So we've had an awesome opportunity to connect with all these awesome bloggers and authors over the past few weeks, and this one in particular provided an awesome opportunity to interview our only editor this year!
She's well known among us who love Romance books featuring women of color, especially Black women(though she will read all Romance =D ) and blogs A LOT!
But she's also an editor who supports and promotes inclusive literature, so those of us writers who are always afraid your MS might lose its voice, you get to hear first hand from an editor what they, what they look for, and what they're hoping to edit!
Let's just get to the interview, because we know you guys are impatient!
Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Sixteen:
Patrice of Little Pearing Editing/Musing of a Romance Junkie
Say hi to all the readers at Twinja Book Reviews Patrice! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello Twinja and friends! My name is Patrice Harrison (You say “Hi Patrice!”), and I am first and foremost a romance reader enthusiast, more specifically, a romance enthusiast of stories that feature black women as heroines and love interests. My love of these books has morphed into creating an outlet where I can showcase, highlight, spotlight, and review about not only the books I read and enjoy, but offer personal musings along the way. My blog is called Musings of a Romance Junkie. This year has also been a year of great transition for me as I’ve now jumped into the editing arena. I finally took the plunge and created my own editing service called Little Pear Editing.
As an editor, what types of stories are you drawn to?
While my specialty is romance novels (and not just BW romance) because those are the types of stories that I personally enjoy as a reader, I edit all types of literature from pamphlets to articles to full-length textbooks about how to properly wash out a pair of pantyhose (snort).
Do you find your position as an editor stressful? What are some of the perks?
Editing can be a stressful, yet rewarding venture. It’s stressful in that there are deadlines to meet and a personal sense of accountability to help an author present their best possible effort, but it’s also rewarding when they author finally hits that “publish” button, and the reviews start rolling in. I personally read every one of them, and I get a great sense of accomplishment when a reader expresses how much they loved the story, but more importantly, when they talk about the technical aspects like content, flow, etc. I’m like yeah, I did that! Lol…
The perks are getting a first-hand crack of the WIP (work in progress) and word of mouth business of course. Sometimes I’m more excited as a reader than an editor to get my hands on an author’s new work!
What elements are you dying to read and represent in the future state of books that feature diverse main characters?
Speaking solely as a reader here, I would love to see more YA/NA stories that feature black women. It’s quickly become my favorite genre, and the stories available are slim pickings. I’d also like to see more IR romances that feature BW paired with men of other races and ethnicities other than European. I think we (lovers and writers of the genre) easily forget that IR/MC goes far beyond BWWM.
Also, more stories featuring big girls, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ of color. You can’t proclaim you’re an advocate of diversity in romance and not be include people of all walks of life.
What are some ways we as readers, can make diversity in fiction more mainstream and less cliche?
One of the most important ways is to review every book you read. Yeah, yeah, it sounds like a chore, but word of mouth is crucial to an indie author getting seen and read! You love a book? Talk about it! Let people know. Link to it. Gift it. Books that feature characters of color will only become “mainstream” when the readers (and the authors) publicize it.
Conversely, we also need to start calling out those books and authors who represent characters of colors in a stereotypical way. There are way too many books available these days that portray women of color specifically as less than ideal and dependent upon her male suitor for acceptance and validation.
What advice would you give any author hoping to publish their multicultural fiction novel?
Wooo…I’m definitely no expert here, but my immediate thought is do not be so quick to upload your book to that retailer before having someone trusted enough to read over it for you. If you can’t afford an editor, have a beta reader check it for important things like content flow, plot holes, characterization, etc. You’d be surprised how keen a reader’s eye is when it comes to the small things like name changes, age differences, etc. There are many grammar and spelling programs available that will check your work for errors. And if you’re writing about a race or culture of which you have no prior knowledge, DO SOME RESEARCH! Don’t be afraid to ask people questions if you want to get a true understanding of something. The internet is your friend, and I’m not just talking about Wikipedia and urban dictionary. Avoid clichés at all costs, and when in doubt, just don’t write it because you will be called out on it.
What has been your favorite book to edit so far?
My portfolio is still very small as I’m only less than three months in the game, so I’m going to be diplomatic and say they all are! I wish aspiring authors would take the need for having an editor seriously and invest in one accordingly. When you’re in the business of making and selling, you should also factor in a budget for editing and marketing. Writing a book is no longer a simple matter of “If you build it, they will come.” There is too much competition, and readers are stingy with their coins, so that’s something to consider. Many indie editors such as me are very accommodating (to a point) when it comes to working with aspiring writers, and we’ll work with you to help get that bestseller published.
Do you think the issue of diversity lies with the publishing industry or readership?
Truthfully, I think they go hand in hand. The publishing industry will only give readers what they demand or what is the hot new trend, and I also know it’s hard for new authors to even get their work considered for publication, especially, when the main characters are of color or not cis, hetero, and white (Let’s keep it real here.) Until readers continually to actively push for diverse reads, there won’t be very many. I also think established writers have a responsibility to include more diverse characters in their work, and not just being the best friend or the boss, but the heroes and heroines. If they took a good look at their readership, then they would see that they are diverse themselves.
Since you've already seen, read and edited so many great books featuring diversity, is there any type of setting, or plot, or culture that you would anticipate seeing in a novel?
Again, I would just like to see more inclusion of all body types, sexual orientations, and ethnicities overall. We’re out here! I think some authors have a fear of alienating or even losing their core base if they step outside the box, but I don’t think they realize the number of readers they’re already alienating by not being more inclusive. I’d also like to see less cultural appropriation in some of these mainstream romances as well. They know whom they are…
Finally, if anyone is looking to work with you, or get updates on your blog, where can we go to learn more?
Shameless plug time!!!!! I have links galore, and I’d love to connect with you all. Thank you for having me, and I’ll see you all on the interwebs!