In 2017, a picture of the South Korean President’s very handsome bodyguard went viral, and a group of us authors swooned and then decided we’d create a set of romances, that celebrated diversity and featured handsome Asian heroes.
On Asian Valentine’s Day, in August 2018 we launched Kiss Me, which featured eight contemporary sweet romances where each had a hero that was Asian.
Our readers enjoyed the stories with different locations from Hong Kong to Australia to the USA, and we’ve loved all the positive reader feedback.
We talk about wanting diversity in our books, and yet when an author “dares” to write outside of their cultural boundaries they are attacked on social media and called “racist”. You can’t have it both ways. If you want diversity, you will have authors writing characters that have a different social and racial background to them. We need to believe in each author that they will research and write the best book they can (that is culturally sensitive).
We have a number of very talented authors who write for Mills and Boon, in Australian and New Zealand, who I personally know. They write heroes that are culturally different to them – handsome, walk-off the page heroes that are Italian, Spanish, Greek etc. Should they now not?
Years ago when I was learning to write romance, one of my “how-to” books specifically mentioned not to write a romance with a Russian hero. And guess what? Carol Marinelli was one of the first (or the first!) to write a Russian hero (loved that book!) and since then, hundreds of authors have now written romances with sexy Russian heroes.
So do we vilify or celebrate those authors who write outside of their cultural boundaries? I say we celebrate.
I recently met an upcoming author who’s written a story with a quadriplegic hero. Should she not to do so because she’s not quadriplegic? No. Her story sounds captivating and I want to read it.
My fellow Kiss Me authors and I have been publicly vilified on social media by a small group of authors and self proclaimed social warriors who think it’s acceptable to ridicule fellow authors. It’s not. It’s mean and it’s nasty.
My book, An Unexpected Forever, features an Asian hero and an Orthodox Jewish heroine. I spent so much time researching this book, and my acknowledgements to the people who helped me create my characters are in my “Dear Reader” letter at the end.
Why an Asian hero? Because the book is set in Hong Kong. I wanted a rich romance of two characters who were so diverse, yet attracted to each other, who had to work through the barriers between them so they could have a happily ever after. This is what romance is about.
If I had set the story in Melbourne, with an Australian hero, the story wouldn’t have had the strong depth of conflict between the hero and heroine.
And that’s why I love writing romance. It’s where a hero and heroine are able to work through their differences to come together. They each change each other in a positive way so they can have a happily ever after (or happily for now).
Authors who write diverse and complex books should be applauded not publicly shamed.
To our readers who support us, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am truly grateful to be doing a job I love so much, and to be surrounded by so many awesome and talented authors.