Jasmine Guillory on Black Women in Contemporary Romance Novels
In Conversation with Kendra Winchester on the Reading Women Podcast
This week on Reading Women, Kendra talks to Jasmine Guillory about her book Party for Two, which is out now from Berkeley.
From the episode:
Kendra: When was the first time that you saw yourself as a Black woman in a romance novel, and what was that like for you?
Jasmine: I think the first romance novel by a Black woman I read was a book by Beverly Jenkins, whose books I adore, and that was because I was reading a lot of historical romance. So I started reading her books, and I just loved them. That was really revolutionary for me. It was just wonderful to read and see the wonderful, positive representation of Black women in those books. Then I started looking for and finding more contemporary romances by Black women, and so that was really wonderful as well.
So much in society portrays Black women in such a different, kind of terrible way and not the way that I see myself or that I see other Black women I know, so it was wonderful to dive into a world of romance novels where I see women being portrayed as the romantic and strong and accomplished women that we really are.
Kendra: I really love that about your heroines, that they are all so different and they’re all very vibrant characters, and they all do a wide range of different things. You can definitely see that passion for romance novels and having Black women as heroines in your novels, and that’s one of the reasons why I love them. You have women from all different kinds of age groups and backgrounds. Like, I read Royal Holiday and Party for Two back to back because I was just like, Okay, I’m just going through these. I really love how you go from one love story where it’s this woman who has been a single mom and now her child has grown and found love in the previous book, and then she finds love in her like fifties and it brings so much joy.
During this really difficult time with everything going on, your books celebrate Black joy and these women’s experiences. So for you, could you talk a little bit about why it’s so important to illustrate joy in books and why all of that is really important to you?
Jasmine: It has been a hard few years to be Black in America. Especially right now, there’s so much coming straight at us about racism and police and violence, and that is not our lives. My whole life is not spent in struggle and in pain. Yes, that can be a part of it, especially in times like right now, but there’s so much joy in being a Black woman and in hanging out with my friends and my big, wild, loud, fun family and falling in love and so many other great things. So I wanted. . . . I’d like to write about that. You know, I think that it’s fun for me to write about. It’s fun for me to read about, and I think fun for other people—especially other Black women—to see that kind of representation and to be able to experience that joy on a page as well.
Jasmine Guillory is the New York Times bestselling author of five romance novels, including The Wedding Date and The Proposal. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Oakland, California.