Why My Characters are… Different

I was looking over a not-so-nice review for one of my Casitian Universe books. It was striking how they thought I had an extreme agenda, because a lot (not all, however) of the bad guys in the books were white and straight. Now, in most fiction, the bad guys are white and straight, but no one seems to notice that, because all of the good guys are also white and straight.

So… add in a few heroes and heroines who are not white, and not straight, and… voila! I have an agenda.

But, of course, I do have an agenda. Not the agenda this particular reviewer seemed to think I have. I have no interest in painting any one group as “bad” or “good.” My agenda is twofold: 1) To have multi-dimensional, diverse characters, and 2) to reflect some of the cultural realities of the settings I write in.

In the Casitian Universe series, which is set in the present era, there are several very positive white, straight characters (that seemed to escape this reviewer’s notice) as well as some very negative white straight characters. What differentiated them? The major antagonists of the story include people of a particular stripe of American politics – the conservative Christian one. And the reality is, that stripe is largely white, and entirely straight (or closeted, as was the case for one character.) It would have been artificial (and incorrect) for me to have chosen to make those particular characters more diverse.

I could have chosen different antagonists – but given the books are set largely in the United States, those particular antagonists actually make the most sense. (And, by the way, in my other series of books, one of the main heroes is a white straight male evangelical Christian. So there.)

I’m happy that finally, there is a significant strand of science fiction and fantasy where many of the characters are women, queer and/or people of color, as is true in real life. It’s refreshing as a reader to read, and as a writer, I love it. Of course, the backlash has been fierce, but I guess that’s part of the territory.

Bookmark the permalink.

One Comment

  1. Carol Anne Olsen Malone

    I believe you have the right to write about the characters who are whispering in your ear. If they have a story to tell, it doesn’t matter what the critics say. We all want characters that scream to be noticed. Apparently, you were doing something right. Good for you. Reviewing is subjective at best.

Comments are closed