Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We Have the Power

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
One of the things I'm very conscious of as I write the next Their Vampire Queen book is our political climate, both in the US and abroad. Women are still fighting for equal pay and basic rights over their bodies. Combine that with the #MeToo movement and the Women's March, and the absolute last thing I want to read about is another standard fantasy world based on the patriarchy. (Or shady/iffy consent - but that's a whole other post.)

Smash the patriarchy!  (Take a look at these awesome bracelets at O'Kane For Life. I'm not affiliated with the authors in any way but I love their work and have bought several bracelets!)

What I found as I was writing the first couple of Queen books, is that even though I consider myself politically woke and an ally, my default choices as a writer still need some work.

For instance, when I went to create Shara's conciliarius (her counsel in all things legal, both human and Triune), my first thought was a dude, probably a white dude, though I didn't get that far. That was my default.

I'll be frank, here. That pissed me the hell off (at myself). So I created Gina, a black kick-ass woman who takes care of all the legal details for Shara's massive estate. She is MUCH better than any random dude I could have ever inserted. That would have been lazy. I don't want to be lazy!

That "default" made me play a little bit. Later in Queen Takes Knights, you learn that a housekeeper comes in once a week to stock the kitchen and keep things in order in case their lost queen is ever found (they want her home to be ready at a moment's notice). Even Daire says "she fucking rocks" - his default. If someone says "housekeeper," they must mean a woman.

But oh no. The "housekeeper" is Timothy Winston. He is white, but he's a gay British butler.

As they say, knowing that you have a problem is half the battle. Take a look at your defaults, whether you're a writer, or a reader. Do you insert gender or race or sexual orientation for a character when it's not mentioned? What are you inserting?

And authors... It's not enough to say, "Oh, this character is gay" and leave it at that without ever SHOWING it or having it affect their life or the plot. You might as well say the character is PURPLE if it's not going to have an impact on the story. Otherwise, what the hell is the point?

1 comment:

  1. This was a timely message for me. I admit, I never even THOUGHT about what my default might be --- or why. I'll be taking a much closer look at my characters.(PS - loved the bracelet)


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