Ladies! Gentlemen! Fluffy beings who don't fit into those two categories! I'd like to claim that I ran out of wrapping paper, but the truth is I forgot about the wrap-up. For an entire 24 hours. I'm kind of mad at my memory right now.
Luckily, I have a month lined up for you that is sure to cheer up both of us. It's all about diversity, all full of fun, and all empty of Spider-Man. Okay, not completely empty of Spider-Man, but the sooner we forget he had anything to do with this blog, the better. Thanks.
(For my complete thoughts on the Wrap-Up-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, please refer to the above gif.)
Hulk threw us into the topic, and Dr. Banner explained why it had to happen: sometimes we fear diversity, leading to tokenism or a complete lack of it. For those of us who are not, technically, a minority-- as both an elderly and youthful white male, I fit most of those criteria-- we fear getting things wrong and offending someone. For those of us who are part of a minority, we can get crushed under the same fears, or fear of not being accepted because we aren't writing what people want to read. It's hard from any angle, but it's worthwhile. Take some time to overcome that fear and really dig into diversity.
Thor played the divinity card, encouraging diversity in religion. How does belief affect a character's actions? How does it affect their relationships, if someone believes something different? In real-world stories, Christianity and atheism get a lot of air time. In fantasies, we tend to lean toward pantheons like the ancients, or no religion at all. Creating a belief system, and acknowledging different religions, simultaneously create depth and potential conflicts for your characters-- nothing to sneeze at in either case.
Stark never shrinks from a tough topic. While all parts of diversity are difficult to explain and promote, LGBTQ+ representation might be the hardest. He covers it unflinchingly and masterfully. It's silly to ignore LGBTQ+ existence just because it's difficult. Include more of these types of characters. Give them friends. And above all else, treat them normally. It isn't as if a person comes out and ceases to be human. A person's sexuality doesn't negate their need to do taxes, or get a job, or eat. People are people, no matter how oriented.
It's a lot of fun to mess with diversity in our own world, but have you thought about making it up yourself? I talked about that in my post on diversity in SF/F. Because you have control over the culture of your world, you have control over what it considers diverse-- therefore, you can make absolutely anyone a minority. You can turn the tables. You can make a direct Earth analogue. Whatever you decide, you can make it happen. It's up to you.
To round out the month, Hawkeye interviewed the wonderful Marieke Nijkamp, YA author and founder of DiversifYA. She has been a longtime advocate for all things YA and diverse, and her interview was spectacular. From tips on writing with diversity in mind, to good diverse books to read, she gave an excellent overview of the solution. If you read nothing else this month, read this interview.
Did we cover it all? Pfft, no. Thor couldn't benchpress the amount of things we left out. What about gender? What about race? Disability and mental illness? Poverty? Countries other than the USA? We barely scratched the surface of diversity in YA, but I hope we got you thinking about it. Don't settle for normal. You can do so much more.
Ahaha, but that's not the end of the month-- merely the end of our diversity topic. We attempted a Twitter chat once again, but once again managed to miss it. We'll try again with next month's topic on the 27th, unless you see another message via Twitter. Other than that, however, we had enormous fun with an Avengers livetweet on April 30th, using #YAvengers to gather our tweets. I had to sit with Spider-Man for three hours straight, but after seeing that movie, I have to say it was worth it. You can read through everything we said if you don't mind Spider-Man being a large part of it.
May is here! This month we're talking about publishing, everything we can hit. Querying, agents, self-publishing, connections, whatever we can put on the table. We'll do our best to get your staggeringly diverse books (wink wink, nudge nudge) on the shelves. Or at least, we'll tell you what you need to know so you can do it yourself.
As always, thank you for a wonderful month. We love it when you read our posts, we love it when you comment, and we love it when you laugh rather than cry at strange things such as Spider-Man. (No, I will not let that go. I will live with that mistake for the rest of my life.) Thanks for sticking with us (my word, I accidentally made a 'stick' pun), and we'll do our best to keep writing for you. In the meantime, keep writing your own masterpieces.