The Existential Nature of a CIS White Male Writing a Novel With an Amerasian Heroine

by Shelt Garner

The more I learn about how novels are actually bought and marketed the more I begin to realize there may be some existential issues that I just can’t wiggle my way out of.

There are two such issues that are giving me serious pause for thought. One is that my protagonist is a POC — specifically Amerasian. The idea that THAT would make it more difficult to sell my novel kind of boggles my mind. Any modern American story has to address that American is browning and, as such, not every story can be just a bunch of white people talking to each other.

Having a non-White heroine — who, in my mind, looks a lot like Olivia Munn — is existential to the story I want to tell. And I’ve come up with a really interesting, clever story that I think is engaging and will appeal to people who liked stories like Mare of Easttown and Stieg Larsson’s stuff.

The other existential issue is, of course — me. The idea that a middle aged CIS white male would write a novel with a non-white heroine as its protagonist is, unto itself a big issue with the “woke cancel culture mob.” And the fact that I would write in the third person intimate POV and I shift POVs is another issue that could cause a lot of problems. Or not. Maybe I’m being paranoid.

This was a huge issue in the controversy around the novel “American Dirt” which was written, as I understand it, by a white woman. It told the story of, I think, an undocumented Latinx.

There are two lesser issues. One is, well, how I hope to make it clear over the course of these six novels how much I fucking hate Trumplandia. I hate it with the hate equal to the center of the sun. I suppose if I actually sold this first novel, my political views would become known and that, unto itself, might turn some people off.

Meanwhile, there is the still very nebulous prospect that Something Big and Bad might happen in late 2024, early 2025, to the point that it will be difficult for any novel I sell to actually be read because either people will be dodging explosions or a weaponized ICE will start to knock heads.

But I would like to think that, maybe, if I manage to write a good enough story that all of these obstacles might not be such such an issue. I am also the first to admit that this project is based on delusion and me having a huge ego. And, yet, lulz. Why not?

All of this gives me something to think about. Something to focus on other than how I’m about to be 50 and have nothing to my name other than a failed expat magazine in Seoul.

Author: Shelton Bumgarner

I am the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report

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