Diversity in literature

April 2, 2016

 

I was talking today with someone about American tv and how it is mostly about white men. That even though America has 50% females like the rest of the world (actually more like 51%) most shows are dominated by men and if there are women all they seem to talk about is getting into a man's pants. When you look at races represented on TV it is even worse. Check out this Buzzfeed article about it.

 

I am white but I'm South African and I'm a New Zealander and I am a woman. All of this is just a fraction of who I am. I am also a geek and a romantic. When I read books I don't see me on the pages. So, when I write I try to make my characters as diverse as I can. I know I get super excited when I find a character with my name. At least with Romance genre diversity is actually more evident and even if I can't find a character that is a South African Kiwi I can at least find a character that is a geek or a character that is a romantic or some other part that is me.

 

Writing purely for the white male genre is also very limiting. Most books are bought by women. Yes, women. The Romance genre is the largest literary genre out there. People think it is the formula but I'm not sold on that. I think it is because of the diversity and escapism. I can almost always find a story with a character that is a lot like me who has a happy ending. 

 

My sister married a Samoan and so my nieces and nephews all have this wonderful darker skin. I was looking at a barbie doll for my niece. I got frustrated because I couldn't find a doll that looked like her. When I was a kid I had this barbie with red hair and olive skin and my sister had one with black hair and pale skin. I wanted one with ash blonde hair, freckles and pale skin. We all want to connect with our fantasy life. A friend of mine loves this one book because the main character is described as a little chubby. I think my friend thinks of herself that way and that is why she loves the book. It is much easier to escape into a book when the character is like you.

 

My mother loves her family history and she got very excited when she discovered we are related to the author who wrote Snowy River. The book was written about the Australian outback because her daughter had never read a story that looked like her life.

 

So anyone writing out there please write something that appeals to as many people as you can think of.

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