ravenna_c_tan: (slytherclaw)

rwa2016conferenceheader
I went to the massive Romance Writers of America national conference this past week and one of the best things about this conference is that so many of the top writers in the genre are here. RWA and the romance community at large is extremely open. It’s the only place I know of where you can take workshops presented by writers who have literally sold in the tens of millions of books where they tell you how you can do it, too.

One event I did not want to miss was the Paranormal Authors Chat with Heather Graham, Nalini Singh, and Rebecca Zanetti. Since I have a paranormal/urban fantasy series starting with Tor Books in 2017 (The Vanished Chronicles), I definitely wanted to soak up whatever wisdom I could. These women are three giants of the field, plus Heather Graham was so unbelievably nice to me when I was a young struggling writer years and years ago that I still remember it vividly.

(The story: We were at a group signing together at a bookstore, I was feeling like an unknown, unwanted piece of chopped liver, while she had a line out of the door. I was at the seat next to her. She could have ignored me and instead she made me feel welcome and included. I love her forever, and this same spirit of inclusion and helping others pervades the whole RWA so far as I can tell.)

You can look up each of these writers’ bona fides but if you are new to them, they are all New York Times bestsellers many times over. Nalini Singh is the author of the Psy-Changeling and the Guild Hunter series among many dozens of other books. Rebecca Zanetti has published over 25 dark paranormals and has been a finalist for the RT Award. Heather Graham has written close to 200 vampire and paranormal novels at this point and was a founder of Florida’s chapter o the RWA. Giants, I tell you.

What I’m presenting here is a boiled-down version of the chat that took place. It looks like a transcript but I only capture about 60-70% of what is actually said, and I don’t always get exactly the right words, so don’t take this as quotable gospel. Also I only include here the portion with moderator questions. The audience questions were also fantastic and I learned a lot, but you know, if you want ALL of it, you have to start coming to these conventions yourself… (or buy the audio recordings of the convention, which are available through the RWA!).

Why did you chose paranormal?

Nalini: I write about telapths and shapefhuters and vampires and angels…why? I started with that because I’ve always been fascinated with the potential of our minds, if we could use 100% of our brains 100% of the time. But what’s the cost of that? What it drove you insane? That was the genesis of the Psy series. The shapeshifters just kind of showed up in the book, as they do because it’s a paranornmal. I wanted to write some shifter that were at home in their skins because I had just read a bunch of books wher the shifters are never happy! I thought I would love to be able to change into a tiger. Why aren’t there any shifters in books who like being shifters? So mine are. The Guild Hunter series… there are angels and vampires and… I just believe in not thinking too much about it. If you think too much about it you think, wow that’s weird… I really believe just let it out and it might be bonkers but let it be awesome bonkers.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ravenna_c_tan: (slytherclaw)

I’m teaching a workshop this weekend at Alternicon on Sunday entitled “Beating the Double Edged Sword: Appropriation versus Diversity.” I’ve previously taught it at both Wiscon and at Transcending Boundaries, so the context in which it has been offered has always been in a politically progressive space.

Workshop description: One of the adages fed to writing students everywhere is “write what you know.” But anyone who writes only about themselves is likely to be lacking in diversity and needing to represent under-represented voices/characters more. Write about anyone other than yourself, though, and you risk being accused of appropriation or cultural insensitivity of various kinds. How do you get around this double-edged sword? And how do you keep this struggle paralyzing you so you can’t write anything at all? Politically progressive, inclusive voices are too important to be silenced by fear! Come get empowered to tell the stories that need to be told.

I’m posting the glossary of terms I’m using in the workshop here so that people can find it in case I don’t bring enough handouts and also so commenters can criticize, tweak, or redefine anything I’ve got here that is off the mark. I know I can be blinded by my own privilege sometimes, so help me check it:

Glossary for Double Edged Sword: Cultural Appropriation and Diversity Workshop
presented by Cecilia Tan

Privilege: “the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society.” (Merriam-Webster Online). In the political sense privilege refers not so much to wealth in terms of money, but in terms of social capital, and definitely refers to the power people have over other people. An example of privilege in action is say a group of people are debating something. When a woman makes a suggestion, it gets ignored by the group, but when a man makes the SAME suggestion, it’s suddenly listened to and considered more seriously by the group. Why? Male privilege.

Entitlement: The feeling that what you have (money, power, social capital, status, opportunity, advantage, etc) as a result of your privilege is your right. (It’s not: rights are not privileges.)

Cultural appropriation: “cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups–often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions.” (http://racerelations.about.com/od/diversitymatters/fl/What-Is-Cultural-Appropriation-and-Why-Is-It-Wrong.htm) Make no mistake: cultural appropriation is harm.

(More after the cut…)

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

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