I sit in front of my little computer screen and I let my mind unfurl. I right comic scenes of high adventures. I write scenes of despair and tragedy. I let the forces of good triumph and the armies of evil corrupt. I write fantasy. Sure, I also talk about writing itself and my family. I go on about the awe I have for my wife and the love I have for my child. But as much as I do that I still think of myself as a fantasy writer.
I deal in a made up world where I write the rules. And things are not always present. My novel, Deadly Troubadours, exists in a world with corruption, slavery, pirates, and those who would take terrible advantage of others. In one way it is a dark world, even if it mirrors our own.
But then their are my protagonists. They have flaws and they get things wrong. But they stand together and they try their best. And they are not me.
I am a white, male, straight American. It would be oh so easy to populate my writings with characters exactly like me. It might even be safer. But I don’t want to do that.
I want to populate my novels with women. I want my characters’ to have relationships that are honest to who those characters are. If that means a character in gay or bi, then that is how they should be. I want there to be many different shades to the peoples that make up my world. And I want there to be a multitude of religions.
This is becoming more and more important to me. I look over my first book, and while it isn’t a shining beacon of diversity, I do think it holds up. I think I can do more. I think I need to do more.
I see my own country growing more close minded in its leadership. They want to build walls and keep those not like them away. They want to bring back racism, even as they protest that it is about safety. Living so far away I feel trapped, like there is very little I can do, besides ranting on twitter and Facebook, to say “This is not right. This is not normal.”
But there is something I can do. I can write. I can do my best to fill my books with a wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds. I can diversify my cast and make it more inclusive.
That doesn’t mean that women, PoC, LGBT, will always be in the right. No one wants me to pander. But what I can do is do my best to present a variety of individuals as individuals. I can rise above stereotypes and do my best to see that the round characters in my novels are not solely white males.
I realize that I am an unknown author taping away ay my keyboard. I don’t expect, or even want, my little works to become life changing experiences. But what I can illustrate is that we are all people. That skin color or sexual preference does not dictate the worth of an individual. I can show a multitude of peoples working and living together. By adding diversity to both my heroes and villains I can help normalize that we are all people.
It’s a subtle card, but if I can help someone somewhere identify with a character that does not share their appearance or background, then in some way I can feel I am resisting the hate.
It’s my fantasy world. I can populate it how I please. And I choose diversity.