By Alexa Day
In the U.S., we’re celebrating Memorial Day this weekend. It’s a holiday for honoring those who lost their lives fighting for this nation, and it also serves as the informal beginning to the summer season. So in the spirit of merging mindfulness of history and discovering sweet, hot summer action, I’m here with Afton Locke.
I first got to know Afton at my first book signing a couple of Romanticons ago. She and I sat next to each other at the front of the room, where a person can get the best view of the entertainment. That afternoon, we shouted over the music about the fascinating field of interracial romances, especially the historicals. (I’ve written about those here, too.) I still think that particular subgenre of the subgenre is underserved, but I’m so excited by the work Afton’s doing with it. Her Oyster Harbor series, which started with Plucking the Pearl, has just expanded to its third book, Sadie’s Surrender. Here’s a little bit of the conversation I had with her about the new book, interracial historicals, and what’s she’s got lined up next.
What’s drawing you to interracial romance? What makes those stories enjoyable for you to tell?
I’m not sure. The stories have been popping into my head, begging me to tell them, for many years. I enjoy the conflict, forbidden love, and different cultures. I’ve had several past life regressions, and so far, I’ve been three different races. Once I began the Oyster Harbor series, I couldn’t stop writing.
At some point, we’re going to have to discuss the use of past-life regressions for story development! Right now, do you prefer writing historical or contemporaries? What sorts of challenges come with each subgenre?
I like historicals better, and my readers seem to prefer them too. The challenge is they’re harder to write because you have to do more research about everything, including language used. Since my stories are steamy, I also have to research birth control and underwear.
Oyster Harbor is in Maryland, and your series takes place in the 1930s, which is kind of a socially complicated place in the history of interracial relationships. Does this time period make the research harder? What were your favorite resources? What was your favorite research surprise?
Writing about the 1930s is easy because it’s kind of recent, but hard because there’s not as much written about it as something like the Civil War. Writing a series makes it easier because I can re-use research. I like www.etymonline.com for word origins and eBay for old sewing patterns when researching clothes. Usually, I work in this order: story idea, write book, research and polish. My biggest surprise? Visiting an oyster museum actually gave me the idea for the first book.
Rose, Exposed, Book 2 in the Oyster Harbor series, deals with colorism and passing. The hero of Sadie’s Surrender is in the Klan. Even though this was a time when it was often safer to be in the Klan than not, this is still a pretty bold storytelling choice! I love bold storytelling choices. Do these choices ever feel like taking major risks for you, or was this just the story as it needed to be told?
Pretty risky, yes, but I like being bold and different. This was how the story needed to be told, so I went with it. So far, readers have been accepting. Book 4 will be the boldest of all! I really hope I can pull it off.
When you’re not working, what are you watching or reading or otherwise occupied with?
I love to read, romances and classics. I also like to watch TV comedies and dramatic movies from the 1970s. I love the bold emotions and the chances the characters took with interracial themes. I watch very little current TV because it seems so much flatter in comparison. I’m loving the Outlander series, though. I’d love to see the same done with Oyster Harbor.
What’s your next project?
I’m working on Book 4 in the Oyster Harbor series. It features a wild hurricane. I also have a 1970s interracial time travel waiting in the wings. Not sure when I’ll release it. In my other author personality, I have another Black Hills Wolves werewolf story coming.
Afton is probably working hard enough for both of us, right? If you want to keep up with her, check her out on Facebook or keep an eye on her website. She’s also got a newsletter waiting for you right here.
And don’t forget to follow Lady Smut. Our super hot summer is just getting started!