Writing About Latino Characters: Celebrating My Heritage

Celebreate Hispanic Heritage Month~ 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:

  1. http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.org
  2. http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/about/

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.

10 thoughts on “Writing About Latino Characters: Celebrating My Heritage”

  1. I love diversity in romance because it reflects my community. Now that I’ve come to expect it in more and more romances, I really notice when it’s missing.

  2. I love this post, Priscilla, and this point in particular: “Being Latino doesn’t make them any less hero-worthy, or any more. It’s a facet of their personality.” I’m hopeful that more and more romances will include Latinos and other traditionally underrepresented groups simply because it’s an accurate reflection of our world.

  3. Thanks to Marie, Maria, Jackie, Tracy and Mariel for stopping by today.

    Great points were raised today about how it’s what’s inside a person (or character) that really counts and how the similarities in different cultures can bring us together.

    Like so many of you authors, my goal is to shine a positive light on my cultural heritage while also showing readers that their Latino culture is only one part of what makes my characters unique.

    Here’s to more diversity in romance, and in the publishing world in general! 🙂

  4. I look forward to reading your books. For me, it’s what’s inside the hero or heroine’s heart and their character, not the color of their skin, that draws me in and makes me root for them. Though great biceps or abs doesn’t hurt either. I hope I can do justice to the multi-cultural character on my Bad Karma team.

  5. Great post. I agree that our diversity should be celebrated. I am always amazed by the similarities in different cultures and how the easiest way to find common ground is to share what you think is unique about your experience.

  6. Wonderful article, Priscilla. I agree that diversity should be celebrated 24/7/365. Thank you for bringing awareness to Hispanic Heritage Month! One more reason why #WeNeedDiverseRomance 🙂

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