No. I don’t write Urban Fiction. I write African-American Romances.
Yes, there is a difference.
As everything does, the African-American romance genre has grown. When I was a girl and first getting into romances there was only one name for the genre. It encompassed any romances that included A.A characters as the driving leads. The list of authors was constantly growing and the different styles were developing write under my nose. I loved it then, I love it now. So when it was time for me to write for myself using A.A. romance novels as my foundation was ideal.
As I have gotten older, I’ve watched the genre make room for more. The rise of Urban Fiction came as a surprise for me. Suddenly there was another outlet, another expression of A.A. romance in its various forms. I tried to get into it, but found myself feeling like an outsider. I was trying to interpret something that I didn’t have a base line to understand. Urban Fiction had almost all the elements that I loved about old-fashioned A.A. romances, but there was something more. There is a deeper edge to everything about urban fiction.
The language is coarser, the settings and circumstances center around a more street lifestyle. The methods and motivations of the characters to get what they wanted felt more cutthroat. I grew up in the woods in a home my stepfather built us. The love written between the pages of Urban Fiction I could relate too. I have a hard time with everything else.
I keep reading anyway. When I discuss being a writer, even before getting to the shifter angle, there are questions about my work. Urban Fiction has become the unofficial face of black romance. Which leads to some explaining when I say I don’t write it for myself. I’ve ghostwritten several, but that is the extent of it. I know women who swear by it, who race out for the next bestsellers. I’m not one of them.
However, when I look over the landscape of romance writing, I love all the voices that are making their way. Representation is so important. Having someone who gets where you are from and your experiences mirrored back in something like leisure reading is fun and inviting. It is a welcomed sight. It is as it should be and kudos to those who saw the need and filled it.
The romantic lives of black people and people of color in general has almost always been presented as either something taboo or something one-dimensional. It is important that we as writers make room for more voices to demystify the layers of relationships and how they are created within our communities. To show the world at large there is no one way to quantify loving. It exists in its own forms both similar and differing everywhere the sun touches. I don’t write Urban Fiction, but I am thankful for its existence. Just as I needed the old-fashioned A.A. Romances, so did those who read and love Urban Fiction. I’m forever here for that.
Comment below with your favorite Urban Fiction books and authors. I’d love to hear some of your reviews.