Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why Black Characters in A Book Matters by Pat Simmons (AOC)

I had so much fun writing my first Christian romance in 2006. Guilty of Love sparked my writing career, opening the door for my first series—the Jamieson Legacy. The impact of my genealogy research on readers--black and white--was amazing. I enjoyed the journey to uncover historical documents tucked away in forgotten files in dusty back offices of county courthouses. One reader shared she had never heard of Juneteeth until she read this book. There was so much for me to learn about American history and Blacks who contributed to society.  Since I'm an Author of Color, I write for a Black audience, but White audiences would not be denied the pleasure of a history lesson. White book clubs invited me to speak at their meetings, and we had a great time. Readers said they were inspired to research their own family roots. 

Fast forward many years later, and the popularity of the Jamieson Legacy continued. In The Guilt Trip, a white reader gave me a great review, and said one things that surprised her was how long it took to service black hair—washing, drying, heating, styling, etc. I'm glad she was able to take away one tidbit about People of Color (POC).

The Confession, Book 8 in the Jamieson Legacy, which won the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance, I wrote about documented white oppression toward Blacks that scanned hundreds of years in the plot, but it didn't overpower the second chance at love theme.  As a Christian, I don't believe in pointing fingers to shame people. God is their judge. My position is to have compassion for people’s souls. Some people offend others through ignorance, or as the Bible says, lack of knowledge. Others are malicious in their intent. Those people need pity and prayer. I didn’t want to be a hurtful person, so because of the sensitivity of the subject matter, I reached out to one of my white author friends, Danica Favorite, and asked her opinion about my story. Here's her review:

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2015

"I really enjoyed this book (The Confession) a lot. The author asked me if I would read the book and give her honest feedback as a white woman in terms of how I felt about the racial issues. I'm so glad I read it because it gave me insight into a lot of what it's like to be black, and some differences in our cultures. I really loved the passion I saw between the characters, and how deeply they connect and feel their emotions and care for each other. It was delightful to be immersed in that world and connect with the characters. I think more white people need to read this book, because I learned so much about black history, and it was really eye-opening. I wish they'd teach more of this in schools."

Danica's assessment was humbling and rewarding. With loving kindness, God has drawn us to Him.

My newest release, Lean on Me, was a featured selection of the Together We Read, a Digital Book Club through libraries. This is an international program sponsored by OverDrive, so this was a big, big deal.
The reviews were mixed, but one stood out. The reader identified herself as white and said she enjoyed the story that reminded her of the Huxtables, a fairytale about successful black families. What offended me most wasn't that she bought into stereotypes about black folks, but she missed the opportunity to learn about other cultures.

Recently, my proofreader who is white, Judy DeVries, exchanged an email with me where she mentioned while watching TV, she reflected on my story descriptions and wondered how I would describe this Black man’s skin and eye color. 
So these are just a few reasons why Black characters matter in a story--to shatter the stereotypes and invite readers into our world of experiences, our voices, and our hearts. 
I'm interested in hearing your comments about books you have enjoyed written by Authors of Color (AOC). Check out my selection of the Jamieson Legacy. Check out my family roots. #weneeddiversebooks

Pat Simmons is a multi-published Christian romance author with more than thirty-five titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth who is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She is a three-time recipient of the Romance Slam Jam Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance: Still Guilty, Crowning Glory, and The Confession
Pat describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as a life-altering experience. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.
Hear what some say about her work: Reader, Dominique, writes, I  absolutely love her books. I mean spirituality in them is strong and the romance is real. My favorite is Love Led by the Spirit. Jet' s character is so real. I feel like I relate to her a lot when it comes to anger.”
A fellow author describes Pat’s writing in In Defense of LoveWhat can I say about Garrett and Shari? I loved their love. I thought Kidd and Eva (Guilty by Association) were it for me but this couple was hot!!! I loved the way Pat Simmons weaves a tale of a smoking hot romance around the infallible Word of God. I nearly had a heart attack but as only Pat would do...she made it all better in the end.”
Romance Novel, Inc., says, “Wow!  I loved the way that the storyline (No Easy Catch) flowed so smoothly. Pat’s scriptures were well timed and very appropriate, without being preachy or over the top. I loved how Shae and Rahn seemed like normal, everyday people that lived normal everyday lives. They were not so overly wealthy, or so over the top sexy that they were unbelievable.” 
Pat’s readership reaches across genres besides Christian romance and ethnicities. She has converted her sofa-strapped sports fanatical husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter. Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Visit her at


  1. Pat, thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Thank you for your insight, Pat, and for the reading recommendation. Learning important things while reading a great romance novel = WIN. Congratulations again for being featured on "Together We Read." {{hugs}}

  3. I enjoy learning about the lives and cultures of others. Thank you, Pat, for sharing.

  4. I've read and endorsed a few of your books, Pat. I've enjoyed each one Your characters are always vibrant and compelling. Keep writing!!!

  5. Pat, thank you! A wonderful, timely blog, and so insightful.

  6. Thank you, Pat! Can't wait to read Lean on Me!