Next week, A Noble’s Path, the second book in my Enchanted Path series, is being released. It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m hoping that it leads to more interest in the series, but I know it also means having to embrace more marketing. It’s not my forte, not because I’m shy, but because it means selling myself as much as selling my book. The book I don’t mind talking about—I get very few opportunities to do so—but talking about myself seems immaterial to the writing process.
Then again, maybe that’s not so true. There have been quite a few instances lately where a book has been reviled because the writer was considered insensitive to the subject matter, which happened to be outside their background. I write about Latina protagonists because I’m Latina and I felt there weren’t enough of us as leads in stories. I write speculative fiction because I love the idea that a story is not limited to what we know. And yet I wonder if the former statement negates the latter?
Is it limiting to only write from a Latina perspective just because I’m Latina? Would it be equally limiting to only write from a female perspective because I’m a woman? I think about all those fairy tales dictated and transcribed by men, who gave little to no agency to women. Caucasians who included minorities as caricatures as plot devices for stories. In those instances, the writers were limited by their gender and ethnicity not knowing anything but their own narrow perspective. It made their characters wooden and incomplete. And yet, it does give us some insight into white male rationales from a certain time period.
I suppose my opinion on this subject has yet to coalesce. Should a writer be allowed to write from all viewpoints? Isn’t trying to get into the heads of people unlike yourself the beginning of attempted understanding? In an ideal world, it would be. In reality, it alienates people. One side defensive, trying to justify their right to write whatever they want. On the other, a cancel culture that precludes debate or discussion. Again, I haven’t made my decision.
The only thing I can say is my desire to see myself and my daughter in stories drove me to write, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen myself in Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennet and Jo March as well as countless other women and men as I immersed myself in their stories. Great stories should be universal and personal, simultaneously because stories should connect us—joyfully, painfully, in humor and in sadness—by making us seek each other out and talk about it.