When I first started writing romance novels, I was acutely aware that publishing didn’t want my South Asian heroes and heroines. The typical protagonists in contemporary YA love stories were both white. I even had a published author once tell me “the ideal romance will always be two white people.”
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: almost every Indian aunties’ mission in life to ensure that single women are married and pregnant by twenty five.* Do you know how many romance tropes exist in that truth? My culture is fodder for the romance genre and I was determined to write a book with two South Asians falling in love.
Why? Well, here’s the thing: people of color fall in love, too. Love is universal and something that almost everyone can relate to in one form or another. But to this day, it’s so hard to find contemporary romances between two South Asians on the shelves. Or, if a romance exists, it’s filled with stereotypes. I know dozens of South Asian couples, yet rarely can they find their romance in the pages of a YA novel. That’s why I hope that books like My So-Called Bollywood Life and other emerging titles in YA give readers a point of view they can connect with.
Literary realism, fantasy, and drama are really important genres, and I’m so glad that complete diverse casts are finally making their debut in these books. Every moment for #ownvoices is a victory. However, romance still needs more. More books by authors of color, more books about characters falling in love, and more stories where love is acceptable. It’s important for readers to see beautiful, normal, quirky, endearing, happy love stories in books just as it’s important to showcase difficult topics.
I hope that readers enjoy my love stories between two South Asians enough to want to keep reading my books, and to also push for other authors to join me in the romance arena. Because as cheesy as it sounds, love is love is love.
READ MORE: Readers deserve hope.
* This is not a statistical fact, but I’m still pretty sure it’s accurate.