Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Implications of Diversity

I was going through old blog posts from late last year / early this year, reading outdated thoughts and ideas about my book, You Can't Fix Dead. (Previously known as "Blackbird")

One of the things I got hooked on was a post about my character being bisexual but not particularly interested in another character I felt she should be, but was coming to accept that she wasn't. The situation prompted a thought regarding Aesthetic vs Attraction, which I'm still fond of.

However, in the time that's passed since I wrote that post, my main character has evolved. I've spent more time with her, honing her skills and her personality. I discovered, prior to finishing the book, that Fiona (my main character) was actually Asexual. Which, to be honest, I'm surprised at myself for not realizing sooner.

At no point during my book, which has much in the way of sexual innuendo and highly sexually charged characters, has she exhibited even a single ounce of interest in any of it. The "change" from bisexual to asexual took little to no effort on my part with the chapters I had already written. The only thing I struggled with was finding an appropriate spot to have her say the words, "I am asexual."

I never want to be the kind of writer who has implied diversity. Fiona is half Hispanic and half African-American, and she is asexual. My character Loriana is very much an African American woman; my character Michael is Arabic.

And I don't want these things to be questioned.

"But it's never outright stated so it's totally up for interpretation!"

No. No it is not. If this book ever gets published (cross your fingers), anyone who says that Fiona is a white woman will be whitewashing my book and I won't have it.

I love J.K Rowling. The Harry Potter series has been a huge part of my life since I was very young. I cannot imagine a world without it, and I wouldn't want to.

But the diversity in those books could have used a lot of work, and I sometimes side-eye the post-publication addition of characters of color and other religions. (I fully support it! Absolutely! Give me all your Desi!Harry and Black!Hermione headcanons because I am 100% here for this.) And I'm not saying those characters weren't there (Angelina Johnson, the Patil twins, anyone?) but it still could have been better.

And the publishing industry is learning. It's evolving, slowly but surely. The more of us that contribute, both white writers and writers of color and writers of "other" religions and MOGAI writers....the less the industry will be able to ignore us.

Getting to our evolved state will take time and work and love. But we have to put the effort in.

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