The wonderful people over at Racebending.com recently interviewed YA authors Holly Black and Sarah Brennan about their fantasy books that feature characters who are non-white or bi/multiracial, non-straight, or have a disability. The fact that they write such characters into their fantasy novels is especially noteworthy as the fantasy genre is known for having a disturbing lack of diversity (and if there is any racial/ethnic diversity, those characters are almost certainly antagonists).
"It's important for publishers to keep publishing diverse fiction, and to try and promote more. It's important for readers to support diverse fiction: because publishing is
not dedicated to a Course of Racism Against All Odds. Publishing is full
of allies--and people who mean well--and yet we are all tripped up at
every turn by the idea that diverse books are less commercial, and so a)
publishing them at all is a bad idea, b) if you do publish them, hide
what they are and c) don't waste any more money on bookstore placement
or advertising them. Everyone needs to work together to solve this
problem: it's too huge for writers to be able to solve on our own."
--Sarah Brennan, from the interview
Both Black and Brennan talk candidly about their commitment to portraying diverse characters in their books, their thoughts about diversity in the YA publishing world, the whitewashing of book covers, and what we can do to ensure we begin to see more diversity in YA books. If you've wondered about the complications of creating book covers since our previous post on the subject, there is a lot you can learn from this interview.
"People have no idea how often this [whitewashing] happens. I have seen similar
things happen to almost every writer I know who has written characters
of color prominent enough so they could be on their covers. Sometimes these
writers get whitewashed covers they are forced to swallow… Sometimes the
covers get changed, but if the books sell badly the covers (and the
writers) are blamed, and the writer may not get another contract. People
are being punished in this way, for writing characters of color, every
--Brennan, from the interview
To read more, hop over to racebending.com