This post is going to deal with some subjects that some of you won’t be comfortable with. This post specifically will deal with sex and sexual themes along with how they relate in terms of age and power imbalances. If you have a hard time dealing with these kinds of subjects, I urge you to think twice about reading this. I feel that this post is important, but I don’t want to put you in a bad place in doing so. I also want to point out that I have very strong opinions about the book I will be writing about.
Hello my loves. First of all I apologize for being so inactive this semester has been really kicking my ass and I really, really haven’t had the time to do things lately here on the blog. That’s not the message I had, but I just wanted to get that out there. I’m really wanting to expand this blog and push it further, it’s just school is a higher priority at the moment.
I’ve been really perplexed and upset that I haven’t been able to track my email followers which is a little bit of a problem considering the last giveaway I hosted. The winner, luckily, followed me through their WP account so I didn’t have to be conflicted whether or not they were actually subbed to my blog. So since this is a problem I’ve decided that I’ll be looking into third party mailing systems, mainly MailChimp. I’ve thought about it before I moved here to WordPress, but it seems like something I’ll really want to go with since I apparently can’t look at any of my email followers here on this blog (which sucks, you know?).
When will this happen? I’m not super sure yet, soon hopefully. I haven’t really been able to focus too much on blog things (like I’ve said). I would liked to have this done before the year is up, but we’ll see how it goes. That’s all I wanted to say. I do have some more posts scheduled so don’t worry. They’ll just be incredibly sporadic.
The month of August was supposed to be a really quick one in terms of books. I had a line of eARCs I’ve been meaning to touch and I finally decided to dedicate a month to them. However, I decided that reading Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Nevernight by Jay Kristoff would be a fantastic idea. Right.
But, Alexa, why?
Because it threw me into a book slump.
That’s right ladies, gents, and everyone else. Those two books threw me into a fucking book slump. It was kind of downhill from there. You see, I have a tendency to be drawn in with a pretty cover and an enticing blurb and every time I seem to get shit on. It’s only been a couple of times that I’ve been really blown away by an eARC I have requested. I don’t know what it is, but I’m hoping I’m not the only one who falls into this pit.
So what’s on the DNF train this month?
So recently, if you’ve been on Twitter as much as I have, you’ve seen a lot of talk of diversity and diverse books. As a woman of color, I’m very for diverse books that don’t only include own voices, but also just books that have PoC that are… well written characters. Sounds simple, I know right? Crazy.
In today’s post I want to talk about how important it is to have different people reading your work. To authors out there who want to work with characters out of their race or out of their… whatever I want to point out how important this is. I mean please, if you have a book that centers around PoC but the only people who seem impressed or pleased are white people, there’s a problem. Really. If you are working on a story that deals with characters outside of your personal experiences, I think it’s important to go through the correct measures and have people that are part of the culture you’re writing about be part of the editing process. Most importantly, have them read your work.
It’s scary. Oh boy, is it scary–but this is the only way you’ll be able to do it correctly (in my humble opinion). If you don’t have people who experience that kind of life style daily, who have been brought up in a different culture than yours–how do you expect to create such a realistic experience? Even if you think you know because you were surrounded by PoC growing up, I guarantee that you don’t fully understand.
Personally, I want to see more amazing Asian characters that aren’t just smart characters or nerdy characters or whatever. I just want to see a person who happens to be Asian. That so hard to ask? PoC aren’t really that hard to write. Just write people. Just write what you imagine a person would do–but if you plan to delve deeper into their cultures and how it affects their thinking and actions, that’s when you need to do some research and some cross referencing.
Look I’m not saying any of this to be aggressive or hostile. When you’re in school and you’re required to write a research paper, if your paper doesn’t have enough research done it’s not a good paper and you don’t get a good grade. Why doesn’t this translate to fiction? You guys want to say, “oh it’s fiction, suspend your disbelief”. Yeah okay, I’ll do that when people stop describing my eye shape as almond. Authors will jest and say, “Oh I’m on some NSA list for checking how long it takes for acid to eat away at a corpse” but aren’t willing to do the same sort of research for cultural experiences? Amazing. Really.
I’m not a big supporter of having PoC written only by PoC. All I ask for is sufficient research and having it beta read by the people you’re writing about. If you’re an author that’s afraid to get it wrong, here’s an easy answer, have those people read it before it hits the shelves. I honestly don’t know what that’s not a solution many people have taken. I encourage more people to write Asian characters and Asian Americans (this is because I’m Korean American so of course I’m being a bit specific to myself, but I’m also implying everyone else as well). Just reach out to these types of beta readers more often because I’m telling you they’ll give you a much more satisfying answer and critique of your work.
If you don’t think you know any beta readers, I’ll be happy to take a look at your work as long as you’re willing to wait a while because, at the risk of sounding really snobby and douchey, I’m a really busy person.
Photo credit to Aaron Burden
I’ve thought a lot about YA. I’ve had my qualms and tribulations about it going from certain subjects being “taboo” to who can read YA (spoiler: it’s anyone and everyone). My biggest piece of thinking that I did towards YA was considering what subject matter was deemed YA and what was deemed NA or Adult. Personally? I think that anything is really up for grabs for YA. I believe that when young adults reach an age where they are becoming… well adults, they should be exposed to many ideas and many subjects. I’m not really a fan of people… coddling or sheltering people from the world. I don’t like to think of myself of some kind of cynic, I care too much for that, but I don’t want someone to go into the world unprepared of sorts. So I’m an advocate to open sex and sexual themes to YA because apparently we can have a bunch of minors killing each other for sport (m’hm I went there) but we get explicit sex scenes and oh no the children!
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, obviously. Continue reading
Photo Credit to Paz Arando
I am a character driven reader. A book can have a plot full of plot holes and ridiculous cliches but if the characters are A++? I’ll probably still love it anyway. There’s nothing worse than reading a book with flat and boring characters. However, while I love books that have the go-to hero and villain, I LOVE characters that are neither but in between, a mix of both, or have the potential to be both.
Basically I’m more inclined to love characters that are morally ambiguous. This is how I’ve come to love the characters in Six of Crows, or Adelina from The Young Elites. I’ve come to love characters that seem one way and then surprise you in your reading by doing something they usually wouldn’t do whether it’s spurred on by a budding romance or by a strong relationship.
Why do I love these characters so much?
Honestly it’s because it keeps me interested. It wants me to know more about our characters. By bringing these different layers and facets to a character, I want to push them to their limit and test their abilities to learn more about them. Maybe I’m secretly a mad scientist on the inside… but still. It keeps me on my toes, it has me leaning in and paying attention. I want to peel back every layer, look at every facet and see what makes up this character.
This might come from me being in theatre and acting, but it’s just something that’s been constantly interesting in my experience as a reader. Even as a writer, my characters were always a lot stronger than the plot. I work and work on my characters until I fully know I can channel them and bring them to life on the page.
What I probably love most is seeing characters that are usually viewed as good and honorable to have a spot of darkness in them. Why? Because to me they seem more human. I like seeing them confront this darkness and make the decision to either fight it, embrace it, or use it to their advantage. It really speaks to me about how their character is (not them being a character but… character). I especially love it more when that same kind of character is confronted with a character of the complete opposite spectrum on an even playing field (such as Lila and Kell from ADSoM).
Sometimes I love characters that seem like the villain and then, again, kind of surprise you in the end such as Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury. He’s done incredibly problematic and unapologetic things, but I still really love him. Mostly because he helped Feyre with her own mental problems and well.. didn’t–ok I’ll stop before I spoil anything. BUT my point is that it tells me there’s always something more and something else to learn about a person. 3