Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mainstream Books

Mic Check, One Two, Hullabaloo!

It goes without saying that these days if you pick up a book - usually YA - the main character is white and most definitely heterosexual. 
Do I care? 
I probably should care more but I don’t because I simply won't be joining that band. It’s an old age problem, one I’m too young to adhere to if ever I’m awesome enough to get published. My friend Terri realised it and all it takes is a step in another direction if you're so willing. No balloons. No party. No big deal. Just a step.

Because that’s another thing I don’t want to do: make a big deal about not being a part of that issue. I notice that whenever people get up on their Soapbox and bang on about us needing more gay or black characters in mainstream books and then bring out a book doing just that, they automatically make it so that their book is only known for having a black or gay MC. Either way, it’s as if they unintentionally pull it from the mainstream shelves. I understand that maybe, for whatever reason, these kind of MC’s just aren’t popular and because of this, it’s not a great way to make money in the writing business. Also, at the same time, sometimes you want books to be categorised so you can find them easier. Perhaps you want to read about people of colour or with a particular type of sexual orientation, so things need to be categorised. But it would be nice if the everyday reader could find it in the mainstream section also. Introduce them to something new, why not?

These days, the way I look at it is, unless a characters sexual orientation or race is used as a major plot tool, i.e racism or coming out/erotica, the book should not be stuffed away in a special corner somewhere. I consider this to be especially true if it’s sci-fi or fantasy and the setting is very different from our world, with different social hang-ups (unless the writer intends colour/sexuality to be one). But other than that, believe it or not, whether the MC is of colour of gay, neither should have an effect on how they cast magic or fly a battleship.

If I’m reading a story with such characters, it really shouldn’t be a big deal unless the writer wants it to be, and for that reason, I don’t think authors need to get up on their Soapbox and preach about how their stories have gay/black MC’s. People are of colour and are gay. We should be used to this by now. It’s not a big deal so it shouldn’t be a big deal about your book. If you make it so, you’re book by default will be known for having black or gay characters and not for the awesome characters you’ve created them to be.


  1. It SHOULDN'T be a big deal, but so often it is!

    One thing I didn't have much appreciation for until I joined AbsoluteWrite is how often books with minority protagonists (ESPECIALLY when written by minority writers) are "ghettoized" to those hidden corners of the bookstore, over and above the author's objections. Authors in general have no more ability to control their bookstore placement than their covers or other parts of the publishing "package" - which ends up being a real shame for all the reasons you mentioned!

    This is one reason the term "women's fiction" grates on me. Yes, it's important to have categories so that readers have a guide to help them find books they will enjoy, but I hate this sort of enthusiastic self-segregation - you know, the kind that shelves the book not according to its content, but by who's supposed to read it. As if women, like children and teenagers, are a special population with different reading interests/abilities from the rest of the human race, and have to have a special section set aside for them. Ugh.

    Sorry. Rant over. Short story: I really like your post.

    1. Hah! I never even thought about it with other categories and yet what a point you've made. Also, I had no idea it extended to the race of the author when it came to where a book is shelved. I'll def read up about that where I can.
      What a shame, ey?

      (Thanks for commenting)


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