I haven’t said much with everything going on. In fact, I’ve said next to nothing. This is because I believe words have power, a lot of power, and I’m not the one who needs to be heard. I’ve never been the victim of racism. I’m white and what do I know? Better to boost the voices that matter.
Then I realized I’m not the quiet nobody I try to be on the internet and in real life. I have readers, people who might listen to my words, and so I decided silence is wrong. Silence is my white privilege, the privilege to go on with my life and pretend that nothing is happening, to write my fiction and ignore reality.
What does fiction have to do with any of this? It has everything to do with this.
Do you know why Rimn, the main character in the Soul Seer Saga, is biracial? Because I wrote that series for no one but myself. I’ve read so many books where the characters are all white, and I was sick and tired of it. I didn’t want Rimn to be white, so she isn’t. At the time, I thought nothing more of it. I wanted to finish a book, the book I wanted to write, and I didn’t know the first thing about business or marketing.
Then I decided I loved writing, never wanted to stop, and had to become a professional writer. This author thing got way more intense. And complicated.
I started looking at genres that commanded bigger audiences and eventually decided to focus on writing adult paranormal romance. Practically everyone on the covers of those books is white. Was I surprised? No. Did it make me angry? Yeah. Did I bend to those conventions? I did, because “that’s how you make money.” However, I only bent where the covers were concerned. If the characters on the covers had to be white, fine, but I’d damn well do what I wanted with any character who was “off-screen.”
I’m ashamed of this, even bending to that degree. When I was rebranding the Soul Seer Saga, I even thought about how Rimn being biracial would mean fewer copies sold.
I am ashamed.
Marked by the Moon started as a series meant for white women who like to read MF paranormal romance. I had narrowed it down to be that specific because “you have to have a brand, a promise, that you keep with your readers.” And white women reading MF paranormal romance seemed to be the place to make money. It didn’t seem like a bad thing because I enjoyed writing the books and because “your fiction isn’t for everyone (that’s why there are genres).” And I was still making sure not all of the love interests were white, so I didn’t feel like I was completely bagging my beliefs.
But something wasn’t right. I was still burying things I truly care about, that I am. Her Bad Cat, the last book in Marked by the Moon, has a bisexual main character. I knew it was “crossing a line,” but I did it anyway. I don’t hide the fact he is bisexual from readers. You can read it right there in the blurb, and each book in Marked by the Moon works as a standalone, so it isn’t breaking any promises as far as the book itself.
God, it was liberating.
I’m white, but I’m queer as hell, and I’ve buried that because of fear. You know what people can’t do? Change the color of their skin and then hide in fear. I could stay in the closet forever and no one would have to know how queer I am, but is that right?
I told myself it didn’t matter. I told myself to stop breaking outside of the box because writing is for the readers. Well, Lovely Reader, tell me this: have you ever read a book that opened your eyes, maybe even changed your life? I have. And that was the spark, the reason, I ever thought about writing a book in the first place. I had lost sight of that in my dream to become a professional writer.
I want to write books about love. Real love. I think you’ll find that at the heart of any story I’ll ever write. All colors, all sexual orientations, all genders, identities. You are fucking valid.
Racism is real. Homophobia and transphobia, all of it is real, and I don’t support it.
I’d never write a contemporary book about black pain because I don’t know it and it isn’t my place, but I will damn well write black characters, main characters, into my fantasy worlds where all colors exist so, if nothing else, readers can SEE that. Hopefully, they’ll internalize that, too. I will damn well write queer characters, main characters, into my fantasy worlds where all identities and sexual orientations exist for that same reason.
Love is love is love is love is love and love will conquer all.
I will do my best with my fiction, to never bend my values again, and I will continue to educate myself, because if there is one thing I know, it’s that people can change.
Me, a person who has dated some guys and a girl, who is gender non-conforming, who is actually aromantic and asexual, used to be homophobic. It was how I was raised. I said some terrible things to friends. I thought terrible things. I’m not that person anymore, but I still have a long way to go, so much growing to do, because we’re always learning and changing.
Black lives matter.