Why Do IR Readers Want “Mainstream” Authors to Write IR?

So there’s a thread over at Goodreads on the IR Fan board (The most misnamed group on Goodreads) where the poster laments the lack of response from readers on the Kristen Ashley board to her request that the author write a black heroine. I haven’t read Kristen Ashley before, but given that another commenter had another thread questioning whether she should stop reading the author because of the way she stereotypes black women, I think it’s a strange request.

Apparently this need to have “mainstream = white” authors writing IR books is a major issue, so I have to ask the burning question, Why? I don’t post on this particular group, or really any group on Goodreads, anymore because of this shitshow. So I thought I’d bring it to my blog.

My experience with white authors writing black characters as been mostly negative. Even some authors I really like, like Patricia Briggs, have some major issues with her non-white characters. I stopped reading SEP because of her portrayal of black people in her football series. Yet, we constantly hear lamentations from readers that they want white authors to include more POC. I understand this from white people, it makes sense that they would want white authors as that’s more to their comfort zone. I stopped fighting that battle long ago.  I find it troubling though, that apparently black readers seem to prefer it as well. We’ve all heard the tales of black authors at conventions where nobody, not even the black readers come over to have their books signed.

And even when someone on that thread commented that perhaps readers should simply support the writers who DO want to write black characters, the naysayers arose. No, they can’t let writers get away with that. They must be compelled to write POC even if they don’t want to. Even if they’ve said outright that they don’t think their readers will buy the books. Even if they say they don’t feel up to writing those characters. Am I the only one who sees the crazy in this notion? We, black authors (for the most part) have created this genre from nothing. Nourished it. Nurtured it and brought it along for more than a decade now. But somehow it will only be legitimate when white authors start writing it. Then we will have arrived. Apparently those people over at Dear Author are right, we need white authors to “save” multicultural romance.

10 thoughts on “Why Do IR Readers Want “Mainstream” Authors to Write IR?

  1. I’m on the fence about white authors writing black leads. I often find that I get annoyed because certain stereotypes start to show their faces (i.e. the angry black woman, etc….) I’m dying for more black authors to offer their books in audio format so I can begin to explore their work and show my support other than telling others to check them out.

  2. I only purchase IR books written by black women, even if I have to spend hours researching. If I’m not able to verify, I don’t buy.

  3. I like reading a good story, The author that comes to mind is David Handler and he has a series featuring a black female state trooper that is in love with a Jewish film critic. All that to say is long as the story is enjoyable I don’t mind who wrote it.

  4. There’s nothing wrong with liking a good story. Presumably, most of us buy a book for the story contained within, however, there is a problem when readers are running up behind white authors begging them to write multicultural characters when there’s a surfeit of multicultural authors doing just that. What makes white authors so special?

  5. To be honest, I will not support white female authors who attempted to write interracial romance genre. I am very careful about how I spend my money and I believe in serious research before I purchased. Like Mrs Hardy-Holcomb stated in previous blog, they want the privilege. But at the cost of black women expense. That why I stick with Roslyn Hardy Holcomb, Sienna Mynx, Shiree Mccarver, Pepper Pace, and a few others.

  6. I find it to be another hurtle what anything that POC do we have POC not recognizing it until a white person does it. This was touched on on another authors Facebook page a few months ago; I stated then and I state now since I started reading IR romances I will ONLY purchase books written by black women until the time when they are recognized fully by mainstream publishers. Mine you the books have to be good , LOL, I’m not going to spent my money if the product is not up to par. I only blindly follow author that I have read and have enjoyed their prior books. That includes white authors (not in the IR genre). Three of the authors mentioned in an earlier post are a few that I will buy their books no matter the cost or subject and without reading the description or reviews.

  7. I don’t believe that that we need White authors to save Multicultural/IRR fiction, but I do believe that we need “more” Black writers of Multicultural/IRR fiction to do a better job with editing, and not to mention producing captivating stories that will keep a reader in suspense for 3+ hours.

    As a consumer (who is a Black woman), I love to buy ebooks, especially those that are written by Multicultural/IRR genre writers. (My Nook & Kindle apps on my Nexus Tablet can testify to this fact.)

    Regardless if I spend $15, or even 99cents, I want to be captivated and amazed by what the author produces.

    I know all about quality, and unfortunately, I know all about overpriced crap.

    After reading the latest Charlaine Harris “Sookie Stackhouse” novel, I discovered the true meaning of buying overpriced crap, the hard way…

  8. I would say that I would like more multicultural/irr fiction written by any author (white, black, yellow or a mix of all of the before mentioned, female or male). I don’t really care what race (or sex for that matters) the author is as long as the story is believable and good and captivating and keeps me in suspense and gives me a HEA in case of IR stories, that is.

    I’m Dutch-Caribbean and have been used to read multicultural or contemporary (as we called them here) by Dutch authors from different races, very much representing the melting pot Holland is nowadays. I guess I expected this to be the same for IR romance, a genre I got into just 2 years ago. Although I came across some very well written stories (by male and female Afro-American, Anglo-American and (Afro)British writers) I would like to see the pool of authors that really want to write multicultural or IR stories to increase and to become truly multicultural. Because multiculturalism is not an exclusively black matter as far as I’m concerned. I don’t believe that only the black author can perfectly describe a black heroine. If that is the case, how do we explain a black author creating a white hero in the interracial story? Am I to believe that this white hero is also just a caricature because he wasn’t thought up by a white person? Isn’t the definition of a good author not somebody who can develop characters everybody can believe in? Where does it say that, as an author, you have to be the same race/sex as the characters you come up with to make sure they are well developed?

    I guess I’m rooting for just more well written multicultural stories. By whomever.

  9. I don’t necessarily want white writers to write IR- I used to, but Nora Roberts’ attempt in Black Falls put me right off. It seemed like pandering (and I think the book came out after that kerfuffle over in Dear Author some years ago), like really colour by the lines sort of pandering. Considering the rich romance the two white leads had in the same book, the lack of thought on the sub romance really showed up.

    That being said, black IR writers have to do better. The editing, the stories, shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. For every one book I find agreeable, there are ten that I rue spending my money on. I’d offer to beta/edit, but it wouldn’t be free, and I get the feeling that they don’t really care to pay for editing services.

  10. I must say Jazzypom, I find the romance genre in general has taken a downturn in quality. I don’t read as much as I used to, and I’m gradually winnowing my must buy list down.

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