So I made a Twitter account last night. Yep. After a brief exchange with Naz from ReadDiverseBooks about the #DiverseBookBloggers campaign and looking some really amazing people’s words on the subject, I decided to join in.
But that’s not what this post is about. Just gonna jump right in (never was good with introductions). Gothic literature. I love it. Love it, love it, LOVE IT. Give me the wind wailing across the moors, the creaking floorboards, shadows on the chateau walls, whispers and flashes of movement, madness, ecstasy–
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Little Stranger, “Fall of the House of Usher” & “Ligeia” & about every other Edgar Allen Poe short story EVER.
This last 5 months has been difficult a little, because I’m naturally drawn to these over-the-top, melodramatic, but finely crafted works of classic literature that, yes, are totally WHITE. And it seems kinda impossible (though I know it’s NOT impossible, I just need to dig harder and longer) to find diverse writers who write in this way.
Last night I picked up an Agatha Christie mystery called The Pale Horse, published 1961. Agatha Christie, in my humble opinion, was a freaking genius. I’ve read probably 45 of her 66 novels, all of her plays, and several of her short stories, and have loved every.single.one. She wrote no duds. Not even Shakespeare (in all his wisdom and Elizabethan glory) can make the same claim. And just based on how she wrote, Agatha Christie seems to me to be incredibly progressive in the way she views women, writes women, in the way she talks about “foreigners,” and the way she talks of the English (that slightly mocking tone that is also like, “But I love you so much anyway.”).
I’ve seen lots of lists featuring POC as authors or characters that are geared toward YA stuff when it comes to mystery and even some gothic. But what I want to find and review and talk about till people are sick of hearing about it is a book by a diverse author that just like, NAILS IT in these categories, and not for YA, but for adults.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for YA lit cause God knows I enjoy reading it. But I wasn’t “weaned” on YA, not really. I never liked being “talked down to” just because of my age. Instead, I was given the classics to ponder, analyze, devour–and those Gothic ones stand out as my all-time favorites.
While I was lying in bed last night thinking all these thoughts, I finally decided to look for lists online to assist in my search. And I found this author named Daina Chaviano who wrote a book called The Island of Eternal Love which might fill the bill here. And I thought, “Why haven’t I heard of this person before?” Cause this novel looks pretty amazing. Is it because she’s Cuban? Is it because she’s a Cuban woman? Is it because she’s a Cuban woman writing a blend of sci-fi/paranormal/gothic/history? Why is it? Which brings me to the next thing I want to find.
I want to start a conversation here. As a white woman in the Midwest, I enjoy tons of privileges unavailable to others. As a lesbian in the Midwest, some of those privileges are stripped away (like a rumor circulating around my workplace that I might not have a contract renewal because board members found out that I have a wife and weren’t pleased), but I know how to “pass” as “normal.” But I don’t WANT to. What I also want to find is a voice in the dialogue about representation, as an ally and as a member of a marginalized group; to be able to ask questions but not to commandeer the conversation; to listen to others and to explore the limitless possibilities; to get tough with myself while moving forward in a positive way, always learning, learning, learning, and LOVING.
Some of my questions don’t have easy answers. Like, as a white writer, should I write a protagonist of another race? Or should I “write what I know” which is really just another story of “little white Christian girl discovers she’s gay and has a hard time admitting it to herself and then to her community and things get weird for a while but then everything turns out ok in the end”? And do any of these questions apply if I’m writing science fiction?
Some say yes, some say no, some say it depends, some say I should talk to more people, and more say it’s not up to them to answer my questions.
And it ISN’T up to them. It’s up to me. It’s up to me to do the work, to write the words, to find truth and beauty and struggle all on my own while simultaneously speaking out on behalf of those diverse writers using their #ownvoices to gain representation in the world of literature.
New review should be posted tomorrow :). Hope you can come to check it out :).