Over at Patreon I posted a chapter from my OG Daiyuverse and talked a bit about a chunk of plot I took out of the story. Here have a looksy.
I want to talk a bit more about staying in my lane and how I’m looking to pull inspiration from other cultures in this particular verse.
My particular situation arose from a subplot involving a cultural misunderstanding between a Creole Skinwalker and a young Navajo man over the name Skinwalker. The Creole boys people are able to literally walk in the skin of animals by psychically occupying their consciousness. Navajo Skinwalkers are not that in any way.
While I was making notes and researching this, my uppermost concern was that I wasn’t just being appropriative and grabby because it could make for a shiny bit of conflict. I am working really hard on creating ways of bringing together disparate cultures and creating magical traditions within those cultures and not falling on OH MAGICAL NEGRO tropes.
This bit of storyline in particular, I think I can do without being disrespectful, but in terms of the Daiyuverse it may not happen there. I’m not trying to be hamfisted about it. Also, I wasn’t entirely ready to talk about things like tribal solidarity and how that wound function in a sort of pancultural thing like The Institute, how could a Navajo sorcerer reconcile sharing his cultural religious practices AND his magic with outsiders?
I didn’t have answers for that so- bloop plotline put aside.
And this is where I say, I’m gonna stay in my damn lane.
Too many writers I see decide to take something shiny from a culture and run with it without there being a foundation of understanding of both the shiny bits and the struggles of a culture. Personally, I think that is how we wind up with so many Magical Negroes, and sooper spiritual Native folks etc. Too many people don’t take the time to dig deeper and work from a space where yes, YAY magical and brown, but also, this is shit going on within that culture that would shape this character.
For me, this is where I’ve seen things like the Strong Black Woman that don’t need nobody tropes come from and flourish. Even other Black writers can fall into the trap of wanting so badly to create a bad ass amazing character, that they forget that nobody can be that all the time. In the need to defy negative stereotypes, folks forget the squishy bloodiness that makes us human and characters become cardboard cutouts.
I’m currently re-reading Midnight Taxi Tango: A Bone Street Rumba by my homie Daniel José Older and this is an area where I will point to and say LOOK at how he builds the humanity of his characters through their moments of weakness. In his universe, he’s populated this book with bad ass killers. These are mother fuckers you should be afraid of.
My personal favorite character Reza (if you haven’t read the book read this short and meet her) is one of the folks to be scared of. She’s confident and a gangster and through her swag and gun toting badassery, we see her afraid. We get to see her heart aching for Angie. We see her in full vengeance mode and she’s a person.
Daniel took what could have been a badass butch cardboard cutout of a gangster and gave her a pulse.
In the context of my own work, especially within this urban fantasy Seattle/US I’m building, I’m paying close attention to the people who are inhabiting this world. I want them to have life and pulses and I don’t want to reread what I’ve done and wind up rolling my eyes cause I’ve not taken enough care to incorporate what I feel is important into the framework of these people.
I’m also taking an opportunity to poke some meta fun at Whiteness tropes. Especially in terms of the hippy dippy pretendian White lady fucking things up with her ignorance and sealioning (I JUST learned that word and it fit so perfectly in what I had notes about doing) causing problems with the legit magical culture in this world. I’m also doing it in an urban fantasy short that makes fun of the Whiteness of Elves type fantasy and the justification of it being “tradition”.
An interesting side effect of not only Turnip Winning but also of my own reactions and health is that, I’ve found a certain freedom I’ve not felt before and I’ll talk about it more when I don’t have a cold.
That’s all for right now y’all. I’m at work and really tired and about to pound coffee and pie until my teeth vibrate.
I will probably be doing some more process/craft nerdery soon because I have many thoughts.