#IndieThursday **S.M. Dahman #Author #GuestPost~Interracial Romance in Fiction**

Help me welcome S.M. Dahman to the blog today. She’s the author of the current thriller novel I’m reading: Twisted Greens. We met on Twitter one day, and we’ve been “hanging” ever since.

Without further ado…

“First and foremost, thank you Dicey for inviting me to be a guest on your blog! I’m honored you’ve asked me to blab about a topic that has many tongues wagging. Hopefully, I won’t disappoint. 🙂

Now, with the salutation and disclaimer out of the way, it’s time to get to the juicy stuff; the stuff Dicey brought me here to talk about: interracial relationships. This is a subject that hits close to home. Obviously, dear observant reader, IMG_20121202_204342I’m sure you’ve figured out from the photos that I’m in an interracial relationship. It wasn’t until I started dating my then boyfriend that I realized that there aren’t many depictions of interracial couples in the media. It was also during this time (roughly early 2012) that I stumbled upon a little niche in the romance market that has since exploded. Interracial romance (IR) novels, particularly those that have black women/white men protagonists (BWWM) and that are authored by black women have really carved a space out for themselves in the market. Go to Amazon right now and type in BWWM in the search bar and look what pops up. Go on. I’ll wait…

Ah! You’re back! Were you surprised by what you saw? There’s a plethora of BWWM novels out there. Some are good and others are downright terrible. The good IR novels encompass realistic mixing and matching of different races and cultural backgrounds. Although the characters are physically and/or culturally different, they are still people, meaning they don’t fall victim to narrow stereotypical archetypes. The novelty of it is downright enthralling! I’ve tried seeking out other genres that encompassed mixing different races or cultures, but to no avail. That sucks because it’s nice to read positive representations of diverse people. Hell, you may even learn something.

Whether they’re good or bad, IR novels are definitely popular. Hmm. But, why have they become so popular? Is it because black women want to feel just as desirable as their white counterparts in novels? Maybe. However, that still doesn’t explain why it’s particularly BWWM (there are some authors who are expanding this to include men of all races now). Is it because authors want to write what they know? That’s plausible. In fact, that kind of served as the catalyst that got my own words flowing. But statistics show that interracial couples are still in the minority when compared to overall couples. Regardless to whatever the reason may be, I’m happy that these novels exist, primarily because they help open a dialogue about interracial dating and it’s nice to see reflections of other shades of love in literature.

Perhaps the most asked question that most “mixed” couples hear is “what’s is it like to be in an interracial relationship?” It’s even a question that pops up in IR novels, usually from the plucky BFF of the black female protagonist. Frankly, I find the question annoying, but I get what people are asking. Most people tend photo.PNGto date within their own race. That’s understandable since relationships are founded on common ground and sharing the same race (and everything that it encompasses) is one such commonality. However, if you look beyond the exterior, you may find out you have more in common with someone who looks nothing like you. That’s what I found out in late 2011 and I haven’t looked back since. Being married to my husband is great! He’s sweet, thoughtful, considerate, giving, loving, affectionate, patient, encouraging, etc. I could go on forever with the adjectives. With that being said, he’s not all those things because he’s white, but rather it’s because he’s a good man. Period. Don’t get it twisted y’all. There are some douchebag white guys out there just as there are douchebag dudes of any other race. Peep out Investigative Discovery and you’ll see plenty. But, I digress. If we return to the original question posed earlier in this post, then my answer is that being in an interracial relationship with my husband is like being married to a great man that I vibe with on many levels.

Now, I’m not completely blind, deaf, and dumb. I know that we don’t live in a post racial society (although some disagree and they get the side eye) and that there are some out there who don’t condone interracial relationships for various reasons (whether they openly acknowledge it or not). If we’re being completely honest, there are probably more who fit the latter category than we’d care to admit. For instance, I’ve heard people express concern over potential children having an identity crisis (the dreaded “who am I” question). I’ve also heard about black men complaining that black women must not think black men are “good enough” and so they’ve dated or married outside of their race. Both of these assertions are utter bullshit and they both say more about the person making the comment(s) than about the people in the relationship. While it’s true that biracial children may more so identify with one of their parents’ cultures than with the other, I don’t think that classifies them as having an “identity crisis.” In fact, many other factors play into how one chooses to self identify, both extrinsically (e.g. socioeconomic strata) and intrinsically (e.g. inherited personality traits). As far as the comment about thinking black men aren’t good enough, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that’s not how I feel. The last guy I dated before I met my husband was black and I’ve dated many other black guys throughout my late teens and 20’s. I don’t think less about any of them. We just didn’t work out for a number of reasons. I mean, that is the point of dating, right, to find out if you’re compatible?

Anyway, wiTwisted Greens eBook Cover 6 x 9th all that being said, people are diverse. As such, shouldn’t our books reflect that diversity? That common notion is how the universe introduced me to the Awesome Dicey and her work (Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers and Shameful in particular). What are your thoughts? How do you feel about interracial relationships?

If you’re looking to diversify your reading tastes, I suggest you check out Dicey’s work or check out my own little novel, Twisted Greens. If you’re interested in finding out more about me or my book, find me on social media (Twitter, Facebook) or on my blog!”
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“…people are diverse. As such, shouldn’t our books reflect that diversity?”— EXACTLY. That’s what I keep saying, man. Thanks for reading my books, S.M.! And thanks so much for opening up and discussing something so personal–your relationship–and something so important–diversity! Your post wasn’t disappointing at all. Come back and post again any time.

Now…I have to get back to finishing your book.

Let me go see what AJ is up to now. 🙂

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Where Are The Black Men In Your Book?

I’ve been delaying commentary on this question/criticism for a while, but it’s time I address it. Each time I’ve been asked why there are no black men in Sleepy Willow, the reader has first said he or she LOVED the book but…where are the black men. So, I’m not sure if this is really criticism or just an observation. A somewhat inaccurate one. Nevertheless, I’ll try to answer the question thoroughly.

First–Punch is a black man. Remember him? The HUGE black man in my story? He looks something like bodybuilder Ulisses Williams, Jr. in my head:

Nice, huh?

But, I get it. Punch is not the main love interest for my heroine. That’s really the issue, isn’t it? The romance is between Willow, a black female vampire and Remi, who is…not black. So ladies and gentleman, what we have here is an interracial relationship, right? Willow’s maistre vampire, Maximilian, is…not black. That’s another one. Willow’s boss, Franco, is…not black. Another one. Willow’s nemesis, Agent Monroe, isn’t either. I could keep going down the list, but by now, if you haven’t read it, you’re beginning to understand that this is not an African-American novel. It is a multi-cultural one.

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing those who asked about the absence of black men within the story are wondering why 1) the lead female doesn’t have a black love interest since she’s black, and/or 2) why there aren’t more black men because…I am a black woman author. As in, why would a black woman author not have more black men in her books, like Terry McMillan or Sista Souljah or Zane.

It’s simple, really: it’s already been done a million times or more and I strive hard to make my books unique. I’m leaving the AA fiction to the women listed above and delving into more risque’ material. More controversial stuff. I’m adding several layers of wild and daring, not just one. I’m going beyond an older woman, younger man scenario (McMillan) and drugs and abortion (Souljah) and threesomes (Zane), though I applaud these women for writing books I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Secondly, I did everything I could to make each part of my book a surprise. When you find out Willow’s black–surprise. And when you find out everyone else’s race, religion, love interest, supernatural gift–surprise.

Willow + Punch = predictable. Predictable–> Boring.

I worked hard to keep my book UNPREDICTABLE. (Side note: I’m overjoyed that most of the reviewers respected this and posted non-spoiler reviews. Thanks!)

The Narcoleptic Vampire Series is not the only one featuring an interracial relationship, but you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of paranormal romance/dark urban fantasy stories with a black female lead (first hurdle) who has a non-black romantic interest (nearly nonexistent). And that, my friends, is one of the reasons I wrote it that way.

But that’s not all.

Truth is–in order to answer this question entirely, I’d have to reveal more secrets of my creative writing process. And you know how much I hate doing that. *Being sarcastic, of course.* But seriously, you’d need to know where my ideas come from and how I develop my characters to understand how each one is written the way he or she is.

In this old post, I discussed how Remi’s character was inspired by Nir Lavi. In this old post, I discussed how Joe Manganiello inspired my character Dario. I get inspiration from random input and I run with it. Lots of times, it comes from watching a movie, developing a very short-lived crush on a character or actor, and allowing my imagination to run rampant.

If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, you know Tom Hardy has recently inspired a character or two. For sure. But I have to write my thoughts out now before I lose interest. There will be another flavor of the week really soon. Which means I’ll be inspired to write about different characters with different story lines. I’ll have to chuck the deuce to Tom and welcome my new inspiration.

More so than that, I have a nondiscriminatory policy. I like and dislike men equally. White, black, yellow, green. Doesn’t matter, as long as something stands out about him.

Hey, I just had an idea for a good green character. Wait a minute. I think Laurell K. Hamilton did that in in her Merry Gentry Fae series.

Anyway…

I have to write about whatever I feel most drawn to at the moment. Whatever is churning around in my brain and won’t let me rest until I’ve written about it…him or her–that’s how it works.

I’ve had crushes on Shemar Moore (until I met him in Atlanta while he was filming Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He was gorgeous and nice. I just lost interest after seeing him as a mere mortal), Vin Diesel (not sure he’s black, but he keeps popping up on black men lists), Tyson Beckford (gloriously chocolate), Taye Diggs (wowsie!), Morris Chestnut (I mean, did you SEE him in The Best Man?), Blair Underwood (holy moly), and Will Smith (when he’s not being silly). Just to name a few. But I can no longer write about a character based on them since I don’t feel passionately drawn to them at the moment.

Now you know the method to my madness.

I have a black man at home. A good-looking, athletic one. He’s agreed to pose for an upcoming promotion for Sleepy Willow part 2, by the way…but damn. I’m rambling today. My point is–I have a black man at home so I probably won’t develop a crush on many. Why? You got it–because that’s not different. A Brit with tats, an accent, and THOSE lips…that’s another story altogether. Yeah, I’m talking about Tom again.

Funny thing–other than Idris Elba, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith, you don’t see a lot of black men featured in sexy roles on the big screen much at all. I may have to go on a hunt and find one to base a character on, after all. Any suggestions?

I may have just wasted my time and yours trying to explain this because what you could have been asking was: “Dicey, I just love your book so much and love the characters and I’d like to see more men like Punch in your books because he’s totally hot and I love reading about black men and since you wrote one awesome black male character, I was hoping you’d write more.”

Okay. I’ll do my best. Let’s see how the mood/inspiration strikes me. 🙂