Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What If Diversity Was the Rule, Not the Exception?

I wrote my very first full-length book about a young math prodigy who gets sucked into a magical world of demons and demigods and mythical creatures and, oh yeah, who also happens to be African American. She's poor, but so is the white Irish boy (her eventual love interest) who gets dragged along for the ride. I made that choice in part because my daughter is half African (her dad is from Cote d'Ivoire), and I wanted her to see herself represented in fiction, but also because frankly, it just seems weird to have all white and/or straight characters in a story. I'm white, but I grew up in New York City, possibly the most diverse city in the world. "Multicultural" is my norm.

Anyway, the story (which I recently dug out and started working on again) doesn't dwell overly on race; let's face it, I am white, and don't feel remotely qualified to write that kind of book from the African American perspective (though others might be, I'm not judging here…). Doublewalker is a fantasy and intended primarily for entertainment. But simply the fact that fantasy is a genre that is apparently craaaazy whitewashed in terms of diversity makes it mean something to have a black MC, I think.

My current MC (Some Fine Day) is also biracial—Japanese American mom—and the story has a good number of non-white, non-straight characters, but again, these decisions just seemed natural to me and not a very big deal. This is who we are.

So…in the spirit of sci-fi/fantasy diversity, I'm recommending The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson.

And here's a longer list of picks from Tumblr's Diversity in YA blog.

Kat's debut, Some Fine Day, comes out July 1 from Strange Chemistry. You can find her on Twitter and her website.

1 comment:

  1. The publishing world is really pushing diversity, especially in YA. I wrote my novel with a Hispanic protagonist, because it was right for the character. But I'm afraid now that manuscripts with diverse characters just created for the sake of being not white, will take precedence over others.