This is a topic that has been touched on by many, many people, both in the industry and out of it, both traditionally published and self-published. What I have to say certainly won’t be anything new, but I do feel like I should say it anyway.
Diversity and inclusivity are important in everything, but I’m going to focus specifically on books, as both a reader and a writer. I’m hardly an authority on the subject, so I’m not going to give any advice, tips, or suggestions, but rather I’d just like to talk about my thoughts and opinions on the subject.
I’ve always been a voracious reader, even as a child, and I can distinctly recall looking for books to read and not finding a character that represented me. Not that it bothered me at the time. I have never had a problem devouring stories despite not seeing myself represented in them, but as an adult, I recognize that for other people, this was a huge problem. And now that I’m older and chosen this career path, I’ve made the decision to use my platform to do what I can.
I want, more than anything, for people to see themselves in my characters. That’s one of the reasons why I made one of my main characters in Taking Chances of Hispanic origin. One, because representation matters, and two, as a Latina woman, it is much easier for me to write a character with a similar ethnic background. Not all of my characters will be Hispanic, although I do hope to have at least one Hispanic character in every book I publish. (That is absolutely a personal choice, and just because someone is of a minority, that does not mean that they need to have this kind of representation if they don’t want it.)
I purposefully made Noah a light-skinned, or white-passing, Hispanic character. That’s because I myself have a fair complexion, and I feel like too many people forget that Hispanic people come in all colors. It was also important to me that he be bisexual. Noah falling in love with Olivia does not change the fact that he is also attracted to men. It doesn’t change who he is. It is a great pet peeve of mine when people assume that someone who is bisexual or pansexual somehow becomes straight if they’re dating someone of the opposite sex. That’s… not how sexuality works. At all. And though I can’t do much to show people this, I can at least have a character represent that. (Hint: Although my main character in my current WIP is straight, she is Hispanic.)
But it’s not just diversity in terms of race or sexuality that is important. I think it’s also important to showcase different relationship styles. There are a lot of books that showcase monogamous relationships, and that’s great because those are necessary as well, but I love that I’m seeing more and more books of people in happy, healthy polyamorous relationships. My first introduction to polyamory was in fanfiction, and seeing it in mainstream media, such as the wonderful Anita Blake series, just makes me beyond happy. It’s why I decided to have Mason, Noah, and Olivia form a triad. I like to think they all complete each other, and I can only hope that readers feel the same way.
I’d like to end this post with a question for any readers out there. Do you have any favorite characters or authors that are BIPOC? I’ll go first.
One of my favorite Hispanic authors is Aleera Anaya Ceres, and I don’t say that because we’ve been best friends for 14 years. I say that because she’s a damn good author! My absolute favorite series from her so far is her Fae Elementals series and her Deep Sea Chronicles. Since I’ve mentioned my love for both series thus far, I feel inclined to mention that Anita Blake is half Mexican and Mercy Thompson is half Native American, which I find wonderful. I love badass women.