Yes. I Am Different.

When I tell people I’ve written a few books, they usually assume it’s something scholarly because of my background in academic writing. So I’ve tweaked my intro and now tell folks I’ve written a few novels. Which leads to a whole nother set of assumptions, the first being that I must write urban fiction.

No, I do not.

I don’t know if they find it intriguing or disappointing to learn the answer is no, but the response is usually, “Oh, really?”

Yep. Really.

My novels are a reflection of who I am. And I am different. My characters are different.

When people assume my characters are African-American because I am, I quickly inform them my characters are multicultural. So, yes. There are African-American characters. But there is so much more than that.

My novels will appeal to people who want something different. To people who think outside the box. To people not easily offended…and like sarcasm and dark humor. My target audience is people who enjoy unconventional romances, gritty story lines, action with bloodshed, and a deviation from dull, everyday life. I follow no formula other than my own:

INTERESTING, COMPLEX CHARACTERS + CRAZY, SEXY TENSION = HELLAFIED ENTERTAINMENT

You say–“But Dicey, maybe your novels loosely fit within the urban fiction genre.”

Well, let’s see. According to wikipedia: “Urban fiction, also known as Street lit, is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the race and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material. In this respect, urban fiction shares some common threads with dystopian or survivalist fiction. Urban fiction was (and largely still is) a genre written by and for African Americans.

The underlined part does fit. However, “SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONDED SOUL: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series” is dark sci-fi/ fantasy and SHAMEFUL is written in first person voice of the Caucasian protagonist. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say neither of them qualifies as urban.

Urban fiction is no more me than Christian fiction or Young Adult. And I have to be true to myself.

Don’t be mistaken–I’ve read some urban fiction that I loved: Omar Tyree’s “Flyy Girl“, Sister Souljah’s “Coldest Winter Ever“, Zane’s “Addicted“, Eric Jerome Dickey’s “Friends and Lovers“, Michael Baisden’s “Maintenance Man“, E. Lynn Harris’s “Not A Day Goes By“, and Terry McMillan’s “Disappearing Acts“. And being the book addict I am, once I read one by the author, I read them all. All of them prior to 2002. Ah, yes… I LOVED these books. (click on the titles for more info about each book.)

But I’m a different kinda writer.

Am I African-American? Yes. You’ve seen the photo or know me personally. But I know nothing about the streets. I’d have to call around to find someone to find me someone to sell me some weed. I got no cool swag. I just walk. I’m the girl who picks hip-hop music based on the beat ’cause half the time I don’t understand what the artist means. Yeah–I hear what they’re saying, I just don’t get the street lingo. For instance, these are lyrics from DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One”:

“Two white cups and I got that drink
Could be purple, it could be pink
Depending on how you mix that shit
Money that we got, never get that shit”

Cause I’m on one
I said fuck it I’m on one”

Someone please tell me what the heck this means because it went over my head. Is he referring to a particular well-known drink that I should be familiar with or just a hypothetical drink? What does “I’m on one” mean period?

Psst. Lean closer. Let me tell you a secret…

My entire high school graduation class consisted of fifteen people…and I was the only African-American. When I was a teenager, I moved to a neighborhood where we were the only African-American family. I went to a church where the pastor was Caucasian and the congregation was mixed. I did cross-word puzzles and other geeky stuff instead of watching BET music videos. Now, these things were not by choice, mind you, but a part of my reality nonetheless.

I find lines like “Is you wit’ me?” and “conversatin’ on the phone” irritating because the bad grammar sounds like fingernails dragging down a chalkboard. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand it’s usage for emphasis sometimes like when Lafayette on “Trueblood” says, “I is”. And yes, just like my usage of “nother” and “kinda”, some of it is stylistic. But it still gives me cause to pause when I hear it. I still cringe involuntarily.

So you see? I may be black (happily so). But I’m no urban fiction writer.

Honestly, do I seem like someone you want writing your urban fiction? I didn’t think so.

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