What do you think is the meaning of diverse?
I think diverse, in relation to the book world, means many different voices from different places getting to tell their stories. But as well as authors, it’s also about having diversity in all areas of publishing, as well as attitudes to diversity, which is something that is still changing and evolving and work still needs to be done so that no one is excluded from these spaces. When I think of diverse stories, I think of books with BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse and disabled characters.
Who do you think is qualified to write a diverse book?
I’ve seen a lot of discussions recently about #OwnVoices, especially after several cases where authors felt they had to come out because of questions around their sexuality and whether they were ‘qualified’ to write their books. Although having books by people who have lived those experiences is really important, we also shouldn’t be forcing people out of the closet, or making them disclose details about their physical or mental health, that they’re not comfortable to disclose, or which it’s perhaps not safe for them to.
Another issue, especially when very few books about something are being published, is that one book and one experience is seen as a monolith for that experience. While people from the same background, with the same sexuality, or with the same disability, might have a lot of shared experiences, each person’s experience and viewpoint is also unique, and we shouldn’t view their books and their perspective as the sole example of that experience. This is why we need lots of diverse books!
As a straight, white writer, I’m not the right person to write a book about coming out, or about the Black experience. But I also think it’s important for books to have a diverse cast of characters. Every book should have BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters, but stories that are about those identities, are probably best told by people who have lived that experience. So #OwnVoices books are really important.
How do you find diverse books to read?
Seeing people share publication announcements and cover reveals on Twitter, and reading recommendation lists on blogs mainly.
What are some diverse topics/POVs that you specifically look for when you’re finding books and why?
I think it’s important to read diversely and widely, so I try and read books with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters. Recently, I’ve also especially been looking for books with disability (which seems to be a lot harder to find?), as I have a chronic illness myself, and would like to see that experience explored in fiction a lot more. I’d also really like to see more disability in fantasy and sci-fi – I want to see disabled people go on adventures!
How do you decide if a diverse topic/POV is done well?
I think this is difficult to do unless you share the character’s identity/disability/etc. So I try and find reviews by people who have shared the experiences explored in the book to see their perspective. But I think there are some red flags that anyone can spot.
Do you have any thoughts on diversity in books? Chat with me in the comments!