I write paranormal/fantasy romance novels with African and African American characters as the heroine and hero. For some, such relationships are considered diverse or multicultural pairings. Such thinking is often the result of viewing romantic pairings between white or European characters as the norm. It is true that most romance novels, regardless of the genre, have a white hero and heroine. The same is also true for most movies and television shows. The image of “white love” is everywhere, a daily consumable that many view as right and good—making “white love” the norm by many people’s standards.
Yet, as an African American woman, who was raised by African American parents, and who is married to an African American man, my normal was what I saw between my parents and the parents of my friends and family. Authors tend to write their norm, whether intentional or unintentional. “Black love” and African American relationships are normal for me. As I imagine, for many white romance authors, “white love” is the norm for them. It isn’t diverse or multicultural to write about African and/or African American love and relationships. It’s natural, beautiful, and complicated, as most relationships are.
Every group has a culture, and every person has a culture—be it ethnicity, race, gender, class, education, religion, sexual preference, age, and so on. And we are members of many cultural groups, making us all multicultural and diverse. But yes, I am well aware that I write romantic pairings that aren’t as promoted or as popularly written about in novels. I am also aware that some readers will gloss over my novels simply because there are two people of color on the cover, just as there are readers who will give my books a try for the very same reason. Readers select and ignore books for many different reasons, and it would be naïve to think that attitudes about race, as much as genre preference, doesn’t impact their choices—be it consciously or unconsciously.
When something is considered the norm, like “white love” in romance novels, what is then left is considered less than or not as good as the “norm.” There’s power and privilege in being part of the “norm.” The norm isn’t viewed as “diverse” or “multicultural.” The norm just is—accepted, taken for granted, and deemed right. No one asks white writers why they write about love between white characters. Or heterosexual writers why they write about love between a male and a female. Why? The answers to those questions are more telling than the questions themselves.
When I write, I simply want to tell an engaging story. I can do that regardless of the race or ethnicity of my characters. But characters are not culture-less creations born in the creative mind of the author. They take form, imbued with character and culture traits, among them race, which is often the first decision, along with gender, that an author makes about their characters.
In a world of mystery and magic, sometimes old bonds must be broken before new ones can be formed. Who knew that finding one’s soul mate would test bonds and unleash beasts?
Mami Wata and Oya are now free from their watery prison and ready to wage a battle five hundred years in the making. Special Agent Assefa Berber and Dr. Sanura Williams are the prophesized Cat and Fire Witch of Legend. To save the world from Mami Wata, a water goddess with a bloody thirst for power and an insatiable appetite for death and destruction, they must defeat her beasts and the Water Witch of Legend.
Assefa and Sanura are fully in love but possess only a partial mate bond. While Sanura has merged their auras, bonding Assefa’s cat spirit to her, she has yet to accept his claiming bite. Their incomplete mate bond and their new relationship are tested when Mami Wata sets her malevolent eyes on them, manipulating beasts, sacrificing humans, and creating heartache. Can their bond survive, or will they drown under the vicious tide of godly might?