Wednesday, 6 February 2013

IWSG: Black History Month, Express Yourself: Character Crushes and Alex's Wednesday Movie Quote

Another February, another month of movies about black rights, slavery, liberty, freedom and so on and so on. I'm a proud black Jamaican and while I believe that being proud of your skin all year round and all life is a necessary act for everyone, it's good to have a month set aside to emphasize that.

An insecurity of mine is that I sometimes feel I don't create enough black characters. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sifting through my character's races like the culture of the planet depends on it. Yet a lot of my characters are white. I think it's based off in part the books I read. Most of the books I enjoyed as a teen had white characters. And no, I don't have some colour complex that involves me looking at white people like their gods or goddesses. Sorry but every race is just as human as the next one in my opinion. Now while some might ask why not read more books with black characters I will say this. I'm attracted to the story, I don;t care if you have the sexiest race of blue people, if the story doesn't pull me in. I will never touch the book. Ever. Also sadly in Jamaica a lot of books that actually do have characters of my own race (especially ones actually set in Jamaica) are often super expensive unless they're erotica like the author Zane writes. Also a lot falls under women's fiction and I'm more of a young adult reader so yeah. There is truly a need for more races in young adult books, and I mean main characters not minor side characters. Of course I'm one to talk but I hope to find more ya books with characters of my own race that interest me.

Also I do have two story ideas of my own set in Jamaica. Snow is a modern retelling of Snow White with a baby being born white skinned to black parents causing all kinds of controversy. This one I've already started writing and plan to release in 2014 as self-published. Another one Seer has a black teenage girl having the vision of an assassination attempt and all the craziness that ensues when she actually stops it and reveals her ability. This one I only have the idea down but still plan to write and hope to make into a series. Not sure if it's self-pub since I'd like to try and publish it locally.

So there you have it, my insecurity for all of you to see. Happy IWSG Wednesday everyone and remember to check out each other's posts.

Express Yourself Weekly Meme: Character Crushes

Today I'm participating in the Express Yourself Weekly Meme which is hosted by two lovely ladies. Now here are my character crushes.

Woverine! - Yes he deserves an exclamation because he's awesome! Whether in the movies, comics or cartoons Wolverine is a killer bad ass. Also he proves that you don't have to be a great bad ass anti-hero by using women. He'd hit a bad villainess as soon as sleep with or have a relationship with a woman. That and being one of the best heroes, x-men and character ever created makes me ready to follow him anywhere, anytime. Take me with you Wolverine. I promise to learn to fight and hold my own when I can. Also your powers are the best.


Professor Snape - When I see that billowing robe... Snape is one of my favourite characters ever. He knows how to make mean look suave and I'd help him with his Hogwarts work load any day. And who doesn't want to date an awesome wizards who can make all sorts of potions. I mean he's lethal even without the wand.

Alex's Wednesday Movie Quote

Hi this is my first time taking part in this. Alex makes up all kinds of fun stuff doesn't he? Here's my movie favourite quote for today from The Untouchables (1987).

Malone: You, you carry a badge? 
Agent Oscar Wallace: Yes? 
Malone: [gives him a shotgun] Carry a gun.


  1. Yes Alex is a real asset to Bloggers and there is always something going on.

    Enjoyed your post.
    Have a good day.


  2. Hey,

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post... I'm about to start WIP#2 and haven't even considered cultures and colors - but my wife has had some serious diversity training, so I'm sure she'll keep me on the straight and narrow :)

  3. Hi Sheena,

    Great post and something I've never really thought of, from a black author's point of view.

    I think your Snow White idea sounds very should go for it :)

  4. Hi Sheena,

    I'm always worried people will call me out and claim that I didn't write an authentic experience for characters of different races. I think that's why so many sci fi books look at racism through the lens of alien cultures. It's something I need to work on.

  5. I love your twist on Snow! Since you don't read a lot of books with black characters, you should experiment with your own. Take people you know and mix up their personalities and quirks. Angela Brown uses black characters in her books, but she doesn't say they're black, because, really, they're just characters with a story to tell. You get a hint of what race they are through her descriptions of them. The focus is not on race. She writes wonderful characters and tells wonderful stories and I absolutely adore them! Try Neverlove and another one coming out soon called Frailties of the Bond.

  6. Okay, you just rocketed up my cool charts with your Wolverine crush! My favorite comic book hero by far. :-)

    I think it's an interesting thing you bring up about feeling the need to write more black characters. My stories have a girl with Native American heritage in them. I grew up in Oklahoma, have Native American ancestors, and lived in that culture. I've been told that there needs to be more Native American, and basically non-anglo characters in fiction in general.

    I don't disagree, but that's not why I did it. I did it because that's just who the character is. I think that's our primary obligation as a storyteller: be true to the character. If she happens to be black, asian, Native--so be it.

    I go about it that way, because the second I realize I'm purposefully trying to apply some balance or socially motivated theme to my fiction, the stories become something other than what I intended. I guess I'm saying the issue becomes the focus, and not the journey/story.

    Really glad to read someone talking about this so candidly, Sheena. Well done.

  7. Interesting that would be a concern of yours. (And don't you wish we were all viewed as just people?)
    What EJ said - focus on the story first and the characters will tell you who they need to be.

  8. I'm with you. I just want to love the MC, no matter what race, sex, or creed. I can't help but think of "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. Owen was a dwarf with a twisted body, and he was totally lovable and endearing.

    1. Ooops prematurely hit publish! Point is...don't worry about templates and what everyone else is doing...write the character that's in your heart, make them real and likable and the rest doesn't matter.

  9. Wow, now you have me looking at my characters are all white...hmmm, not for any reason, but much like you, its what I read. Just for you, I'm adding in some color variety :-D

  10. This is interesting. I recently read a post from a blonde woman saying she doesn't write any blondes and that she wants to.
    I tend to write characters that look like the people around me and I've had to make myself stop. (For example I realized I had several men with dark hair, blue eyes, and dimples-just like my husband.) ;)

  11. Love your character crushes!

  12. Oh, I love Wolverine!

    I think you are experiencing something much non-white readers/writers experience. I'm hispanic but only one of my characters has hispanic influence. We truly write what we read, but we can push ourselves to go beyond. I think you're snow white story sounds fantastic and you should keep pushing yourself to write that which you'd like to read. There are more people out there like you and you just might hit a niche there, so don't let it go!

    Best of luck!

  13. :) It seems that there are a lot of us who like Wolverine. Actually, you hit a theme that I've been thinking a lot about lately. The book industry is horribly slated, or so it seems. Your Snow White idea sounds great! Hopefully, we'll get to see it on the shelves someday.

  14. Hey Sheena,

    Thanks for this post. I fear I struggle with the same thing ie shortage of black characters. I too tend to write based on what I grew up reading. I experimented with a race a bit in my paranormal Metamorphosis about a league of superheros (heroine is black with electric blue hair ;D), and made sure the focus was on the story and not race. Since then came The Space Between were the focus is on race and class differences, but that was the story I was trying to tell in that case. Definitely write your storyline first and your characters will tell you who they should be. With Space, I knew I wanted it to be about an interracial couple. I knew I could go the black/white route, but that's not what Drake and Lacey were telling me they were. As you know, Lacey is biracial and Drake, well... you'll see. He has an interesting situation ;D But that felt normal for his character. Do you, and don't feel bad for not writing ethnic characters because you're a woman of color. We need to write what we feel and the rest will pan out!

  15. Oooo now isn't this thought provoking stuff!!
    I have also thought about skin color when comes to my characters. I want them to be authentic but not stale. I don't want them to fit in the typical "mold" but then I don't want my readers thinking I pushed them either. I only wrote what I knew. You know?!
    Great characters here!!! Snape is a good one!!!


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