Okay for my purposes and thought processes, when I say genre fiction I’m including Horror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, SF, Spec fit etc.
I started reading the last in the Borderland series of anthologies this week. The whole reason I wanted to read it was because I heard Nalo Hopkinson’s piece in it via Podcastle and wanted more of that world.
I also did some research and whatnot and I’m having a problem with this book already.
I learned a bit more about the background of this world and everything and was really looking forward to it.
Going from the impression I got in Nalo Hopkinson’s story, I thought there would be more POC. Four stories in, there aren’t really.
I realize this is supposed to be YA but I had to stop at one point while a White character was giving a character from India the ever charming “but where are you really from” type speech.
I’ve also been sighing with the number of white coded halfies/elves with dreads.
And just like every other fantasy related thing save for the story I already know, everything is White coded for the most part.
I’m not saying any of the stories are bad. They aren’t really. I also (four stories deep) see that within this framework of interconnected stories and locations, I have yet to see any of the other stories characters interact in a meaningful way with the characters from Nalo Hopkinson’s characters and that feels low key gross to me.
Again my ability to enjoy a fantastical world is pretty broken up because I do feel like there isn’t anything ground breaking about White Elves, with Blonde Hair who are super slim and beautiful and wait REMEMBER THEY ARE WHITE.
Now I have been expanding my reading a bit and doing some study on “Urban” Fantasy.
I’ve been comparing some of the feedback about my own urban fantasy with what I know about the genre.
Several people have said that one of my stories ‘relies too much on horror’ (though it deals wit mythos, Gods, and yes some violence) yet, when I read about the history of the genre and read about the conventions used in the literature, I see a lot of vampires and distinctly horror conventions being included.
Further, I don’t do romance. So there is that.
I thought that writing Urban Fantasy means for me that I can explore the way culterally divergent mythos can blend, how I can use mythos and conventions in a way that is not so firmly rooted in the European/Norse/etc canon.
When I hear the same type of feedback from various sources, I tend to work on whatever it is by researching, reading, rewriting etc.
What I’m finding as I’m doing that with my genre fiction is a pretty strong message that a lot of genre fiction can stand stepping outside of the conventions including those Euro/White roots only so far.
Even when I have conversations about what I’m writing about with a few folks, I have felt the discomfort surrounding my ideas and execution of those ideas.
Also a bit of pushback because this is genre for grown folks. Strippers, street life, in cities, unitalicized Spanish (watch the linked video it is great), etc etc.
I have been spending some time asking for recommendations to read here and there.
Out of four spots with different readers/authors I’ve asked for SF/F/Horror/Spec fic recs for books, magazines and writers.
Every list of recommendations I’ve gotten is the same.
The list of recommended authors is the same give or take one or two. They are all authors, magazines, books I like and some I love.
But is that really all?
My parameters are as follows:
- POC friendly
- Not necessarily romance focused
- Queer focused/friendly.
That is pretty much it.
Given that what I’ve been writing does not really fit into what I’ve been reading in the genre world, as time goes on I am pretty sure I will put some stuff out myself because granted there are a few literary oriented magazines I know of who like the slipstream and genre flavored but most of the literary world shits itself if something is too genre.
I don’t know.
The other side of this problem is that as a reader, I’m just so disappointed so often. If I’m rolling my eyes because all the Whitey White White WHITE creatures have dreads or give a nod to brown people, or every time there is the Most Magical of Negroes, or whatever it is that just reinforces the idea of the box that genre likes to sit in like an angry cat, I’m just not really reading as much as I want to.
Shit is hard.
I’m disappointed and tired.
That said I am going to keep working on my genre shit. Playing with Gods who step outside their Pantheons (somehow totally okay when Gaiman does it right?), Elven mythos that is not tall white and skinny.
Shapeshifters trying to live in the modern world.
That shit I like.
Okay that’s all. I’m tired and want to write more.