“A Writer’s Work Is Never Done”
Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham
One thing this Old School New Kid has learned is that my writing is ever-evolving. Honing one’s craft and writing style is an ongoing process, especially when writing is one’s passion. I remember my days as a child when my stories were largely about animals.
In junior high school (Yes, that’s what it was called before the term “middle school” was coined.), I received my first commendation in a state contest for a short story about the misadventures of a bookworm who visited my school—a real worm with a hearty appetite for books.
And in college and as a young adult, my stories took on more of a satirical nature, with occasional ventures into poetry. Today, as an African American gay man of a certain age, whole new avenues have opened for me.
Toni Morrison said, “If there is a story you wish to read, and it hasn’t been written, then you must be the one to write it.” Having read about African American LGBT characters in fiction, urban fiction, and erotica over the years, I knew that I wished to read about such characters in the genre of romance; and by extension, write about them. In a subgenre where only 17% of the published authors are male, and far less are African American, I was highly motivated to step up to the plate and add my voice.
There is truth in the adage that “being a good writer goes hand in hand with being a good reader.” Being the voracious reader that I am, I obtained a better sense of what I wished to write in male/male romance through reading other novels. I love the works of romance authors Brenda Jackson, Niobia Bryant, Rochelle Alers, and Cheryl Barton for the way they represent their male/female, African American main characters, which was in line with my own vision–now, I needed to translate that into male couples. In reading novels from the subgenre of male/male romance, I noticed that when the story had an African American main character, he was in a relationship with a white man the majority of the time.
So, it begged the question: where are the couples who look like me? If I was asking this question, I was sure there were others out there asking the same thing. Hence, for me, it was time to see Black male couples represented in such novels, treated with the respect they are due.
In contrast to the dominant Black alpha male/submissive white twink dynamic, I visualized two evenly matched Black men falling in love. Also, my series takes place in a family where being LGBT is simply another fact of life; when you have your family behind you, that’s a major portion of the battle won. And yes, such couples deserve the happily-ever-after their white counterparts receive.
Of course, in a romance novel, there are the steamy scenes of passion. When I’m writing those scenes, I must have Barry White playing in the background. I have to say, a brotha who’s man enough to embrace his vulnerability and take what he dishes out is smokin’ hot– and this element shows up in my love scenes. The brothas have it going on! Authors LaQuette, Christa Tomlinson, Terrance Dean, and Wyatt O’Brian Evans have done this, and their work is amazing.
It’s nice to read about 20-something couples in love; it’s been even better to read about couples in their 30s, 40s, and on up; the late Mike Warren’s Always and Forever is a classic example.
In my first romance novel, The Right to Be, expect to see a male couple in their senior years as part of the Christopher family in addition to the younger ones. In the second, To Thine Own Self, the couple is 30-plus. No, they’re not out yet; they are the next in the Christopher Family Novel series after Never Give Up, my historical whodunit novel scheduled for release this year.
No, a writer’s work is never done, not so long as unlimited creativity and imagination prevails. Even as I speak, more ideas are taking shape and in the works for me as a romance novelist. Fortunately, since my characters come from this large, extended family, I’ve found it far easier to multitask. To my brothas and sistahs: if writing is your passion, let us continue to support one another and lift our voices.
If you write romance, I’d love to know about your work; my to-be-read pile is low, and I’d love to pile it up with lots of happily-ever-afters.
Believe in dreams and never give up.
© 2019 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.
W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness. He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.”
His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood. He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.
Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self.