Links: Thursday, November 7th

November 7, 2013 Links 8

A collage of 12 Star Trek stills where a character is facepalming.The Facepalm

  • Jill Sorenson Interviews Suzanne Brockmann, Part II – File this under “Macklemore.” Two white authors discuss writing romance with diverse characters and Brockmann… oh, I just can’t even.

    I’m a fiction writer and that’s what fiction writers do.

    No, I’m not Alyssa Locke, an African American former Navy sharpshooter FBI agent, but I know what it’s like to walk a mile in her shoes–because I’m a fiction writer.

    I’m also not a Navy SEAL–take your pick of the dozens of SEAL heroes I’ve written through the years. But I can imagine the drive and passion it took to go through BUD/S training–because I’m a fiction writer.

    Research, willingness to learn, imagination, and empathy–all done with the goal of appropriating other identities.

  • HOW TO WRITE WOMEN OF COLOR AND MEN OF COLOR IF YOU ARE WHITE. – I’m not an authority on portrayals of POC, but this looked like good advice on writing characters who are unlike you when you come from a place of privilege.

    A colleague of mine was talking to me recently about her misgivings about her capabilities regarding writing Women of Color. She wanted very badly to include several WOC characters in her sci-fantasy series, but she had some concerns about correct portrayal and writing them in a way that wouldn’t instantly piss people off. I told her I would write something about it that might help. So, here we have it: How to write POC without pissing everyone off and doing a horrible job.

  • Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing – The agents in this piece give me hope and made me facepalm. One agent would say all the right things about working to represent diverse interests, then another says she just trusts good projects to find her and that she doesn’t see agents playing a role in diversification. Still, it’s worth a read.

    Literary agents make up a big part of the publishing machine. Most publishers no longer consider unsolicited submissions, so an agent is a must if you even want to get your foot in the door. Each year, agents review many promising manuscripts and portfolios so it is safe to say they have a good sense of who makes up the talent pool of children’s book publishing. So what kind of diversity are agents seeing? Being that the number of diverse books has not increased in the last eighteen years, in order to understand why this problem persists we decided to ask the gatekeepers.

  • The Romance Genre Goes Plus-Size At Ellora’s Cave Publishing – EC isn’t my favorite publisher, but it’s hard not to like this move. Let’s hope more publishers follow their lead.

    “This year we decided to draw more attention (and hopefully readers) to our Rubenesque writing by releasing ‘Curve Appeal,’ special stories that go out of their way to present a positive image of plus-sized heroines,” said Gorlinsky. “Our hope is that with strides like these, a full-figured (or at least realistic) heroine will start to become the rule, rather than the exception.”

    According to Gorlinsky, none of the stories really make the heroine’s size a major plot point; rather, they depict women who are confident and beautiful. They just present plus-size women in a positive way, where she is judged by who she is rather than what she looks like.

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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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8 Responses to “Links: Thursday, November 7th”

  1. Jason

    Ridley, I agree with you 100%. I personally do believe that agents need to play a more active role in finding authors and illustrators of color to represent. Speaking from experience, these kinds of stories don’t automatically materialize on their own.

  2. Isobel Carr

    Why do I feel like “because I’m a fiction writer” is ripe for becoming a meme?

    Also, my godmother runs the Hollins University children’s lit MFA program (when it started, it was the only one, but it may not be now). I’m going to ask her about the student body makeup. I know that in general, MFA programs trend VERY white (as do the illustration departments in most art schools based on what I’ve seen and heard from friends with art degrees). I think the amount of privilege required to invest heavily in an art degree is likely a barrier for a lot of people.

  3. Isobel Carr

    My godmother says not as many PoC in the program as she’d like. One of their grads (Dhonielle Clayton) just landed a big YA deal though.

  4. nu

    @Isobel: Lol! You are so right! That is ripe for a meme! Congrats to Clayton too!

    Thanks for the links! I don’t necessarily agree with the second blogger that mixed race characters or other POC characters have to comment on their own race -every person approaches their identity differently and every narrative also has different atmosphere, tone and needs- but the rest of that page is golden.

  5. Tina

    Good Lord. And she was making some actual great points until she got to the ‘Because I am fiction writer’ part.

    And yes, the pointers on writing POC are pretty on target, imo. Although I do agree with NU about the biracial / multiracial characters. Oftentimes how multi-racial person navigates their racial identity has a lot to do with their actual appearance and how people have perceived them over time. Since genetics wrinkles out in some really odd ways sometimes, a biracial person may look almost wholly like they belong to one race and therefore would have a very different experience that someone who looks more racially ambiguous on how they navigate their identity with others.

    A good example of this is Rashida and Kidada Jones. Their parents are Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton and Rashida looks more white than Kidada does so they had very different racial experiences. Interestingly enough, Rashida seem to have had a more difficult time than Kidada did in reconciling her racial identity. There is a fascinating interview the two women did with Glamour magazine on the subject.

  6. nu

    @Tina: Hm, very interesting! I didn’t know Rashida Jones had a sister. I like her a lot.

    Yeah, plus there’s so much context that non-POC writers just may not be able to cop, observations that will be made by a POC character in certain contexts because she has experienced this and this. A non-POC writer will not have that experience. So I think it’s a tall order to expect them to know which comments a POC would make here or there where race is in effect. A non-POC writer will not be aware in which situations race is at play to that degree. I think I’ll just be satisfied with POC heroes/heroines.

  7. Aisha

    This piece, while only tangentially related, might be of interest –