Earlier this year Affaire de Coeur sent out a survey to authors and readers regarding interracial books. (You can check out the questions here.) I’m dying to see the results. If I get a chance to get down to B&N I’ll pick up a copy of the magazine. Anyway, their survey is the reason I posted mine. I’ve not mentioned this before on this blog, but I’ve always sensed some tension in the African American romance community in regard to interracial romance books. Back when there was still a black reader forum on Delphi I remember some readers there expressing consternation with interracial romances and their fear that they would eventually “take over” the African American romance genre. Given the questions that appeared on Affaire de Coeur’s survey I have to assume that those concerns are still extant.
6. Many AA authors have told AdC that they don’t like the intrusion of interracial romance. Some have even gone as far as to state that unless they writing an interracial romance as opposed to an AA romance, they are not supported by their publisher. Do you think there is a push? Why?
This question in particular bugs the heck out of me. For one thing, I resent the hell out of the word INTRUSION. In what way are authors of interracial romance intruding on anything? This notion that we are somehow poaching on their readers is absurd. As my survey clearly showed, it’s not the same reader pool. Most of the readers of interracial romances are either omnivores, who read a little bit of everything, or they are exclusively fans of interracial romance and wouldn’t read monoracial romances even if interracial romances were not available. I suspected this was the case, and my survey confirms it.
I can’t really comment on the publisher issue, but I have to assume that if there’s a push for interracial books it’s because they’re selling. Other than at e-pubs, which have always had interracial books, I haven’t seen a proliferation of interracial books. I think Genesis is still doing one a month, and the last time I checked at Kimani they were still asking for monoracial exclusively. (I’m too lazy to check. Is this still the case?) I can count on one hand the number of IRs I’ve seen from Kimani and they’re all from authors who are already established with them. I haven’t looked at Dafina guidelines in a while, but I don’t seem to remember there being a lot of IRs there either.
7. There is a decline in the number of books where both hero and heroine are AA. Do you think it is attributable to the interracial romance?
This is news to me as well. I didn’t know that there had been a decline in readership of monoracial romances. I doubt that interracial romances are at fault here. The main problem I have with MR romances is level of sensuality. I’m thinking Zane is a publishing phenomenon for a reason, yet I don’t see that popularity reflected in the MR romance community at all. This is an issue that I talked about over at Save Black Romance.
Many IR readers of veterans of the e-pubs. E-pubs thrive on identifying and capitalizing on under-served markets. But those books have a very high sensuality level. A sensuality level readers have grown accustomed to. I’ve complained quite a bit about the lower heat levels in MR romances. It was much the same way when IR books first started. I actually wrote my first love scene because I was tired of the titty-fingered way many authors dealt with sex scenes in IR romances.
Further, as my survey showed, many of our readers are omnivores. That is, they’re reading MR, IR and mainstream books as well. Mainstream books have taken off into all manner of realms: SF/F, suspense, paranormals, menage, slash, etc… Except for suspense storylines, this evolution simply isn’t present in the MR books, and I say this as someone who reads several of them a month. With very few exceptions, MR books are where mainstream books were a decade ago. If readership is falling off, I suspect it is informed by this issue.
Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember when there were no black people in romances period, but this schism troubles me greatly. I hate to think that at this time of great success, we seem to be on the path to consuming our own. I don’t know about anyone else, but I get a thrill when I see black romances on the shelves in bookstores. Yeah, I’m a bit envious of those who’ve found success in New York, but I know those authors have worked their asses off and I’m proud of them too. Goodness knows I’m the last person on earth to ask that we join hands and sing Kumbaya, but I don’t think any of our needs are served by this level of discord either. After all, ultimately we all have the same goal: to write and sell books. It’s a big world out there, I think there’s enough readers for all of us.