You could say that we’ve been on this journey towards writing a book on how to work with diversity in writing for a long time, ever since we each fell in love with stories and realized what an impact they make on our conscious and subconscious minds. The power of myth is nearly endless. And as writers of fiction, we are myth makers, collectively. This is an honor, privilege, and responsibility. We are all, with our words, hammering out the world views of our readers like blacksmiths on metal, for better or worse.
In August 2020, Mariëlle approached me (Bethany) after hearing me speak on Editing Your Novel’s Structure in a series of lectures. Mariëlle had been working on notes for the book for months and conducted some preliminary research. While we already knew each other, this was our first professional project together. Neither of us were strangers to the space of teaching and working with concepts of representation, culture, and minorities issues. Mariëlle taught for years at the University of XX in Gender and Colonialism Studies. She has also written on her blog on these topics. Meanwhile, I worked in Asia, instructing high school students and adult professionals on issues of racism, bias, and cultural translation, alongside language instruction, preparing them to be global citizens. My research project at Denison University, Art and Literature as Tools of Political Propaganda won a grant and a place in the summer research series.
Both of us are published authors and editors, but we come from different continents and have spent time abroad in very different parts of the world. By combining our experience with that of our communities, we believe this work will be able to serve many more people than if we worked alone.
The podcast, Doing Diversity in Writing, came from our desire and need to interact with our community while writing the book and also from our urgency to release these concepts into the world. There has never been a time when this work is more relevant. If we could have this work written last year, we would have!
As of now, the book will be released in 2023. There’s a lot of work to be done and we look forward to engaging our communities in the process. Ultimately, this book is for all of us. And the podcast will be weekly, so join us on the journey.
The book will be a manual, breaking down the writing of characters in categories of race, gender, neurodivergence, family and romantic structures, appearance, ethnicity/nationality, religion, age, sexuality, health, and ability. The intention is for the first third of the book to be a discourse on how to approach crafting characters beyond the identities we carry ourselves and why we should, examining our own blind spots, biases, and predilections, and working to bring fully fledged representation to the page. The aim is to write characters that ring with authenticity and are stimulating for the reader to experience.
The last two thirds of the book will be practical guidance, focusing on the categories above, with practical points and investigations of intersectionality (Intersectionality: the point where multiple identities come together in one person, for example, a woman of African descent living in a white majority country with an invisible disability and a minority religion).
If you could take a few minutes and fill out one or both of the surveys below, you would be supporting this work. We appreciate it and hope you join with us on this journey. For updates, sign up for our newsletter here.