Welcome to Queer in Color, Brenda! Let's get to know you and your latest release.
I've been an RN for 30 plus years and started writing for publication about five years ago. I've lived most of my life in and around Washington DC before moving to a small town in Ohio ten years ago with my wife. I've a masters degree in education and I credit having to write my thesis between the time my kids were born and their first birthday with teaching me to how to write in the margins and make use of every minute of time to write when opportunity presents itself.
My most recent release One is set in Italy and I outlined it sitting in the University of Milan's cafeteria while waiting for my wife to finish up a panel she was moderating. Mac, the lead character in One was a secondary character in a short story from a collection I published in 2016 and I liked her so much I decided she needed her own story and deserved to find love. We had taken a day trip to Bellagio the day before and I had seen and chatted with the perfect woman for Mac on the trip, and from that One was written. I loved the world I created form Mac and Lana so much I hated leaving it when I finished writing the novel.
Six Questions with Brenda Murphy
1) What are you planning to write next?
I'm currently working on another F/F/F BDSM romance novel set in the shared universe of Rowan House, from my first novel Sum of the Whole, it will mesh with my next release in the series Both Ends of The Whip, set to release in April of this year.
2) Who is your favorite character you’ve ever written?
So far Mac has my heart, she's still my favorite although it's a little like choosing a favorite child.
3) Do you read while writing? Why or why not?
I read outside my genre when writing to avoid inadvertent plagiarism, so I read fantasy romance and westerns, as well as historical romance when I'm writing.
4) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don't quit, don't let people discourage you, don't compare yourself to anyone else, and write what you want to write.
5) What’s your writing schedule like?
I write from 9am to 12pm Monday through Friday. I work evenings when I work at the hospital so even if I'm scheduled at the hospital I get my writing time in, I'll also go back and write for a couple of hours after my kids are asleep if I'm in a hurry to get a rough draft completed.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I'm a plotter, I'm in love with 3x5 cards and use those and a scene list to outline, but it's a loose outline and often the finished product is very different form the original outline.
Hello, Giovanna! Please tell us about yourself and your latest release.
I’m a United States Navy veteran and have traveled various parts of the world. I have a Masters degree in education, and was about to start my classes for my second Masters when I decided to listen the voices in my head and began to follow them.
Phoenix Harcourt is a single father who was kicked out of his home when his parents found out that he was an omega. After losing his alpha mate, Phoenix turned his focus to his daughter and the successful company that was left in his care. With a threat to his life, Phoenix hires a bodyguard who wants to protect more than his body. He also want’s Phoenix’s heart.
Hired to protect an omega, Lucius Payne had one goal: do his job and nothing else. He was never one to mix business with pleasure. Moreover, finding an omega mate was not in his plans, especially when it is the man he is supposed to protect. When his job becomes more complicated than he was expecting.
Can Lucius convince Phoenix to trust him with his heart as well as his body?
Five Questions with Giovanna Reaves
1. What inspired you to write this story?
I’ve always been fascinated by Omegaverse and the idea of fated mates. I wanted to write a story about two characters. Even though, they know they are fated mates, there’s some push and pull in their relationship.
2. How did your characters come into being? Were you inspired by your own life experiences, by travels, someone in your neighborhood, etc.?
Travel plays a lot with the characters I write, along with their family background. If you notice in a couple of my books one or two of my main characters have an Italian background. Italy is important to me because it was the first country I ever been to outside of the United States, and it’s where I met and married my husband. I draw a lot from my husband’s multi-national family. I’m also Jamaican and eventually will add my own nationality and some of the history in my novels. When I started writing I made a conscious decision that no matter the world I was writing, I want them to be filled with diversity. I think it’s an essential aspect of my writing. Reality is filled with diversity and so should the characters and the world we write.
3. What is your most cherished writing accomplishment/accolade/memory?
My most cherished writing accomplishment was and still is publishing my first novel. I was scared out of my mind, but I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would have regretted trying in the first place.
4. What are you planning to write next?
I’m currently working on three new Mpreg novels with diverse characters and backgrounds. Each story is paranormal romance, and of course, there will be some sort of conflict that will bring the characters together.
5. Do you have any writing rituals? Favorite sweater or snacks you have to have?
My ritual starts with a cup of coffee and browsing through the news and Facebook. Then I put on one of my favorite robe, and begin looking through my notes – whether they are on a sticky, written in a notebook, or something I typed the night before.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer questions about my work and myself.
Buy links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0765M5ZX2
Good morning. I’ve wanted to do another article about diversity in fiction for a while now. My first was about interracial romances and why I love writing them. With so much chatter going about the need for diversity in books, I had to speak on it again.
First let’s start off with a question for authors. Since I’m an author too, I figured I’d begin here. You’re an author and you have an idea for a story which features a character of a race other than your own. Say it’s a black male and you as a white female or male aren’t sure what to write. Do you scrap this idea, even though it could be one of your best books or do you try doing it yourself and using what you’ve seen on TV as your guide? I’ve talked with authors before who’ve said they’d rather not do the “black” character for fear of getting it wrong, but unless you’re doing a historical, say something in the days of slavery or in 1920’s Harlem New York, what could you possibly get wrong?
I say this because I’m a black female who may not fit the mold of the so called black stereotype. One example, I like rock music and not rap. I don’t talk slang like many may perceive a black person to do. Yet, I’ve seen books with black characters who fit that description. In many publications, even those written by black authors, black characters are painted a certain way. The way they talk, dress, the neighborhood they’re from. Is it wrong? Not necessarily, but does it hold true for every black male or female? No. What I’m getting at is, when you’re an author you don’t have to draw from those stereotypes unless it fits into the plot. If your story is centered around black males who talk slang and dress a certain way fine. The problem comes in when every book paints black characters that way.
What about you as the reader? If the cover features characters that aren’t like you, are you more apt to shy away from it or does it even matter? I’ve heard rumblings about covers with black characters not selling well. Even worse, publishers haven’t put people of color on the front at all because they fear it won’t be marketable. Why is this? Do we live in a world that is fully white? No, so why should this even be an issue? The book should be judged on its plot and subject matter. If that’s interesting to you then you shouldn’t be deterred to read it because of the characters on the front.
I’m an author and reader who loves reading and writing books containing diverse characters. Some people might take issue with certain books because of the race. That’s not me. If the storyline is interesting I’ll read it whether it be two of the same race or multicultural. We live in a very diverse world so why wouldn’t we want more books that reflect today’s society?
In my opinion, authors should be the leaders in showing what’s outside the box. We should be writing characters whether they’re of different race, sexual orientation, able-bodied or not, religion, and/or gender. Fiction is supposed to be about freedom to express yourself and it shouldn’t be held back because of what people think or say. People in general just want well written books with fleshed out characters not the colors of their skin or what religions they are.
We need more diversity in fiction for so many reasons. Why stifle creativity because of our various differences? I’m sure you’re saying it’s easier said than done but if we all do what we can to embrace diversity around us someone else might just learn from it and pass it on.
When you think about book covers, it should represent what happens in the book. If it’s a mystery, it might be dark with big letters or some kind of complex scene. Fantasy, perhaps illuminations, bright lights that appear to be magic. In romance, most of the time you have people. Whether it be one or multiple torsos, they usually says it’s a romance. Now, that isn’t always the case. Many romances have no people on them, which is fine too. Regardless of how it’s presented, it’s supposed to attract readers.
Now, let me be clear, this isn’t a post about covers being overpriced, ugly, or done on Photoshop or Canva. It’s about the message your cover gives when it’s on Amazon or any other platform as well as in the book store. What am I saying about the book through this cover?
Speaking from the author viewpoint, I want all my covers to reflect the diverse world I live in. Unfortunately, many times that doesn’t happen. Since I write mostly people of color, specifically characters who are black, the variety of stock models is limited. This can be very disheartening because the world is diverse so our options should be vast. Still, in 2017 this is a problem and an even bigger one when it comes to writing queer romance. I’ve been told a lot of models, especially those from marginalized groups don’t want to be associated with a queer book for fear of backlash. I respect that, but it doesn’t make it any easier for authors like myself. However, me, a person of color, will make every effort to put my PoC character on the front for everyone to see. I’ve been adamant about that even with my publishers. With one, only my PoC was on the front and I asked the wonderful artist to add his white counterpart, which she did. Not everyone will get this chance, so I fully understand it isn’t easy with a publisher.
However, if an author is self-publishing a book with a PoC, do all you can to include that character. As I stated, the number of PoC models are few and far between and many of them get used multiple times. (Shoutout to Karamo Brown) Despite him being reproduced on hundreds of covers, it represents a character of color you wrote.
From the perspective of a reader, your book will be the first one I pick up. Why? Because I see someone who looks like me on the front. Before people get upset, that doesn’t mean those are the only books I read. Again, I live in a diverse world so I want to read books about other races and cultures as well, but when I see a book that includes people from a marginalized group such as my own, I will pick up those first.
Regardless of anything I say it is still your book. If you feel better about making the book with a PoC “fit in” with the rest to gain more sales, by all means, do that. This isn’t a slap on the wrist, it’s only my thoughts. I truly believe that any author who goes the lengths to create a character of a race or culture different than their own, should do everything they can to show that character. In my opinion, it shows you are trying to promote diversity, inclusivity, and aren’t concerned that the story might lose a couple of notches on Amazon best seller’s list. People continue to cry for more diverse romance, but a big reason they can’t be found is because the marginalized person isn’t on the front.
And let me add, although I primarily mentioned race, this goes for other things too.
Writing a story about a blind man?
A person in a wheelchair?
Someone with a hearing impairment?
A different religion?
Include something or someone that reflects that. I guarantee if you do, it will stand out above the rest.
So, to conclude, this isn’t a slam on anyone. Authors, you have the right to do with your cover what you will. However, representation matters, especially these days when our society wants to go backwards. Fiction authors should be leaders when it comes to open-mindedness and diversity. Let’s continue to move forward, instead of going back.