There's a call to post and write about why #WeNeedDiverseBooks from May 1 to 3. I watched this hashtag for a long number of hours, just figuring out how to respond and join, based on how I write and who I write for. And then this tweet made it all fall into place:
We need diverse books because we are all different. We need diverse books because we are all the same. #WeNeedDiverseBooksSo that actually captures right there what my writing journey and mission has been. #WeNeedDiverseBooks because:
— Sara O'Leary (@saraoleary) May 1, 2014
- Sometimes I still see a comment about my books not being "Filipino" or "exotic" enough, because they happen to be set in a city, with modern urban conveniences, that could be set in any other city, because cities tend to have that quality.
- Some people still find it "inauthentic" that my Filipino characters speak English in dialogue, never mind that English is an official language, is used in signs and in daily commerce, and many Filipinos speak it every day, without difficulty, without baggage, and without having studied in another country.
- Some people can suspend disbelief about supernatural/paranormal/mythological elements in a regular school setting, provided it is not in their own country, because if it were happening in their country then it can only happen in this way or this way and I should know 'cause I'm from here.
- "Shallow" is still used casually to describe books that follow a woman's life and her decisions.
- There's a lot of denial over what Filipino women know and should know about sex and being responsible for their sexuality.
This is heavy stuff. It's hard for any writer to have all of this hanging over her head, so even though this is all there, I just write. I just write anyway, the stories I want to, and they're usually fun and light reads. But I hope that they've contributed to the diversity of books out there, because all I'm trying to do is show how things are different, and the same.
I'm so thankful to the readers who get this. If you started out skeptical and then eventually got it, yay. If I didn't get to convince you at all, maybe I can refer you to other people who might?