Romantic Novelists' Association

Diversity In Commercial Fiction: Rhea Kurien From Orion Dash.

17 February 2021


It’s #RNADiverseLoveWeek and we have a special post for BAME day from Rhea Kurien of Orion Dash who are actively looking for diverse voices in fiction submissions.

Over to you, Rhea!

Hello, lovely RNA writers! I’m the new Editorial Director for Orion Dash, which is the digital-first, commercial fiction imprint at Orion. When I first met the team, I told them how much I want to see more diverse voices in commercial fiction, and was thrilled to find they felt the same. At Orion, every story matters and at Dash, there is space for every voice. Rather than a gimmick or a passing trend, this is one of four values that will underpin Dash going forward: digital, dynamic, daring and diverse.


When it comes to diversity in commercial fiction, I am eagerly on the lookout for commercial fiction with casual BAME, LGBTQIA+ and disability representation. For anyone not familiar with the term, casual representation is where the diversity is not the focus, especially in the sense that it usually is (overcoming struggles associated with being different in some way); instead being diverse is just another element of the characters within a story. In other words, I am looking for commercial stories with a very clear hook and characters that happen to be diverse. It’s totally up to you whether and to what extent your characters explore ideas of identity and belonging, but I think it’s important that you have the freedom and choice not to. There are readers who have been calling for casual representation for years because just seeing yourself represented and included in mainstream fiction is so powerful and important.

I love that the RNA are celebrating diverse voices with the #RNADiverseLoveWeek. You are all so brilliant. As a dyed-in-the-wool romance fan, to me, there is nothing more universal and uniting than love. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to invite all RNA writers who are writing romances featuring characters who are LGBTQIA+ and/or BAME and/or have disabilities to send them to me at with the subject line #RNADiverseLoveWeek. Enemies to lovers, fake relationships, star-crossed lovers — any and all romance tropes are welcome. I’d also really like to see more representation in historical fiction, general women’s fiction and sagas, as well as in domestic and psychological thrillers, as these are all genres I am acquiring.

It doesn’t have to be today or this week if you’re not quite ready — though if you are, by all means please submit right away. There is just no time limit on this offer. Whenever you are ready, it would be my absolute pleasure to consider your work for Orion Dash. There are many more events and initiatives to come this year, so please watch this space and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @books_dash.

Rhea Kurien is Editorial Director at Orion Dash. A commercial fiction junkie and a champion of women’s fiction, she previously worked at Aria, Headline and HQ. You can follow her on Twitter @rhea_kurien.