First, super exciting news: we’ve hit our primary funding goal! This means Kaleidoscope will definitely be made! THANK YOU to everyone who has shown us support! At the end of this post, there’s a special video of Julia’s cat celebrating this amazing milestone! We do still have a day left to aim for our stretch goals, too, so if you haven’t backed us yet, now is an EXCELLENT time!
We love hearing about other people working together to promote diversity in the SF field, so today we’ve invited Shveta Thakrar to tell us about her experience with the Sirens conference.
Sometimes I find myself really reluctant to use the word diversity. For a lot of people, it brings up rah-rah afterschool-special types of moments, or in the best light, a break from the usual.
But my story and the stories of people who look like me aren’t either of those things. My life is my “usual.”
It’s hard to talk about diversity. It’s hard to make people understand why accurate representation of the world we live in must include everyone, not just straight, white, able-bodied, neurotypical people, preferably male and American. On many occasions, I’ve been told my own stories are niche, because I write about South Asian characters.
Niche. This said by well-meaning people, but what it essentially means is that my stories don’t deserve the same chances and marketing and readership that stories about white people do.
And let’s face it; that’s crap.
That’s why I love the Sirens Conference, with its concentration on women in fantasy. Every year, it highlights different authors and books in a natural way that’s both organic and inclusive of diversity. The organizers make a point of reading widely and inviting guests of honor who both write well and in different ways. This year, for example, there were four guests of honor: Alaya Dawn Johnson (The Summer Prince), Robin LaFevers (Grave Mercy), Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Summer of the Mariposas), and Ellen Kushner (Thomas the Rhymer). I myself co-presented on women in Indian comic books. Another year, Malinda Lo held a roundtable on queer characters and fairy tales.
Sirens does not believe there’s only one story to be told or one type of character worth reading about. It provides a reading list to attendees long before the conference, and it encourages and solicits programming that spans a spectrum of backgrounds, orientations, and ways of being. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world full of stale arguments against changing the status quo, a safe space for people who just want a break from being told they don’t matter. And best of all, it’s fun!
I wish this sort of thinking were the norm, but we’re not there yet. However, vibrant, thoughtful conversations and panels at conferences like Sirens are one step toward getting there.
Supporting anthologies like Kaleidoscope and magazines and publishers that make a point of asking for diverse stories and diverse authors are another. A third is simply letting gatekeepers (bookstore buyers, publishers) know you want to see this lots of this diverse stuff. So help get this anthology off the ground and keep reading—and if you like conferences, make sure to put Sirens on your list for next year. The theme is hauntings, and I can’t wait. See you there!
About the Author
If people let her, Shveta Thakrar would eat books for dinner. Since they won’t, she settles for writing South Asian–flavored fantasy. Drawing on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her M.A. in German literature, she likes to explore the magic that is just out of sight as well as the kind that’s right in front of our faces. Other things that interest her include feminism, cultural and racial notions of beauty, and how language influences how we think. Shveta is currently working on her second novel, a YA fantasy involving stars.
Now, Here’s that cat video!
We’re just $850 away from having some interior art, and less than $2,900 away from giving our wonderful authors a pay raise! If we achieve those goals, Monster might have to reach new heights in adorableness! Please keep the pledges coming!