Romance Novels: Not Only White Guys Are Sexy
A Guest Blog by Dylan Madrid
One of the elements of my writing that often generates the most feedback from readers is the different ethnicities of my characters, specifically the love interest of my protagonist. To call my work multicultural is accurate. As a reader of literature by diverse authors featuring characters from all walks of life, I made a commitment to myself early on to not “white wash” my novels. To create an imaginary literary universe that is populated solely by one race or ethnic group is not only unrealistic – it can alienate many readers.
So often people are seeking representation of their own lives (and loves) in the novels they read. I know I certainly do when I’m looking for something new to read. Therefore, when I sit down to create the hot, sexy object of desire that my main character is lusting after – rarely is that character Caucasian. Many readers ask why. Others have shared with me the very reason they read my work is because of the diversity of my sexy male characters.
The why is simple to answer: people interest me. I am far more fascinated with different cultures, races, traditions, communities, and ethnicities than my own. I’m a curious soul who loves to explore new, unknown territory, where I hope to find intriguing people to write about. My own life is rich and colorful, filled with an ever-growing multitude of close friends (and even new relatives who have married into my Canadian-American family) who enhance my days with more potential writing material than I could ever dream of.
But, since I write romance novels: let’s talk about the men.
In Mind Fields, college student Adam Parsh is torn between the lust he feels for his wealthy, married employer (an Greek tycoon named Dario Vassalo) and the growing love he can’t deny for his classmate (a Mexican-American artist named Victor Maldonado). Of course I can’t give away who Adam chooses – or why – but I can tell you that both the characters of Victor and Dario (and the Vassalo family) serve as cultural informants (a term coined by one of my former college professors at Columbia College in Chicago). Just by being a part of Adam’s world, they enrich his life by exposing him to cultural and ethnic differences. They broaden his mind – and in true romance novel form – his heart.
In my next novel Love in the Shadows, Quintin Pearson, a lonely American living in London, has a hot affair with an Italian spy named Luca Russo. To prepare for writing the novel, I enrolled in a Wednesday night Italian class held in the parish office at a local Catholic church. The students were all women, mostly Italian. Their stories – and they phrases I learned – definitely helped while writing the novel. I kept going back to an important question: would Luca Russo be half as sexy on page if he wasn’t Italian? I knew the answer early on in the creative process: No. He wouldn’t. He had to be Italian. And, by being so, it made him all that much more desirable.
In my upcoming novel Backstrokes, a classical pianist named Crawford Paul falls in love with a Latino lifeguard named Armando Leon. Before I even sat down to write the first sentence of the novel, I knew that in order for Crawford to fall head over heels – he needed to meet someone who was very opposite and because of this, his curiosity would get the best of him. In the end, the stark differences between the two characters of Crawford and Armando (physically, culturally, and even life experiences) are what create the unbreakable bond between them.
So, in the end, I have found a new truth that is alive and working in every novel I write: Not only white guys are sexy. Many readers – and authors such as myself – have realized that the world is a fascinating, diverse place to live in. The novels we write and read should reflect that.
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Genre - Gay Romance, Suspense
Rating – R