Tuesday 17 November 2015

#guestpost: @michelle4laughs talks about diversity in Grudging

Diversity is a hot button issue. People feel very emotional about it. And rightly so. But that makes it a difficult subject to talk about. And also difficult for writers with their books. Leave out diverse characters in your book and you can be called out on it. Include diverse characters and you can be called out in the opposite way for not being sensitive or genuine enough--for getting it wrong.

As a white writer do we avoid diversity or do we go for it? Either way seems full of the possibility of upsetting someone, no matter our good intentions. Unlike in stories, I don't like conflict in my real life. I just want to write and craft an entertaining story. But I also want to show that our world is full of wonderfully different people. That's why when I decided on a desert setting for my newest book, I knew the characters living there would need to have darker skin than the traditional western European hero in order to be accurate. That's basic evolution. I based my protagonists on Spanish and Moorish cultures. The aggressive antagonists in Grudging have lighter hair and eyes being from the North or colder climate.

The thing to remember is that I write fantasy, and not modern urban fantasy, but fantasy set in an imaginary place--like Lord of the Rings but without orcs and elves and such. These human cultures are fiction, invented by me. They don't have the same racial history of the real world. They didn't struggle with slavery or the same prejudices. Their reactions are going to be different from real world people. What I hope is that they will have human reactions.

I work in an elementary school, helping special needs children. This year I'm in my favorite place--a kindergarten class. I love it because they accept each other unconditionally. There are twenty children from all sorts of backgrounds. We have kids whose parents came from the Middle East. Kids whose parents were born in Africa. There is every color of the wonderful world in this class and every religion, and I adore them all. My days are full of funny and touching moments. Five-year-olds love to hug and share about their lives. And do you know what I noticed? They may be only five, but they all have strikingly different and unique personalities. Not one of them acts exactly the same as another. Not one of them can be classified by how they look.

When I craft a character I hope that's what comes through. That each character is a different and unique individual with their own way of reacting. But whether protagonist or antagonist they all feel human. Perhaps that's the way I feel diversity should work: that it shows how people are the same and how we are different, but that we are all human. And that's how we should be judged--on our humanity.


A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.
On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.
The Women of the Song.
But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.
A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.
Find Grudging: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | HarperCollins | Goodreads


Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING on November 17, 2015. Her epic fantasy, KINDAR’S CURE, was published by Divertir Publishing.

Goodreads: Grudging
Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure