I love romance. Guy meets girl, event happens, turmoil, reconciliation, and happy ever after. There’s nothing like a good love story. In my teens, I used to read secular stories all the time. Several years ago, I found a new genre I did not know existed called Christian romance. It had all the elements I desired in a good love story without the gratuitous sensual scenes. Plus, it had my faith spread through the story. A wonderful medium.
It wasn’t until my publishing journey began that I became aware of something that was seriously lacking in my newfound genre – diversity. During my upheaval of being a writer looking to big traditional houses to publish my book, I discovered multi-cultural Christian love stories were not considered money makers. One publisher simply said, “We haven’t had success with this type of story.”
It wasn’t the story or the writing. It was product – a love story of a man and woman of different ethnicities. According to that particular publisher, it could not be successful.
I came across an article recently that stated by the year 2050, the average American will be bi-racial or of mixed ethnicity. This is rather insightful as to the changing face of the country. Color lines are being blurred as interracial marriages and relationships increase. With this in mind, it seems to me that maybe traditional publishing houses need to reconsider what is being touted as Christian fiction, in particular romance.
I suspect there are several reasons why success in diverse Christian publishing hasn’t happened:
- Reluctance to change.
- Traditional publishers, for a long time, decided what made good reading
- Encouraging multi-cultural fiction (whether Christian or secular) has not been a priority
- The readers have not made it known that there is a desire for it.
- Potential readers are not aware this is a lack of diversity.
During promotion for the Book Expo convention, a simple message came to light. ‘We need diverse books.’ Readers, authors, and others began to demand this element in our literature. Why? Perhaps it’s because the face of America is changing and individuals would like to see their own uniqueness reflected on the covers of books.
In my book Many Strange Women, it was important for me that race not be a plot device in this story. My hero, Solomon, is flawed because of his past, not his nationality. My heroine, Celeste, is desperate to have a semblance of normalcy even if she has to marry a man who doesn’t find her attractive. Not because of her ethnicity but because of his ‘sense’ of beauty. Ultimately they both have to turn to God to heal their wounds.
We know for certain God does not play favorites when it comes to healing the broken hearts of men, women, boys, and girls. His love and power are available to all, no matter what they look like or whatever they’ve done.
After all, what is the color of Christian love?