little from the slap and let out a small sigh of relief. He didn’t know what he’d do without Jesse if she left. Good thing she always had such a good sense of humor and because he liked her as his second in command, he vowed never to piss her off if he could help it. Yes, they’d had run-ins a couple of times over various decisions but he knew most of the time the two of them would come to an agreement in the end.
“Well I’m glad about that.” He straightened his tie and shrugged his shoulders. “I need you here, Jess. No bones about that. Most days, I’m not sure what I’d do without your intellect.”
She blushed and chuckled. “Aw, Christopher, I swear if I didn’t like women and you didn’t like men we’d be a match made in heaven, right?”
A woman with a baby in front of them giggled and took her bag.
Christopher sighed, “Jesse, we really need to stop talkin’ about our personal business up here, huh?”
“Yes, duly noted boss man. Sooo…maybe we should go in the back so I can ask you about the dude I hooked you up with last week.” She nodded and turned to him.
“Um, nothin’ really to tell. I’m sorry Jesse, he’s just not what I’m looking for.”
The manager rolled her eyes. “Just what the hell are you searchin’ for in a man, Chris? You gotta lower your standards just a little don’t you? Ain’t no pretty boy with money and a squeaky clean disposition comin’ into your life any time soon.”
“That might be true but, well, he just didn’t do it for me. I liked that he’s self-sufficient, he’s pretty burly which I, erm, well, I’m not into overly muscular men. He doesn’t have to be a model but he does have to be easy on the eyes.” Christopher paused, “Didn’t I just say I didn’t want to talk about my business up here?” He cocked an eyebrow.
“Oh sorry, let’s go in the back a moment then. I gotta hear the rest of this. Wanda, you okay hon, since the rush is about done?”
The younger blond nodded, “Yep, I’ll call ya’ if I need ya.”
“Great.” Jesse gripped Christopher’s shoulder. “To the back then chief to get another batch ready then, huh?”
“Yep. We’ll be back, Wanda.” Christopher went through the doors and Jesse followed him. He really enjoyed when he and Jesse could work and talk at once. Made the day go by a lot faster. If only he had something other than his seemingly desperate romantic situations to converse about.
RAWIYA is the more sensual erotica writer in the BLRawiya duo. Rawiya’s first book, Time to Make the Donuts will be out in Feb of 2012 from Naughty Nights Press and her first MMF Living in the Now will be released in April from NNP. She has several shorts in anthologies, the latest, That Thing in the STARbooks collection, Tall Dark and Delicious. A lot of her shorts are also on Every Night Erotica. She blogs regularly at Erotic Dairies and Wicked Sexy Writers. For more please visit the Rawiyas blog on WordPress.