The Red launch blog tour continues today at Pageturners.
Okay, first off I have to send you on a field trip to read this article that was recently reprinted at the Publisher’s Weekly Blog.
Can I just say I’m shaking my head at this? It’s ludicrous to say “I’ll represent your book if you cut out a character who has what I perceive to be an unmarketable DIFFERENCE.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.
NEWSFLASH! Not everyone in the world is white and straight.
I have always wondered why there’s a whole other section for African American Romance in bookstores. Why shouldn’t those books be mixed in alphabetically with all the other romance? It’s still people. And even as a straight white female, I totally wonder why there’s not more fiction out there with primary characters who aren’t straight aren’t straight and white.
I was ecstatic to see Alec and Magnus in The Mortal Instruments and Jamie in The Demon’s Lexicon. These are well-rounded and interesting characters who go beyond being the hero/ine’s BFF or the token gay guy. The authors mostly don’t make a big deal about their sexuality, even if Alec does face some unsurprising discrimination among Shadowhunter society. It’s AWESOME because, you know what? Kids who are gay or otherwise different face discrimination in OUR society and fiction is a fantastic place to show that that doesn’t have to be the case.
YA these days, in many ways, is all about dealing with complicated issues–suicide, eating disorders, abuse, and all manner of dark and horrible things. Yet industry professionals are shying away from showing legitimately diverse heroes and heroines who might be black or homosexual or bisexual? Is this more of that ludicrous moralizing that thinks YA is too dark for teens (a la that infamous Wall Street Journal article) because teens who read can’t think for themselves and might read about something and decide to try it? I read it in a book, so I’ll commit suicide. Or I think I’ll try girls for a while.
WHAT THE HECK PEOPLE?
You can’t say its not marketable if you’ve never tried to sell it. And really, why in God’s name do you have to bring up the race or sexual orientation of the characters in the marketing plan anyway? Why not just market it as exactly what it is?
Say the story was:
A fugitive princess must battle demon-powered robots to save her kingdom from ruin.
How does her being a lesbian or bisexual or black or Hispanic or Asian or some other race remotely figure into that plot in any meaningful way that’s gonna make it on the book jacket and into marketing materials?
Are they worried that the innocent, delicate teen readers can’t handle being exposed to such things when they probably see them at school every day? More likely parents who can’t cope with the reality of the modern world who are heading up calls to ban books with such content.
This crap drives me nuts.
But, Kait, you may be saying. You don’t have any non-white, non-straight characters in your books. First, I only have 4 stories out and they’re all but one pretty short. Second, I AM a straight, white chick. I don’t have the personal experience to write authentically about what it is to be, say, a gay black guy or whatever and I don’t want people upset if I did it wrong. That’s always a challenge for writers–the desire to include diversity in a way that doesn’t diminish it somehow by being a token character or somehow a caricature of a real person. Now that I’m getting into longer works with bigger casts, I’m hoping I can add in some more diverse characters in a positive way.