challenging normative ideologies. reconstructing idealized criterion for levels of attractiveness. celebrating the diversity and beauty of those normally marginalized. paintings, photography, and other media forms. maybe even some historical discourse.
sibling site: fuck yeah, men of the rainbow/ if you like us, spread the word! / please read the FAQ and the about page before making any judgement on the title and content of this tumblr. thank you! / admiring and appreciating
- So You Want to Write a Fantasy: Writing Female Characters
- So You want to Write a Fantasy: Culture
- SYWTWAF: Writing What you Don’t know
- A list of adjectives to describe physical attributes, Or, As it turns out, I could go to Starbucks with half this list
- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- Some primers
- More Primers
- RaceFail ‘09: Or where Deepad’s I didn’t dream of Dragons comes from, and why.
- Writing characters of Color
- Writing Outside your experience
- Media Representations Wiki - stereotypes/tropes/culture/etc
- On A:TLA’s whitewashing - All The World’s White, the Rest of Us merely live in it
- The Face of the Other: Do Manga & Anime characters look “white”?
- Describing Characters of Color pt 1 & Describing Characters of Color (pt 2)
- I Didn’t Dream of Dragons
- So You Want to: Avoid Unfortunate Implications
- Transracial Writing for the Sincere
- Why Writing Colorblind is Writing White
- What a Girl Wants: Representation
- An Equal Place at the Table
- Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes
- The Problem With Colorblindness (and the Rest of Racebending.com)
- Making Movies for White People: A Tongue in Cheek critique of Minority Representation in the Media, or lack thereof
- From Margin to Center: Writing Characters of Color via Racialicious
- Writing Characters of Color - a helpful community!
- Why my Protagonists aren’t white (even though I am.)
- The Dangers of Telling a Single Story (a helpful Video)
- The Lack of People of Color in Historical Fictions
- How to Read and Respond to Literature of Color
- The Advantages of being a White Writer (in getting published)
- Writing Characters of Colour (Now With 10% Less White Liberal Anxiety!)
- Fic and Skin Tone (discusses Nyota Uhura, otherwise relevant)
- On Problematic Writing
- Writing Race in YA fiction: Debunking Myths
- Diversity Writers: How to Write People of Color
- The Importance of Inclusionary Writing
- Overcoming the Noble Savage and the Sexy Squaw: Native Steampunk
- The Intersection of Race and Steampunk: Colonialism’s After-Effects & Other Stories, from a Steampunk of Colour’s Perspective
- Beyond Victoriana: For EVERYTHING Steampunk/1800s/Industrial Revolution that isn’t just Victorian England and the archives Tales of the Urban Adventurer
- Can I just watch A Game of Thrones in Peace? (A brown feminist fan rant).
- Fantasy and Sci-Fi race Bingo
- Invoking Strangely Colored people
- Many Voices
- AfroFuturism, SciFi, and the History of the Future
- Some Open Thoughts on Race & Dsyutopia
- When Will White People Stop Making Movies like Avatar?
- Portraying POC in YA Fantasy: Are we There Yet?
- Debunking White Fantasy
- Racism in Fantasy
- Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish.
1.) It’s not hard to figure out what to do, there are plenty of resources.
People say you have to get it right, do your research, but … what else are you supposed to research? It’s not like people with more pigment in their skin have completely different personalities than those with less, any more than any individual. It’s frustrating when I can’t even figure out what the heck people are talking about.
Bam. Research step one done for you.
2.) Writing characters of color/minorities is a good thing.
I don’t like the notion that fantasy authors are under some kind of obligation to present ethnically diverse worlds. I’m English, and a fair sized part of English history consists of unwashed beardy white people in mead halls. If I’m inspired by my own history and cultural heritage, then that’s what I’m damn well going to write about. I’m not writing about some other culture just to appease the people who think there aren’t enough black characters in fantasy, or whatever. You want it, you write it. Nothing to do with me.
3.) Your all White Fantasy Land Didn’t Exist in Real Life:
…the rather medieval one has more diversity than real medieval Germany probably had […] In a world with medieval means of transport, it just doesn’t seem natural to me to mix dark-skinned people with blue-eyed blondes in one setting. I just try to give the people a colour that fits the place where they live.
You mean like the people from Africa and the Middle east who began to take over Southern Spain, as well as the Jews who were pretty well spread out throughout Europe, the Middle Easterners they would have met on the Crusades, and the incoming Mongol Hordes who spread to the very edges of Eastern Europe before the empire finally collapsed? Don’t forget that Turkey is right there, and the silk road would have gone from Song Dynasty China, through India, and ended in Turkey before moving further westwards into places like Germany. Also the attempts at the Franco-Mongol alliance would have been pretty interesting. (That’s about the 13th century - arguably smack dab in Middle Ages Europe and definite contact between France/Christian Europe and the Mongolian Empire.)
Unless you’re writing everything in the far reaches of Denmark or something, historically speaking, I call bullshit on people who have societies that are only all white ever, because it’s just inaccurate. Consider the relative closeness of Northern Africa to Spain, or Turkey to the rest of Europe, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Crusades, Slavery existing in Europe, including England, the slave trade, imperialism, Pax Mongolica, The Silk Road, Jewish Diaspora, the Islamic Empire vs The Holy Roman Empire, Egypt, Algeria, China’s sailing across the world, The Maruyan/Gupta Empires of India, tea trades, Columbus sailing in hopes of finding China, etc, etc, etc.
4.) I mean I just don’t believe you anymore. It’s unrealistic. Seriously guys.
You’d think I’d just denied the holocaust or something. Get a grip. All I said was that I’m going to write about my own cultural experience and anyone who thinks I should do otherwise for the sake of political correctness can bugger off.
This isn’t even about being PC this is just not being wrong about everything.
Interview with Kate Elliot.
Influenced in part by what my children had already set in place, my ideas veered toward building a sort of alt-Earth with magic, a landscape set in an early industrial revolution that was not dominated by the European nations we associate with the early industrial revolution and with colonialism because those nations did not exist. Nominally steampunk, it would really be more of a gaslamp setting. I specifically wanted to foreground other cultural traditions than the common Anglo-American ones we frequently see in our English-language publishing industry.
I asked myself a series of ‘what-if” questions:
What if there was an alternate Earth that didn’t have an England or even any Germanic-language-speaking peoples because of an extended Ice Age that covered parts of northern Europe?
What if, therefore, the Americas hadn’t been colonized, so their political landscape would look very different?
What if refugees from the powerful Mali Empire had gone to Europe with gold and status and become part of the ruling class? What if the rise of industrial technology was destabilizing the old order, but the radical notion of new rights sprang from a community-based rather than individual-based model of rights? What if humans had access to magical forces that could redirect the normal flow of entropy? Just go with me on the last one because an actual physicist gave me that line.
Out of that landscape walked a character and her story: An orphaned girl who lives with her aunt and uncle and her beloved cousin, her best friend in all the world, finds out in a shocking and unpleasant way that just about everything she thinks she knows is a lie–just about everything, except for the love and loyalty of her cousin, which is absolutely real and unshakeable.
Which is how I ended up with an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons.
What about the children? you may ask. Because while it is my trilogy, my story, and my characters (with a couple of exceptions), the landscape would not exist if they had not set some of its fundamental terms. Interwoven with the things I brought to the story are the things they brought to the world. That is one of the reasons I call the story a mash-up, with elements plucked from all over, thrown together in the kitchen sink, and churned with a big heaping of delight.
Twin B was insistent that there was a hidden war going on beyond human ken, involving spirit courts (the day court and the night court, a variation on old Celtic Faery) and dragons. Something metaphysical, he said, dealing with the rulers and the ruled and the need for revolution. Interestingly, Twin B is currently working as a longshoreman, a member of the ILWU.
Twin A, more pragmatic and worldly in his warlike tendencies, wanted a Napoleon analog, and empire. Because there can never be enough Napoleon. And empire. Did I mention empire? Furthermore, Twin A has outlined several Important and Crucial battles that I may not have space to write. Interestingly, Twin A is currently serving in the US Navy.
Finally, you may ask yourself, what about the daughter? What feminine touch did she bring to the proceedings?
Remember the “intelligent descendants of troodons” mentioned above? They are her invention: human size, agile, intelligent, detail-oriented, and technology-creating sapients complete with feathers (just like paleontologists recently found in amber, although the descriptions she wrote up for me were written several years ago). The ones met in the story are lawyers, printers, and radicals. The daughter, meanwhile, is in her final year of earning her B.F.A., with an emphasis in printmaking. She’s also written a couple of stories set in the Spiritwalker world, about “trolls,” as the humans call them.
Most of the above elements are introduced in book one, Cold Magic.
But because I’m writing this on the occasion of the publication of Cold Fire, which is book two of the Spiritwalker trilogy, I feel I should close with an example of an important thematic element and setting detail that appears in book two that doesn’t appear in book one. Besides the clockwork velociraptor, I mean.
That’s easy enough.
added commentary from Elliott:
zedmeister, the Celts — such as we can identify a group as “the Celts” which we can’t really, except possibly as a linguistic or cultural assemblage — originate in continental Europe (see forex Hallstat and Tene cultures). Celtic peoples moved into the NW of Europe later, probably displacing or intermarrying with earlier groups; the survival of Celtic peoples in the British Isles is due in part to the islands being cut off from the continent and thereby being on the fringe. All kinds of things survive on the fringe. But the Celts did not arise in the British Isles; Celtic “nations” famously invaded Greece and sacked Rome way back in the day.
All that aside, because this is not glacial maximum, only Scotland is covered by ice, not the whole of the British Isles. My apologies to Scots.
To clarify re: English. I state that I avoid Germanic-language-group based place names like, say, Anglia or England. However, “avoiding” Germanic language based place names while writing in English is a bit of a contradiction in terms, since I’m using English for places like Newfield or Expedition. In this fantasy, the Americas were not colonized by the Spanish since Spain as we know it never developed. None of the nation states as we know them did.
Finally, you’re quite right about the Regency era. I am using the term in its literary sense of “Regency romance” (a la Jane Austen), to suggest that there is a romantic element in the story.
In reference to the last image I posted.
…what’s most striking about the fictional worlds Durham and Jemisin have created is how cosmopolitan they are. Their cities are populated by people of different races and religions, mixing together and comparing their respective values. They bridle at the limitations of class. Economics drive many of their actions, and the conflicts that inevitably arise can’t be easily parsed. “The strange thing about some of [the most popular epic] fantasy worlds,” Durham said, “is that it does seem that the entire world is northern Europe. That’s all there is. It’s always easy for me to engage with that, but then a part of my mind is also wondering, ‘What happened if you spin the globe?’ What are the people doing there? How is their history been shaped by the magic of that world? There’s something exciting about acknowledging that everybody is not the same and that affects their struggles.”
Jemisin finds deeper problems in “certain expectations of the genre that are rooted in Western cultural assumptions that are not necessarily true. For example: the whole good-versus-evil focus, the binary. You see that in so much of epic fantasy. The Dark Lord is really bad, we know this. Because he’s dark. Well, did you do something to him? Doesn’t matter, he’s dark. That’s why he’s bad and that’s why you’ve got to go kill him. That kind of thinking I inherently do not trust.”