Sunday, January 16, 2011


It wasn’t until recently that I realized what the meaning of POC (person of color) meant. I admit it, I’ve been hiding away writing, creating my imaginary worlds without any thought about the type of Author I would be considered.

I create worlds in my books where race really isn’t an issue. The worlds I create are much like the one I have lived in for most of my life. I grew up in Washington , DC . I was the product of a bi-racial mother and a family that consisted of African Americans, American Indians, Cubans, and Caucasians. Now the majority of my family was African American, but I was always engulfed and attracted to the diversity of living in a city that crammed every one of all races together.

When I started to write my books, I just depicted all of the different races of kids that I had played with or that my own kids befriended throughout my life. In that I realize that I have been lucky. Also, I may add, my husband is bi-racial, so maybe, just maybe, my main character in this book was created from the influence he has in my imagination.

In EXPLORER X – ALPHA my MG novel, the main character Aadi is bi-racial and there is Scott who is African American and Raiko who is Asian. Truth be told, I didn’t plan it that way at all. My characters are created in my imagination just as they are, and I don’t plan how they look.

Creating these diverse characters in a Science Fiction novel is the best experience ever for me. Science Fiction allows me to break through boundaries and create a world uniquely my own. I twist and shape these worlds based on the foundation that I have in my reality.

In all of my books I tend to spice it up with diversity. I mean hey, I live in a culturally diverse area so why not share our beautiful differences in the stories I create. The kids look past physical characteristics and band together to fight against a larger foe.

I write diverse characters, and place them in situations where race is probably the furthest things from their minds. Usually in situations of life and death, people easily mend their differences.

Lastly, as a POC author, I wanted to write something that my kids and their friends could identify with, and learn from. I believe that my exposure to different cultures naturally reveals itself in my writing, and I hope my readers enjoy the experience of getting to know my characters.

So I ask that you check out some diverse characters in your reading. Some books I liked in YA were:

Sherri L. Smith author of Fly Girl, Click here

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix, click here

Malinda Lo the author of ASH, click here

These are just a few. Do you have some to share with us?


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Cindy's book has been on my TBR for a while! I'll have to check out the others.

I also write SF, and while I'm not a POC author, I do write a variety of races in my fiction. I worry about this sometimes, because I'm not writing about "race" as an issue. It's just, as you say, the way things are in my (fictitious) world, and just who the characters are.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Correction: I have ASH on my list too - because it has faeries! :)

Ellen said...

Bleeding Violet. By Dia Reeves. My absolute FAVORITE dark fantasy novel of the last year :)

LM Preston said...

Oh Bleeding Violet, that's on my check out list. Hey Susan, please tell us the name to your book and link.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@LM I don't have that book published yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to let you know! Thanks!! :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great article. I'll check on these books.

Anonymous said...

I feel there's a need for more diversity in YA. I'm Latina and I also taught in an inner city school close to East LA for eight years. It was so frustrating not to be able to find hardly anything that represented the population I taught. Hence the reason I wrote EARRINGS. Lupe struggles with her culture(I saw and still see this in So. Ca).

I'm also writing a YA dystopia with a Latina heroine. The future has parts of her culture mixed in. I'm a bilingual/bicultural grad student and studied my culture. There's so much and I want to share this with readers too.

In the future I'm also hoping to write that Latina Judy B. Jones one agent suggested I write.

Kelly Hashway said...

Great post, and now I have more books to add to my TBR pile! Thanks!

E.J. Wesley said...

Like in life, I don't think you can force diversity in fiction. It tends to come about organically. (Just like with your characters/story! :) I think that's because it's the way it is meant to be.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really want to read Ash. It's been on my list of things to read/get for awhile now.

And it's great you deal with a variety of races without it being a big deal. I think that is how it should be. I know that in my own writing, I try and do the same thing...but usually with sexuality, where it isn't always a big deal.

As for other ideas, LIAR by Justine Larbalestier has an african-american MC I believe.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget LA Banks! She has great diversity in her books.

I'm also bi-racial and tend to bring elements from that into my writing.

Karen Sandler said...

Tu Books (Lee & Low's new YA imprint) is all about diversity in YA & MG. TANKBORN and WOLF MARK (YA) and GALAXY GAMES (MG) are the three launch books that came out in September.

Brenda said...

Race is an issue in my recently-published YA novel 'Cape Town'. This is because it's set in South Africa during the last days of apartheid. My heroine has to awaken to the evils of the system and learn to overcome her prejudices. My first review states 'Racial tension makes novel fascinating'.