|Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
In honor of February being Black History Month, I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate diversity in fiction. Not only for African Americans, but for all people of multicultural heritage.
It wasn't too long ago that if you wanted to find a book that featured characters of multiethnic descent, you would have to go to a special section of the bookstore. That always left me with mixed feelings. While I was happy that books were being written that featured diverse characters, I was also concerned as to why they were tucked away in their own little corner. Why couldn't they be displayed along with the other romance, mainstream, and literary fiction? Was this a deliberate separation, or simply a way of showcasing all of the multicultural stories at once? It's certainly debatable, and I'll leave you to come up with your own conclusions.
Nowadays, the book industry is coming around to reflecting what most of us already know about our world: that we live in a diverse, beautiful, God-created world filled with people of different races and cultures. But we're all equal, and we all have a unique story to tell.
I considered it a milestone when Charisma published my first historical romance The Preacher's Wife, featuring a heroine of Comanche descent. Not only does the model's heritage reflect beautifully and boldly on the cover, but I received many compliments from readers of different ethnicities who said they were drawn to the book because the cover was different. Because Charisma was brave enough to let this heroine's story be told. Because Charisma was brave enough to publish an African American author's book.
Which is why I am so excited to now be working on the third novel in the Brides of Assurance series, tentatively titled The Soldier's Choice. This historical romance follows the journey of Violet Emmers, an African-American daughter of a ranch owner and Adam Campbell, a Buffalo Soldier. I get even more excited when I anticipate seeing what the cover of their story will look like. If the cover of my first novel is any indication of the Charisma design team's capabilities, then I have no doubt that they will find a lovely African American model to reflect Violet's brave and faith-filled spirit.
Although there is quite a bit of way to go when it comes to seeing more ethnic characters on the covers of books, I know that we're well on our way to a new era of acceptance. I hope one day we won't need a separate section for African American fiction, or Latino fiction, etc. Will things ever be perfect? Of course not. But every new multiethnic story that enters public consumption is a start. And as Christian writers and readers, we ought to be at the very forefront of this. God made each and every one of us in His image. Let's act like it in a show of praise for Him and all the diverse people that He has created.
When you read fiction, do you gravitate towards the familiar, or stories that take you on an unexpected path?