Authors of Color Write Paranormal Romances
Note: Contains opinionated author opinions and book recommendations
I'm a sucker for a good story, regardless of who wrote it. Sometimes the author becomes the story, in both good and bad ways, which is a topic for another day. Today's topic is that authors of color write paranormal romances.
Seems obvious, right? Authors of color write everything, including paranormal romances. The trouble is, too many people still think “author” means a tweed-wearing old white guy holding a pipe or the white woman holding up her book like she's selling toothpaste.
Full disclosure: I'm white. That's my photo to the right. My family and friends are all races. I live in a country where white privilege is high and awareness of it is low. I still catch myself making assumptions about race, class, and gender based on my phenomenal luck to be born a white, middle-class, neurotypical, cis-gender female. Hopefully, my not-so-sheltered friends call me out when I say stupid things.
The Power of Stories
Dry facts rarely change minds, but stories often do. They offer context, teach compassion, and the chance to walk in someone else's shoes. Good stories are both overtly and subtly subversive. Stories are anathema to people who want to ignore, to control, to suppress, or to erase things they don't like.
Let's say the factually-stated intent of a new government policy is to make a country's asylum process so difficult that it deters “unsuitable” people from requesting it. News reports describe the actions of guards, and videos show people in cages.
However, stories expose the unintended consequences, irrationality, or injustice behind the policy. It's stories that help us experience broken children in hospitals and babies in caskets.
Stories have the power to embarrass the people who made the policy. To outrage judges who must balance policy, constitution, and compassion. To horrify the public about what their government is doing in their name.
Example #2, with Paranormal Romances
Pretend that a large corporate publisher believes white people (or the demographic synonyms that imply white people, such as affluent, educated, manager, housewife) buy more books than people of color (or its synonyms of poor, ignorant, ditch-digger, welfare mother). Also, let's say this publisher also believe white authors write paranormal romances for white people, and authors of color write paranormal romances for people of color.
The result? Underfunded “African American-centric” imprints that under-perform and fail, creating blinding confirmation bias. “See?” the company managers tell themselves. “People of color don't buy books.” Even worse, they unconsciously confirm their opinion that authors of color don't write for “the mainstream,” and pass on their book proposals altogether.
Complete and utter horseshit.
I repeat: Horseshit.
Humans are the story-telling animal. In my opinion, this is a more accurate definition of what it is to be human than most anthropological descriptions. We all love telling stories and hearing them. True stories. Half-true stories. Made-up stories. Never-in-a-million-years stories.
Authors of Color Write Romances, and I Want to Meet Them
So, back to authors of color. I love to meet them, and to hear the story of their author's journey. They're all different and fascinating. We artists all share the same struggles balancing families, day jobs, or health challenges. However, authors of color have more obstacles. Bookstores that shelve romances by African American authors in the African American History section. A publicist who sets up a book signing tour that avoids certain cities because the author of color “wouldn't be welcome.”
Still don't believe me? Romance Writers of America, a 36-year-old romance author nonprofit support group started with the best of intentions, has never awarded its top prize to an author of color. Never. Not once.**
Therefore, I especially want to meet these authors of color. Their contribution to our shared artistic world is critically import to our society a whole. We need their voices, their point of view, and their experiences to broaden our horizons and help us privileged folk wake up and smell the damn coffee. We need to get better.
**In December 2019, the RWA set itself on fire in how they handled a complaint against one of their board who is also an author of color. They soon canceled the RITA awards for 2020 because so many authors and judges withdrew. The organization has a long history of entrenched racism, as detailed in Lois Beckett's Guardian article, 50 Shades of White. Whether the RWA survives in the long run is yet to be seen.
Paranormal Romances by Authors of Color
All of these books are on my read-and-enjoyed shelf, on my TBR mountain, or on my wish list. Reminder: I make a few cents as an affiliate if you buy some of these books after clicking here.
Michele Sagara (West) ~ Website
New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara (West) is justifiably famous for the Chronicles of Elantra series. It's a deeply layered, best-seller fantasy saga with adventure and a touch of romance. It starts with Chronicles of Elantra Book 1 Cast in Shadow. If you want to plunge right into her complex fantasy world, I recommend the box sets. Here's one with her first three books: Chronicles of Elantra Books 1-3.
My favorite series of hers is the Queen of the Dead trilogy, with its inventive fantasy world, truly frightening villain, and romance arc: Silence (Book 1) • Touch (Book 2) • Grave (Book 3).
Jasmine Walt ~ Website
New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Walt is well known for her Baine Chronicles series and universe. It's new-adult urban fantasy with a slow-burn romance across the series. In the coming year, she says she's expanding it with a new Mischief and Magic series. Here are the first three in the Baine series, and if you like them, there are a bunch more. Burned by Magic (The Baine Chronicles Book 1) • Bound by Magic (Book 2) • Hunted by Magic (Book 3).
If you like binge reading, here's a box set of the first seven to satisfy your addiction and save you some money: Baine Chronicles 1-7.
LaVerne Thompson ~ Website
USA Today bestselling author LaVerne Thompson is known for erotic romances, but she writes intriguing PNR, too. I have several of her books in my collection. Try this standalone to see if you like her style: The Beast Within. If you do, try these series:
- Story of the Brethren romantic fantasy: Dragon Heart (Book 1) ~ Dragon's Blood (Book 2)
- The Children of the Sea fantasy romance series (read these in order): Sea Bride (Book 1) ~ Sea Storm (Book 2) ~ Sea Witch (Book 3. Note: Sea Witch has a cliffhanger ending; Thompson promises that book 4 is coming in spring 2020.)
- The Lost Gods series is fantasy romance with an intriguing premise: Old gods are reborn in modern times to fight an ancient evil. Read these in order: Zeus (Book 1) ~ Ledo (Book 2) ~ Linc (Book 3)
Brooklyn Knight ~ Website
Brooklyn Knight wrote a contemporary romance series, The French Connection. In that same world, she branched out into the paranormal romances with her Alpha Series, which is how I discovered her. Torn (Book 1) ~ Loveless (Book 2).
She also has a paranormal fantasy that's waiting for me in my TBR. I think it's part of shared-universe series, which is why it's listed as Once Upon a Villain Book 7: Pied
Destiny Hawkins ~ Website
Destiny Hawkins' flagship series is The Descendants. However, I'm a big fan of her Blue Moon paranormal romance series: Krystal Blue (Book 1) and The Dark Bloods (Book 2).
If you like YA fantasy dystopian with romantic elements, here are links to the first two books in The Descendents series (read these in order): The Descendants and The Calling.
Theodora Tyler ~ Website
Contemporary romance author Theodora Taylor writes shifter romances, too. This are the books I have so far, and lucky me, there are more to read: Her Viking Wolf (Alpha Kings, Book 1) ~ Nago (Brothers Nightwolf Book 1)
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Thank you, Carol. I enjoyed this article and as an educated, middle class woman of color I have to agree that we read any and everything. I purchase just as many books as I borrow. Thanks for introducing some new authors for me to check out. I’ve read Brooklyn Knight but the others are new.
You’re very welcome. And if you have any recommendations for other authors of color who write PNR (or science fiction romance, for that matter), pass them along. I love to read their books and share that kind of information.
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