Friday, May 16, 2008

The great AA/IR debate

A couple of sites have had posts of late that have ended up in pretty much the usual white authors/black authors debate. One thing everyone can agree on, no matter if they read romance novels featuring multiracial - or more specifically African American - protagonists or not, is that publisher/bookseller forced separation due to the colour/race of the author is, as Martha would say, not a good thing. ( I say forced, as it appears not all AA authors feel the same sentiment, they like the shelving spilt, and feel it's good marketing strategy.)

I tried (and apparently badly, as I was taken to task by Monica Jackson- I also defended myself, as I felt Monica's tidbits of my posts were unfairly made to appear in a context different from where they were taken) to make a case that when multicultural/biracial/racial book content comes up it doesn't have to all be about the political, and that it would indeed be great if the AA authors would stand up and proclaim about how great their books are without the political *but* always attached (yes, I guess I can be that simple/naive/insert your favorite happy happy joy joy descriptor here). Not because I think that AA authors being pigeonholed into a separate section is good - in fact, I think the total opposite (especially since this is fairly much a USA shelving issue) - but because it would be great to take away from one of these discussions some good things about the genre (forced even that it is). Good things about actual books and storylines, not just a general impression that as a white author and reader that I'm somehow not quite politically vocal enough to actually be able to say I've read/read books by AA authors.

Reading is leisure time for me. I'm not a person to read literary or commentary works for the fun of it. In the most part I don't look for political agenda in my romance, and as long as the story is good - even if its a story about a life I don't live - I'm there. I enjoy it, no matter if the protags are alien, Asian, Anglo, African American or entirely fantastical.

Ahh, Escapism. How I love thee. I can be anyone I like - although, in actuality I realise life 200yrs ago is really not as 'pretty' as all the historicals I like to read make it out to be - but that's the joy of romance!

I'm not going to backtrack on the main points I made (albeit badly made as they might be), I don't think they were entirely invalid - it doesn't have to ALWAYS be political and a battle of white/black or privilege/oppression, it really can be just about the romance and the people of all ethnicities who like reading about the journey of falling in love.

But in tune with the initial intent of my posts at SBTB, and because I do want to see the situation change, I made this offer on Monica's Blog today based on Ciar Cullen's offer to gladly review romance books by AA authors (although, no one at this point has taken her up on the offer):

And for what it’s worth, I’ll make my offer to increase exposure (although I can’t guarantee how big that exposure is, and if anyone will want to take me up on it):

I don’t usually do reviews on my blog, although the ones I have done have been received well, but to take Ciar’s offer a step further (heck I’ll even work with Ciar and do duelling reviews/combined reviews etc) make the same offer - Any AA authors who would like the exposure of a blog review are welcome to send me their release info and I will obtain (or if you’d like to send me an ARC/eBook) a copy, read it, and review it. I don’t make promises, if the book is a wallbanger I’ll say so, but I’ll stand up with my naive, it’s just about the romance! cheerleader outfit on and put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.
(I’ll read any romance genre, and any grouping of sexes - and if they are BBW I’ll be in happy land)

I have no idea if anyone will take me up on the offer, but I hope they do, once I figure out where best to make it known that I'll do the reviews. I make no guarantees the review will be good, but they will not be biased because of the author or the protags race.

So, feel free to email me if your an AA author with a new release coming out that you would like reviewed by a slightly different source than usual.

I think I'll contact Ciar and see about setting up a review of a random, off the shelf book - maybe one of the rec's that did pop up in the SBTB thread - and get the ball rolling.

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