multicultural romance novels | Lumiana by Alex Benkast | woman standing on a meadow


I originally wrote Lumiana between October and December 2013, fresh out of college trying to live it up in California’s Bay Area. As luck would have it, my first boss was a veteran author, and he gifted me with the best advice to get me started: Sit down and write something—it doesn’t have to be good, it’s okay if it sucks, you can always go back and edit it later—just get into the habit of writing something every day. And damn, did it suck (yeah, sure, boss, I can write a novel in English. I didn’t learn English until fifth grade, although my mom claims my first word was “buggy”).

To make me sound even crazier (and hey, maybe I actually am a little abnormal—don’t they say the line between creativity and madness is a fine one?), I’m going to tell you something strange that I’ve been doing pretty much every night since I was 9 years old and diagnosed with childhood epilepsy. Around that time I developed insomnia, which stayed with me for decades to come. To this day (although my sleep has finally improved), I tell myself these elaborate bedtime stories that usually continue for months. Lumiana was one of these stories, and the first one I ever tried to put down on paper.

Lumiana Harding is probably one of the most unique characters in the history of romance novels (yes, I did just say that and I dare you to prove me wrong!) and she’s inspired by two real-life kickass women I know and admire: Lu and Lumi.

The story itself came to me because of an incident at the end of my lunch break. A John Mayer song was playing in the background as my colleagues and I walked back to our office. I can’t remember which song it was—I want to say Waiting on the World to Change or Daughters, but I can’t be sure. I casually commented that it’s a nice song. While my colleagues didn’t have an issue with the music, they most certainly had very strong opinions about the singer.

“He’s such a douche,” said one of my colleagues.

“Sexist pig,” muttered another.

Of course, I looked him up when I got home. It was an old story even then, but an interesting one. To sum it up: John Mayer is usually quite articulate and an undeniably talented musician but in 2010 he had some kind of breakdown and said some unfortunate things that offended a lot of people. He also had some issues with his voice and ultimately left—or fled—Hollywood to recover somewhere remote, surrounded by nature.

I kept thinking a lot about what fame does to people and decided to explore a relationship between someone famous who doesn’t mind revealing private details with someone who lives in isolation and perceives life in an entirely different way.

Credit: John Mayer | Details Magazine