New LWL Podcast: Why Romance

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I am thrilled to launch a new podcast, where I get to connect with readers and my fellow writers. In this first episode, I talk about my motivations for writing romance.

People make a lot of assumptions about romance. However, the genre is rich and full of layers that show cultural distinctions of how people negotiate love.

 

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Transcript

All right. I want to take a moment to talk about “Why romance?” I get asked that question a lot, especially as a covered Muslim woman. People are surprised that I write in the genre. They were surprised when I started studying it in grad school.

For some reason, there’s a lot of misconceptions about romance. So, the first question I get asked is, “Why romance, Layla? Why?” I’ve read romance since I was a teen and most of my adult life. So, when I got the opportunity to study it, I just like jumped on it right away and I became a romance scholar.

I really felt like romance is quintessential to literature because it examines one of the most essential human emotions that we have, which is love.

Love, as an emotion, drives. It drives who we are individually, it drives us as a society. So, it’s important to appreciate how we express it and understand ourselves and understand our humanity and the different ways we can express it.

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So, for me, romance novels are more than entertainment; they demonstrate how we explore all that and that’s very important. Love stories exist across all genres. Almost every adult fiction or YA has some love interest content in it, some romantic elements in it. What romance does is it centers all that and it shows how members of societies and cultures navigate it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have misconceptions about romance has a genre and they often try to dismiss how essential it is. They make broad generalizations about it. They automatically equate romance with sexual content and not all romance even had sex scenes.

I mean, mine usually do because I think there’s a puritanical hold on my culture and there’s an alienation between sensuality, sex and Faith. So, I like to include it in my work.

I like to include positive sensual representations in my books and hopefully, it’ll ebb away at some of the allergies that exist in my culture about it. It’s funny, I get asked a lot about sensual content which I find interesting because they’re Muslim authors out there that include a variety of un-Islamic contents in their books. They include murder, lying, cheating, domestic violence, racism, massive death, destruction, stealing, even magic and then I ask these questions.

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So, basically, it’s okay for a character to pull out a gun, but not a condom. I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s human or even real.

I think a lot of people struggle with aversions with frank and productive discussions and instruction about sex and real-life and romance. This hypersensitivity is not productive. And I like to use my literature, the books that I write, to kind of push back against that, inside and outside of Muslim culture.

A lot of people like to think of romance as smart, but it’s far from that. It can include a lot about how people love each other. I mean, yes, they can be erotic content, but there also doesn’t have to be a lot of content. And even if there is erotic content, that’s okay too. I think it’s up to each author to decide what they’re comfortable with and what they can execute well.

Tell a good romantic story and don’t be ashamed of that. People want romance novels. People need romance novels, especially black African-American Muslims because they’re not out there. No one’s really writing them at the level that they could be writing them.

And so, one of the things that I do is I like to write interracial romances, Muslim romances, African-American romances and have that representation and also a way to show the difference is and how people navigate through love.

My interracial romances, like my first book; My Way to You, one of the things I wanted to show is that there’s a widespread misconception that interracial relationships demonstrate that racism doesn’t exist. And you see it; you see couples all over the place shown as like, “Oh that’s inter-racism.” And it’s far from it.

Couples in interracial romances often have to navigate and negotiate an array of bias. And so, {indistinct 5:30} Regina in My Way to You have to do that too. And my soon-to-be-released book, Sweet Love; Bitter Fruit, the main character, Tony De-Marquez, they have to deal with a lot of stuff. They have to struggle with infertility, things going on professionally. And even though they love each other so much, life could just kind of come in and it messes all of that up. So, what happens?

So, I just really want to kind of convey humanness when I write my romance novels and I think that’s really, really as important.

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I also only have brown African-American female protagonist. There are not enough of them out there. I grew up just reading book after book after book with white women, white women, white women and the only inclusion of black women is if there were servants if they were slaves or something like that.

It wasn’t until Beverly Jenkins started busting out with her romance that I actually saw any representation of someone that could look like me and then other black woman’s authors came out as well.

As an African-American Muslim woman, I want African American Muslim female protagonists in my books. I wanted to highlight how people in the culture navigate through love and I think that’s really something that if anyone wants to do, they should not be discouraged from doing it just because people may have an aversion to it because there are plenty of people who won’t.

Have the confidence of knowing that people want to read the story that you want to tell and then tell it.

Thanks for listening to Layla Writes Love. Check out My Way to You and Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, Books 1 and 2 in the Brothers in Law series. Available at Amazon in print, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Visit http://www.laylawriteslove.com for information on my books, blog reviews, interviews and access to free reads. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all with the user name @laylawriteslove.

Let’s keep those keyboards clicking and I look forward to reading with you. Peace.


Music: David Sonya Beats (Maria)– https://bit.ly/2Zx2k4x


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