A critique partner told me once I had too many social issues in the draft of my romance novel. At the time, my protagonist was a multiracial woman of color in academia who encountered sexism and racism in the book as well as having experiencing with dating violence. Throughout the book, she made mention of her racial identity when the love interests were getting to know each other. The love interest had his own experiences exploring consent. At the time, I took it as 'too many subplots' and skimmed it back, but in retrospect, I think about that phrase: too many social issues.
My protagonist's views of the world have been shape by the way she's experienced it--racism, sexism, violence and identity all together. At the same time, it's a romance novel, the book isn't about any of those. They've shaped the person falling in love. What is the balance for other #ownvoices authors?
As we strive to write real and complex characters, especially characters of color or who hold marginalized identities, what's the line in fiction about the intersectionality of our characters identities and the nexus of their experiences? I've always written mt characters as close to how they might actually live as possible, but aside from my wonderful beta readers and friends, I haven't yet had to sell my book to anyone. I guess time will tell!
Denise reads romance novels, writes research papers, can be found humming "Baby Shark" long after her toddler has gone to bed, and loves ruining her character's lives but then giving them happily ever afters. She is a member of Romance Writers of America® and a 2019 Golden Heart® Finalist, and her debut novel HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING will be out fall 2020 from Berkley.