Writing Interracial Romance – Roundtable Remmy Duchene and Sharita Lira

July 17, 2015


Sharita: Hello there. I’m Sharita Lira. I’m very excited to be part of the Dreamspinner romance team, and with me today is one of my favorite people and authors, Remmy Duchene. In this blog, we’re discussing interracial m/m  or gay romances. We hope to pinpoint some of the issues, misconceptions, and solutions to making more diverse gay romance novels a reality.

Okay, let’s start with the why. Why are we doing this blog? As you know, Remmy and I have a new release, Wounded Hearts, which is part of the Wounded Series from Dreamspinner Press. Being in the genre as long as we have, we’re well aware of the issues that might arise. Let’s bring Remmy in to discuss our first issue.

Remmy:  *waves* Hi everyone. Sharita decided to take me away from my chocolate ice-cream, but we won’t tell her we bite…oh right, issues within the Interracial world. Thinking about it makes my brain hurt, but I guess we have to say something about it right? Well,  first, there isn’t nearly enough interracial, MM couples on these stock photo sites. Have you noticed that Sharita? I mean, sometimes I sit down for hours, pouring through stock photo sites with my cover artist until I get mad enough to want to punch something.

Sharita: I have indeed noticed that, Remmy. With just about every IR m/m book I’ve done, there’s been very little to represent our characters. Not just African American, but Asian, Hispanic, and older men. Thinking about Wounded Hearts, we couldn’t find the right men for Cyrus or Ash, but our brilliant cover artist was able to come up with a kick ass cover, despite the lack of variety. Remmy, what do you think is the solution?

Remmy: I have no idea, man. I mean – I see all these non-interracial covers and these men are holding each other and looking romantic and beautiful, then I look at my covers and the men seem to be on different planets *sigh* I don’t know. If I could, I’d start my own photography studio and take the pictures for IR covers that would look just as beautiful. But short of doing that, there isn’t really a solution.  There is one photographer who took some pictures of African American males, but as you know, my men are not skinny little things–I couldn’t use any of this photographer’s pictures.

Sharita: *sighs* We can’t force more photographers to fit our needs, but we can make them aware with a blogpost like this one. Making diverse books is not just about race, it’s about age, gender, and so on. What about more pictures of beautiful transsexuals? Older men? Women who aren’t just blond with blue eyes. The world is a melting pot and I wish more photographers would offer variety to royalty free sites. So, if you’re a photographer, listen up. Give us more of everything, a wider selection. That’s all. Let’s move on to the next thing. Interracial m/m means leaving most of the stereotypes at home. What do you think, Remmy?

Remmy: Dude, listen, I’ve been telling people that for years. I specifically write Interracial romance/erotica because I don’t think love is one way, or people are one way.  I try to mix them all. People who stereotype drive me crazy. I think I told you about the publisher who told me one day that I should turn my Japanese guy into a Native American guy because Japanese people think black people are dirty and that their relationship would never work? I was righteously P.O’ed. I wanted to tell her that Japanese people LOVE Jamaicans, so much so that they sample our music, a Japanese girl was the Jamaican Dancehall Queen and they adore asking us questions and learning how to cook from us. Right before telling her to…well…you can guess. I had to be classy about it.

Sharita: *blinks* Of course you did. When writing interracial or just fiction, people have ideas for things they think is reality. What happened to love is love no matter what? lol Going back to the issue with stereotypes, I also recall someone telling you to make your black men more “urban.” Umm… I believe we both write all of our men as people, first. Instead of making them poor, why can’t they be rich and gainfully employed? Ash inherited millions and he’s still a cop. Bottom line, people are people and just because some people fit some stereotypes, it doesn’t have to follow those in our books. Now, here I come with a wrench into this argument. I’ve always said, unless that stereotype is essential to the plot, you shouldn’t draw on those when you write. What do you think about that, Remmy?

Remmy: I try to stay away from stereotypes period. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to toss a little bit in there. But stereotyping is boring. I had a reader say to me that writing my Japanese guy with a big…um…*blush and whispers* willie isn’t real because Asian men are small. I blinked and then laughed so hard I almost peed myself. Why? I’ve dated two Asian guys and they were not small. So, yeah, stereotyping just makes people look dumb.  And yes, I said willie *jumps on bed singing, My Bologna has a first name….*

Sharita: *laughs like a hyena* Okay, I’m in agreement on that, however, I can think of one instance in a future story of mine where the Asian character automatically suspects a black man of being a thief. That is what will get the two men together, so yeah I’m using that as the point of conflict, but in general, yes, lets leave them out of fiction. Now, let’s move on. Something that kind of fits the so called stereotype is speech. In Wounded, we have two very different men. Ash, a black cop from New York, and Cyrus an older cowboy from Montana. In that book, we went back and forth with our lovely editors and betas on how they spoke. Not heavy slang, but some phrases, they didn’t understand. Remmy, tell us what happened?

Remmy: Lovely….suuuuure. *cough* *cough* But seriously, yeah. It always drives me a little insane when my editor messages me and go “um…what does “aight” mean. Then we have to go back and forth trying to figure out if it was real or not. It’s hard to write other cultures sometimes. Because where you would like to use certain languages, you just know the headache that will come when the Beta’s and editors who never had a chance to really study these cultures get their hands on the story. You know me, I love using foreign languages so I think that must drive them crazy too lol

Sharita: *laughs* Oh yeah. You throw me off with the French in this latest book we’re doing. lol So the solution? I suppose it’s just betas and editors getting up to speed. The speech gives books a “flavor” if you will. Neither I nor Remmy have characters that talk heavy slang. Only my “Frankie” character in I Like Em Pretty comes to mind because he was from New Orleans, but other than that, it’s not necessary to write a good interracial romance book. Sprinkle a little of the language, don’t draw on stereotypes unless it’s central to the conflict and/or plot, and please, somebody please give us some more diversity in stock photos. Us interracial gay romance authors will love ya forevah! *smooch* Remmy, I think we covered the biggest ones right?

Remmy: *looks up from frowning at my gum that was supposed to be Starbust candy* *Sigh* yup – We could dig into Historicals for Interracial characters but that’s a whole other can of drama we could go on for years about. So yeah, Wounded Hearts is book one in a series that we had fun writing – and will be in your hot little hands soon. For my readers they’re going to be a lil surprised but its a good surprise – trust me *giggles* You won’t be disappointed because this book has all the same Remmy flavour with a whole lotta Sharita shaken, not stirred.

Sharita: Actually, its my wicked gal, BLMorticia and yes, she enjoyed … or sorry, Cyrus loved making Ash mad. These two men were at odds from the moment they got together, but hey, what’s a good romance with the conflict right? Thanks for listening to us rant today. Look for Wounded Hearts to be released, oh shit, today! Haha! Enjoy!

6 Responses to “Writing Interracial Romance – Roundtable Remmy Duchene and Sharita Lira”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve heard of one new company that was doing stock photos with more diversity, but I can’t remember the name. I think it’s horrible not only that the photos don’t exist but that the ones that do can often fall into stereotypes. I’ve always thought some photography could make a lot of money if they just did more photos of people of color, but I guess they’d have had to be a reader to have heard all the complaining (justifiably so!) of how hard it is to find the proper photos. Hopefully things will start improving.

  2. Angela says:

    Congrats on the release of Wounded Hearts and a happy release day. I pre orderd this book on Are and i look forward in reading it :)

  3. H.B. says:

    Congrats on the release! Thanks for the interesting post. Stereotyping is kind of annoying and its nice to see you two trying to break that in your writing.

  4. Sharita Lira says:

    Thanks so much, Carolyn. There is more things that need to be done, but it won’t happen overnight!

    I appreciate the comment

  5. Sharita Lira says:

    Thank you Angela. I really hope you enjoy it

  6. Sharita Lira says:

    Thanks, HB. Yes both me and Remmy aim to break those stereotypes with every book. Every person is different.

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