Thursday, March 14, 2019

K. Bird Lincoln: A discussion of Urban Fantasy, race, and politics #ownvoice

Let’s begin with a discussion about race. Yep, I’m inviting that elephant into the room straight away. Although it isn’t so much an invisible elephant in the room, at least in the USA, as a constant issue people bring up most times in social media either to call attention to injustice or to reinforce stereotypes or gaslight people.
Why would an Urban Fantasy writer want to bring up race? Hi, I’m a white woman married to a Tokyo Boywith biracial kids living on the wind-razed plains of southern Minnesota.  I write in Japanese locations using Japanese myth-based creatures all the time.
My college advisor told me during as senior seminar at the tale end of my Japanese Studies major at Earlham College “You are the expert now. Japan is filtered through you to America. However, you present it, however you see it, whatever you may need to call out, that’s what you are, like it or not.”
At the time, I thought he was whackadoodle. Now, in the face of an up rise in U.S. hate crimes for the third straight year, and Neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, I feel those long-ago words echoing around my brain. It’s so very easy to picture my own daughters’ faces on those children behind the barbed wire of FDR’s Japanese Concentration camps here in the USA.  
So, I get political. Last Dream of Her Mortal Soul is the final installment of The Portland Hafu trilogy. The heroine, Koi Pierce, comes home to Portland to find someone targeting the myth-based, magical Kind in her hometown. She uncovers an ugly, hate-based targeting of her new-found family. Much of the portrayal of the bad guys in this book is based on actual hate groups I researched through websites like the Southern Poverty Law Hate groups map.
Fantasy is excellent for highlighting human fallacies and challenging our status quo. From the first time I saw Uhura on the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise to the first time I read one of Alyssa Cole’s historical romances featuring African Americans, I never realized the uneven ratio of races portrayed in the media I loved to consume until it literally stared me in the face. And it wasn’t until I had my daughters, and wanted them to see their own faces reflected back at them, that I knew it wasn’t enough just to write what I knew. 
Luckily, SFF has always been a bit ahead of Romance in the diversity area. When I started writing The Portland Hafu ten years ago, there was no Heroine Complex or Trail of Lightning or Want. There’s quite a lot more out there now.

 Even Scientific American knows that reading literary fiction improves empathy. I challenge you, no matter who you are or what genre of fiction you may like to read, to take March and April and seek out an #ownvoice or a book from a culture you are unfamiliar with. Let fantasy sweep you away and provide escapist joy while also helping you understand the hearts of others. I promise, it won’t disappoint you.

K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addition to froufrou coffee. Also dark chocolate--without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent as many years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean as in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her medieval Japanese fantasy series, Tiger Lily is available from Amazon. World Weaver Press released Dream Easter, the first novel in an exciting multi-cultural Urban Fantasy trilogy set in Portland and Japan, in 2017. She also writes tasty speculative fiction reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Check her out on  Facebook, or join her newsletter for chocolate and free stories. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Things She's Seen, Northern Circle Coven #2

Editorial notes and copy edits for THINGS SHE'S SEEN have arrived. I'm so excited to be working the final polish of this novel. This is Em's Northern Circle Coven story. I can't wait until it's out in the wild! You can learn more HERE