My new paranormal romance release, Phoenix Inheritance has three things I’d never thought I’d write in a romance:
A cat, dogs, and a kid.
I suspect I’ve gone sentimental in my old age though, I promise, there is a moment when stuff blows up. What it also has, and not for the first time, is a main character who happens to be a person of color.
Daz Montoya, who is of mixed Filipino and African-American heritage, is the third non-white hero in my novels, joining African-American Aloysius James of Luminous and Ghosts of Christmas Past, and Gregor Sherringford, the Indian-British consulting detective in The Curse of the Brimstone Contract. One could argue Philip Drake of Phoenix Legacy is also a person of color, as he’s a quarter Native American, but if someone can pass for white, they don’t experience our society’s prejudice in the same way as one who’s recognizably the other. Therefore, I don’t count Philip.
Daz has been around since I included him in the supporting cast for the first Phoenix Institute book, Phoenix Rising. By the time I started writing Phoenix Inheritance, I never thought “hey, I’m writing a POC as a hero.” I thought “I’m finally able to give Daz his own story. Awesome.”
However, Daz was originally part of a deliberate choice to include people of color to my Phoenix Institute universe after I’d talked to several friends who felt they weren’t being properly represented in romance. One friend, Rita-nominated author Karen Harbaugh, herself Japanese-American, is the reason the heroine of Phoenix Rising, Beth Nakamora, is Japanese-American. Why? Because Karen and the others were right: why was the fictional world so white if the real world is so diverse?
I grew up reading comics books and science fiction and fantasy novels and I know what it’s like to be missing from your favorite genre. Finding three-dimensional female characters at the heart of SF/F and superhero stories was like finding a diamond amidst mounds of coal dust. I held close to my hear those few female characters who, even if they weren’t main characters, at least had powerful moments, like Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. I nearly cried at 13 when I realized that Lessa in The DragonRiders of Pern was a main character. And I bought every single issue of Batman Family Comics that featured Batgirl.
So how could I write stories excluding whole swaths of people? Answer: I can’t.
But you shouldn’t buy Phoenix Inheritance because it’s a blow for diversity. You should buy the book because Daz is an awesome hero that anyone can love.
That he breaks the mold is just a bonus. Below, I hope you’ll see why I adore Daz. And you can enter to win a copy of Phoenix Inheritance by commenting here or liking my Facebook page.
EXCERPT: CHAPTER ONE, Phoenix Inheritance.
Daz Montoya’s lungs burned with the need for air. The fifty pounds of dead weight in his backpack pushed down on his shoulders and his belly scraped the bottom of the pool. He kicked several times, short, sharp strokes designed to close the distance to his goal: the far wall. Read the rest of this entry »