Saturday, June 27, 2009

Multicultural Romance

First of all, sorry for missing the blog on Friday. My day was totally messed up with a schedule that just didn't flow like it always would do. Woops.

So, let's talk about mulicultural romances and what we are really looking for in projects of this nature. This is a tough category but one that publishers and agents really do like, if the story is done well. It is that last part that tends to mess up most proposals that cross the desks of those editors and agents.

The term multi-cultural, according to communication specialists deals with a significant collection of people with a shared deposit of knowledge. That desposit of knowledge is also refered to as a world view. When we discuss that concept of world view we are looking at issues of shared beliefs, values, perceptions of life and death and so forth. It even extends to more common every day ideas of how time is perceived and used, definitions of man and woman, gender relations and communications.

I bring all of this up because many authors pitching mulit-cultural romances to me clearly miss the point on this one. There is a perception that if I call the heroine Maria Rodriquez it makes it a hispanic story. Or if the hero is Alexis Eaganixsis he is Greek. Some go so far as to just have the characters eating "traditional" food. This is not it.

When we use the term multi-cultural romances, we are looking at how that culture plays a significant role in the lives of the hero and heroine. We want to see how that culture is either creating huge roadblocks to the development of the relationship, or is somehow guiding the story. I think the best right now has got to be Amy Tan. We understand how the Chinese and American cultures are clashing with each other in her characters relationships.

For myself, I am looking for the opportunity to be immersed into a culture that might, at first, seem distant and foreign. I want to see the hero and heroine struggle and for me to scream, "come on, if you would do it this way..." and then discover that "this way" might be a cultural perception that exists for me, but might not exist for the characters.

So, for those of you writing those multi-cultural romances. Go beyond the names, locations and food. Don't just simply insert the language of the culture. Take us to the culture.


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