Hm… has me questioning whether I should publish Head of Hart.
I write fantasy. I don’t mind making my groups diverse in every way. The more differences, the better the story. If everyone is the same, it gets bland. The responses the world offer just because of those differences is something I look at and think over carefully. In my own world that I created, I decide how someone is reacted to. There isn’t a massive history to dug through and a world already established I have to compare my notes with.
So for Dragon Rider, Alex gets special treatment being Black and magenta eyed. But he doesn’t live in a country where his skin color meant he should be called a slave or his ancestors are normally considered savages.
He’s different. Nat doesn’t recognize how much Alex has to fight so he’s not perceived as less. I even make a comment along those lines in Dragon Rider 9th Grade:
Alex blinks a few times switching to brown. “Yeah, well, everyone will have to learn I carry the magenta. I’ll wear the brown to hide among the crowd. Although, I’m far darker than average. I cannot exactly hide.” He smirks at me.
“Everyone knows you.”
“Typically I get questioned upon first notice. Unless the person is used to my mom’s family, my skin gains suspicion. Anything that makes you different grants alarm for most.” Alex holds up his hands. He’s dark. “Mix this almost black skin with magenta eyes. It’s a winning combination of notice. And typically not the bow down and respect notice. It’s fear. People tend to fear me. Normally I play my cards right and get friends not enemies. Although that hasn’t always been the case.”
He points out even in this society where there isn’t a background like mine, his color because it’s not common will create notice. Nat hasn’t lived in normal society, so doesn’t hold the same different equals fear mostly because everyone feared her. She can mask and hide her abilities now, that people don’t assume immediately. Alex will always get that notice where they live. Until he becomes so well known everyone knows him.
When it comes to Head of Hart… It’s not true fantasy. It’s Urban Fantasy. Meaning, I’m dropping some magical beings into the real world. That means there is history. It doesn’t take place in the United States. It takes place in Germany. It’s an area where blond hair and blue eyes is the common. My demons like notice so will typically create children in an area they wouldn’t normally exist. So all my powerful characters are Black. All of them. The white characters are playing bit parts. Minus the white demon who comes around to point out that his family tree isn’t going to create Blacks. His children are blond hair and blue eyes like him.
Her parents leave early on. They’re white. And I kick them out of the story early. That leaves the demon who’s white and one of the villains who’s white. The rest of the main characters are black.
There’s history there. I actually turned my hero’s name into Anton. Anton was the first college educated Black in Germany. He was taken in by a noble as a youth and treated close to child than slave even if most of the blacks at the time in the country were slaves.
It’s like I don’t know about the various things that could go on. I managed a good micro aggression in my Modern Werewolves’s The Way of Running (first draft still).
But I still am not seeing the world through a black lens. I have seen and can grasp a lot of differences. I can pass as a “normal white woman”. I’ll never be black. I can’t. There’s a lot I can understand, but it’s more on the surface.
That’s how I feel for everything though. I’m not female or male and I write those characters. I’m not able bodied and most of my characters are. I’m not straight or gay or lesbian. My characters have nuances that are me or people I know. I take out pieces of my self and review how it would be if this was always.
I step into other people’s shoes and question life and existence.
I wouldn’t be good at masking if I didn’t.
Still there are lines to be wary of.
Are my characters well defined as something more than just their skin color? Yes. Always. If they get a name, they have an existence as something more than XYZ. You can’t tell me that Alex is just a black teenager in Dragon Rider. There’s so much more to him than just his skin color.
In Head of Hart, my original draft didn’t include specifics for Angelica. In draft two I expanded and upon reviewing things the best option was to make them all Black. Everyone who had strength in the demonic magic would be Black.
But I mentioned this is Tsbua Ren’s world. That means Laurel and her clan the Llyods are also demonic magic. One of the few well described characters would fit in well in Germany/ Northern Europe. And he’s Heir in the Llyods.
It’s complicated. Do I feel as if I’m writing this story well? It’s not the story that’s wrong. It’s how it would get seen and read by others.
I’m using notes from witch history. I have to use notes of Germany and Black history now. And as I fill in the blanks from the first draft, this only makes sense.
Ugh. Either I need proper beta readers or to hand over the story. I’m a few thousands words away from finishing this draft. This rewrite has been hell and a half.
Upon further review this cannot be a story I tell since it focuses in on racism. Racism in Germany and Europe is different from America, but the real concern is everything about the story is done minus the undercurrent that’s needed.
Head of Hart may never see the light of day. Unless someone else takes it from me.