Fuck WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.
Raw Deal was my first Interracial Romance (IR)…sort of. Burn up with Hendrix and Maya was also technically an IR, but because of film and popular culture a black/white romance has always been the default in a lot of readers minds when they hear that term.
My main characters In Raw Deal are a white male, (more-or-less) repentant criminal and a black, female, kick-ass bounty hunter. Every now and then I wonder if I have any right to be writing what I’m writing. It’s not so much of an imposter syndrome as it is an understanding of the subject matter, but that worry fades pretty quickly. I think that only gets in the way of telling a story. I don’t care all that much about nailing the hard facts (much to my editor’s annoyance) and intricate minutia- I want to get the feeling right. The spirit of the characters, their hardships and their triumphs. I love my characters. It pains me to watch them suffer, it excites me when I see them figure out ways to save each other and it fucking infuriates me when they do dumb shit that they know is bad for them. And the only way I can write any of that in an authentic way is if I personally feel it too.
This may surprise you, but I’ve never been a black woman before.
-That’s a weirdly obvious sentence to write-
But does that matter?
Then again I’ve never been many things that l write about. I’ve never been a billionaire…yet… While I am an avid biker I’ve never been in an MC or biker gang. Hell I’ve never even been arrested (granted a few times that’s been due to luck more than anything else). I think most fiction authors have a well-researched, but only lightly experienced approach to the things they write about. There just isn’t enough time in the day to become proficient – let alone master – everything you need to know to be able to tell a story from experience alone. I mean, I’ve written sci-fi before as well and I’ve never once flown a real space ship although that is unabashedly on my to-do list.
I guess the rambling, meander-y point here is the concept of write what you know is kinda bullshit when you get down to it. Be bold, take risks, but be mindful of the audience. Cruelty for cruelty’s sake is totally fine for a shitbag character, but not okay for an author. Love your characters -the good and the bad- and dare to play pretend. So yeah I think write in an honest way is a better philosophy.
Dare to read dangerously.
P.S. I’m not nearly as confident as I pretend to be. I first run all this by my PA, Tasha, just in case.