Did you know that June is Caribbean Heritage month?
It is! And we thought it would it would be such an incredible wrap up to the month to have Stacy Reid here on our blog. Stacy hails from Jamaica and is one of the nicest authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with. Gwen Hayes and I met her in Jamaica when we were on our Entangled Corporate Retreat. We sat on the beach and at Jerk Chicken, had drinks, and then swam in the beautiful Caribbean ocean.
Now Stacy is here to talk about why and how she chooses to write with diversity.
Take it away, Stacy!
“Why did you choose to write about white protagonists when you are black?” And “Why is it that your books are not set in the Caribbean?”
I have been asked these questions several times in their varied formats by some readers and friends since my first novella “The Duke’s Shotgun Wedding” was published in April. I had never thought much about diversity in writing romance or even if readers would ponder my ethnicity in relation to my characters. When I write my characters I simply decide on a race without over thinking race. In fact, several of my works in progress have different races. One of my paranormal romances tentatively titled Eternal Flames, has a black bad ass alpha king getting with a white, equally bad ass, heroine. In my smexy as hell contemporary romance tentatively titled Vixen for a Night, my hero Corven is half black. And another book in that series will feature a Latina heroine. I did not over think writing about diverse characters, nor did I make an effort to have different races. I only knew I wanted to showcase people’s vulnerabilities and strengths no matter where they were from or how they looked.
It is my Jamaican roots that allow me to write with such freedom. In Jamaica our Motto is ‘Out of Many One People’ because of our population’s multi-racial roots. Even though comprised of many different races and cultural backgrounds, we are all one people. It is our current culture and norms that makes us Jamaicans, not the color of our skin. Hence, people from several different races can easily be identified as Jamaican. My country’s diversity and the pride we take in it is shown in this video.
I find that my country’s motto is intrinsic in me. It manifests in the comfort I feel with the diversity of my friends who are from all over the world, Canada, England, America, Barbados, et cetera. All of whom are of varied races. And the diversity in the books I read. I view people as humans and not colors, and have the belief that what differentiates us is our culture, not our skin.
This view naturally influences my writing and shapes my craft. So, whether my characters are black, white, or a mixture I want them to be viewed as people first because that is how I view them. People that struggle with everyday life, that are kind, that have issues, that want to find love, those who believe they can’t have it, those who show they can fight for what they want and triumph. What I want to show is people’s capacity for love, hatred, warmth, kindness and overcoming adversity. I write about people falling in love and having their happy ever after, and once I capture the heart of human connection, and my readers fall in love with each of my characters despite their race, I have done my job.
I now understand that some people will expect me to write what they think I know about…and that would be to write about black characters living in Jamaica or the Caribbean. LOL. My life itself is diverse, and my aim is to show that in my work. People are characterized by their culture, which can be authentically represented with good research. It is incumbent upon me to ensure the nationalities of my characters are portrayed with depth and understanding, and not the stereotypes that exist and ones that can cause offense. I may miss the mark or I may not, but I will endeavor to avoid such stereotypes and showcase humanity at its purest.
I expect questions about writing diversity in romance novels will always exist. I welcome the opportunity to speak about my culture, and how my country, family and friends have shaped my outlook, and how wonderfully they impact the characters I create.