I’ve been giving careful thought to the characters who will be popping up in the book I’m writing. In ‘Fire’, the main characters are Kelly and Danny, white European, heterosexual. The world around them, however, is not, and I know that it’s my job to show that.
I also know, from lots of blog reading, that it’s as important to avoid stereotyping as it is to show diversity.
Coming from a white, hetero, cisgender viewpoint, I’m very aware that what I might think isn’t a stereotype might be considered one by someone else. I’m lucky enough to have friends to check this with, as well as the resources that Google provides.
I’ve also been reading. A lot. Too much, really, considering the writing I need to be doing! #diversereads on Twitter has been a great resource for finding good, diverse reads, as well as Mermaidvision’s blog (see link below).
Right now I’m reading ‘Ink and Ashes’ by the very talented Valynne E Maetani. The story and story telling are awesome – read it! The multicultural cast is varied and interesting too. This is what our communities look like, after all, and, with reading this and other novels, I’ve started to realise how whitewashed many YA novels are. Sometimes race isn’t referred to at all, in which case the reader simply assumes the character in question is the same as the central character in terms of race, sexuality, ability and so on.
I started writing because the stories in my head were fun and I wanted to write them. Then I stumbled across a chat about diverse reads and realised that I had alienated a huge part of my intended audience.
That opened my eyes. Since ‘Talent’, I’ve realised that I want to more accurately represent the world I live in.
It’s an interesting journey and there’s definitely a part of me that worries I’ll get it wrong. But if I do, then I’ll learn and make changes in my next novel, and then in the ones after that, because I don’t want anyone reading my stories to feel as though they don’t belong.
There’s also a part of me that feels sad, because there shouldn’t really be a need for a hashtag for diverse reads. It shouldn’t even be a conversation that we need to have
But that is the reality of the world we live in; we are a wonderfully diverse people, but we don’t show it. And that is a real shame.
Interested in some diverse reads?
Angel Cruz reviews a range of great YA novels on her blog – http://www.mermaidvision.wordpress.com
Also, definitely check out ‘Ink and Ashes’ by Valynne E Maetani.