by Shelt Garner
I saw on Twitter today where someone was articulating an idea that is pretty much my worst fear at the moment — they essentially said “thanks, but no thanks” to people like me writing novels with non-white characters in them. Or, more specifically “love interests.”
Well, jokes on you guys, my HEROINE is a POC — or, more specifically, Amerasian.
Now, there is a very specific reason for why I did this which gradually snowballed into something really cool. I needed an excuse for a character to abscond to South Korea later on in the series and what better way to do it than to make his mother — who is the protagonist of the first three novels — Amerasian?
I made this strategic move being only vaguely aware that there would be people in the POC community who would be annoyed that a CIS white male such as myself would do such a thing. I just did what I felt was best for the story, not really thinking about the broader creative and societal issues at play.
There are a lot of different ways this might play out. One is — no one will care and I’m over thinking things. Two is, if this series becomes as big as I want it to, EVERYONE will care and I’ll face something akin to an American Dirt situation.
Now, one issue that I find myself thinking a lot about these days is marketability. Is there a chance that the very thing I think is a positive — the organic “representation” in the novel, will be seen as too “woke” by some and that, by definition, will turn them off? I hope not.
I am dubious of the whole idea of a work of art being too “woke,” attributing most of people’s quibbles to what they’re watching or reading sacrificing good storytelling for banging a message over the audience’s head. I’m watching Andor right now and even though it’s obviously got some elements to it that might be thought of as “woke,” it’s good enough that I don’t even notice it.
It’s just a story. An interesting story that is, unfortunately, taking me some time to get into.
Anyway, I totally validate the criticism of CIS white men “telling the stories” of POC. Ok, I get it. But I’m ornery and, as such, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. The framework of the story is really, really strong and now all I have to do is buckle down and wrap up the first novel.