People keep saying that writers need to read a lot, because that’s how you get better. Mostly though, I disagree because I haven’t read anything in months. This is because I took a vow: not to read any book that had a scantily clad white woman on the cover. Or just a white woman in general.
Why, you ask?
Well, for years I was an avid Laurell K. Hamilton fan as I followed Anita Blake on her journey of kicking ass and taking names. Eventually, I fell out of love with how bitchy and deeply unlikeable Anita became, and the over dependence on sex to generate plot. As the 15+ book series progressed, I felt LKH lost a lot her ability to craft a decent story while everyone kept their clothes on.
So I journeyed forth, dying for someone with LKH’s skill but without… everything else. Many authors I found seemed to only mimic her style of a sassy 20-something white female lead who didn’t date or have a lot of sex until our stud of a (anti)hero shows up. Even just reading the synopsis of books made me want to flail around mindlessly, as I imagined all these sarcastic, street savvy women playing hard to get.
I was tired of my favorite genre being overcrowded with white, heterosexual (and sarcastic) female leads. Where are the women of color? Where are the LGBT main characters? Where’s the decent sense of humor?!
When I had complained to a white friend about the lack of POC in LKH’s work, she told me, “There’s that one black character!” I wanted to die. Tokenism is not appropriate representation in literature – or anywhere else for that matter. I’m aware that certain things sell, but how difficult is it to find some decent fantasy/sci-fi novels with non-white characters?
After I complained about the glaring whiteness of The Game of Thrones (on HBO) to a friend, she sent me some information about POC in contempary sci-fi/fantasy. I haven’t gotten the chance to read any of them yet, but I am going to look for them soon. Here are the books:
4. N.K. Jemisin
I’m excited about these – even if some of them didn’t just hit the shelves last week, it’s good that they exist and that now you can find them. I haven’t found any books with LGBT characters in them – that might be more of a stretch, but I’m going to keep searching and see what I can find.
Honestly, I love reading – especially sci-fi/fantasy – but I don’t want to support a system that refuses to acknowledge other types of people exist and that we like books too. This is normally the part where someone might tell me to start writing this book, because I want to read it.
Maybe I shall.