Minority Report with Marta Acosta (5/7)

When I started reading Fantasy, I started with Tamora Pierce, Madeline L’Engle, Mercedes Lackey and Jane Yolen. I didn’t  think of the characters of those books as any different from me, except that they were in way more fantastic situations. But as I grew into an adult, I started to notice that there was a pointed different between me and the characters I was reading about.

Almost none of them looked like me.

I wasn’t sure if that mattered until slowly I realized I’d like to see more diversity (and admittedly, more of me) in what I was reading. So, I wrote it. And sought it out in new authors. A very wonderful list of authors can be found here. It’s so comprehensive, I’ve barely scratched the surface.

But the point is that all of this thinking has been circling around in my head for years, and I’m sure I’m not the only reader who likes a little diversity in her literature. So, when author Cecy Robson got into contact with me and we started to discuss the lack of minority/mixed race in Fantasy, I knew it was something I wanted to further explore. And what better way to find out what other people think than by asking them?

So, I asked a few authors if they’d be willing to share their thoughts and they said yes! Which is how the “Minority Report” was born.

* * *

Initially, I posted the Minosrity Report of each author in entirety. But it struck me recently that if we shared one question a week, it would be easier for everyone to really think about both the question and the answer.

So, this week starting with Marta Acosta’s wonderful answers, we’ll be exploring one question a week.

More about Marta

So here’s the scoop. I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area and I can never seem to get away from here for long despite my continual fear of earthquakes. Yes, that’s all I got out of the geology classes I took at Stanford. That and a nifty rock pick. If you haven’t gone to the desert and smashed things with a rock pick, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I went to Stanford and received degrees in English & American Lit and Creative Writing, which qualified me to do very little except read books. That was my goal all along, but no one pays you to do that. I studied in England and missed the sun. I worked in non-profits and the theatre and missed getting paychecks.

I live with the fabulous spouse and the force-of-nature spawn and our insane rescued dogs. A friend who recently visited said, “They arebaddogs.” I prefer to delude myself that they are morally complex.

I’ve won some awards for my writing, but I get a real thrill when a fan sends me an email, or readers say they like the nonsense on my blog. My priorities have always been skewed.

I also write romantic comedy under the name Grace Coopersmith. Why Grace Coopersmith? Because Grace Coopersmith is always elegant and tasteful, and she never leaves her clothes in a pile on a chair or sings to her dogs. Despite Grace’s annoying superiority, she is hilarious and always shows up with a good bottle of wine.

Marta’s Contact Info

Thanks again to Marta for taking the time to answer such difficult questions. I know it’s hard to address questions with such complex and wide reaching answers. Now, for question two:

5. What effect do you think reading books with primarily white heroines and heroes in them has on minority/mixed race readers, if any?

I think we realize the books are like movies: by that I mean that the majority of the population is female, but Hollywood movies are overwhelmingly male dominated: the stars, writers, directors, and producers. Even so-called chick flicks are there to fulfill men’s stereotypes of women and most are written and directed by men. We can still enjoy what’s there, but it would be nice to have terrific movies featuring great women characters with authentic female perspectives.

That’s certainly true. In taking a film study class, we talk bout that very thing–that most films are made to appease the male gaze; and that the shots, the angles, etc. are for the most part from a male point of view. This is a great comparison with movies, because just as the majority of the population is female and the movies are male dominated, we have readers who are and who seek fiction featuring minorities (not just racially; this could be concerning sexual orientation, disability studies, etc.), but find that fiction is saturated by predominantly “capable,” white characters.

And while there is nothing wrong with those characters, to see a little diversity would just be spectacular.

Thank you again, Marta.

* * *

We’ll visit question six and part six next Tuesday! Read the first four parts of this series of fiction and minority Q & As here.

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