Writing About Latino Characters: Celebrating My Heritage
~ By Priscilla Kissinger
We’re one week into Hispanic Heritage Month now (September 15-October 15) and I’m pleased to join the blog to share a little about my culture and my writing, especially since I love combining the two.
I think it’s awesome that our country recognizes the beauty of our diversity by honoring different groups throughout the year. Here’s a calendar of the 2015 Special Observance themes posted on the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) website.
But unfortunately, while our government has designated different times throughout the year as moments for special observances, many Americans aren’t even aware of these celebrations. And really, in my maybe Pollyanna mindset, I don’t think the idea of celebrating our diversity should just be limited to a month or a week or a day. But rather, more like a 24/7, 365 days of the year kind of thing.
Our diversity of cultures, the different experiences and perspectives it creates, adds a richness to our conversations, our schools, our work places, our neighborhoods… frankly, every aspect of our daily lives.
As a Puerto Rican-Mexican who grew up as a military kid, I’ve lived throughout the US, across the Pacific Ocean, in South America and in the Caribbean. I’ve been blessed to experience a multitude of different cultures and life styles, starting at home with my mixed Latino heritage.
As a Latina, there are few things better than celebrations with family and friends. There’s typically music, dancing, good food, and drinks flowing. Not to mention laughter, tears (of happiness when we come together & sadness when it’s time to part), and naturally, there’s probably a little drama, too.
It’s like a microcosm of what I love about romance novels.
The good feelings that pull your hero and heroine toward each other. The conflict that tears them apart. The society (world they live in) that offers a place of comfort, yet also creates problems they have to overcome. The “happy times” that show the reader how good this hero and heroine could be together if they’d just resolve their conflicts. The drama that reminds the characters and your reader that life isn’t easy, but with perseverance and determination you can survive and conquer and earn your Happily Ever After moment.
So you see, I write books that feature Latino characters because they speak to me, and they want to have their voices heard. And because they’re just like every other hero or heroine in all our favorite romance novels—they’re good people trying to live good lives while doing the right thing for their loved ones. Being Latino doesn’t make them any less hero-worthy, or any more. It’s a facet of their personality. An important one, most definitely. Part of what makes their family tree bloom a little differently.
My goal as a romance writer is to create three-dimensional characters that make the reader swoon and sigh with satisfaction when they reach “The End.” To pen that can’t-put-it-down novel that has readers recommending it to their friends and adding it to the Keeper Shelf. To bring a moment of escapism to my readers’ lives, transporting them to a world where good conquers evil and healthy relationships thrive.
Being able to share my culture as part of that author-reader connection simply adds another element to why I find such joy in being a romance writer.
If you’re interested in learning a little more about Hispanic Heritage Month, check out these two links:
Priscilla Kissinger is a four-time Golden Heart finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latino flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican-Mexican heritage, she strives to bring authenticity to her novels, combining both her American and Latino cultures. She works full-time in sales & marketing and, since earning an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, teaches an on-line continuing education course entitled “Romance Writing” for ed2go. A long-time RWA member, Priscilla has held various leadership positions including Chapter President, VP of Membership, and Programs/Education Chair and is currently running for RWA PRO Liaison. When she’s not writing, Priscilla spends her free time running half marathons, playing tennis, volunteering, having fun with family and friends, watching sports or figuring out who to start on her Fantasy Football team, the Hail Marys.