To celebrate Black History Month, we were lucky enough to sit and chat (virtually) with a few of our authors of color. We love to hear when readers find new favorites through our box, especially diverse voices. We want all readers to feel represented, and we strive to be inclusive of all types of diversity. We adore each one of these fabulous Black women (and their steamy reads!), and are grateful for them taking time to speak with us. While we have many more authors of color on our amazing list of Featured Authors, we have three ladies here that we were able to highlight this year. Please take a moment to visit these authors’ websites and check out their books on Amazon!

 C.G. Burnette, Featured Book:  Simmer 

What is the most rewarding part of being an author? 

It is amazing to have these people, their stories… the good and the bad… inside me. The greatest part of that is being able to share those stories and those characters with everyone. Those characters could have such an impact on a reader. That character may bring a smile to someone who is having a rotten day, or help someone who is grieving and has a similar story. I hope my characters always inspire love, joy and kindness.

What changes have you seen in the romance industry in regards to diversity and inclusivity? What changes would you like to see?

In the time I have been in this industry as first a blogger and then an author, I have seen the good and the bad of diversity and inclusivity. I’ve seen authors of color struggle to be seen and heard. I have seen them give hope, seen scandals run them away. It has been disheartening. But we are rising, being seen and being embraced and I say it’s about damn time. As a black woman, I want to see more authors of color be openly received by the mainstream of this industry. I want mainstream readers to take a chance on books written by men and women of color, but in romance most especially. We want the same opportunities to be read, embraced by fans and given every chance to flourish. We have amazing love stories to tell.

Is there a specific black woman who inspires you?

My inspiration? Oh I love this question. My mom Jacqueline and my godmother Rochelle. They are strong, bold and brave. Beautiful down to the soul. They taught me to stand tall, to speak my truth, to be kind. If I am ever a tenth of the mothers they are, I will have accomplished so much. My mom gave me my love of books and encouraged me to read everything. Words would take me to worlds I may never see, she often said. Their support means so much… even if the naughty scenes make them blush. 

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on Code of Ethics, which will be a part of the Kristy Bromberg World. It’s my favorite trope — second chance romance with a twist. After that, I’ll be working on my story for Cocky Hero Club and a new fun series called Riggs at Cross Creek that began with my winning short story Closing Time that appeared in the 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology. 

 Dylan Allen, Featured Book: The Sun and Her Star 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  

Since I could hold a pen in my hand. But I didn’t think I could be a writer until I was almost 40.

What does being a black woman in this industry mean to you? 

It means having to work twice as hard for half as much. It means leveraging every ounce of my success for the benefit of other black writers. It means giving my readers the benefit of my diversity by telling stories that I am uniquely positioned to write. It means doing everything I can to push back against harmful narratives about Black writers and readers. It means making sure the Black women who read my books feel seen and respected. It means making sure ALL my readers feel that way. It means being proud of myself for leaning into my authenticity when it would be easier to try and blend in. It means having role models like Kennedy Ryan, Toni Morrison, Beverly Jenkins, who remind me that my potential is limitless.  

What changes have you seen in the romance industry in regards to diversity and inclusivity? What changes would you like to see?  

I would like to see more visibility for the plethora of BIPOC, LGTBQ, Disabled, authors who are already writing amazing romance.  

If you could cast the lead characters for the Rivers Wilde Series, who would you choose? 

Hayes Rivers – Luke Evans

Confidence Rivers – Margot Robbie

Remi Wilde  Rege Jean Page

Kal Wilde  – Gugu MBatha-Raw 

Regan Wilde – Paula Patton 

Stone Rivers – Joel Kinnaman

Tina Wilde – Angela Bassett 

 Danielle Allen: Featured Book Truth or Dare

You have so many roles! Do you find being a professor, life coach, event planner, or writer the most challenging?  

They all have their own individual challenges. With writing, that is fully in my control. The characters come to me and I’m able to tell their story. However, if the characters decide they don’t want to tell me their story at the time that I’m trying to write, it slows my flow down. Teaching, event planning, and life coaching are roles in which I am able to use my knowledge to help someone elevate their knowledge, their event, or their life. I’m a catalyst for someone else’s growth and vision and that can be as challenging as it is rewarding. So they are all challenging, but because I know it is my purpose in life to do these things, they are more rewarding than anything.

What would you say to your teenage self? 

I would tell my teenage self to go for it. Make a list of all the things you want to do and go for every single one of those things. Don’t dim your light for anyone. Continue to shine bright every step of the way. And at the exact same time, remember that everything that serves you and strengthens you may not necessarily satisfy you. Be patient. Trust the process and lean into your purpose.  (As a mom of a teenager, I absolutely LOVED this answer! ~Abby)

What changes have you seen in the romance industry in regards to diversity and inclusivity? What changes would you like to see?  

I honestly haven’t seen much change in regards to diversity and inclusivity. I’ve seen more people speak about diversity and inclusivity than much real, actual, tangible systemic changes to the industry. I would love to see a truly equal playing field when it comes to opportunities, financial compensation, and overall respect. 

Do you put much thought into the ethnicity of your book characters or is it something that happens naturally? 

My heroines are always Black women with natural hair and that comes naturally to me. The ethnicity of supporting characters depends on the particular story and what the characters tell me. For far too long in media (books, television, movies) Black women were erased from stories. And when they were featured, they were the side kick, the sassy best friend, the sage advisor, or the motherly figure. Even though Black women have been giving, receiving, and basking in love since the beginning of time, we weren’t always shown as the heroine or the lead in romance. So I take great pride joining so many other authors who are also writing romance novels that feature Black women being loved wholly and completely. It’s a beautiful thing.  

What is next for you? 

My next project to be released (2/19/21) is The Cask. It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado and it will be my fourth Poe-inspired novel. I’m really excited about the complexities of this one in particular because it is such a dark piece of literature to use as an inspiration for a romance novel. I love the story so much and I can’t wait to see people’s reaction to it!