More Book Recs: Diverse Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

Reader A.A. asks:

Is there a chance that you could highlight multicultural UF or Paranormal Romance? A lot of the heroes and heroines I read are pretty white-bread, and I feel like there’s got to be more out there that I’m missing. Nalini Singh and Meljean Brooke tend to have diverse casts (and mixed race couples semi-frequently, something completely neglected by the cover artists, to my unsurprised frustration). I know of the Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs) series and the Jane Yellowrock (Faith Hunter) series as well. The Allie Beckstrom (Devon Monk) books have a mixed-race main couple, but the heroine is (by all appearances) white. Much to my shame, I seem to completely miss African-American writers/heroes/heroines in F/SF overall, so I know I must be missing them in UF/ParaRom as well. Anyway, I’d love to have more good non-white-centric UF/ParaRom pointed out to me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one!), and you must see some of it cross your desk.

There’s not as much of it as I’d like to see, but it’s out there! Alaya Johnson’s Moonshine and Terrance Taylor’s Bite Marks and Blood Pressure have a lot of fun with non-white supernatural entities in historical New York. I’ve heard great things about L.A. Banks’s Vampire Huntress books (and their emphatically non-whitewashed covers; kudos to St. Martin’s). S.J. Day’s urban fantasy Eve series has a Japanese-American protagonist. Jane Lindskold’s Thirteen Orphans et seq. are Chinese-influenced UF, and Eileen Rendahl’s Don’t Kill the Messenger is Chinese-influenced PR. Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez and Marta Acosta’s Milagro de Los Santos are Hispanic vampires, and Laura Anne Gilman’s Hard Magic et seq. feature Hispanic forensic magician Bonita Torres (who first appeared in the Retrievers series). Charles de Lint, the original urban fantasist, has a ton of Native American characters.

Some other resources for you: Dear Author has a post of multicultural romance recs that includes lots of paranormal romance; search the comments for “paranormal” or “PR”. It’s from a year ago, so most of what’s recommended there should still be findable in stores or online. This great essay on race in urban fantasy gets lots of recs and some disrecs from readers, and it was republished on Racialicious to even more comments.

O Genreville readers, you were so awesome with suggestions for my young friend. (She says, “After reading that post I don’t think I’ll ever run out of books!”) So I turn to you once again: Got any recommendations for A.A.?

30 thoughts on “More Book Recs: Diverse Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy

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  2. Peggy Elam, Ph.D.

    Pearlsong Press (disclaimer: my publishing company) is publishing a paranormal romance this September that is diverse in a way still rare in fiction: size. The heroine of Fallen Embers by Lauri J Owen (Book One of The Embers Series) is a large — actually, fat — woman. Her love interest is a brown-skinned and -eyed shapechanging native Alaskan. (Well, native to the alternate Alaska to which she is transported!) The book will be available in trade paperback and ebook format.

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      I’m letting this pass because it’s relevant, but in general, we discourage this type of self-promotional comment.

      1. Jeanette

        I tend to agree with Peggy. While fat people represent a large percentage of the population, they are woefully underrepresented in art, media (other than as a target) and literature both fiction and non-fiction. Fat people of all sizes, ages and types need heroes and heroines to look up to. I’d say it’s high time to see more of them.

        1. Lynne Murray

          As an urban fantasy addict and recovering mystery author (Minotaur, graduating class of ’02), I first want to thank you and your commenters who have added to my to-be-read list. So far, as I read, no one has mentioned Fledgling by the late, great Octavia Butler, which turns the “pale” and male dominant vampire myth on its head by creating a vampire race where dark-skinned vampires have increased powers because they can go out in the sunlight and females have stronger venom. Another author with multi-ethnic and physically diverse vampires is Andrew Fox, author of Fat White Vampire Blues and Bride of the Fat White Vampire. I hope I don’t sound unforgivably self-promoting when I say next year I will join the talented Mr. Fox in confronting an even stronger-rooted taboo in paranormal fantasy—the “size two fits all” prejudice—when my new addition to the urban paranormal genre, The Falstaff Vampire Files (Pearlsong Press, 2011) offers up literature’s most famous fat rogue as an ageless, yet incorrigible vampire confronting a skeptical psychologist in San Francisco.

  3. L. Merciel

    I haven’t read all her books, but Marjorie Liu writes cross-racial romances and multicultural characters, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of her work.

    I’ve also heard good things about Seressia Glass’ Shadow Blade but have not read the book myself. From what I hear, though, it’s well worth a look if you want UF with a strong black heroine.

  4. A. Hendon

    Eileen Wilks’s series about the Lupi aka werewolves, starting with Tempting Danger, have a Chinese-American heroine, Lily Yu.

  5. Paula Guran

    SHADOW BLADE (Shadow Chasers Serias) by Seressia Glass, multiculrural/black heroine, African hero, written by Amfrican American author; starred review in PW. Sequel SHADOW CHASE due out later this month. (http://www.seressia.com/)

    Blood Lines series by Maria Lima, Latina supporting character and her famiy play major role in books set in Texas. Author is Cuban-American. (http://www.marialima.com/)

  6. J.S.

    I’ve been wanting to read Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, it takes place in post-apocalyptic Africa and seems really interesting.

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      It’s terrific! And there is a lovely romance in it, though it’s certainly nothing like most of what gets called “paranormal romance” or “romantic fantasy”.

  7. Carol Pepper

    Dear A.A.,

    My name is Carol Pepper and I am the author of a multicultural paranormal novel called Beyond Blood. The book moves from New York to St. Lucia to Bermuda and Scion, Swizterland, featuring a multiracial cast of characters, incredible crystal powers and other fascinating psychic gifts and real power spots on the planet, such as the largest underground crystal ake in Europe. I am happy to report that the book was named a finalist in the 2010 Indie Book Awards in the multicultural fiction category, was named Editor’s Choice by iUniverse and recently received a great review from the top novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford. I am hoping to move from self-publishing to a publishing house with this great audience response. Check out our website, http://www.beyondblood.com, where you’ll find links to buy the book on Amazon, and lots of great extras!

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      I’m letting this pass because it’s relevant, but in general, we discourage this type of self-promotional comment.

  8. Lorena

    This is a great list of books! I’ve been wondering myself where all the multicultural UF/PR is because I’ve read all too much about blond-haired, blue-eyed heroines and it gets real old, real quick.

    As far as recs go, I’d also mention the House of Night YA series — the heroine is part Cherokee and PC Cast incorporates a lot of Cherokee mythology into the series as it progresses.

  9. gamerlibrarian

    The Walker Papers series by C. E. Murphy is urban fantasy (no real romance in the first book, I have not read the others) with a heroine who is half Irish and half Native American.

    While very white bread (of Scandinavian descent) the heroine of Black Blade Blued by J. A. Pitts is a lesbian. Which is something you don’t see often in urban fantasy, and yes, she does save her girlfriend from a dragon. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, and while I was appalled at one particular chapter in the book (serious bad behavior on the main character’s part), it turns out that there is an outside force acting on her mind. Interestingly, the author is male.

  10. Marta Acosta

    Hi, Rose, thanks for mentioning my Casa Dracula series. I’ve tried to use humor and satire to make an analogy of being “other” for my Latina heroine and the snobby vampires she meets.

    My favorite multicultural books are those by the late, great Octavia Butler, including her vampire book, Fledgling, and her time travel novel, Kindred. Butler received a MacArthur Grant, and Hugo, and Nebula awards for her work.

    I’m glad to see that Maria Lima and Mario Acevedo have been mentioned. Readers of paranormal romance and paranormal suspense may also want to check out Caridad Pineiro’s The Calling series.

    Bestselling author Sunny, who writes erotic paranormals and fantasy, is Asian-American.

  11. Michele Lee

    I can’t believe no one’s recommended Ann Aguirre’s Blue Diablo and Hellfire. The only white character in the series is the main character (and she lives in Mexico, so she understands a bit about being a minority herself.)

    Also you should keep an eye out on Angry Robot books. This fall they have a black UF debut, Kingmaker by Maurice Broaddus (an Arthurian UF set in Indianapolis) as well as an Aztec UF from the impressive Alliete de Bodard.

  12. Nancy Lebovitz

    I’m currently reading Faith Hunter’s Skinwalker– the viewpoint character is Cherokee. I don’t know if it will turn out to be a romance, though some of the plot elements are trending that way.

  13. Patti

    Try reading Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill:

    Girl meets boy at a car wash.
    “Dog,” she says.
    “Dude,” he says.
    And probably this would have been a sweet teen romance. . . .
    If Beals hadn’t been sitting next to her in the car.
    If Beals hadn’t been a supernatural repo man looking to repossess her car.
    And to possess her.

    David Macinnis Gill delivers the whole enchilada. With a side of soul.

  14. Angela M Drane

    L.A. Banks has her Crimson Moon series. It features werewwoves and wolf shifters. The heroine is a black solider and her mate is of mixed-heritage. The supporting cast is a mix as well.

  15. Eileen Rendahl

    Thanks for the shout out for my first Messenger book! Its sequel, Dead on Delivery, comes out in February and is more Latino-influenced. I live in northern California. It’s a very culturally diverse area of the country. I think that as that’s my reality, it influences what I write. Write what you know, right?

  16. Stacy

    This is a tough one. I kept coming up with titles I love and then remembering that they don’t fit one or the other category (both multicultural AND paranormal/romance).

    Most of the multicultural fantasy/SF I’ve been able to identify (I recently have been making booklists on my own blog of multicultural SFF for middle graders and YAs) wouldn’t fall into the paranormal category. Well, Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda fits, but it’s not really romance. Well, depends on your perspective, I guess—there’s a little bit of possibility there.

    Which shows me there’s room for more in the YA category, at least.

  17. Stacy

    I forgot one–haven’t read it yet but have heard good things about it: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves. It’s an edgy YA title.

  18. Nancy Lebovitz

    Follow-up: I finished reading Skinwalker. It’s quite a good book (I like that the main character has to figure out what sort of magical creature the serial killer is), but not a romance.

  19. Ben Aaronovitch

    At the risk of shilling my own product my upcoming series features a mixed race detective and a pretty diverse cast of characters. The 1st book is out in Jan 2011 and is titled ‘Midnight Riot’ in the US and ‘Rivers of London’ in the UK.

  20. Stephenie L

    i’m a Huge Paranormal romance/Urban fantasy fan and you’re right, have noticed that too in the books but i’ve come across a couple of books that do have that multicultural/diversity factor you’re looking for.
    The first is the Dragon series by Allyson james. The main character is bit asian, scottish and i little bit of something else and the dragon shifter thing is in line with asian culture and stuf. i know she has written stromwalker as well it has a Native American twist to it.
    Have you checked out the negotiator trilogy y C.E. Murphy. the first book is called heart of stone.

  21. M.N.Mori

    Have you guys and glas checked out Hayat Ali? Her book is beyond breakthrough to me. It features a euro-asian male lead and an african american female lead. Its hot, its steamy, and damn if it isn’t adventurous to boot! Me thinks she’s turning it into a series.

    Camille Anthony has her wulves series. Its PR and super erotic so not meant for YA’s. Iiana Andrews has her Kate Daniels series….and Kates dad is dark skinned so she’s mixed and kick ass. A lot of people try to compare her to Anita Blake but no…just no…not even close. When I think of more I’ll update!

    Paaaaaayce :D

  22. Becca

    Thanks for this great question and helpful post! I’ve been on the search for the same thing for months now!

  23. Neece

    Don’t forget to look at Shelly Laurenston. She seems to make it a point to have multi-racial couples in her books. While not in all of them, a good percentage of them are that way. In fact many of her characters are bi-racial, and even mixed breed in their shapeshifting animals (Pride series in particular, Beasts Behaving Badly is my favorite). The single book The Gathering, also by Laurenstong is another one with tons of multicultural characters. Zena Wynn’s true mates are usually interracial, although the series is hit or miss, I have found the good books in that series are really fun to read (Tameka’s Smile and Mary and the Bear being my favorite). I find quite a few books with African American characters, hispanics…not so much. Being Puerto Rican, I find almost none. But I keep my hopes up.

    1. Maja

      Check out the late LA Banks Vampire Huntress series. Damali is African American and Carlos is Hispanic. Great series with multi racial characters.

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