My Choices For My Characters

The Gods' Blessings copyThe book world is currently having a lot of discussion about diversity in literature, specifically how little of it there is. You would think that because The Gods’ Blessings, “Sarimanok Feather”, and “Settling with Sea Serpents” have exactly 0 white characters, that this is a topic I care about. And you would be right, but probably not about why.

I started The Gods’ Blessings almost two years ago. The culture of Anku, the main character, was based on Pacific Islanders from the beginning. Not because I wanted to be politically correct. Not because I wanted to do my part to increase diversity. I just was tired of Medieval Europe in fantasy, and I thought it would be cool to have a fantasy based on the Asian Pacific.

Yes, the story deals with racism. I did not do this to make it an Issue book. It was because I had two nations (one brown skinned, and one gold skinned) in undeclared war and Anku spends a lot of time sailing through enemy territory. Not including racism would not be accurate.

So when I finished my first draft, I started to research racism. I used to think that we lived in a post-racial world. It was heart-rending to read about preschoolers being called the n-word, about people who were born in America being told to go home to Mexico, about children who thought the dolls they had that matched their own skin weren’t as important as the dolls that were white. And I also read the joy others felt when they finally found a hero in books that looked like them.

It is to increase that joy that I am working to have diversity in my stories. I know I am going to get it wrong. But I am going to learn and do my best. Anything less is a disservice to my friends and neighbors.

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